Monday, December 28, 2015

When Survival Becomes A Journey

Tonight's marathon is all about witnessing either a plane crash or ship wreck, that turns into an adventure for our main characters. While these adventures are new for these characters who happen to be regular people, it happens to become an experience that transforms them both emotionally and physically. There's no guarantee that these guys will make it home or get rescued which makes them adapt to their new environment as they make their way home. These adventures don't come without moments of danger besides the crashing of a plane or sinking of a ship, but also require the strength of each character to deal with obstacles such as fighting off blood thirsty Wolves and Bears. This is not just a thrilling experience but an emotional one for not just the main characters but the audience as well. For tonight's powerful marathon, we have on the following menu:

                           The Grey 2012, Cast Away 2000, 127 Hours, and Life Of PI 2012
Now this is one of a kind marathon with films that are ideal for this theme. Here we have several different stories and journeys of people at the edge of the world. While being secluded from the rest of society, these people learn to cope with their lives out in the wilderness. and while doing so, also becoming better people. Most of these movies are critically acclaimed or are considered exciting adventure dramas. Each film carries with it a powerful punch that adds to the ultimate message behind the lineup which basically says that when put in a situation such as these, the experience can either bring out the best in you or the worst. You either face the challenge head on and fight to the end to survive or you give up easily and die in shame. What makes all of the characters in these films relatable are that they are fighters as well as people who don't give up easily on things. Because of their reluctance and stubborn refusal to go quietly, we follow these characters through their journey until they reach their final destination point. It takes courage, bravery, and the strength of the human heart to endure what these characters have gone through and in most cases live to tell about their stories.
      The first movie of the marathon is the 2012 critically acclaimed action drama titled The Grey starring Liam Neeson. The story centers around a plane crashing in Alaska that leaves six oil workers stranded and led by a skilled huntsman in their quest to be survived. Their plans of being rescued are halted when a pack of merciless wolves begin haunting them with each step they take. One of the great aspects of this marathon, is the unique and different kinds of cinematography each film possesses in telling its story. The Grey is a beautifully shot and well acted film with large thanks being aimed at the combination of Liam Neeson being the lead actor and Narc's Joe Carnahan at the helm as director. The film is tense, exciting, and carries with it a lead character that you come to care about, a philosophical touch to it, and an intense tale of survival with man against wolves. The Grey is the perfect first film of the night because it establishes the theme of an accident happening involving a plane crash that's out of everyone's control, then puts our characters to the real test of fighting for survival out in the open. The experience puts everything the main characters know and believe in faith wise to the test.
