A favorite game of movie buffs is to program our own film festivals, or at least our own creative double features. It's a bit like making a mix tape of your favorite songs, finding just the right ones that go together, either thematically, or just simply going by feel or mood. Or sometimes it's fun to create a huge, crazy, opposite clash between two sensibilities. I have always dreamed of what kind of "summer movie" film festival I would program, using only movies that were released between May and August. I will be adding more throughout the summer, but this is my first double-bill.
When I started assembling my double features, the first movie that popped into my head was John Carpenter's Big Trouble in Little China (1986). It's the quintessential summer movie, filled with fun, humor, chases, escapes, special effects, exotic locations, etc. In a nutshell, it's the heartwarming story of a truck driver, Jack Burton (Kurt Russell), who winds up venturing into the unknown depths of Chinatown to help rescue a buddy's fiancée from some ancient sorcerers and warlords. It's fast and gorgeous and doesn't take itself seriously. That's a major qualification for me; a summer movie that takes itself too seriously just isn't a summer movie. Its seriousness is a clear attempt to be "better" than the competition, which, conversely, also makes it a more self-conscious work, with far less risk.