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Cat's Cradle: Host your own double feature

Winter is the best time to catch up on films. Whether it be movies you’ve missed at the cinema, those recommended to you by a friend or those that have a lot of positive (or negative) buzz. What results is a debate between what to watch and the eventual solution to stream a “comfort show.” Though another possibility is to host a “double feature.”

Double feature” comes from the early years of cinema, where “block booking” was a common practice of selling films to theaters. Often a ticket for a low-budget B movie was sold with a high budget A movie. What resulted was a pairing of films that weren’t intended to match, but audiences could draw a line between them.

Though it has slowly fallen out of the zeitgeist, double features have appeared in block-busters like Grindhouse and local theaters like the Sky-view Drive-in. Double features are a great way to spend an afternoon and an interesting way to present film. Here are a few possible pairings to watch when the weather gets cold: 

To start we have the duo of Sorcerer and Mad Max Fury Road. The former is a story of a truck of nitroglycerin as it crosses a South American mountain range and the latter is a post-apocalyptic chase film. Between the two films we have mounting tension, the delivery of the nitroglycerin and the escape of the brides, respectively. The narrative arc of the films relies on the movement from point A to B, with trials placed along the way. 

Leading with Sorcerer, viewers can see the final breath of the New Hollywood movement, before the advent of the blockbuster, and pair it with the action-oriented Mad Max sequel. Boasting strong cinematography and unique soundtracks, each film brings a unique style to the blockbuster budget.

The Big Lebowski and The Long Goodbye are an easy pairing of films because each draws from a similar history of the Chandler-Noir style to create a film that leaves audiences guessing until the final moments of the film. Equal parts sun-drenched Noir and comedy, each film follows a similar narrative arc of audiences learning with the protagonists. 

The Long Goodbye should come first, with The Big Lebowski closing it out. The Long Goodbye’s often dark humor dovetails into The Big Lebowski’s boisterous styling. What drives each plot is a missing item: from a pet cat to a rug. 

For the ruminating and artistic eye, we have Ivan’s Childhood and Jojo Rabbit. Each film deals with children trapped in a World War II setting – Ivan on the Russian front and Jojo on the German. In each reality, “dreams” and imagination serve as a gateway out of current life. For Ivan, that is a dream of a home he can’t return to, and for Jojo, it is his imaginary friend. 

The pair serves as stories on adolescence, global troubles and the impact war has on children. Though Beast of No Nation and The Devil’s Backbone could fill either spot, the stark contrast between Ivan and Jojo creates an interesting dynamic. The pairing of the tragic to the comedic is often a trope of fiction, and each film lends itself to this reading. Ivan’s Childhood serves as a good entry into the anti-war cinema that Jojo Rabbit mirrors with comedic effect. 

Films are one of the formats of media that can be paired with itself for the effect of compounding ideas and themes. Though novels can be read in pairs, they’re often muddled. TV’s format doesn’t lend to quick viewing quite like a film. The recurring images and themes aid in training the eye to read film while also serving for some welcome entertainment. 

Benjamin Ervin is a senior studying English literature and writing at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk more about it? Let Benjamin know by emailing him at be425014@ohio.edu.

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