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24 Hours of...War


Aaron continues to map out 'movie days' - this time with global conflict as the theme...


The thing about war movies is, like actual wars, they’re sometimes very long...

Another holiday, another marathon, this one brought to you by the pain and suffering of untold millions! In honor of  Veterans / Armistice / Remembrance Day, here's twenty-four hours of war movies to “celebrate” (by which I mean “only remember it’s happening because the banks are closed.”). You could also look at this as “24 Hours of Being Bummed Out,” but there’s still a post-apocalyptic marathon on the way, so buck up, sport!

8:00 AM - Gone with the Wind - 238 min

I figure the best way to start these things is with an interminably long film everyone’s already seen; that way grogginess, stragglers’ arrivals and breakfast won’t actively interfere with the entertainment. The first time I can remember seeing Gone with the Wind was in fourth grade. Remember “movie day” when you were in school? Now imagine twenty or thirty nine-year-olds sitting in a darkened classroom watching four hours of fire and feminine histrionics as part of the class unit on The War of Northern Aggression (I lived in South Carolina at the time).

Of course, I absorbed almost none of it, save for that fabulous crane shot of all the wounded Rebs. I’d just gotten into horror movies, so it stands to reason. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve seen the movie all the way through since then, but I keep meaning to. Then again, if wishes were horses, we’d all be eating steak, so...

12:00 PM - 15 min break

12:15 PM - MASH (1970) - 116 min

Dude, it’s Odo from DS9 as Father Mulcahy and Fred Williamson as a guy named “Spearchucker” in a movie that got nominated for five Oscars! Our only entry for the Korean War (not that there’s a whole lot of films set in the period), Robert Altman’s first real movie features what is reportedly the earliest use of the word “fuck” in mainstream film, paving the way for such delightful fare as Full Metal Jacket (see below).

2:15 PM - 45 min for lunch

3:00 PM - The Messenger (2009) - 113 min

Jumping to the present, this film examines the after-effects of war and the damage it can cause back home. It serves to remind us that Woody Harrelson doesn’t always have to be a clown and that Samantha Morton is overdue for an Oscar. The same year, another PTSD film, a remake of Brothers, from Denmark, was released, sucking up time and space with its unbelievable characters and assorted horseshit. The Messenger is an excellent drama that reminds us war doesn’t end on the battlefield.

5:00 PM - 15 min break

5:15 PM - Ran - 162 min

Another long one. I tried to space out the epics so as to not bore the living shit out of your guests; even awesome things, if lengthy and stitched end-to-end, can drive even the hardest film-goer nuts. Hell, I love The Lord of the Rings but I’m never going to watch them all in one day, that’s asking a bit much. Anyway, here’s Akira Kurosawa’s adaptation of King Lear and it is a doozy! The director was nearly blind by the time he shot what might be one of the most visually impressive non-surrealist films of all time. Though composed primarily of modern techniques, a couple of the performances are presented in the style of old Noh plays, yet don’t grate against the rest of the film whatsoever.

7:30 PM - 15 min break

7:45 PM - Grave of the Fireflies - 89 min

Once more into the Japanese breach, this could easily fit into the post-apocalyptic category. If you don’t know what the film is about, I won’t spoil it and those that do are already aware how powerful it is. This is a movie you only need to see once because you’ll never forget it.

9:15 PM - 1 hour for dinner

South Park: Kyle Sucks Cartman’s Balls - The Trilogy - 67 min

Following the nut-punch of Grave of the Fireflies, some comedy is in order. A few years back, South Park made a three-part Episode called “Imaginationland” featuring damn near every reference they could manage to fictional characters of the twentieth century. Somewhere in the war movie allusions, ball jokes and graphic animated violence, a pointed critique on modern obsessions with fearmongering was wedged in. Watch it while you eat.

10:45 PM - The Hurt Locker - 131 min

Watch it. Just watch it.

1:00 AM - Saving Private Ryan - 169 min

I cannot, in polite society, disclose what I was doing in the movie theater between the end of the Omaha Beach invasion and the beginning of the final action scene, save for a short moment where I peeked through the crack between the seats and said, “Hey, I didn’t know Ted Danson was in this film,” but I did it for my country! In the years since, I’ve actually watched it all the way through, several times and gotta tell you, Tom Hanks really is great. Or at least he was; I’m not too sure what the hell’s going on with his career now.

2:45 AM - 15 min break

3:00 AM - Full Metal Jacket - 116 min

For no good reason, I often watched this as a double feature with The Exorcist in high school. I used to pass a notebook back and forth in math class with my best friend wherein we would write consecutive sentences of dialogue, trying to get through at least the first chapter of the movie. Probably the only Kubrick film I actually like (The Shining ain’t bad), I’ve seen it an unbelievable amount of times. If you and your guests have too, then the following multi-part analysis can soak up a goodly amount of its runtime instead.

5:00 AM - First Blood - 93 min

More PTSD! I love the way the trailer for this movie feels like an exploitation action film. One of the flicks Stallone built his legend on, it’s not the deranged, jingoist tripe of its next two sequels, Cold War-era “America, FUCK YEAH!” sorts of pictures. First Blood is a kind of worst case scenario of what would happen if a certified bad-ass came home from war, couldn’t fit back into society and flipped out after being fucked with one too many times. Under better circumstances, he could’ve been the goddamn Batman, instead, he gets to be Rambo...literally.

6:30 AM - War of the Worlds (1953) - 85 min

Holy shit, if this isn’t the thinnest pretense for a Red Scare story I’ve ever seen! Just listen to that trailer: “The nations of the world mobilize their armed might, rushing to defend the earth against the unknown weapons of the super-race from the red planet!” Like it’s a goddamn newsreel: “We know now that we can’t beat their machines - we’ve got to beat them!” Truthfully, anyone who’s still awake at this point is probably too punch-drunk to catch all the commie-pinko fearmongering, but anyone who can is in for a campy treat.

Possible substitutions for any of the above: The Deer Hunter, The Great Escape, Bridge on the River Kwai, Apocalypse Now, Sayonara, Hiroshima Mon Amour (also slated for “24 Hours of Love”), Enemy at the Gates, and Red Dawn.

Stay tuned in the future* for more marathon programming, including:

October 31: 24 Hours of Monsters
December 24: 24 Hours of Joy
February 14: 24 Hours of Love
March 17: 24 Hours of Inebriation
April 1: 24 Hours of Crap
April 8: 24 Hours of Faith
May 9: 24 Hours of Sex
May 28: 24 Hours of Blockbusters
June 17: 24 Hours of Parenting
July 4: 24 Hours of Royalty
September 3: 24 Hours of Work
October 19: 24 Hours of Art
December 31: 24 Hours After the End

*dates subject to change

Lists at Shadowlocked


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