15 Great ‘Double Features’ That Are Worth Your Time

5. Irreversible and Memento




L’enfant terrible auteur Gaspar Noé Has, with his haunting picture: Irreversible, crafted one of the most shockingly disturbing films that you’ll ever have the (dis)pleasure of watching. This is a story told backwards beginning with a brutal act of revenge triggered by a brutal act of rape. Stuffed with long master shots, nausea inducing background noise and dizzying cinematography, this film is (with its insanely disturbing content) to mildly put it, a heavy film to handle.

Had the film been told in a chronological order this would have been no different from any other rape and revenge story. However, told like in Irreversible, we get the dreadful aftermath straight on, leaving us with time of reflection as the story grows happier by the seconds. With the films tagline in mind “Time destroys everything”, we walk out of the theater with an odd feeling of relief and happiness, mixed with an awful dose of depression and confusion.




With a story structure of a far more complex nature then that of Irreversible, Christopher Nolan’s Memento is exercising the mind with wit, humour, elegance and intelligence.

Guy Pierce plays the part of Leonard, a man who suffers from short-term memory loss. He cannot make any new memories so he will constantly forget about the people he meet and the clues, cues, tips and hints that he uncovers will be lost should he forget to write them down.

Leonard’s Objective is to avenge his wife who was raped and killed.

The reason for this film being in a reversed chronological order is that it forces the audience to identify with Leonard. We feel, just as he, confused, lost and disoriented. We cannot really remember or we do not really know what we are supposed to be remembering. We are stuck in the moment to moment reality of Leonard’s mind, and so, we inhabit the protagonist gaze, turning Memento into a true first person character study.


What They Have in Common:

Irreversible deals in the passing of time whilst Memento illustrates the fragile state of human memory. One film with a philosophical purpose of reversing the order and the other with a more practical one. Memento boasts a more convoluted plot for sure but the simplicity in Irreversible’s twelve scenes proved to be just as, if not more, powerful in their delivery.


4. There Will Be Blood and Nightcrawler


There Will Be Blood

there will be blood theme

Paul Thomas Anderson’s epic masterpiece There Will Be Blood tells the tale of oilman Daniel Plainview (played by Daniel Day-Lewis who eats up the screen with his enigmatic presence and unparalleled acting) a man first come to recognize as friendly, reasonable, hardworking, and fair—a man of principal and great ambition, who goes from “scratching around in the dirt” to drinking other people’s milkshakes, leaving us awestruck to as what he has let himself become.

Beautifully photographed with an amazing soundtrack – outrageously turned aside by the academy, this film, with its dealing in capitalism, religion and the notion of survival of the fittest, presents us with true shades of grey, and the audience who dare press play shall not be offered an easy outcome.




Then we have Dan Gilroy’s excellent debut film: Nightcrawler. Jake Gyllenhaal plays Lou Bloom – a soon to become Jack-Of-All-Trades, learning as he goes, climbing the ladder of success. In this case not an oilman but an L.A. Crime Journalist. Lou shows us that if you play by the rules, study hard and don’t lose heart, the American dream is yours for the taking. Throw in extortion, murderous intent, aiding and abetting fugitive cop killers, and a couple of bodies that is. If you do nothing but stay on this path of coldness and solipsism, the trick, which is profiteering and exploitation should indeed reach its fulfillment.


What They Have in Common:

Two stories both featuring a male protagonist who at first seems friendly and of good meaning nature. They fool people with their likeable faces and razor sharp, though reasonable, rhetoric that could make fools out of gods.

”Maybe it’s not that I don’t understand people, maybe I just don’t like them.” – Lou Bloom.

”I look at people and I see nothing worth liking. I see the worst in people. I don’t need to look past seeing them to get all I need.” – Daniel Plainview.

The true masterstroke of this double feature is that in the end we are left with two utterly morally corrupt characters at the height of their powers with nothing but ruin and despair at their feet, and still… We kinda liked them.


3. 12 Years a Slave and Django Unchained


12 Years a Slave

12 Years a Slave

Based on a true story, 12 Years a Slave tells the tale of Solomon Northup, prior to his kidnapping, a free man. Sold as a slave he does as he’s told in order to survive, though in the beginning he tests his luck by striking back. This makes matters even worse as he is sold yet again to a slave owner, this one a thousand times more evil than the former (Michael Fassbender got his first Oscar nomination as the wicked slave owner Edwin Epps).

Beautifully photographed images bring life into the plantation of the south as the slaves work the unforgiving cotton fields (the film was shot with only one camera).

The film is magnificent despite being filled with morally barren characters steeped in utter darkness, offering nothing but ignorant antipathy. The life-affirming part gives us new feelings of hope as we see the restless courage of few beating the nonsensical evil of many.