      The second movie of the marathon is the 2000 critically acclaimed drama and blockbuster titled Cast Away starring Tom Hanks and Helen Hunt. Nominated for two academy awards including Best Sound and Best Actor in a lead role, Cast Away places Tom Hanks as a FedEx executive, who leaves behind his girlfriend to personally escort a FedEx load that crash lands in the sea. When he pulls himself to shore, he must transform himself both physically and emotionally to survive on the island alone. Cast Away is one of Tom Hanks finest roles as an actor and also one of the defining films in regards to surviving in the wild. From Robert Zemeckis, the director of Forrest Gump and Flight delivers a film with strong screenwriting, powerful acting from Tom Hanks, beautiful cinematography that makes you believe that Hanks is really stuck on an island, and top notch directing from Zemeckis who worked with Hanks previously on 1994's Oscar winning film Forrest Gump. Whereas The Grey is suspenseful and thrilling, Cast Away is slower and takes things down to a more human level.
      The third movie of the marathon is the 2010 Oscar nominated drama titled 127 Hours starring James Franco and directed by Slumdog Millionaire's Danny Boyle. Based on a true story, the film centers around an adventurous mountain climber who becomes trapped inside a canyon while canyoneering alone around Utah. He resorts to desperate measures in order to survive even going as far as cutting his arm off in order to break free of his net in order to find help. 127 Hours is once again a solo actors film much like Cast Away, with James Franco utilizing his acting talents to carry the film in an Oscar nominated performance as the helpless mountain climber whose stuck between a rock and a hard place. The film is also a philosophical piece of filmmaking much like The Grey with both Liam Neeson and James Franco reflecting on their lives, mistakes they made, people who they love but aren't with them anymore, and gaining the will to pull through and prevail. The film is gut wrenching and inspirational with a great performance from James Franco and beautiful direction and photography from Danny Boyle.
      The fourth movie of the marathon is Ang Lee's Oscar Winning drama titled Life Of Pi. Nominated for 11 academy awards and winner of 4 including Best Director for acclaimed filmmaker Ang Lee, Life Of Pi centers around a young man, who survives a sea disaster and finds himself embarking on an epic journey involving adventure and discovery. While being essentially a cast away much like Tom Hanks in his film, the young man is left on a small boat with the only other survivor of the shipwreck, a Bengal tiger. The two form a connection that's not only believable but would change the young mans life forever. Life Of Pi is the most emotional film of all four movies and essentially the perfect way to end the marathon. It goes back to being a personal journey much like Cast Away blending masterful storytelling with powerful performances and great technological effects. When combined with other movies such as The Grey, Cast Away, and 127 Hours the marathon as a whole provides a powerful yet rewarding experience.
So what are all of these movies trying to say as a whole when you put them together? The message says that sometimes unexpected things happen such as a plane crash or a ship sinking, and if so, you are gonna be put to the test. That test is going to be a battle for survival and is also going to change a person both emotionally and physically. A movie like The Grey says that you should fight the odds and never give up until the end, no matter what it takes. Cast Away says that sometimes it takes the direst circumstances to not only bring out the best in us but to also make us realize what's most important. 127 Hours says that everyone needs help sometimes when the occasion calls for it, and you should always tell your parents or someone else where you're going away so they can find you if needed. For Life Of Pi, a young man can call onto his faith when put into a crisis such as the one presented in the movie.

