Thursday, May 30, 2013

Mixtape Movies Blogathon: A Tiny Flame to Cup One's Hand Around and Protect From the Wind

“To me, making a tape is like writing a letter – there’s a lot of erasing and rethinking and starting again. A good compilation tape, like breaking up, is hard to do. You’ve got to kick off with a corker, to hold the attention, and then you’ve got to up it a notch, or cool it a notch, and…oh, there are loads of rules.” - John Cusack in High Fidelity.

Andy Hart AKA Fandango Groover has done it again, created another great Lamb Blogathon. This time he challenges us to bring back the mixtape: compile a collection of six movies that fit together, they are not expected to be definitive personal lists, they are just small expressions of creativity in linking the movies. Pick five movies within a chosen theme that compliment each other and one wild card that stands out as different but still maintains the theme.

To me the two most prominent icons in pop culture regarding mixtapes are High Fidelity in which John Cusack discusses the reasons and method for making a mixtape and Love is a Mixtape by Rob Sheffield, the true story of a relationship told through mixtapes and it is the title of Rob Sheffield's book that inspired my movie mixtape.

In general isn't that why we all make or most likely made mixtapes? We all want to be loved. Whether we want to tell the object of our affection how we feel through a handful of well chosen songs or impress them with just how intelligent and thoughtful we are or even just show off how obscure your tastes are, making the perfect mixtape can get you laid, can make you friends, can even be a cathartic experience. It's that attempt to find the perfect match between pretentious and pop, the attention to detail in your artwork, thinking up a really clever title and waiting anxiously for the response from the recipient, that's where the real pleasure in making the mixtape comes from. And that is the joy experienced once more in this digital world as I made this mixtape of movies.

As I said, making a mixtape is all about love and I've taken that idea literally with this one. Love is what these films have in common, films about that moment, however fleeting, when one soul connects with another and all the joy and pain, laughter and tears that it can bring.

So I give you the blahblahblahgay entry to the Fandango Groovers Mixtape Movies Blogathon:

Lost in Translation (2003) Dir. Sofia Coppola

Bill Murray forms an unlikely bond with Scarlett Johansson whilst they are both in Tokyo. A wonderful way to start the mixtape, it's a cornerstone of modern American cinema that most girls I'd give this to would have at least heard of if not seen already. The mesmerising nature of the cinematography and direction perfectly compliment the melancholy nature of the love story and the punch to the gut as the film closes sums up the entire nature of the mixtape.

Weekend (2011) Dir. Andrew Haigh

The second track is as important as the first, you've hooked them with that opener and now they want to see more but it's important not to peak too soon, so you change it up a little. This is the one I put the most thought in to selecting. Initially I considered the wonderful poetry of Kim Ki-Duk's love story Bin Jip but dismissed it as too difficult for a novice, the second option was Zach Clark's mumblecore romance Quiet City. What hipster wouldn't want to share how awesomely hip they are with a piece of mumblecore? But Weekend is the perfect mix of pretension and pop, it also says the compiler is open to people who choose lifestyles different to their own, see how considerate of others I am? Don't you want to come over whilst my mum is out of town? It's also one of the greatest movies about love ever made.

In The Mood For Love (2000) Dir. Wong Kar-Wai

I'm making this for a female right? This one is a beautiful devastating picture that oozes style and I haven't met a woman yet who hasn't found Maggie Cheung and her costumes to be jaw droppingly beautiful. The third track is the point where you really need to make a statement with this kind of mixtape, and with In The Mood For Love I am saying, hey doesn't loneliness suck, I am guy with heart, I could be good for you, putting the possibility of a relationship out there for consideration as a counterpoint to that loneliness.

Harold and Maude (1971) Dir. Hal Ashby

It's time for the wild card, Hal Ashby's beautiful love story of a really old lady with a lust for life and the teenage boy who has a fascination with death. It shouldn't work but it does and whilst it might creep someone out it also demonstrates the power of love and how little differences between two people can be overcome. See, she might have doubts about our compatibility but if Harold can love Maude surely she can love this hipster even if he doesn't wear skin tight cords or enjoy the music of Morrissey.

Last Life in the Universe (2003) Dir. Pen-Ek Ratanaruang

Two lost and lonely souls are brought together by tragedy in Bangkok. Neither of them speak the same language but their relationship helps them to find meaning in their lives. It's also another weapon in overcoming obstacles, it tells the viewer that love could be fleeting, that life is fleeting and you shouldn't hesitate to make the most of the time you have with this person you are connected with. After Harold & Maude and Last Life if they aren't sending you suggestive snapchat images then you're pretty much out of luck. Either that or you picked a cold, heartless woman who could never love you.

