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Thursday, 29 July 2010

You CAN Go Home Again

Okay, I've been tagged, and this time I can't dodge it. On his blog Between the Pavement and the Stars, Piers Beckley has listed those films that he'll watch any number of times, and challenged me, Danny Stack and Jason Arnopp to do the same.

It's not supposed to be an objective greatness list, or even necessarily a 'best I ever saw' list. There's many a great movie that I admire enormously, loved at first sight, and remember with awe, but don't necessarily want to re-experience. At least not right now, and probably not ever on a regular basis. Some experiences are diminished the second time around. I loved The Sixth Sense when I saw it in the cinema, couldn't wait for the DVD to come out, bought it the moment it did... and it's been sitting on the shelf unopened ever since. And not just because I know 'the twist', which was fun at the time but added no lasting value.

(Twists in movies are not the best idea. Something I've believed ever since, on the first appearance of Jaye Davidson in The Crying Game, someone yelled from the back of the stalls, "She's gorra cock.")

I suppose it's the difference between a memorable party and a favourite restaurant. Try to repeat the party experience and you're doomed to a vague sense of dissatisfaction and disappointment, whereas a favourite restaurant promises something reliable. Here the movie has an advantage in that the chef won't storm out in a huff at the beginning of your evening.

(It's happened)

Anyone who's raised a family since the advent of the VHS machine will be familiar with the phenomenon of the favourite tape or disc, played over and over, feeding a child's endless appetite for the familiar. We were lucky; in our household it was Pinocchio, and later The Blues Brothers. My friend Graeme wasn't so lucky. He got Bananas in Pyjamas.

If you're flicking through the TV channels and you happen on a familiar movie and you stay until the end, looking forward to "this next bit where...", then it probably belongs in your own list. If in an idle moment you find yourself thinking, "It's about time I saw X again," then X almost certainly belongs in your list. If you can quote every line and do all the voices, you probably belong in an institution.

King Kong
Jason and the Argonauts
Way Out West
The Music Box
The General
2001
Les Yeux Sans Visage
What's Opera, Doc?
Solaris
(Tarkovsky, and seriously)
Twenty Million Miles to Earth
Hell is a City
Blade Runner
Goldfinger
Genevieve
The Wages of Fear
Pas de Deux
(Norman McLaren Film Board of Canada short)
Whistle Down the Wind

These are the rules of the meme:

1. Provide a non-exhaustive list of films you'll happily watch again and again;
2. There is no rule 2.
3. Reprint the rules.
4. Tag three others and ask them to do the same.

So Stephen Volk, Good Dog, and Lee Goldberg, if you should happen by... now I bet you're sorry.

2 comments:

Ian said...

Funnily enough "The Sixth Sense" is one of those titles that IS on my list. Of course repeat viewings don't have anything like the initial impact if you didn't see the twist coming (I didn't and felt really stupid having said "Well that's a bit ridiculous" just after the central figure was shot near the beginning of the film) but what I love about this film is the craft of it. It's perfectly filmed, beautifully acted, well written and the ending is just heart-breaking. There are so many great scenes in it that I enjoy revisiting. Perhaps the biggest mystery about the film is how on earth the director/writer could have gone from something this sublime to the films which followed and quickly got even worse. I thought "Signs" was bad, but they were gems compared with "Lady in the Water", then "The Happening" and "The Last Airbender".

Stephen Gallagher said...

For me the problem started right away with UNBREAKABLE - it's an interesting movie but 'interesting' is what you say when you want to like a movie more but your heart isn't quite in it.

I'm thinking that maybe Shyamalan had been reworking the SIXTH SENSE story in his mind for some years when he made it, and that gave it a satisfying solidity. But then its success put his other projects into an imaginative fast-track that resulted in them being served up undercooked. There's a potency in teenage imaginings, but not if you write them up like a teenager.