Our characters for this evening:


Friday, December 25, 2015

When The Holidays Become A Fight For Survival

Tonight's marathon is all about the holidays going from being a traditional time period of being a fun and exciting time of peace and love to ultimately becoming a deadly game for survival but not without being ultimately thrilling. Through the combination of both holidays such as Christmas and New Years Eve, we see either one man or a group of people banding together in a fight to survive with a story and setting that provides for a claustrophobic atmosphere. The first Poseidon Adventure gives us a setting that centers around a capsized ship that forces its survivors to find their way through the wreckage to the exit which is now the engine room. Die Hard centers around a 40 story building named Nakatomi Powers that becomes taken under siege by a group of terrorists in a heist scheme with the hostages only hope being an off duty New York police detective who goes throughout the building taking out the terrorists one by one. The marathon gives two different scenarios of people fighting for survival along with the combination being both Christmas and New Years related. One deals with human nature being the enemy and the main characters going against all odds, and the other is terrorists seizing a building or an airport, forcing one of the hostages to take the initiative and fight back against all odds to rescue not only the other hostages but the woman he loves and fights for. For tonight's epic marathon, we have the following films on the menu:

The Poseidon Adventure 1972, Die Hard 1988, Poseidon 2006, Die Hard 2: Die Harder 1990
      One thing about this marathon that makes it standout from the typical holiday lineup, is that this one is action packed and uses the holidays as a way of making the story realistic and timeless. Die Hard is a film that can essentially be watched every Christmas because of the holiday serving as a useful plot device to the story, and the same can be said with Poseidon Adventure because of the New Years Eve factor. With the holidays playing a role in these movies, their latter remakes or sequel allows the theme of repetition to happen in this line up with history repeating itself a second time whether its with the same persons or not. The first two Die Hards complete the Christmas arc of movies that made the series so popular in the first place. While Poseidon never reaches the heights of the 1972 original classic The Poseidon Adventure, the film takes the same concept and puts it in modern times giving it a then and now perspective. In terms of delivering thrills and excitement with strong characters that you care about and root for, this is the perfect marathon to watch if you want a different kind of holiday moviethon.
       The first movie of the evening is the 1972 disaster movie classic and blockbuster epic titled The Poseidon Adventure starring Gene Hackmen, Shirley Winters, Ernest Borgnine, and Leslie Nielsen. Based on true events with other sail vessels but presented as a true story of its own, The Poseidon Adventure centers around a vessel named The Poseidon hitting a rogue wave on New Years Eve and the ship capsizing. The tragedy leaves a group of passengers fighting to survive and escaping the doomed Ocean liner that's slowly sinking. Nominated for a total of nine academy awards and winner of one for Best music, The Poseidon Adventure is one of the greatest disaster films ever made as well as one of the best New Years Eve movies. The film presents a real scenario with real characters that you come to care about from the start and have fun watching as they debate on the appropriate way of escaping. The Poseidon Adventure glorifies what's great about 1970's disaster movies but also gives a story that's built around humanity and wall to wall suspense. It's the perfect starting point for this marathon given the holiday theme, the claustrophobic atmosphere, and characters going against the odds to fight for survival.
      The second movie of the evening is the 1988 blockbuster titled Die Hard starring Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, and Bonnie Bedelia. The story centers around an off duty New York Police Officer named John McClane whose been invited to a Christmas Eve party by his wide Holly McClane. While attending the party, McClane is forced to go into hiding as the tower is seized by a group of terrorists, forcing McClane to take action as he is the only hope for the fate of the hostages. Nominated for four academy awards, the film was not only a surprise hit during the Summer of 1988 but became one of the best Christmas movies of all time. The film balances humanity with wall to wall action perfectly, making it one of cinemas greatest thrill rides. It is also credited as the film that made Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman movie stars as well as spawning one of the most successful R rated movie franchises of all time.
       The third movie of the marathon is the 2006 remake of the 1972 classic The Poseidon Adventure titled Poseidon starring Kurt Russell and Emmy Rossum. Nominated for an Oscar for Best visual effects and directed of Air Force One and The Perfect Storm named Wolfgang Peterson, the film much like the first movie is centered around New Years Eve with the luxery liner Poseidon capsizing after being struck by a rogue wave. Also like the first movie, the survivors are left with no options other than to fight for their lives as they make attempts to escape the sinking ship. While the remake of The Poseidon Adventure improves on the original in regards to being visually stunning, it falls short of the strong character developments and relationships that the first movie established. Still, it serves as being a fitting predecessor to the first Poseidon Adventure as well as showing the same scenario happening twice except this time it's with different characters.
      The fourth and final movie of the evening is the 1990 blockbuster sequel to the original 1988 classic Die Hard titled Die Hard 2: Die Harder. Taking place a year after the events of the first Die Hard, the sequel places John McClane in the same time period from where the first movie ended on Christmas Eve. This time the setting is at an airport with the terrorists taking control of it and forcing McClane to advert disaster once again as he battles the terrorists and seizes Dulles International Airport free of terrorist control. Although a bigger box office success than the first Die Hard upon it's release, the sequel never received the same kind of critical acclaim as it's predecessor upon it's release but still maintained itself as an above average sequel that followed the first movie carefully and made a sequel worthy of being watched with it's predecessor. Die Hard 2 is a significant sequel because it's the last one which is centered around Christmas Eve like the original film, as well as being the last film to feature McClanes wife Holly in the film. At one point she asks John in a fashion that appears to be the film being self aware that it's a repeat of the first movie: "John, why does this keep happening to us?". Although not the best sequel in the series, Die Hard 2 is a fitting end to a night that's centered around extroadinary events unfolding during the Christmas and New Years eve. Not only does it bring it with the action but it gave you characters that you ultimately came to care about.