Brief Encounter (1946) Dir. David Lean

Heart wrenching performances from the two leads in this perfect example of how repressing your passions can cause great pain. This is the piece de resistance but also the deal breaker, if she doesn't love this film then I don't want to know her.

What do you think? Would you be putty in my hands after this manipulative mixtape? Leave some comments here or on twitter @bbbgtoby with #moviemixtape. Did you make a mixtape I haven't seen yet? Leave a link. If you want to join in head over to Fandango Groovers for the full instructions and for more movie mixtapes check out the complete database here (after 22nd June.)


  1. Beautiful theme and choices, but also man this would be a depressing day of films! I always cry at HAROLD AND MAUDE and LOST IN TRANSLATION, and I remember LAST LIFE IN THE UNIVERSE being pretty sad as well. I guess it'd be a test at how emotional the girl is haha.

    1. Alex you may be the most emotional girl on the planet! I always thought the point of Harold & Maude was that it was an uplifting, life affirming film despite the way they part. Sure Bud Cort sells his sorrow superbly but still...

      It wouldn't bother me if she was emotional, a mixtape is to be experienced alone. I'd obviously be out all day at a sporting event with the lads in this scenario ;)

  2. Oh man, that is a great list. With the exception of Last Life in the Universe which I haven't seen. I totally recommend all of these films... especially LiT which is THE BEST FILM EVER MADE.

    1. Do see Last Life in the Universe, you'll love it. I'm surprised by all this love for LiT actually, I was under the growing impression that it was suffering the same fate as Donnie Darko and being dismissed by more and more people as the years roll by.

  3. Great job, I especially love the High Fidelity quote.

    Interesting you mention Ki-duk Kim, I have just paired The Isle up with Lost in Translation

    1. Thanks Andy. And thanks for the excellent blogathon idea. I've got a couple more in mind but went with the best one first just incase I run out of time to write up the others.

      Kim does lend himself to these comparisons in style and tone to Lost in Translation, but your inclusion of The Isle worked much better as part of the whole than Bin Jip would have here I think.

  4. Damn, man, this is awesome. Not just the list itself - which is awesome (although I haven't seen Last Life in the Universe which will be going in my Netflix queue shortly) - but the way you went about it. You're right, as guys we make mix tapes for girls we like, to communicate how we feel and to feel them out. I think you may have cracked the code for me.

    Also, I know you didn't actually include it on the tape like Quiet City? If you like Quiet City we can be Best Friends Forever.

    1. I've always been the one in my group of friends who put all their time in to mixtapes, but Nick Hornby has to take the credit for making me realise there should be a little more thought put in to structure. As film has slowly become a more and more important part of my life I think I've been searching for this kind of concept without making the mental leap of Andy.

      Surely as cinephiles we all want to inflict our loves, our film watching peccadilloes, our guilty pleasures (the cinematic equivalent of slipping in a one-hit wonder surely?) on somebody we're developing feelings for and hoping they might be feeling the same way.

      And you and I Nick, I thought we were pretty much there already. Quiet City (actually all three films by Aaron Katz) is a wonderful piece of romantic cinema. Another in the long list of films I try to make people watch.

  5. Wow, this is an amazing idea for a blogathon, I definitely need to take part in this. But moreover, dude, what a remarkable mix tape of films you put together. I haven't seen Last Life in the Universe, but it really looks like you nailed it here.

    1. I know, Andy has set the standard for this years blogathon concepts with this one. It's tailor made for the kind of people who want to join The Lamb. His two mixtapes so far have been really well put together too.

      Thanks for the compliment, this was a pretty easy one for me - they're some of my all time favourites and just happen to share tone and theme and I'm glad it's getting Last Life in the Universe some attention. It's a really special film that deserves to be seen.

      Next up bootlegs and b-sides?

  6. Great mixtape here, except I haven't seen Last Life in the Universe or Harold and Maude yet. Still, it seems like you got it just right.

    I like Quiet City too, by the way. Glad you mentioned it amongst these titles.

    1. Feel free to use it next time you're attempting to woo somebody through cinema. It certainly beats taking them to see whatever foreign language film is showing at the cinema and listening to them ask if you're from X country when they realise it's foreign!

      This affection towards Quiet City is a surprise, never imagined it would have many fans out there with the hipsters and the mumbling etc.