Let me set it up for you.
Apparently, I am the only one of my friends who absolutely, positively cannot wait for Contagion, a disaster epic from director Steven Soderbergh and writer Scott Z. Burns about the spread of a deadly virus. It has the two ingredients for an Irwin Allen-esque masterpiece: (1) a disaster, whether natural or man-made, that is far-reaching in its power to kill; and (2) a large ensemble of famous actors and movie stars (there's a difference). Look at that roster of talent: Academy Award Winners Gwyneth Paltrow, Matt Damon, Marion Cotillard and Kate Winslet; Academy Award Nominees Laurence Fishburne, John Hawkes, Jude Law and Elliott Gould; television stars Bryan Cranston and Sanaa Lathan; prestige actress Jennifer Ehle; German character actor Armin Rohde; and comedian (!!) Demetri Martin. And we're talking about a deadly virus on a global scale! How can two of my friends treat this with a lack of excitement, while another -- who's seen it -- claims disappointment?
Ok, so I should probably temper that excitement. After all, if one's this excited, the film can only fail to meet expectations. Still, the impending release got me to thinking about disaster films in general, and how much I love them. A testament to the imagination of filmmakers, ego of stars, recklessness of producers and easy satisfaction of audiences, Disasterpieces are Hollywood at its most MOST. Bloated runtimes, multiple subplots, self-important messages, and (generally) a special effects budget that could have fed America for the rest of time. Quality varies, of course, as some are made to capitalize on the success of others, but the genre is always good for a few surprising gems. Earthquake is a surprisingly strong drama; The Swarm and Day of the Animals are campy fun; On the Beach and Fail-Safe are more meditative, and therefore more chilling than the usual fare. But dammit, they're all entertaining.
(Even The Towering Inferno, a bloated, dull affair which somehow managed eight Oscar nominations and three wins, has William Holden in that awesome dinner jacket and those sophisticated thick-frame spectacles. And the art direction is superb. And the slow-mo people-on-fire sequences. There's lots to love about The Towering Inferno, even if it's clearly not as good as it could have been.)
So, let us get back to the point. That is, why 1957 coverage can't be done in September. I'm sure you already know where this is going.....
...because September is DISASTERPIECE '11 MONTH!!!
As I write this, my roommate and I are going through titles on Netflix and in our DVD collections to see which Disasterpieces we'd most love to highlight. I'll mention all of them on Twitter, maybe write up a few here on the Blog, but I do hope you'll all join in the fun. And, of course, what would a theme month here at the Silver Screening Room be without...
CASTING COUP TUESDAYS!!!
We've got four Tuesdays in September, so that's four Disasterpieces to recast. And I think it's obvious what those four need to be:
September 6: The Towering Inferno
September 13: Earthquake
September 20: The Poseidon Adventure
September 27: The Swarm
Yes, I know, we already had Poseidon in 2006, but I didn't see it, so I'm not beholden to it! Anyway, stick around, because DISASTERPIECE '11 is going to be SO FREEKIN' AWESOME!