Watching A Movie Over And Over And Over…

Cover of "The Good Shepherd (Widescreen E...
Cover of The Good Shepherd (Widescreen Edition)

Do you have favorite movies you’ve watched a dozen times, maybe more?

I recently watched “Any Given Sunday” again on TV; it’s a 1999 football movie by Oliver Stone. I’m not a big football fan but this has remained of my favorites. I love the hard-ass female team owner, played by Cameron Diaz, the crazed characters of the coach (played by Al Pacino) and his players, the scary wives, the creepy team doctor who keeps shoving badly injured players onto the field. The soundtrack is fantastic, the editing dizzying.

Every time I re-watch a film, I find something I missed or forgot — a line of dialogue or a snippet of music. Or I simply revel in familiar and well-loved images, whether the snow-crusted towers of Varykino in Dr. Zhivago or the astonishing and awful shots of a white wedding dress falling from the sky in The Good Shepherd or Michael Clayton’s car exploding as he stands on a wintry hill with a trio of quiet horses.

I’ve seen Dr. Zhivago, David Lean’s gorgeous 1965 epic, probably a dozen times and have memorized entire scenes. I love analyzing the color palette of any film — Dr. Z’s is severely and beautifully limited to khaki, cream, red and black. A few touches of lilac, a specific pale shade, mark Lara’s initial innocence. (It’s the eighth-highest grossing film of all time and won five Academy Awards.) I love the irony that Canada, Finland and Spain all stood in for Russia — as the book had been banned there, and so was filming it.

I’ve also watched The Maltese Falcon and Casablanca and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid many times and (dare I admit it?) love re-viewing all the Bourne movies starring Matt Damon. I even know its signature opening music off by heart.

In crazy and uncertain times like these, when the Dow plummets overnight, when unemployment is still appallingly high, when protest and rage erupt worldwide, there’s something very comforting about knowing how it all turns out. (And that it’s usually for the best.)

Another recent favorite I’ve seen repeatedly is The Good Shepherd, from 2006,  a scene of which was filmed on my town’s main street; it was pretty funny, trying to walk to my accountant’s office, to be told that Matt Damon was filming on that block and I’d just have to wait. It’s about the birth of the CIA, focused on one man and his relationship with his son. Despite a few scenes of unwatchable violence, there are others of haunting beauty. I love the film’s themes: to whom do we owe our deepest loyalty? Why? When does one evil act outweigh another?

My father made films for a living, so maybe this explains my ongoing fascination with the medium. I’m in awe of the many skills it takes to create (even a lousy) movie — writer(s), editor(s), director, producers, designers, grips and gaffers and, oh, yeah, the actors.

Here’s a fun post by one of the bloggers I read listing her faves.

What films have you watched over and over — and why?

10 thoughts on “Watching A Movie Over And Over And Over…

  1. jacquelincangro

    I could watch Casablanca hundreds of times and never tire of it. I feel like I take a little something new away from it with each viewing. It’s a Wonderful Life is always a favorite during the holidays.
    You have a great point – it’s comforting to know how it’s all going to turn out.

  2. There’s one movie I’ve watched over and over and discover many layers to the story each time: Strange Days.

    It comments on so many facets of life and society and psychology, can’t get over it. The production is top class (and Angela Bennett simply rocks). Brilliant, brilliant film.

    Otherwise, the Star Wars trilogy is a once a year ritual. My boy is a nut. Nuff said!

  3. It’s lovely to hear about your favourites! It’s funny, because I don’t really like rereading books. But films I so much prefer to watch for a second (or more) time. I dislike intensely being presented with images I’d rather not see (makes me feel mugged) whereas I suppose in a book you can always chose not to picture something for a moment, or skip a little paragraph. I remember reading once that books offer you the choice of consent, in a way that movies, or any kind of discourse spoken aloud does not. For me, that makes a big difference!

    1. Interesting point. What I love so much — being an intensely visual person — are the images captured within a film that are fleeting yet gorgeous and which I think are often overlooked as part of the larger whole. I love seeing how the director and cinematographer frame and light a scene, how the costume designer signals character through clothing, the sets and locations. I grew up in Toronto which is often used for films, and I can spot it within seconds on-screen.

      I rarely re-read books as there are so many I haven’t even started!

  4. reba

    I always describe these types of movies as ones I can watch from any point to any point, even 15 minutes, and thoroughly enjoy them! These are also the ones that I upgraded to DVD when our VHS player croaked.

    Shawshank Redemption
    A River Runs Through It
    The Natural
    Field of Dreams (and I really don’t like sports!)
    Sound of Music
    Airplane (my husband’s influence, but it’s really hilarious)
    Red Violin
    Princess Bride (my family watches it every New Year’s Eve- OK, we’re boring, but safe!)
    Julie and Julia (really loved it, but am not yet sure if it will stay with me like these others)

    This is all I can come up with off the top of my head, but I’m sure more will come to me very quickly–as I look back at the list I realize it’s a bit nutty. Eclectic taste??

    Thanks for the reminder, Caitlin, now I need to go fire up the ol’ DVD player–

    Happy holidays everyone, reba

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