Plan Your James Mangold Film Festival
One of the more fun ways to delve into the filmography of a director, actor, or technical worker is the movie marathon. Put together a lineup of films from the same artist (we'd suggest five films as the ideal number, but go with your gut) and take a tour through the different shades of their career. Invite some like-minded friends over. Get some snacks. Have a day. But which films get chosen -- and in which order -- will make or break a movie marathon. And it's no shame to accept help. Allow us to help curate your filmmaker-specific film fests, and you'll be a much happier movie fan. This week: putting together a film fest for The Wolverine director James Mangold.
For your first film, you want to start with something less than essential. People might not want to show up for a day-long event quite so early. But the die-hards will, so pick something a little unexpected to reward the early-risers. In the case of James Mangold, why not start with one of his less typical pictures, the time-traveling romance Kate and Leopold. For one thing, a Meg Ryan rom-com is a gone-by genre that should be revisited. Plus, you'll be ready to compare and contrast the Mangold/Hugh Jackman pairing when you see The Wolverine.
While Everyone's Arriving/Snack-Gathering
Here's a movie that the rapidly-growing crowd can enjoy while enduring the usual jostling that comes with the early stages of the party. Cheese plates being assembled and whatnot. (Okay, fine, Cheese Doodles bags being opened and crinkled.) The perfect Mangold movie for this stage of the game is obviously Girl, Interrupted. It's not so plot-intensive that guests will get lost, and enough of them will have seen the movie and be able to connect the dots themselves. Moreover, it's a lovely little film with a cast that's more expansive than you probably remember (Elisabeth Moss! Angela Bettis! Mary Kay Place!).
Here's the time to unveil the best movie of your filmmaker's career. The one film you want your guests to walk away having seen. For Mangold, it's a tough call, a coin-flip between his western throwback 3:10 to Yuma and his most awardsy-successful film, 2005's Walk the Line. I'm going to go and recommend Walk the Line in this slot, both because the Western is a potentially alienating genre for some, and because Reese Witherspoon's Oscar-winning performance often gets brushed aside as a weak-year win, but she's pretty wonderful and super charismatic.
Wait For Alcoholic Reinforcements
Now that we're more than halfway into the marathon, it's time to loosen up with a more junky movie that is nevertheless a lot of fun. Lucky for us, James Mangold gave us Identity, an Agatha Christie-style mystery where a bunch of strangers end up stranded at a motel and are getting picked off one-by one. Enjoy the wide-ranging cast (John Cusack, Amanda Peet, John Hawkes) and the twists and turns of the story while letting the wine in your system craft your wisecracks for you.
The Cool-Down Movie
It's been a long day. Some of your guests have left. The die-hards that have stayed have had a lot to eat and drink and might be a big snoozy. Here's where you pull out the 3:10 to Yuma card. The comforting rhythms of the Western, the great Ben Foster performance to keep you on your toes, and likely the most confident presentation of Mangold's diverse career.
Feel free to deviate from these recommendations (if you MUST) with some of Mangold's other feature films. In particular, the 1995 Liv Tyler movie Heavy, the star-studded yet subdued Cop Land, or the Tom Cruise/Cameron Diaz head-scratcher Knight and Day. In particular, Knight and Day would work when your party is at its drunkest.