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?