I’ve been at this blogging malarkey for nearly a year now, and in that time I’ve reviewed a heck of a lot of movies, been to various film events in London and other such places and underused fantastic words like malarkey. The blog, though, is partly just a result of my obsessive compulsive tendencies manifesting in word form, from the feeling that sharing my opinions in some way validates the ridiculously high number of films I see in any given period.
If I’m being honest with myself, though, there’s nothing that justifies some of the lengths that I’ve gone to in the past few years to see films, or some of the crazy stunts I’ve pulled, and there is little more insane than attempting to see as many films in one day as physically possible. (Other than doing it again, of course.) There is no rational reason why one person would want to sit for an entire day in the cinema, other than an absolute and total love of the cinema experience, or unless their name is an anagram of Collie Robbin and they’re being paid to do it. Love of the cinema in itself would justify seeing a handful, but to put in the commitment of a full fifteen hour day really requires an absence of logic and a stubbornness to see through a pointless exercise long past the point when others would have given up and retreated to the pub.
So understanding why you’d want to do this might be something you can only understand once you’ve done it. From my perspective on the other side, it’s a real rollercoaster of emotions, and if you pick the right films a chance to see a fantastic range of what cinema has to offer. It also becomes an easy way to compare and contrast different directorial styles, musical choices, acting and so on and so forth, and it’s just about the best way of giving yourself a DVT without having to set foot on a long haul flight. Also, when people look at you like you’re a complete nutcase, at least now you’ll feel their disdain is justified.
I’ve done seven films in a day twice now, and I think it’s just about the theoretical maximum for a normal cinema day, unless you discover some form of perfect storm or all-night movie marathon. But the joy of this experience comes from variety, and while sitting down to watch all the movies from a particular series might be fun (unless that series is Saw or Big Momma’s House), the best experience of this kind comes from attempting to pick as varied a list as physically possible.
As I say, I’ve done this twice now, although not for a couple of years. Unsurprisingly, the urge is burning in me again like a serious infection, so I’m heading to London at the end of the month to see how many I can fit into a weekend. Just for the record, the films I’ve seen on the previous occasions were:
Day 1: Dodgeball; Spider-Man 2; I, Robot; Shrek 2; The Village; King Arthur and The Bourne Supremacy
Day 2: Talladega Nights: The Ballad Of Ricky Bobby; Little Miss Sunshine; The Night Listener; The Queen; DOA: Dead Or Alive; Crank; The Black Dahlia
But this is not for the faint hearted or the soft buttocked. You will require nerves of steel, eyes of brightness and a backbone of wrought iron to achieve this particular feat – well, maybe not, but if you’re going to try this, you shouldn’t go in unprepared, so here’s my guide to going about this particular movie marathon.
1. You need a certain kind of cinema for this certain kind of madness
This is in theory possible at any cinema with enough screens, or in the middle of a major city where multiple cinemas are close enough that you can move between them between films. But both of my days have been achieved thanks to the wonders of the Cineword Unlimited card, which means that for the price of £13.50 you are getting to see seven films, or an average of not very many pounds and pence each. You can do this if you’ve not got a Cineworld near you, but it might require either a life of crime or a second mortgage to fund, given today’s hefty cinema prices. (I have a spare balaclava if you choose the former option – always keen to help whenever I can.) You also need it to have a decent number of screens, so whether Cineworld or not, you should probably look for a cinema with at least a dozen screens. So far, so easy.
2. Plan your itinerary carefully – you might need to wait for the right moment
It should be possible to put together seven films of some description most weekends, believe it or not. What you need is a cinema that has showings that allow adults in from around 10 a.m., but that will keep going until the early hours of the morning; you need to hope that most or all of the weekend releases clock in at a reasonable length, so no room for Lord of the Rings or Titanic excess; and you need to actually find seven films – or close to seven – that you actually want to watch.
For example, at the Cineworld Enfield tomorrow, you could put together a program consisting of Rio, Hop, Sucker Punch, The Eagle, Limitless, Source Code and The Roommate. I’m not quite sure the demographic that particular line-up appeals to, but it’s the kind of person who probably shouldn’t be allowed out on their own. (And no, I’m not referring to myself. Even I’m not that mad.)
(You might also need some help in working out the best possible order of films: can I recommend my handy spreadsheet, which will take almost all of the pain out of this most arduous part of the whole experience.)
