For Angie and I, sitting down to watch a movie marathon is a great way to spend time together. We’re both movie lovers, born and raised. And when we get together with family for gatherings, you can safely bet that watching a movie or three will be a major part of the day. But when you have as many eclectic tastes as we do, and as many differing opinions on what we should watch next, sometimes picking the movie is way more entertaining that actually watching it.
When I’m looking to spice up my movie marathons, I have a few go to rules that make it a more interesting experience. If I’m having a low hassle kind of day, I’ll stick with watching a series, such as the Scream movies or the The Godfather Trilogy. For something a bit more challenging, I’ll put together a nice run of films that feature the same actor or actress. So if I decide to get my Bruce Willis on, I might start with Hudson Hawk, followed by Die Hard, and then maybe an instant-classic, like RED.
But when I’m up for a serious challenge, there is nothing better than Filmception¹.
Filmception is when one movie appears inside of another movie, most commonly playing on a TV or movie screen in the background. A less common, though still perfectly valid form of Filmception is when the characters or set pieces in a film make direct reference to another film.
When planning a Filmception marathon, the rules are simple. The first film can be anything you want. But the second film you watch MUST have the first film in it, or directly reference it, as explained above. For real bonus points, you can then watch a third film, which must have the second film in it. Alternatively, you can watch the first film, and then all films that follow must have that first film it. Either way, the challenge factor is HIGH.
So how about a few examples?
Spoiler Alert: Obviously, I’m about to talk about a few movies. If you haven’t seen them, I’m blowing more than few plot points here. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
Ladyhawke / Conspiracy Theory
We start out with the 1985 classic, Ladyhawke. Starring Matthew Broderick, Rutger Hauer, Michelle Pfeiffer, it’s not only a great film, but the origin of one of my favorite movie quotes:
Sir, the truth is, I talk to God all the time, and, no offense, but he never mentioned you.
Now follow that with the 1997 film Conspiracy Theory. Starring Mel Gibson, Julia Roberts, and Patrick Stewart. (Stewart does a nice bit playing against type as the villain.)
Filmception: At one point, while trying to hide from a group of bad guys, Mel Gibson’s character attempts to hide in a packed movie theatre. And what’s playing? That’s right, Ladyhawke!
Jaime’s Random Trivia: It might seem a little odd that a movie theatre in 1997 is playing a film from 1985. The crossover makes more sense when you realize both movies were directed by Richard Donner.
Ghostbusters / Zombieland
First, the movie that I have seen more than any other in my entire life, 1984’s Ghostbusters. Starring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Sigourney Weaver, it’s an endless buffet of quotable lines. Personal fave:
Ray, when someone asks you if you’re a god, you say, “Yes!”
Next up is 2009’s Zombieland. Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin, and Bill Murray. (And Derek Graf as the Zombie Clown. I only point this out because my sister Shannon hates clowns. Hi Shannon!)
Filmception: While our Zombieland refugees are taking shelter in the great Bill Murray’s house, they partake not only in the film Ghostbusters, but also in recreating a scene from the film with Murray playing his own character. (Murray also has the funniest death scene ever. “Ah, that’s still tender.”)
Jaime’s Random Trivia: The Zombieland script, which was originally meant to be a television pilot, was offered to John Carpenter to direct. I have a feeling that would have been a very different movie.
Lawrence of Arabia / Prometheus
Here is one 50 years in the making. Start out with the 1962 epic, Lawrence of Arabia. Starring Peter O’Toole, Alec Guinness, and Anthony Quinn. This film won 7 Academy Awards and became the gold standard for what cinematography could be. The desert practically becomes its own character. My favorite line, which really only makes sense if you’ve seen the movie:
The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts.
Now fast forward half a century and watch 2012’s Prometheus. Starring Jon Spaihts, Damon Lindelof, and a bunch of other people you’ve never heard of. Prometheus is supposedly a prequel to the 1979 masterpiece Alien. It works a lot better if you just watch it as if any similarity between it and the Alien franchise is purely coincidental.
Filmception: Early on we see the android David killing some time watching his favorite film, the one and only Lawrence of Arabia.
Jaime’s Random Trivia: When I first heard they were making a sequel to Prometheus, all I could think was, “Isn’t Alien the sequel?”
¹ – Filmception is a made up word inspired by the movie Inception. If you’ve seen the movie, then you’ll understand why. I wish I could say I’m the only genius to have coined the phrase, but a quick Google search will show you everyone and their brother uses it. (Though rarely to describe the Movie in a Movie thing.)