Pop culture games.

I have been playing a couple of pop culture games in my head lately, and would like to have other people play along.

1: How different can they be?

I have been thinking about directors and the disparate movies they have made.  So, the question arose, what two movies fall the farthest apart from each other?

The initial case was Alfonso Cuaron, who prior to directing Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban directed Y Tu Mama Tambien (an excellent, excellent, film, although it should have been rated NC-17) I saw the latter when it came out, and when I heard that Cuaron would helm the third Harry Potter movie, I said out loud “What. The. Hell?!?!?!?” (That said, I think HP:TPA is far and away the best movie of the Harry Potter films, with only Deathly Hallows Part II coming close.)

Don’t get me wrong — directing movies very different from each other is a gift. You cannot pigeonhole a Cuaron movie going in, the same way you can Christopher Nolan, say, although Memento and The Dark Knight I suppose would qualify as being diverse. (Or Wes Anderson. “Quirky” only goes so far in my book.) Nor does having movies that are similar in tone mean that the director is not wonderful: Bergman and Kurasowa clearly fall within the “genius” category.

But even directors with a distinct style can have very different movies. Hitchcock’s Psycho is a much different movie than Fun With Dick and Jane. The intense and claustrophobic Rope (my favorite Hitchcock) is different from the frothy To Catch a Thief.

So, what directors and movies would you “nominate”?

2. Unintended trilogies.

“Unintended trilogies” are groups of books which make sense alongside each other in the bookcase, even though written by different authors and nominally about different subjects.

My mind started down this path by noticing that Devil In the White City, Empire of Sin, and Tinseltown all had similar covers: black with white or off-white lettering, with a lurid title or subtitle. Of course! They are my “cities and the evils they can hold” trilogy. (I suppose you could add Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil if you really stretched things.)

And almost all schoolchildren have read the eighteenth-nineteenth century British female writers trilogy: Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, and Wuthering Heights. (So the Brontës were sisters. Still counts.) Although, thinking about it, Sense and Sensibility makes a better companion to the other books than Pride and Prejudice. Or if the Brontes being sisters bothers you, and you are willing to go to male writers, you could swap out Great Expectations for Jane Eyre.

I realize that for this to make sense, there have to be more rules, other than that which I can think of right now. I also realize that for many people this is not a game, but simply how they arrange their bookshelves. (In my house, depending upon the bookcase, it is either sort of alphabetically or more or less randomly, being roughly divided into history, fiction, other non-fiction, etc…)

Of course you can do this about movies, too: my “nerds are great!” triple feature from 2014 would be The Imitation Game, The Theory of Everything, and Big Hero 6.

I’m not sure that my examples are all that imaginative, and would love to hear better ones.

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