      So what does this marathon say when you put all the movies together as a whole? The marathon says that when you're placed in a situation such as the events in Die Hard and The Poseidon Adventure, someone is gonna have to take the initiative and lead the way in terms of preserving the safety and survival of everyone else in the same situation. A natural disaster such as the one in The Poseidon Adventure and Poseidon can't be controlled but through teamwork, everyone can work together to emerge from that experience as one and alive. You should never underestimate the power of a rogue wave. Die Hard and Die Hard 2  says that sometimes the same thing can happen to the same guy twice or that guy can be placed in extroadinary circumstances, forcing him to do the unthinkable and fight back not just for the safety of himself, but for the safety of the woman he loves and the rest of the hostages. Sometimes we need a man like John McClane, who doesn't take orders to step in and make things better,
Our characters for this evening:


Sunday, December 20, 2015

When You Duel With Burglars

Today's marathon is all about fighting back against a pair of burglars whether they are outsmarted by a young boy or a hundred Dalmations. The marathon plays off the nostalgia of growing up as a child in the 1990's to these sets of movies that combine slapstick comedy with large amounts of heart. In some cases, classic Disney movies or television shows are brought back to life in epic fashion. The glue to this marathon is the formula which is the same in each movie. The Home Alone films bring in the Christmas theme to the mix but the antagonists are always thieves or burglars who get beaten by young children, infants, or animals. For tonights fun and thrilling marathon, we have the following films on the menu:

Home Alone 1990, Dennis The Menace 1993, 101 Dalmations 1996, and Home Alone 2: Lost In New York 1992:

      Now this is a fun and exciting marathn that comes full circle with the Home Alone films providing the bookending to the whole ordeal. Home Alone was not just a huge box office success in 1990, it also generated several similar films that utilized the same formula of a child fighting against a pair of burglars with the ordeal turning into pure slapstick comedy. For the time that it worked, it was the perfect family experience as the movies appealed to a special kind of audience and created an undeniable feeling of nostalgia when you watch them years down the road. A big reason for the rise in this style of family films is all of these films were written by John Hughes, who is famous for directing movies such as The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Ferris Buellers Day Off, Uncle Buck, and Plains, Trains, And Automobiles. All of these films follow the same formula but present them in unique ways that never stray away from the family aspect of their stories. For every antagonist that attempts to do wrong on our protagonists, it doesn't come without a good moral lesson.
      The first movie of the evening is the 1990 Holiday classic and blockbuster family film titled Home Alone starring Macaulay Culkin, Catherine O Hara, Joe Pesci, John Heard, and Daniel Stern. The story centers around an 8-year old boy whose considered a troublemaker in his family, ends up being left home alone on accident when his family goes out of town for the holidays. While being left at home, he discovers that two burglars named Harry and Marv are patrolling the neighborhood with a plan to steal from his families house. The young boy named Kevin plans to defend his families home by planting unique booby traps around the house to help fight the burglars. Home Alones charm and heart quickly made it the biggest blockbuster of 1990 as well as turning it into one of the most iconic and timeless modern holiday films of all time. Along with being in a hilarious battle against the burglars, Home Alone also deals with issues that are relatable to people around the holidays such as families not getting along, loneliness, and misunderstanding people you presume to be bad but actually aren't once you get to know them. An example of this is Kevin McCallister befriending an old man whom the kids fear and tell stories about. Not only does this old man turn out to be friendly and harmless, but he also helps Kevin in realizing that you should appreciate the family you have no matter how imperfect they are. The film entered the Guinness book of world records for being the highest grossing comedy of all time making $533 million worldwide with $285 million being made domestically.
      The second movie of the marathon is the 1993 family film based on the classic television show titled Dennis The Menace starring Walter Matthau, Mason Gamble, Christopher Lloyd, and Lea Thompson. The story centers around a young boy named Dennis who constantly harasses his neighbors who are an elderly couple. While he is adored by the lady of the house named Mrs. Wilson, Mr. Wilson presumes Dennis to be nothing more but a menace and troublemaker. While enduring Dennis hilarious tirades, a mysterious thief and burglar played by Christopher Lloyd, arrives in town on a train and begins secretly robbing the town. He ends up kidnapping Dennis when Mr. Wilson denounces him forcing Dennis to run away in hurt. This opportunity uninte tionally allows Dennis to catch the burglar and return Mr. Wilsons stolen items to him. Dennis The Menace definitely draws inspiration from Home Alone and utilizes the same formula with a young boy whose presumed to be a troublemaker suddenly being forced to duel with a much older antagonist with the end result being the bad guys being caught by police and the parents or guardians having a much deeper respect for the young boy when all is said and done. While the film wasn't quite as successful as Home Alone, it proves to be a worthy successor and a genuine family film that continues the same formula.
