Through the magic of Digital Versatile Disc I’ve finally seen all this year’s Best Picture noms. Have you seen them? They’re all decent enough, but you know you’ll never watch any of them more than once with the exception of Slumdog Millionaire. And that one you’d see twice, maybe, I did.
But the rest, and for that matter most movies, you probably only see once, right?
I’m interested in a style of movie I refer to as Watchable. As in, it’s very easy to watch many times. The ones you can and do go back to often. Many classics are never seen more than once, but the Watchables are hard to resist even if you catch them in the middle. You tend to stop flipping channels when you land on one. These are films with common traits. Not all need to be present, but the more of these you have; the better it’s watchability:
1. Not a lot of plot, intricate plots are usually boring after one viewing
2. Relatable characters (or just the presence of Bill Murray)
3. Sharp dialogue (you quote these)
4. Very funny
5. Striking visuals (sometimes)
6. Loved it before puberty (There’s definitely something to the theory that whatever you loved at around 10 or 11 can have lasting warmth for years. You seem to remember those better or something.)
7. Possibly ambiguous or up for interpretation (repeated viewings for dissection)
8. Uplifting/positive (makes you want to be…more? A better person?)
9. Musicals – if you like them, you probably have seen your faves many times, if not, these are not the droids you’re looking for, move along.
10. Family classics (not most classics, but ones all ages enjoy)
The films don’t always get the best reviews or make the most money. They are often cult classics which find life in later years on video. Like comedy in general, they don’t often win the big awards or respect they deserve. But they have our hearts.
Some personal examples (with director or writer):
Kicking and Screaming (1995) by Noah Baumbach (not, the more recent soccer one with Will Ferrell)
Bottle Rocket and
Rushmore by Wes Anderson, okay, everything by Wes Anderson
Simple Men by Hal Hartley
Dazed and Confused by Richard Linklater
Barcelona by Whit Stillman
Annie Hall, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Hannah and Her Sisters,
Manhattan Murder Mystery,
and more by Woody Allen
John Hughes. Defined a time, mine.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind by Charlie Kaufman and Michel Gondry
Boogie Nights by P.T. Anderson
Flirting with Disaster by David O. Russell
Lost in Translation
Waiting for Guffman
Mullholland Drive (see #7)
Raiders of the Lost Ark
The Empire Strikes Back, the whole original trilogy to be sure
The Philadelphia Story
Pulp Fiction, most Quentin Tarantino
You Can Count on Me
Raising Arizona, The Big Lebowski, early Coen Bros.
North by Northwest, Vertigo, Rear Window, other Hitchcock
Early Spielberg anything, E.T., etc.
Clerks, Mallrats – early Kevin Smith
Judd Apatow related – The 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up, etc.
Anchorman/Old School – early Will Ferrell
Cinema Paradiso – movies about the love of film are often near and dear to people like me
Look at the DVDs you own, not the children’s, the others. If you own one, it’s probably a watchable for you. What are yours? I’m very interested in your comments on my watchable theory and which films make this grade for you.
Vive le cinema!