Double Features #2: Sweet Dreams and Bitter Pills

Double Features #2: Sweet Dreams and Bitter Pills

This article is part of the Double Features series, which pairs great films that taste great together. Check out part one here.


One of the things that make double features such a source of fascination, for me, at least, is how two films can bring certain aspects of each other to the fore. Most great films are multifaceted and rich in theme, you can and should look at them from any number of different angles. But it can be hard to do in isolation, when all of a movie’s themes and ideas are inextricably bound up in each other. But place two films side-by-side, or, in this case, one after another, and it’s like the similarities reach out to each other, making both their common ground and their differences more apparent and easier to appreciate.

All ten of these films deal in some way with the rupture between expectation and reality, between how we dreamed our lives would be and how they turned out, between what our society claims to aspire to and what the world is actually like. They all do a great job of navigating these themes alone, but, together, they’re even better.

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All We’re Looking for Is Love from Someone Else

All We’re Looking for Is Love from Someone Else

“They say you gotta want it more,” a young man sings in ‘Another Day of Sun’, La La Land’s opening number, “So I bang on every door.”

He came to LA with dreams of making it in the entertainment business, but his problem is not that he doesn’t want it enough. He wants it desperately, single-mindedly. He’s dancing in the middle of a traffic jam, singing about wanting it – as desperately as the dozens of other people singing the same song.

‘Another Day of Sun’ sounds bright and happy, but lyrically, it’s about constant rejection, about running out of money, about leaving loved ones to pursue unrealised dreams – and about a pressure to blame yourself. They say you gotta want it more.

The chorus initially sounds like an ode to perseverance:

And when they let you down

You’ll get up off the ground

‘Cause morning rolls around

And it’s another day of sun

But it’s more melancholy with every repetition, as getting knocked to the ground emerges as a habit. “It’s another day of sun” is a joke about LA not having seasons, but it’s also a comment on how that lack of weather can feel oppressive. It’s an environment that refuses to bend, impervious to your feelings. There’s weariness to it: constant sunshine, constant disappointment.

La La Land is not a film about how you should pursue your dreams.

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What We Talk About When We Talk About Nostalgia

What We Talk About When We Talk About Nostalgia

Save the Tiger is the story of Harry Stoner, the owner of a clothing manufacturer in Los Angeles, as he tries to keep his company afloat through a season of hardship. He goes to numerous ethically dubious lengths to do so, and worst of all, he spends the whole time pining for the simplicity of his youth, when baseball players would put the spikes of their cleats right in your face and you knew how a plane stayed in the air because you could see the propeller on the wing. Even Jack Lemmon, the most charming man in history, can’t make Harry Stoner’s meandering trips down memory lane anything but annoying.

Then Harry stands at a podium to shill for his company’s new fashion line. He looks out on the crowd and his face turns white. His audience of middle-class drunks have been replaced by a legion of war dead, young men that Harry saw blown to pieces and shot to stillness in the Second World War. They stare at him in total silence. Harry tries to speak, but he can’t.

This is what we talk about when we talk about nostalgia.

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In Defense of The Hudsucker Proxy

In Defense of The Hudsucker Proxy

Joel and Ethan Coen make two types of films. Both types are comedies.

The first type sometimes gets mistaken for a drama. They’re the dark comedies that usually operate within a specific genre. Some of these are easily spotted – even Wikipedia calls Fargo a comedy – but it’s easy to get distracted by how serious they look on the surface. The Man Who Wasn’t There is a black-and-white period noir, which somehow overrides that the whole film is set in motion by someone coming up with this totally crazy idea he’s calling “dry cleaning”. The closest to a true drama that the Coens have directed is probably No Country for Old Men, but it has a huge amount of funny hair for a very serious, tense movie.

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The Sundae Film Awards 2017

The Sundae Film Awards 2017

We can’t really claim these are what we think should have been nominated at the Oscars, or should have won, since we can’t be one hundred percent sure that any film that wasn’t nominated at the Oscars was even eligible. But if we were the only two members of the Academy and we could nominate any film that came out since last year’s Oscars (since lots of Oscar-nominated films didn’t come out in Ireland until a week and a half ago) and we only cared about the eight major awards (we care about most of the others, but this post would be twenty thousand words long if we picked those too) this is what you’d get – the Sundae Film Awards.

We each filled out our personal nominees and then selected the winner by consensus, so the winners only came from films we’d both seen and both nominated, but we’ve each picked a personal runner-up from our slate regardless of whether the other has seen or nominated it. We’ve tried to give some voice to our reasons for picking who we’ve picked since we hate lists that don’t say anything. You can see each of our full slates of nominees at the bottom of the post.

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