Movie Night! – Films to Watch Together

Whether you like consistency, appreciate narrative similarity, or just adhere mostly to one particular genre, these articles can act as your guide to discovering something new. For decades there has been an influx of remakes, sequels and franchise films that have such distinct similarities in story and formula, so it’s not exactly hard nowadays to find films to watch together. But, that’s not always a bad thing. Some of the very best films have an undiscovered sibling out there just waiting to be heard. So we wanted to give those films a nod, and in the process rejoice, not just in films of similar story, but the welcoming contrast films have with each other as well.

But I’m A Cheerleader! (1999) / The Miseducation of Cameron Post (2018)

1999 is probably one of the best years in cinema history, at the very top in quality saw the likes of the now classic Fight Club, Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia and even Kubrick’s last film Eyes Wide Shut. Among the hefty year came Jamie Babbit’s teenage satire, But I’m a Cheerleader! Full of great performances pretty much all around, Babbit gave a more mainstream voice to the LBGT community, using the much-needed message of individualism and counteracting it with the satirical humour of the teenage representation. As cheerleader Megan is sent to a ‘rehab’ for her sexuality, she slowly becomes more aware of her feelings through a fellow camp member Graham (played the always wonderful Clea DuVall). This film may not grasp the levity of it’s message very well, but it’s an understandable compromise so that the film can find it’s alternative voice as both a romantic comedy and teenage satire.

Just 19 years later came another film with the same concept, but with a hell of a different approach. As Desiree Akhavan’s quaint indie drama follows Cameron, played by Chloe Grace Moretz, being sent to a Christianity driven camp after being caught with her friend in sexual activity on prom night. The Miseducation of Cameron Post follows a similar story, however, tackles the reality of it’s situation with unflinching emotion. With it being an indie drama it feels like there is much more freedom to explore it’s message and themes, not just focusing on religion vs. sexuality, but the oppression of feelings and the manipulation of the teenage mind to steer them in the ‘right’ direction. All of this does mess with the film’s structure a little, but it’s uncompromising message and great performances are worth the watch regardless.

But I’m A Cheerleader! and The Miseducation of Cameron Post are perfect examples of people with the same opinions and beliefs using the medium of film to express them, but the stark contrast in both films is staggering. One uses comedy and satire to relay it’s messages clearly, and the second uses the free spirited nature of it’s indie style and characters to deliver a much more unflinching film. Both should be considered important for the a community they are portraying, but the contrast in style and writing leave enough variation to enjoy these films one after the other.

Die Hard (1988) / Speed (1994)

In 1988 John McTiernan changed the landscape of the Action genre with the now classic Die Hard. Matching both a tongue-and-cheek script with the high-octane action is a work of genius that has been attempted numerous times, but no one has quite captured the magic of a seemingly everyday guy like John McClane powering his way through german terrorists. For the very small group of people who haven’t heard of Die Hard, it’s about NYPD cop John McClane trying to save his wife, and her co-workers, from German terrorists led by Hans Gruber, played by the untouchable Alan Rickman. While Die Hard is probably the most rewatchable film of all time, it’s the balance of action and story, along with pitch perfect performances that make this as a staple of it’s genre and a defining feature of 80s Hollywood.

To this day Die Hard has spawned so many films that follow the same structure and basic character archetype, and while none are quite as perfect, the closest the Action genre has come is with Jan de Bont’s 1994 Speed. To Die Hard fans this may be referred to as ‘Die Hard on a Bus’, but through all the similarities Speed somehow finds it’s voice. It’s very basic plot is the absolute pinnacle of ‘working against the clock’, something that every action script usually has, which perpetually leaves you on the edge of your seat. As the bus hurls it’s way through Los Angeles full throttle it gives you no chance to come up for air, and honestly there aren’t many action films that have that power.

While the two films before had the same message with contrasting styles, Die Hard and Speed have the exact same styles of action, but it’s the similarities that make each of them work well together. Both Bruce Willis and Keanu Reeves, while limited in their acting style, fit perfectly into the world that’s built around them, and each of their conflicts are matched equally by sublime villains in the form of Alan Rickman’s Hans Gruber and Dennis Hopper’s Howard Payne. The deadpan delivery of each line compliments every aspect of action set-pieces, both the nonchalant weariness of Bruce Willis and the over-the-top blandness of Keanu Reeves work perfectly to make each one a product of their surroundings. Despite these two films paralleling in style, both have enough change to give them individuality, and when the two are mashed together you’re in for 3 and half hours of perfect popcorn escapism.

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