Movie Night! – Films to Watch Back to Back

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.

Midsommar (2019) / The Witch (2015)

If you’ve been following the surge of modern horror movies then you’ll know that, along with Jordan Peele, two names that ring true are that of Robert Eggers and Ari Aster. Both have made films that define the horror landscape of the 2010’s, using there fierce symbolism and unique storytelling to give the world two of the most atmospheric films you’ll ever see.

Ari Aster blew people away with his incomparable Hereditary (2018), but a year later he followed that up with another wonderfully unsettling film in Midsommar. Set during a Swedish folk-festival, Dani travels with her boyfriend and his friends to get away from the devastating grief of losing her family. Played by the wonderful Florence Pugh, Dani’s struggle is found both in grief and in her lack of connection to her boyfriend, and in some mind boggling way Aster manages to, not just mix, but actual parallel the internal struggle of his main character with the slow build of the film’s setting and story. The intense visuals and barbaric scenes are littered with veteran-like symbolism, and while it isn’t the easiest watch in the world you’ll certainly be left jolted.

As well as Midsommar another film that pushes you to your limits is Eggers’ The Witch. Another tale of personal conflict and hazardous relationships, Eggers manages to translate this into a 1600’s New England setting. The relationships being tarnished by the mystic entity are that of a small family living outside of a bigger community, more specifically Thomasin, and her lack of connection and suspected witchery. So much build is put into this narrative that when the shock happens, it happens hard. But even with all of the unnatural happenings Eggers still manages to find authenticity in his setting, something that is incredibly hard to find nowadays.

While both films are drastically different in their setting and stories, there is similarities in their approach. Both find solace in telling their story both with simplicity but also without following the strictest guidelines. Instead of going for straight-laced horror they pick paths that use subtlety and uneasy feeling, giving you such resonance in the process. I wouldn’t call it a recommendation to watch both together, as one of the after could leave you mentally devastated, but if modern horror is something that you admire, look no further than two of the strongest examples.

Big Night (1996) / Chef (2014)

Food is an intriguing concept when it comes to film, considering the universality of it there actually isn’t a lot of food-based films to rejoice in. Sure there are movies about chefs, or maybe even restaurant-based sets, but rarely do we get to see a film that acts as a love letter to food of all kind. Two films that do however are Jon Favreau’s Chef, and the Tucci/Scott collaboration Big Night.

Big Night doesn’t strictly revolve around the food but rather acts as the defining difference in restaurant owners (and brothers) Primo and Secondo. Played wonderfully by Tony Shalhoub and Stanley Tucci, they are two Italian brothers trying to survive in 1950’s New York while clashing heads about their ideals on quality and business. But one of the defining moments in this ‘big night’ of theirs, is when numerous characters sit down for Primo’s cooking and rejoice in the food in front of them. No matter the conflicts happening or the story unfolding, all characters settle down for 20 minutes of what is basically food porn. You realise then that the ideals of the film come oozing out, and that the universal quality that food has is second to none.

If you’ve watched any of Favreau’s The Chef Show (2019-) you’ll understand just how much of a ‘foodie’ the director is. It also gives reason to the insurmountable passion that flows through his wonderful film Chef. Favreau wanted to combine his two passions and use the medium of film to really show the art of making quality food. Using skills he learnt from professional Chef Roy Choi, Favreau’s Carl Casper glides from one incredible meal to another, all while having an incredibly touching arc of his own. It’s probably the prime example of food and film colliding, and the final product is a moving story showcased through the appreciation of high-quality food.

If you haven’t guessed already the defining comparison between these two movies is the food. While they come from two different world’s the passion is still there, one that is unmatched in the world of food and film. One realises the art of Italian cuisine, and the other is about showing perfection in the simplest of meals, but the their motivations are the same and both show the togetherness that food brings. It’s not just in the food though, Big Night is about the importance of single-moments in time, appreciating what you have rather than what you are striving for, and the delicacy of family and friends. Chef though, uses it as a redemptive quality, and also uniquely uses it’s food to teach life lessons between Father and Son. While the dynamics and styles are different, the overall passion seeps through wonderfully in both films, and for that they stand out as the pinnacle of their own niche style.

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