I've been running these 24 Hours of Movies columns for a few years now. They started because I usually schedule some sort of movie marathon as a way of celebrating my birthday and I thought it would be fun to come up with some hypothetical marathons, usually based around a theme. But I'm turning 40 this week and my wonderful wife wanted to come up with a way to celebrate what is traditionally looked upon as a "big deal" birthday. Me being me, I didn't want to really do anything until she suggested doing another marathon, just as I had done when this tradition began on my 30th birthday. That one sounded fun. But me being me, I didn't want to rent a space out as we had done 10 years ago, especially when we have a cool screening room in our basement now and even more so because a decade has gone by and I'm even less inclined to go out and do stuff. If I can do a movie marathon here at home, all the better. So Erika said we could schedule a handful of movies and our friends could "sign up" for a time and come watch a movie or two with us. Good idea. She's full of them. But me being me, I couldn't do something without overdoing it. So I suggested the idea of doing an actual 24-hour marathon, which Erika would normally try to talk me out of doing for health reasons but which she was all for in this case.
This is the first of these 24 Hours of Movies marathons that I actually watched all of. It actually ended up being 28 hours because I had to schedule some down time between the movies for people to come and go and talk to one another and because I stupidly chose a four-hour movie to close everything out. Hope you dig this.
6:30 p.m. - Observe & Report (2009, dir. Jody Hill)
It's a very different thing, programming a marathon that you know is actually going to be attended by people instead of just a hypothetical one. You have to really take into consideration what your friends and family haven't seen, what they will tolerate, what they might like. Picking the first movie was probably hardest, because I knew it was in a time slot that would be better attended than most and because I wanted to choose something a little more mainstream in the hopes of being a little more accessible to start out. I thought Observe & Report was the right choice: big movie star, theatrical release, the kind of movie that people might remember coming out but never got around to seeing. At the same time, it's a singular and fucked up movie that represents the kind of stuff I really respond to, so you're getting the best of both worlds. I think it played well.
On a personal note, this movie helped lead to the creation of F This Movie!, albeit in a roundabout way. Coming home from that screening in 2009, I was struggling to wrap my head around the film. It was so different than what I was expecting and such a singular tonal achievement that I took to the internet to find writing about it. What I discovered were mostly the opening weekend reviews, most of which name-checked Paul Blart and mentioned Seth Rogen's work with Judd Apatow and talked about the movie in terms of whether or not they found it funny or offensive. It's what I had come to expect from the majority of criticism. Then I stumbled upon a review from Devin Faraci, a writer I had never heard of who rated the movie 10/10 and who talked about it in the exact way I felt and who was really willing to consider this movie being written off as "just another comedy" by most as a brilliant and lasting piece of art. It was the review that included the line "Just because something has flaws doesn't mean it isn't perfect," a maxim I have carried with me ever since. I realized upon reading the review that there were places to go to read thoughtful discussion of movies that not everyone was talking about thoughtfully, and that's a big part of what led me to launch F This Movie! a year later. I know that Faraci is someone who had a lot of demons, has been a very polarizing and controversial figure in film criticism and left the game last year when he was called out on some truly reprehensible behavior, but on a personal level his review of Observe & Report is still one of the most important pieces of film writing I've ever read.
8:30 p.m. - Turbo Kid (2015, dir. François Simard, Anouk Whissell, Yoann-Karl Whissell)
10:45 p.m. - Blastfighter (1984, dir. Lamberto Bava)
12:30 a.m. - The Funhouse (1981, dir. Tobe Hooper)
2:30 a.m. - Lizard in a Woman's Skin (1971, dir. Lucio Fulci)
Tenebrae last year, so that was out. Erika just had her first real Italian horror experience with a theatrical screening of The Beyond last October, so I wasn't going to play that one again. I want to wait to show Suspiria until the Synapse Blu-ray is released. I settled on Fulci's Lizard in a Woman's Skin, because at least it's Fulci and because I think it's a giallo that doesn't get quite enough love. It's super fucking weird. JB had gone home to sleep for a while after Observe & Report but came back at 2:30 a.m. for this. Though I didn't mean to, I drifted in and out of sleep a few times during this one, which wound up being the only sleep I got for the whole 28 hours. Mark Ahn told me that at one point during the movie, everyone was asleep. Such is the special power of Italian horror.
4:30 a.m. - Coffy (1973, dir. Jack Hill)
The Lords of Salem in this spot because I wanted to keep the dreamlike, slow-burn horror thing going, but because I originally wasn't sure who would be watching movies with us as 4:30 in the morning I thought it best to pick something that I knew Erika wanted to see and hadn't before. She ended up going upstairs to bed during this one, which wound up being the only sleep she got during the marathon (she is such a trooper that I couldn't possibly love her more). I love this movie unconditionally, and while I don't know who is widely considered the sexiest person to ever appear on film (I doubt such a list exists because what is sexy is subjective), I would hope that Pam Grier in Coffy is at least part of that conversation.
6:30 a.m. - Running Scared (1986, dir. Peter Hyams)
8:30 a.m. - Robot Jox (1990, dir. Stuart Gordon)
10:30 a.m. - His Girl Friday (1940, dir. Howard Hawks)
12:45 p.m. - Beach Party (1963, dir. William Asher)
3:00 p.m. - Rock 'n Roll High School (1979, dir. Allan Arkush)
Side note: before each film, I programmed 15-30 minutes of trailers, short films, music videos and old TV spots that tied in to each of the movies. Prior to this one we watched the trailer for its '80s sequel, Rock 'n Roll High School Forever, and I was reminded of what a lame follow-up it is -- a cynical and calculated approximation of everything the original movie comes by honestly.
6 p.m. - Kill Bill: The Whole Bloody Affair (2005, dir. Quentin Tarantino)
That Thing You Do! and the black and white version of The Mist). I happen to have a copy of Kill Bill: The Whole Bloody Affair -- not an official release, but a fan reconstruction -- and thought it would be the perfect way to end as it's both one of my favorite movies and a celebration of all the kinds of movies that I love. The changes to "The Whole Bloody Affair" are minor; it's mostly more violent, with a bit of additional material and the two volumes are married together at the same point. I love every film from Tarantino, still my favorite director, and while I won't argue that this is his "best" movie (a distinction I would award to Inglourious Basterds), it's my favorite of his work. Watching it as one massive epic is now the only way to see it, because Uma Thurman's teary breakdown in the bathroom at the end -- a truly amazing piece of acting, as is her entire performance -- carries so much more weight when not broken up into two films. Yes, the movie is exhausting, in particular after already watching 24 hours of movies, but it is thrilling and fun and emotionally rewarding, too.
So that was it. After 12 movies and 28 hours, I was ready for bed. I can't thank Erika enough for suggesting that we celebrate this way and for entertaining my ridiculous idea of making it 24 hours long. She wanted to make it special and she did, because she makes everything special. I'm so lucky to have her as a wife, as a best friend, as the mother of our kids and as a fellow movie fan who will stay with me for 12 consecutive films. I thank all the friends and family who came and watched one or two or six movies and who helped make it such a fun day. I thank all of the friends and family who recorded brief video messages, which we watched sporadically throughout the day and were all edited together by Adam Thas. I tend to not like my birthday, and one of the reasons is because I'm uncomfortable and dismissive about being celebrated. I thank everyone who found a way to take part and celebrate anyway. I'm lucky to know all of you.