I Went To Russellmania This Weekend And Now I Am Changed
Every year in February, the Alamo Drafthouse in Yonkers hosts an all-day movie marathon celebrating one of their favorite actors. Five movies in a row, which aren't revealed to the audience until they're playing up there on the screen. I went for the first time last year for Hey Arnold!, the Arnold Schwarzenegger marathon (that year's lineup: True Lies, The Running Man, Kindergarten Cop, Eraser, and Total Recall). This year, I returned to celebrate the magnificence of Kurt Russell in Russellmania.
Kurt Russell is one of the coolest actors of all time. He's a great action star, can be reliably funny, and brings something to every movie he's a part of. He's got a list of classics that run a mile long, like his work with John Carpenter (Escape From New York, The Thing, and Big Trouble in Little China are some of the best movies of the '80s), Tarantino films like Death Proof and The Hateful Eight, and he's recently been popping in to elevate franchises like Guardians of the Galaxy and The Fast and the Furious.
The point is, Kurt Russell is the man, and watching five of his movies in a row with a theater full of fellow Russellmaniacs was a blast. Here are the movies we saw:
Movie #1: Tango & Cash - This is perhaps the pinnacle of '80s action excess. Kurt Russell and Sylvester Stallone star in this buddy cop movie that's funny, ridiculous, and over the top. How this never became a long-running franchise like Lethal Weapon is beyond me.
Movie #2: Breakdown - I had never heard of this movie before we saw it, and it ended up being my favorite movie of the day. It's incredible, like an old Twilight Zone mixed with Deliverance with a dash of Spielberg's Duel. It might be one of my favorite thrillers of all time. Drop what you're doing and go watch it.
Movie #3: Used Cars - This is the one I was really hoping would play! An early film from Robert Zemeckis, five years before he and co-writer Bob Gale made Back to the Future, this is a great (if somewhat outdated) comedy that goes nuts and never lets up. This is one of the first films Russell made as he was trying to shed his Disney Child Actor image, and he dives right into the movie's raunchier elements.
Movie #4: Executive Decision - A solid action movie set on a plane which I hadn't seen since I was a kid, but still vividly remembered THE Steven Seagal scene. Russell's character is a great inversion of the typical action hero, and spends most of the movie avoiding it as much as possible... which makes it more satisfying when he finally gets in on it.
Movie #5: Escape From LA - The final movie of the night was a bit of a curveball. It's Kurt Russell playing his most iconic role, Snake Plisskin... just not in the movie you'd expect to see him in. This sequel to Escape From New York is not exactly a good movie, but it's completely bonkers and a ton of fun to watch with this crowd. It also has a surprisingly great ending.
It was a great lineup that showcased the many different kinds of performances Russell is capable of as an actor, featuring some hits but more often than not going into some deep cuts in his filmography. And seriously, watch Breakdown. It's the best.