Saturday, May 26, 2012

Film List - Repeat Viewers

Just a very quick 'film list' this month, since I am in transit this week.

I thought I'd do a brisk rundown of the films that I watch most regularly. There are a few titles that I watch at least once a year, perhaps as many as three or four times a year.

Films I Can (and DO) Watch Over And Over Again

Music and Lyrics
(Dir. Marc Lawrence, 2007)
In addition to being a cracking romantic comedy (I've already reviewed it more fully here), this film has a special sentimental hold on me because it was a Christmas gift - one of the very few I've received in my adult life - from my good friend Tony the Chairman. It has become a bit of a personal ritual that I revisit this one every Christmas.

Cool Hand Luke
(Dir. Stuart Rosenberg, 1967)
The only serious film in this list, it is perhaps my favourite film of all. I can't watch it too frequently because it holds too powerful an emotional spell over me, is apt to provoke depression.

The Simpsons Movie
(Dir. David Silverman, 2007)
I am a complete nut for The Simpsons. If I had boxed sets of the TV series I would probably watch whole seasons back-to-back. The film is thus a godsend for me: the chance for a serious fix of Homer, without the danger of overdosing - only the equivalent of four consecutive episodes!

Shoot 'Em Up
(Dir. Michael Davis, 2007)
A slightly guilty pleasure, since some of the violence strays too far into the realm of the warped and sadistic (Paul Giamatti's hitman is really much too nasty for what is essentially an action comedy), but Clive Owen is superb as the taciturn, down-at-heel hero, and some of the action sequences are deliriously over-the-top.

National Lampoon's Animal House
(Dir. John Landis, 1978)
I first saw this film one week after starting at university, and I often feel that I have never looked forward since. I have to watch this magnificent campus comedy at least once a year to remind myself of that pivotal moment in my life.

Team America: World Police
(Dir. Trey Parker, 2004)
Satire done with marionettes - GENIUS! Matt and Trey even manage to make Kim Jong-il a sympathetic figure. Brilliant songs, too. I never tire of this - even better than South Park.

For A Few Dollars More
(Dir. Sergio Leone, 1965)
The middle film of the 'Dollars' trilogy is my favourite Leone western. I loved it when I first saw it at the age of about ten, and I've never lost that sense of exuberant delight in it. The film is chock-full of awesome moments.

Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
(Dir. Adam McKay, 2004)
By far Will Ferrell's best film to date (and he gets excellent support from Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, David Koechner, and Christina Applegate), this quickly became a cult favourite among a group of my drinking buddies in China. Our conversation is regularly littered with silly quotes from the film. (The morning after my 'leaving party' a few days ago, I announced to them, "I shat a squirrel.") News of an imminent sequel fills me with a mixture of glee and trepidation. It will be tough - impossible - to top the original.


John said...

How odd, it's almost as though someone else posted on the wrong blog!
OK, that's unfair; it's just that some of those film choices really threw me, and you say you watch them a few times a year?!
OK, OK, I mustn't judge -- a terrible habit of mine, I apologise to the world! -- but the very idea of watching a film more than a few times in a LIFETIME boggles my mind for starters considering the sheer number of titles made in an industry that is now more than a century old.
OK, OK, OK, films are major works, lovingly crafted by hundreds and costing millions of dollars; they deserve returning to time and time again. But The Simpsons Movie??? And you say you're a fan?! Team America?!? South Park!! On your top list?!?!??!?!
Whoa there, calm down now John-boy. I'm sorry Froog, it just threw me is all and who am I to judge? Only never in a million years would I have expected those few choices! Puts a whole new light on your unpredictably good self!

FOARP said...

There's a few films I swore to myself I would leave at least ten years before watching again, but this is a sign of how much I loved them. Lost In Translation was one of these films - saw it when I was 23, watched it with every one of my close friends and relatives, then decided I would wait for a while before watching it again. I recently watched another Sofia Coppola film (Somewhere) and found it a terrible dissapointment - pretentious and impossible to relate to - so I hope Lost In Translation will not be a dissapointment when I re-watch it. I recently re-watched Fight Club and found that it had weathered the years rather less well than I had hoped, although the 24-year-old I watched it with loved it. Sign I'm getting old?

Froog said...

What is your point, John?

You don't think any films are worth re-watching, because life's too short? Or you don't think these films are much good? Or you're surprised that an anguished intellectual can let his hair down occasionally with silly comedies and action movies?

I'd stand by this picks on quality as well - they are exceptional examples within their genres, to the point where they transcend genre and can be considered as 'great films'.

However, films that favour repeated viewing tend - for me - not to be the more 'serious' ones, but the ones that are frivolous, simple, exhilarating entertainment. They need lots of 'hook' moments - quotable lines in particular, but also particular scenes or incidents that are highly memorable, and can be enjoyed again and again. I suppose there's a sort of addictive feedback loop going on: the fulfillment of an anticipated pleasure seems more intensely enjoyable.

I'd almost never re-read a book, but films are much less demanding to consume. Even the shortest and easiest book takes me at least 3 or 4 hours and a lot of concentration to read; and typically a book requires two or three times that investment of time and effort. And the focus on it needs to be 100%; I can't even drink or eat while I'm reading!

Two hours of fairly passive enjoyment in front of the television is so easy by comparison. I suppose I probably watch 100 or so films a year. I don't feel I'm denying myself important new experiences if 10% of those are 'repeaters' like the ones above.

Froog said...

The two films that I've probably seen the most often (10 or 15 times, I would guess) are The Blues Brothers and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, the great cult hits of my student days in the 1980s. Oddly enough, I very seldom watch them any more. I don't think I got burnt out on them, but their emotional associations for me are so bound up with the communal experience of enjoying them with friends in a packed cinema that viewing them alone at home can seem a little flat. I'd like to put on a screening of these at my favourite little bar in Beijing... if I ever go back.

Froog said...

FOARP, I like Fight Club very much, but it's too dark for regular viewing, I think - it's something to revisit every 5 or 10 years rather than every few months.

Lost In Translation I consider massively overrated. It is a film of great quirky moments, rather than a completely satisfying whole, and it is carried by Bill Murray's wonderful performance. I watched it again recently - for the second or third time since I first saw it in the cinema - and found that I got quite bored waiting for the 'good bits'.

TheLunch said...

Animal House is more of a how-to guide: a training video rather than a work of fiction.

I'd add (the original) Italian Job because of the exquisite cameos.