Django Unchained


The one and only Quentin Tarantino puts the American Western to the test by placing his story in the Antebellum South 1858. He picks his beloved spaghetti genre in order to tackle the west with all the usual Tarantino flair. We’re talking obscure film references, incendiary soundtracks, brutal depictions of violence – sometimes fun, sometimes grim, genius dialogue, long running time – due to sometimes being indulgent (but who cares?), fantastic action set to an amazing cinematography courtesy of Robert Richardson etc. Everything about the film is top notch, as expected being a Tarantino film.

The film is about revenge, as expected, it is also classic tale of how the good knight saves his princess from the evil captures. The film features stellar performances from Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz (won an Oscar), Leonardo DiCaprio, Samuel L. Jackson, Kerry Washington, and more.


What They Have in Common:

Django Unchained features a fun take on pre-civil war America whilst 12 Years a Slave gives a more serious treatment, not to say that Django Unchained isn’t serious but as a comparison to 12 Years a Slave, but Tarantino gives us The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly next to Steve McQueen who gives us Schindler’s list. Both masterpieces, both tough to sit through, both essential movie experiences.


2. Audition and The Isle




Takashi Miike’s flawless masterpiece Audition is a perfectly paced film in absolute need of the viewer’s fervent attention, patience and open intellect. It moves steadily/slowly with twists and turns of chocking imagery, pitch dark humour, extreme tension and a raised middle finger (with the rest of them fingers being cut off, spare the thumb) to the weaklings of modern cinema.

Asami Yamazaki is a woman of intense beauty and unflinching horror, thus making her insanely attractive for any man of any kind. The man of any kind is named Shigeharu Aoyama, a grieving widower who finds it troublesome approaching women in the pursuit of a partner, so he lets his film producer friend drag him into agreeing on hosting a fake audition for a fake film. The fake leading lady (Asami) will be the one for him to date.

Alas, beauty is not the only thing she brings to along, she also has a past and unlike her face, it isn’t pretty.


The Isle

The Isle

Ki-duk Kim could quite possibly be the only “true” poet of Cinema, a statement that is evident as ever in films such as The isle, a harrowingly bleak piece of surreal poetry.

Never mind the plot, The Isle stands as a metaphor, illuminating “the extreme psychology of men and women in a relationship”. Not unlike Audition, it moves slowly with few cuts and well composed shots, something that strengthens the horror and in turn provides it with its much needed beauty, but unlike Audition, which feels like a punch, The Isle feels like a poem.


What They Have in Common:

Two slow burn Asian films released just about the same time (around the year 2000), both dealing with savage imagery, sporting washed out colors going from the screen to unpleasant memories chewed into the mind of the viewer with both films being highly complex. This is art house exploitation at its best and not to be missed by anyone. However, Fans of Transformers 2 might not like it.


1. The Tree of Life and 2001: A Space Odyssey


The Tree of Life

The Tree of Life

We see a family during the 1950s residing in Texas, consisting of Mr. and Mrs. O’Brien, Jack and his three brothers, living their small everyday lives, captured by beautiful cinematography to a magnificent score, boasting a god-like power.

We get to experience high art in an extremely skillful fashion, as we fly through the birth of the universe, the wanderings of the dinosaurs and the evolution of mankind. It perfectly illustrates the vastness and undeniable scope of our universe and despite being so freakishly epic, it still manages to feel poignant, kind, and in the present.

Its director (Terrence Malick) draws a lot from his own childhood thus making this a personal film with a lot of symbolism and whispering narration. The father (Brad Pitt) represents nature – tough, disciplined, stern, strong. The mother (Jessica Chastain) represents grace – luminous, floating, beautiful, and peaceful. Together they represent two pathways for Jack, and/or us, to follow.


2001: A Space Odyssey


As we experience the super evolved monolith’s setting evolution into motion, we marvel at what could be called: a substance free drug trip.

2001: A Space Odyssey takes us from the dawn of man to the astonishing ventures of space travel and chilling super intelligence of the AI-computer HAL9000 – one of cinema’s most intriguing villains, and In conveying this beautiful scene, Kubrick forges a glorious transition where we go from animal brutes (Australopithecus) to calculating AI. In just one cut, we skip ahead four million years. A defining cut, unrivaled by the rest of Cinema.

2001: A Space Odyssey shows us a cold, dead and hostile space that we walk away referring to as the grandeur of the universe. Dead, scary and malign but at the same time epic, wondrous, symmetrical and benign. A perfect contrast.


What They Have in Common:

These two great artworks deal with the origin of life and that which might come after. 2001: A Space Odyssey is governed by Kubrick’s stale, bleak, cold and mechanical vision whereas The Tree of Life presents itself with gentle breezes of warm emotions. They are both ambiguously surreal in their approach, making the films more of an experience than a clear-cut narrative.

Author bio: John Berntsson is a film aficionado who spends his time watching movies, talking about movies, writing about movies, and making movies. He is also a martial artist with eight years’ worth of judo training under his belt. His films can be seen on his YouTube channel where he goes under the name of John Davidsson/MacaroniCombat. https://www.youtube.com/user/MacaroniCombat/videos.