Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Play It Again, Sam?

'Now that's a film I could watch again,' says LJ, holding a copy of Blade Runner (more on that here), and that's high praise from a woman who seldom re-watches anything - The Thomas Crown Affair, yes, because Steve McQueen, so handsome, so well-dressed, reminds her of me...so I like to think. And The Shining, not only because it's a masterpiece but also because Jack Torrance's displeasure at being interrupted whilst writing also reminds her of me, I suspect.

Talk of films we can watch repeatedly made me consider how, or if, they differ from those we consider to be Great, as in the ones we list when asked to name The Greatest Films Ever Made (a common question put to this renowned cultural critic). For the Greatest list we may be tempted to include films that are highly regarded by esteemed critics just to prove how cultured we are. I say 'we', by which I mean 'you', because I would never do such a thing! Oh no, I shamelessly include every Die Hard film, American Pie...Jean-Claude Van Damme's best, to name but a few...which is why I'm regarded as a great cultural critic.

There are films I marvel at and those I watch repeatedly. Take Citizen Kane, which I've seen twice, and Touch Of Evil, which I've seen countless times. You know which one frequently makes the Greatest Films of All Time list. I've watched Tarkovsky's Stalker twice, but No Country For Old Men at least five times. Yet I'm aware of how amazing Stalker is...so much so that my theory is that I'm saving it for when my mind is prepared to be blown again. Casablanca is cinematic chocolate, of course (70% cocoa or Cadbury's milk? The choice is yours), which I'll happily gorge on any time.

OK, I'm lazy, perhaps, although I don't think Robert Altman's The Long Goodbye is exactly a populist choice, and I watched it so many times one year that I had to have the theme song surgically removed from my head. Apocalypse Now is a whore ('C'mon, big boy, I got sexy music, hot dialogue and dirty action') and I fall for it every time it beckons. So common! Yes, you intellectuals may scoff, but when Coppola struts his stuff (you know the films) I'm on the floor begging for it. Likewise Kubrick, who's pretty much the king of Watch Again in our cave. At least he has serious cred, whilst also supplying spectacle. Alien is another that I can't shake off, parasitically chewing up all attempts to watch Clever Films as it does before forcing me to view again. Whilst on holiday recently I even started to watch it in German and would have continued if LJ had not pointed out the absurdity of what I was doing.

So, for me, there are definite Favourites and then there are Classics (official). Perhaps you have them too. It's an ability to appreciate and enjoy genius whilst preferring to watch others more often, which is not to say that the two never coincide (Kubrick springs to mind). Now, should I watch No Country For Old Men again soon? I'll spin a coin...

1 comment:

  1. good theory. my brain runs similar processes, specifically about Stalker( i haven't seen it since the late 90's but I think about it a lot and have a lobby card of it on the mantle which sets me to think about it) and I too had that Long Goodbye stuck in my head for a long time, its playing there right now as i read your post. I like the dichotomy between Favorites and classics, but there is a special place too for movies that you see in the theater on its first run more than once. Now i love movies and I've seen many movies multiple times but rarely ( mostly from frugality) have been compelled to see a movie more than once during its first run 1 Withnail and I, Spinal Tap and Wings of Desire come to mind and theres probably a few others.


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