If you've lived in the area for any significant amount of time, you know that Rochester winters are long, cold, and dark. In the coming months most of us will be doing our best to avoid the outdoors and stay inside where it's warm (and there are snacks). What better way to pass the time until the sun returns than marathoning a ton of movies — preferably from the comfort of a cozy pillow fort.
Of course, with film streaming services providing more options than ever before, the task of choosing what to watch can be daunting. But never fear, we at CITY are merciful folk, and have taken the stress out of the film selection process. Behold: five pre-made movie marathons, all laid out and ready for viewing. Whether you binge them all at once or spread them over a long weekend, all you've got to do is make the popcorn.
As an added bonus, we've included a couple of extra films that will be screening locally this winter, which will make excellent additions to your marathons should you actually decide to venture out of the house.
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"E.T. The Extraterrestrial" (Netflix) — You can't go wrong by starting a marathon off with Steven Spielberg's beloved classic about a boy and the hideous-slash-adorable Reese's Pieces-loving alien who changes his life forever. With still-solid effects and one of the best child performances ever in Henry Thomas, this is still the gold standard of the genre.
"Adventures in Babysitting" (Netflix) — Poor Elisabeth Shue must venture into the big, scary city to rescue her stranded friend, dragging the kids she's supposed to be taking care of along for the ride. Chaos ensues.
"The Witches" (Amazon Prime) — A young boy gets into a heap of trouble when he and his grandmother accidentally vacation at the same hotel where the witches of England are holding their annual convention. Anjelica Huston emotes deliciously as The Grand High Witch in this still-frightening adaptation of the Roald Dahl book.
"Hugo" (Netflix) — Martin Scorsese pays tribute to the magic of the movies and filmmaker Georges Méliès (more on him later) in his adaptation of Brian Selznick's graphic novel "The Invention of Hugo Cabret," about the adventures of an orphaned boy who lives inside a railway station in 1930s Paris.
Approximate Time: 7 hours, 15 minutes
Outside the comfort of your home: "Explorers" — In this kiddie sci-fi cult favorite from director Joe Dante, Ethan Hawke and River Phoenix are teenage outcasts who escape their angst-ridden adolescent lives by attempting to build a real-life spaceship. Screens at the Dryden Theatre on Sunday, January 29, at 2 p.m.
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Horror With a Twisted Sense of Humor
"The Voices" (Amazon Prime) — Ryan Reynolds stars as a seemingly mild-mannered factory worker who must decide whether to obey the instructions of his pet cat, who tells him to murder people, or the wise words of his dog, who just wants him to be a good boy.
"Tucker and Dale vs. Evil" (Amazon Prime) — In this hilarious genre send-up, two sweet-natured rednecks (delightfully played by Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine) are forced to fend off attacks from a group of preppy teenagers on their way to a deserted cabin in the woods.
"Housebound" (Netflix) — After a failed robbery attempt, a young woman is placed under house arrest in her childhood home, where she must contend with her busybody mother — plus an evil spirit hell-bent on vengeance.
"Ravenous" (Netflix) — An under-appreciated treasure, this gruesome horror-western revolves around a band of 19th-century frontiersmen who believe that they can gain superhuman strength by devouring their fellow man. Starring Guy Pearce and an unhinged Robert Carlyle, this movie must be seen to be believed.
"An American Werewolf in London" (Amazon Prime) — John Landis directs this tale of two American college students who are attacked by a giant wolf while backpacking through the moors of England. Quite possibly the best horror-comedy ever made, and the werewolf transformation effects from makeup legend Rick Baker still can't be beat.
Approximate Time: 8 hours, 18 minutes
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The Wondrous World of Space Travel
"Europa Report" (Netflix) — An international crew of astronauts set out on a mission to discover whether life exists on Jupiter's fourth moon in this claustrophobic found-footage sci-fi thriller. It's a bit of a slow burn, but worth the trip.
"Galaxy Quest" (Netflix) — The washed-up cast of a long cancelled "Star Trek"-esque TV series get the chance to prove themselves when a crew of real-life aliens enlist their help to save their planet. A wildly entertaining love letter to Trekkies everywhere, this film features a wonderful performance from the late Alan Rickman (the MVP among a fantastic cast that also includes Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Tony Shalhoub, and Sam Rockwell).
"A Trip to the Moon" (Netflix) — French film pioneer Georges Méliès' silent short is the grandfather of science-fiction films everywhere (it also plays an integral role in the plot of "Hugo"). Without Méliès' elaborate sets, costumes, and show-offy in-camera editing tricks, the genre wouldn't be what it is today. Note: Netflix streams a black and white version with narration, as well as a colorized version with a soundtrack from electronic duo Air.
"World of Tomorrow" (Netflix) — Animator Don Hertzfeldt's hilarious and devastating Oscar-nominated short about a young girl who receives a message from her future self.
"Interstellar" (Amazon Prime) — With the planet slowly dying, a group of explorers embark on a mission to save mankind. Christopher Nolan's sci-fi epic operates in a realm somewhere between silly and sublime.
Approximate Time: 6 hours, 37 minutes
Outside the comfort of your home: "Contact" — Before "Arrival," there was this similarly hopeful look at humanity's first encounter with extraterrestrial beings, and the difficulties of intergalactic communication. Screens at the Dryden Theatre on Thursday, February 9, at 7:30 p.m.
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Endlessly Quotable Teen Comedies
"G.B.F." (Netflix) — When a shy teen is outed to his classmates, he suddenly becomes the trendiest new accessory among the popular elite: the "gay best friend." Like the rest of the films on this list, this one's a lot smarter than it looks.
"Clueless" (Netflix) — Amy Heckerling's loose adaptation of Jane Austen's "Emma" boasts a pitch-perfect performance from Alicia Silverstone as a spoiled but well-meaning rich kid who decides to makeover the new girl in school into teen royalty.
"Heathers" (Netflix) — Winona Ryder and Christian Slater star as a pair of high school misfits who hatch a plan to start knocking off the in crowd. One of the darkest (and best) teen comedies ever.
"Mean Girls" (Netflix) — Lindsay Lohan plays the home-schooled new girl who gets a crash-course in high school politics when she infiltrates the queen bee inner circle.
Approximate Time: 6 hours, 32 minutes
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Giant Monsters Attack!
"Trollhunter" (Netflix) — Three college students making a documentary about bear poaching find more than they bargained for out in the Norwegian wilderness.
"The Host" (Netflix) — A huge reptilian creature emerges from Seoul's Han River to chow down on the city's residents in this scary-funny gem from South Korean director Bong Joon-ho.
"Monsters" (Netflix) — The indie-thriller that landed director Gareth Edwards the "Godzilla" remake (which in turn got him that sweet "Rogue One" gig), in which a journalist escorts an American tourist through a forbidden zone in Mexico—left contaminated after an alien invasion six years prior—to the safety of the U.S. border.
"Cloverfield" (Amazon Prime) — Matt Reeves' excellent found-footage creature feature gives a worm's eye view as a mysterious monster lays waste to New York City.
"The Mist" (Amazon Prime) - Based on a Stephen King novella, this terrifying fable follows a group of people holed up in a supermarket after a storm unleashes a horde of terrifying creatures upon their town.
A note: This order presents the films from lightest in tone to bleakest, but feel free to reverse the order for a vibe that has more 2017 hope than 2016 despair.
Approximate Time: 8 hours, 50 minutes