Features and Columns · Movies

The Perfect Pop Culture Playlist for a 15-Hour Flight

By  · Published on June 7th, 2016

Dear FSR

Planning The Perfect Pop Culture Playlist for a 15-Hour Flight

Stuck on a trip without Wi-Fi – what do you bring?

At some point in your life, you’ve likely been faced with a question that has no solid answer. Some people may take such a puzzle to a trusted confidant, a friendly pastor, or the esteemed annals of Yahoo! Answers. But will they have the expertise needed to solve your most pressing film predicaments?

Think of Dear FSR as an impartial arbiter for all your film concerns. Boyfriend texting while you’re trying to show him your most precious Ozu? What’s the best way to confront the guy who snuck that pungent curry into your cramped theater? This is an advice column for film fans, by a film fan.

Dear FSR,

What media do you recommend for a fifteen-hour flight to Japan?


Frequent Flying Filmgoer

Frequent Flyer,

Many of us with less optimistic ideas about flight may opt to stay up all night and spend the airtime sleeping. Others may choose the Liz Lemon route and pop a couple of (hopefully) sleeping pills to get through travel.

But let’s say you’re an in-flight insomniac or an aviophobe (like John Madden) in desperate need of distraction. Not everyone can afford a personal Madden Cruiser. We have to make the most of our situations. Let’s assume you’re loading up an iPad or laptop with material to be consecutively viewed. No streaming, no napping, just fifteen hours of backlit screens and gradually clouding eyesight.

00:00–01:43 (Kiki’s Delivery Service)

To begin, it might be nice to set the mood. Of Studio Ghibli’s animated treats, Kiki’s Delivery Service is one of its lightest and brightest. Witches, bread, sassy talking cats, and flying of every kind will delight your senses, raise your spirits, and hopefully fool you into thinking that fifteen hours to Japan will be much shorter than it is.

1:43–3:32 (Snakes on a Plane)

You’re on a plane. There might very well be snakes, though Samuel L. Jackson’s presence is far less likely. But if anything, this’ll keep your wits about you.

3:32–5:43 (Die Hard)

What film better depicts a Japanese-American partnership like the assaulted Nakatomi Corporation of Die Hard? Let’s ignore for the moment that Die Hard 2 takes place in an airport because, while more thematically relevant, it doesn’t let Alan Rickman’s perfect villain run things so smoothly that two hours will have passed without you noticing.

5:43–7:06 (Unfriended)

A captive audience stuck staring at a screen would do disservice to most movies. Not so with the haunted Skype call that is Unfriended. It takes place entirely on a teenage girl’s laptop screen, playing with the formal expectations of film by combining a webcam with her desktop to provide a truly gripping teen slasher.

7:06–11:52 (Archer Season 5)

Archer is hilarious, different enough each episode to be bingeable, and a complete palette cleanser from Unfriended. This season in particular (dubbed Archer Vice) rollicks and rolls with a few kilos of coke in tow, departing from the show’s typical spy-based comedy because, well, creator/writer Adam Reed got bored.

11:52–13:34 (The Next Picture Show Episodes 25 and 26)

Let’s give those eyes a rest. A podcast run by members of The Dissolve’s former editorial staff, The Next Picture Show is one of the smartest movie podcasts out there. These two episodes focus on Jeremy Saulnier’s tense skinhead stompdown Green Room in the context of John Carpenter’s precedent-setting Assault on Precinct 13.

13:34–14:57 (Jiro Dreams of Sushi)

To finish things off, let David Gelb’s elegant, quiet documentary on Jiro Ono’s prestigious sushi restaurant ease you back to the ground. You’re going to be starving at this point in your journey, salivating for any food not delivered on a cart – might as well ogle some premium food porn garnishing an aching human core.

I even left you three minutes for a bathroom break,


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Jacob Oller writes everywhere (Vanity Fair, The Guardian, Playboy, FSR, Paste, etc.) about everything that matters (film, TV, video games, memes, life).