3. The order is important – especially the last film on the list
If you look at the two lists of films I’ve seen in my big day experiences, then you may detect a difference between the two. For the first day I finished with The Bourne Supremacy, which was the ideal adrenaline shot straight to the heart to keep me buzzing at the end of a long day. The second time round, I saw Crank – but I put it sixth, and then finished with Brian De Palma’s snorefest The Black Dahlia. I was genuinely struggling to not only stay awake, but to retain the will to live, by the end of that one. There is no excuse for this in the age of Rotten Tomatoes and the Internet Movie Database, so when putting together your marathon, make sure that the ballsiest, loudest, most ADD film goes down first, in last place, then work backwards from there.
4. The film is the most important thing, the rest is just filler
I’m sure when you go for your Saturday night experience, you’re settled down with your popcorn a good ten minutes before the adverts roll, and have probably eaten your nachos by the time that the trailers roll round. But when you’ve got seven films to see, you realise pretty quickly that it’s the same adverts in front of every film – not to mention the same Orange advert so irritating that you want to find the one person that laughed at it and force them to watch it on an endless repeat until their brain bleeds out of their ears. So you’ll quickly learn to watch the trailers on 1080p on your laptop at home, and then time your entry as close as possible to the end of that Orange ad. (I am no longer on Orange, and I think they understood when the time came.)
5. Your seat choice is also key in the experience
Consequently you’ll be wanting to make a swift exit at the end of the credits. You can also forget about waiting to discover if your favourite key grip worked on the latest Michael Bay masterpiece – the minute that you see the words “Directed By” appear on screen, time to make a sharp exit. The ideal spot is somewhere around the middle, ideally near an aisle so that when the credits roll, you can be sprinting for your next date with destiny.
6. Cinema is nourishment in itself – it’s a shame the food isn’t
You will be in the cinema for around 15 hours, but it’s likely that you’ll have at most an hour when you aren’t sat in a cinema screen. Given that you’ll have to do this at a weekend to get the early and late showings in, the chances are that you’ll have to survive on whatever’s being served behind the concessions counter. So it’s nachos for lunch and a hot dog for dinner, with as much popcorn as you can eat / afford. Under the circumstances, if you have the constitution that can cope with a full English breakfast, I would strongly recommend it.
7. There is only so much caffeine one person should ingest in one day
Ask yourself one question – can you presently sit through the course of a two hour film without having sneak out to point Percy at the porcelain? If the answer is no, then you need to be very careful about how much liquid you’re planning to ingest. Most cinemas sell water these days so you should have no excuse for not staying hydrated, although the advantage of the various colas on the market is that you’ll still be buzzing about three hours after your last film, and should have no problem staying awake that long.
8. The loneliness of the long distance cinema runner is only matched by his lack of shame
Unless you can find a group of completely mad friends willing to embark on this epic quest with you, then you may be treading this road alone. Which mightn’t be a bad idea; nothing is more tempting than to dissect the finer points of that Norwegian sci-fi horror romance in the nearest public house, and there’s no time for that if you’re going to be staring at the inside of a darkened room for over half a day. One thing that is certain is that you need to protect your anonymity – no matter how many groups you buy your tickets in, you’re likely to get more than a few strange looks from the staff at your chosen cinema as you seem unable to actually leave the premises.
As an aside to this, it’s worth mentioning that I’m married; I managed to find the one woman in the world who seems to understand my need to do this occasionally, although her current record is three before her attention span got the better of her. She’s also medically trained, which will come in handy if those eyes do become uncontrollably square.
9. Only the truly committed will venture where others won’t – to a movie starring Holly Valance
As I hinted at earlier, you may wait a while to find seven films that are truly unmissable in the course of a single day. So why not let curiosity get the better of you and see something that you’re really not sure about to round out the day. I am, of course, referring to DOA: Dead Or Alive, which I saw simply because it saved me sitting in a proper restarurant, eating a decent meal for two hours. (Wait, what?) In terms of redeeming features, it had Eric Roberts in it, and… well, that’s it. And if you’ve seen The Expendables then you’ll know what that’s worth; a grand total of not much. The moral of this story is, do you want to be able to tell your friends that you’re completely mental, or just a bit whacko? Those not completely committed (in every sense of the word) need not apply.
10. Make sure you know how you’re getting home afterwards
And just a word to the wise. On the second time I attempted this feat, I hadn’t bothered to check public transport, and then discovered I didn’t have cab fare home on me. So at around 2 a.m., fifteen hours after I first sat down to watch Talladega Nights, I stumbled out and started the long walk home. The six mile long walk home. I got in about 4 a.m. and just wrote off Sunday. But it was worth it.
So that’s how you do it. Now you’ve no excuses. Well, apart from the obvious…