      The third movie of the marathon is the 1996 live action blockbuster and family film titled 101 Dalmations starring Joely Richardson, Jeff Daniels, and Glenn Glose. Written by John Hughes who also helmed Home Alone, the story centers around two people who meet by chance when their dogs fall in love, also inspiring them to follow suit and get married. When the dogs have a total of 15 puppies at birth, a menacing fashion designer manager named Cruella De Vil plots to steal the puppies with the other ones her associates kidnapped, and kill them for her fur. When the burglars think that their plan was ultimately successful, the stolen puppies band together with the animals to thwart their scheme and exact revenge on them as well as Cruella De Vil. 101 Dalmations has the same formula of revenge being committed against a pair of burglars that Home Alone possessed except this time the protagonists aren't children, their animals. The animals come together and outsmart the pair of burglars that appear to possess little to no intelligence. The main star of this film is Glenn Close who not only appeared to represent perfect casting in the title role of the films iconic villain, but also garnered herself a Golden Globe nomination for her spot on performance as one of Disneys iconic villains. 101 Dalmations may not be as good as Home Alone but it provides a perfect parallel to that film and Dennis The Menace with a slick twist to the formula.
      The fourth movie of the marathon is the 1992 blockbuster sequel and in many fans eyes of the first Home Alone, the true conclusion to the series titled Home Alone 2: Lost In New York. Reuniting essentially the same cast from the first movie with Macaulay Culkin reprising his iconic role with the strong supporting cast returning among the likes of Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern, Catherine O Hara, and John Heard with new additions to the cast such as Tim Curry and Rob Schneider. The story places Kevin and his family a year later on Christmas planning a trip to New York with Kevin having the same issues with his family in regards to being treated fairly and misunderstood. When rushing to the airport Kevin gets separated from his family and ends up on a plane to New York. While in New York he runs up his parents credit cards at a fancy hotel but soon discovers that the burglars he battled with a year ago have escaped from jail and have gone to New York as well. The trio soon cross paths again and Kevin is forced to do battle with them when he discovers they plan to rob a toy store and take charity money from unfortunate kids on Christmas. Home Alone 2 much like its predecessor was a box office success upon it's release even though the film didn't quite reach the heights of the first film nor the same kind of acclaim. The sequel is a worthy follow up to the first film as it follows the formula of the previous movie very closely and utilizes nearly all of the major key players from the first film. The setting is much broader with more wild stunts and traps being ensured when Kevin goes toe to toe with Harry and Marv. Home Alone 2 also closes out the marathon nicely with Kevin once again being reunited with his family and making piece with his mother and older brother Buzz.  Being that both Home Alone films are holiday movies, it also gives it a nice bookending and relevance given the current time period of the year.

So what are these movies trying to say when  you put them together as a whole? The message says that young children whether they are your own or someone elses may drive you crazy and do a lot of things that'll displease you but the honest truth is they just want acceptance and for you to love them back unconditionally. Kevin's desires to have his family back on Christmas echos the feelings that many children have on the holidays such as loneliness, wanting to have a family and being loved by someone. Kevin dueling the burglars says that if you see wrong being done on Christmas, it becomes your duty to stop it and protect what's right in the best way you know possible. Dennis The Menace shows that a grumpy old man like Mr. Wilson can truly care about a young boy like Dennis even though he doesn't really show it on the surface. You should also never say things to kids that are mean because they take things harder than the rest of us. 101 Dalmations says that trying to kidnap and kill animals for clothing purposes is wrong and that a person like Cruella Devil has no heart.
Sometimes when you think something is finished, it may not be and could possibly return to haunt you a year later such as Kevin being forced to duel with Harry and Marv once again in New York. Christmas is more than just delivering presents to people and having a Christmas tree. Christmas is a time of being with family, loving one another unconditionally whether they are perfect or not, and above all, it's about thinking about others and doing the right thing like Kevin did for the children and their charity money.

Our characters for this evening: