Monday, December 6, 2010

The Lost Art of the Double Feature: Box Elder (2008) & One Too Many Mornings (2010)

"You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me." - C.S. Lewis

Ok, you caught me. I don't really enjoy tea and rarely sit down to read a lengthy book but I do occasionally entertain the idea of doing so. Truth be told I am much more likely to snuggle up with a bottomless Big Gulp of soda and a couple DVDs (or VHSs) but I think the sentiment remains the same. Back in the "good old days" (aka when I didn't have things like job searching to steal my attention) I could watch two or three movies in a row with out a second thought and one of my favorite ways to do this was a Drive In that would play a double bill of modern films that had some sort of linking idea or them. So, in an attempt to partly relive that type of experience but at the same time share some of my favorite films with the small section of the world that wastes their time reading this blog, I chose to embark on this article series.

I decided to start with two recent films that are both hilarious but also creep up on you with how much they can relate to your life, well at least for me anyways. First up is one of my favorite independent films, Box Elder; The definitive college and/or slacker comedy of my generation. Written, staring, and directed by Todd Sklar this film follows a group of college bros coasting through their last few years of school. Dealing with all the goodies and problems available to them at this stage of life (booze, broads, betrayal, and BLTs), the film presents a comedic yet honest look at getting a "higher" education. While the film could rest on these laurels alone, Sklar strives for even more with some great cinematography and sound track selections. Lastly, I would be doing a grace injustice if I didn't mention the performance of Alex Rennie as himself who steals every scene he's in, everyone was great but he was the best. I instantly fell in love with the film when I saw it in college, and when I return to (which I do often) I am reminded of all those great times (even if they were just a few years ago.)

It is customary to take an intermission between the films of a double feature and I utilize that time to hit the bathroom (if necessary) and grab some fuel before round two. As you might have guessed if you lingered over the picture above, or have ever seen Box Elder, I elected to make a sandwich and partner it up with a tall glass of milk (although coke and/or alcohol are suitable substitutes if you're of age and so inclined to do so.) So if you also venture into this little double feature, make sure you have the necessary items on hand. Trust me, if there is one thing your urge you'll have after Box Elder it's for a sandwich or possibly to put a tie on your house hold pet.

The second film is One Too Many Mornings, an independent film that debuted at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year and unfortunately has gotten as much attention as it deserves. Written and directed by Michael Mohan this dramedy examines two estranged high school friends, Peter and Fischer, who are finally being forced to grow up, even if life has to drag them kicking and screaming all the way. Opting for black and white over color film (although, I consider them separate but equal), the film has a natural feel to it (I would say "classic feel" but that is the one phrase everyone uses to describe a modern film shot in black and white) drawing the viewer lackadaisically into it's world before springing life on them and its characters. Again, I feel like I could really relate to this film because its sort of where I'm at now in that post-school world where one is supposed to be an adult but is holding out as long as they can. Not unlike Box Elder, this film also features some great cinematography and music (with the stellar band Capybara providing the sound track) but their similarities don't end there.

There are a ton of reasons why I feel these films make for a great double feature but the main one is the latter seems to pick up right where the former left off. Both are coming-of-age tales in a way, with Box Elder looking at the time when you first find out who you are away from home and One Too Many Mornings looking at how that person grows up to sink or swim. They also relate tonally; Box Elder keeps you laughing the whole way through while giving you a little warning that you have to grow up at some point and One Too Many Mornings continues the laughs but suddenly forces "grown up life" on you, helping you to realize you can stand it. While at first glance you might think it turns the whole experience into some sort of lesson, I can assure you it's a fun one (like those rare days you had class outside.) The films also bear a relation in my mind because I first heard about One Too Many Mornings from Todd Sklar on twitter (love me some tweets.)

Well, that concludes are first foray into double features with hopefully many more to come. I am including some links at the bottom of the post if you want to know more about the films or want to watch (which you really should.) I've got a few other ideas lined up for this feature but would also love suggestions of your favorite double features, to see what I can get from it. As always, I can be reached at (via email) or (twitter)

Box Elder Links:
-Add it to your Netflix Queue (Please do this one, it just got on there and demand for it would help the film and help it become available on here sooner)
-Follow Box Elder or its director Todd Sklar on Twitter
-Check out the official site of the film (Currently the DVD is on sale for $14! So get to gettin' while the gettin' is good.)

One Too Many Mornings Links:
-Add it to your Netflix Queue (Similar situation as Box Elder, come on you know your queue has room for two more films! Just take out Transformers 2 and The Last Air-bender, they both sucked.)
-Follow One Too Many Mornings on Twitter
-Check out the official site of the film (This one is only $9.99 for the DVD and $4.99 for the digital download.)


  1. Whoever you are - you are awesome. Thank you so much for spreading the word about our film!

    -mike mohan

  2. No problem at all sir, thank you for making an awesome film.

  3. Love it! I'm a big fan of thematic pairings of things like movies! Comparing the movies can often bring out things that one wouldn't maybe notice at first.

    Great job; I'm looking forward to more of these.

  4. we owe you a sandwich for this -- todd & alex

  5. @Pseudo - Thanks man, you should see some of the film comparisons I would "try" to write papers on in college. Some were pretty good like this one but a lot were pretty bad.

    @Todd & Alex - Thanks guys, looking forward to it and the next time you bring a tour and/or film to the Chicago area.

  6. Good job Brian, I can't remember the last time I endeavored to watch two movies in a row... I look forward to trying it sometime and I'll definitely give these two a shot.