Posts from July 31st, 2009

Friday, 31 July 2009

New Article: Favorites VS Watchables

Here I posit a question: Are the best movies necessarily the most watchable movies? Or are “favorite” movies and those movies that can be watched again and again of two distinct categories? I will now investigate to see what the answer is. Come with me, won’t you?

Here is my list of 4-star movies since 2000. For handy reference, I’ve linked each of these to the review I wrote (for those movies for which I wrote reviews) in case you wanna know why I gave each one four stars:

There might have been a couple of others that I never reviewed, but I can’t remember right this second.

So these then are obviously my “favorite” movies of the new century. Interestingly enough, there are several that I don’t even own on DVD, and therefore do not have the opportunity to watch over and over again. So this lot is right out of contention:

  • Memento
  • Panic Room
  • Catch Me If You Can
  • The Powerpuff Girls Movie*
  • Kill Bill*
  • Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith
  • A Prairie Home Companion
  • Grindhouse*

*The only reason I don’t own these indicated movies is because suitable DVD versions haven’t yet been released.

Of the rest of these “favorite” movies, the only ones I’ve watched with anything even approaching frequently are The Incredibles, Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, and Hot Fuzz. There are many I used to watch quite frequently, but haven’t watched in quite a long, long while now, like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon or Lost in Translation or Ghost World (although I only ever really watched Ghost World with Carrie anyway).

Several of them I’ve only ever seen once or twice (not including seeing it in the theater, though a couple of them I’ve only seen on DVD), like Punch Drunk Love and Titus. Titus I think is one of the most beautiful films ever made. Why haven’t I watched it more? Why haven’t I watched a lot of my “favorite” movies a lot more than I have?

I think because many of these I have to be in “the Right Mood” to watch, and often when I find I have a couple of spare hours to throw on a DVD, I’m just not in “the Right Mood.” Some of them are difficult, challenging movies, and often when it’s time to relax and watch a movie I don’t want to be terribly challenged by difficult movies. I think those kinds of movies are great to go out and see in a theater because there’s a whole process of psyching myself for them – driving to the theater, buying a ticket, finding a seat, and sitting through the pre-show “entertainment.” But when I watch a movie at home all I have to do it push a disc into a slot and push a couple of remote control buttons. I just want to be entertained.

There are some times when both Carrie & I happen to have a couple of spare hours together and we’ll want to watch a movie. If she doesn’t have anything specific in mind, she’ll usually ask me to pick out a handful of movies that I feel like watching, then she’ll pick one from that stack. I think this is great because there are a handful of movies that almost always end up in that stack. Let’s take an in-depth look at them:

Josie & The Pussycats
I know it’s ten years old now, but I don’t care. This movie is a bunch of cartoony fun. It refuses to take much of anything seriously, but it is seriously funny. And the soundtrack (co-written by Kay Hanley of Letters to Cleo) is one of my favorite late-90s girl power-pop albums, let alone one of my favorite movie soundtracks. Plus, a character actually says the line, “If I could go back in time, I’d want to meet Snoopy!”
School of Rock
Again, another broad comedy that doesn’t take itself seriously. I’m a big fan of Jack Black, and this is basically 90+ minutes of Jack Black being a complete ass, so I could watch that all day. It’s good. Its funny. And the musical number at the end is surprisingly satisfying and rousing and emotional.
Bring it On
The classic Cheerleader movie that still hasn’t been topped. Today, tomorrow, and always, it is a cheese-fest and it knows it and it revels in it. It practically bathes in it.
Forgetting Sarah Marshall
A Judd Apatow style of comedy that has surprising psychological depth. Jason Siegel is such a lovable loser, and Kristin Bell doesn’t hurt things at all. The zany supporting characters are what really keep me coming back to this one, though.
In addition there are several films that I can watch at any time but that aren’t really Carrie’s cup of tea. Let’s take a look at those:
Iron Man
You get to watch Robert Downey Jr. be an ass for about two hours. And love every minute of it. It zips and pops, is exciting and thrilling, has great love for its characters and treats them with respect but is still rip-roaringly funny.
The Rundown
Perhaps the ultimate dumb action flick, the buddy-comedy chemistry between The Rock and Sean William Scott elevate this film way, way, higher than it has any right to be. Plus you get Christopher Walken as the villain, and if his “tooth fairy” speech doesn’t make you die laughing then you have no human funny bone. Plus action scenes that are exciting, and a climax that is legitimately badass.
An interesting addition. Written and directed with seemingly feather touches, this movie stimulates my intelligence without challenging it. I feel smarter after watching it. Plus cars go real fast and stuff go boom real good.

So far the closest thing I have to a “favorite” movie that I can watch at any time is The Incredibles. Of all the “favorite” movies that I own, it is probably the one that I’ve watched the most. So this would seem to say that there is some sort of disconnect between my favorite movies and my most watchable movies. With one notable exception…

There is one more DVD that I can watch at any given time, at the drop of a hat, with no forethought nor afterthought, and enjoy it thoroughly every single time. The only reason it isn’t on that list of “favorite” movies up there is because it came out way, way, WAY before 2000.

I am, of course, referring to the greatest movie ever made.


Big Trouble in Little China

The greatest motion picture ever effing made. ‘Nuff said.

So it would seem that it is possible for “favorite” movies and “watchable” movies to be the same thing. They just have to be THE GREATEST MOTION PICTURE EVER EFFING MADE.

I’m curious what y’all think on this subject, so be sure to leave me some comments.

PS – I fully expect the new Star Trek movie to join the “watchable” list as soon as it is out on DVD.

PPS – The photo of the movie theater at the top of this article is “Movie Theater at Shibuya” by naoyafujii

PPPS – Yes, I still stand by giving Star Wars Episodes 2 & 3 four stars each. Controversial, I know. But those movies are a hoot and a half, and the purpose of this article is not to defend them.

Categories: Featured Posts, Movies.