Square Zero

The “Rewatchables”

Posted by Eric (April 27, 2007 at 2:56 pm)

Watching moviesLast Friday I got together with a group of guys to watch Reservoir Dogs, one of my favorite movies. Most of us had seen it before, several of us many times, and it was a blast—all those great lines from Mr. Blonde (“regular job, job-type job”; “you gonna bark all day little doggie—or are you gonna bite?” etc.). It’s arguably the perfect movie—not a scene, a line, a camera angle out of place.

Reservoir Dogs is one of those movies that I can watch over and over and over again—one of the “rewatchables.”

These aren’t necessarily the movies I consider better than any others. some great movies just don’t lend themselves to repeated viewing. Sure, any great movie can be watched a couple times; but only a handful never get old. Here of some of mine:

  • Spinal Tap—”This one goes to eleven” kills me every time.
  • The Blues Brothers—Maybe you had to grow up in Chicago to find this movie endlessly entertaining; I did and I do.
  • It’s a Wonderful Life—Actually, I took a break of about ten years from this movie. But watching it with the kids for the first time was great last year.
  • Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang—My daughters Lucy and Ada watch this maybe once a week.
  • Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory—Not to be confused with the ooky Johnny Depp remake.
  • The Princess Bride—”Have fun storming the castle!”
  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail—”Let’s not bicker and argue over who killed who!”
  • Blue Velvet—Saw this for the first time in London; felt sick to my stomach. Got over that in subsequent viewings.
  • Citizen Kane—Enjoyed my first viewing in high school despite an obnoxious classmate’s Rosebud spoiler.

What are your favorite “rewatchables”? Matt? Erin? Renee? James? John?

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33 Responses to “The “Rewatchables””

  1. John Jansen says:

    Eric,

    After getting halfway down your list and not seeing Grail, I was gobsmacked.

    What kind of list is this? I thought.

    I see it did make the cut, though. All is right with the world.

    Comment posted April 27th, 2007 at 4:44 pm
  2. James Macchione says:

    Let the record show –
    A post I wholeheartedly agree with…

    my own personal list would add a few:

    I feel no guilt for any of the following:
    Shawshank Redemption
    any of the original three Star Wars
    any of the Sean Connery Bond films (except Never Say Never Again)
    Waiting for Guffman
    Thomas Crowne Affair (prefer the newer version)
    The Manchurian Candidate (the original)

    Films I can watch over and over again, but feel pretty bad about:

    Bring It On
    Wedding Singer
    the Ausin Powers movies
    I Dismember Mama, May She Rest in Pieces (okay, I can’t rewatch this one, but it is a real movie, and it’s a hysterical title)…

    Comment posted May 1st, 2007 at 9:31 am
  3. Eric says:

    I don’t know how I could have forgotten the Star Wars movies (the original three, non-sucking ones I mean). I could probably add Waiting for Guffman to that list; I’ve only seen it twice, but lines from that film pop up all the time. “Why are you whispering?—I’m right here!”

    By the way, the “Rosebud spoiler” on Citizen Kane was our classmate Steve Kubiatowski—who once boasted, “My father is known to every intelligent Polish person in Chicago,” to which I responded, “Then he’s virtually unknown.”

    Comment posted May 1st, 2007 at 12:31 pm
  4. James Macchione says:

    I seem to have vague recollections of being in his basement, watching the Thriller video…he also had a sister…Lucia(?)…I also remember getting pulled over in front of your house with a scattered Monopoly game all over the back seat, and you getting a ticket for mouthing off to the cop. On the subject of Monopoly (at around the same time) I remember you landing on a property of mine and hitting me in the knees with your key ring VERY HARD, and me then leaving and finding a CTA route home….ah, the helcyon days….

    Comment posted May 2nd, 2007 at 10:31 am
  5. Eric says:

    Yes, her name was Lucia. But I don’t remember any Monopoly game in the back seat; and I got that ticket for failure to stop at a red light—not sure why, but I was spared a second ticket for failure to pull over (I drove several blocks from the red light to my house). As for the key thing, I apologize; but I remember it being at my house.

    Comment posted May 2nd, 2007 at 11:00 am
  6. James Macchione says:

    No apology necessary…but there was absolutely a Monopoly game in your back seat, it was on the top rear portion of the car and the box had come open, so there were houses, hotels, and property cards scattered everywhere…

    Comment posted May 2nd, 2007 at 11:11 pm
  7. Renee says:

    Rewatchers:

    O, Brother, Where Art Thou?

    Need I say more?

    Okay, here’s a few more

    Pirates of the Caribbean
    The Incredibles
    Princess Bride
    Man for All Seasons
    Quiz Show
    Wizard of Oz
    The Bourne Identity
    Apollo 13

    That’s about it.

    Comment posted May 4th, 2007 at 12:43 am
  8. Eric says:

    Jim—Just to clarify, I meant to apologize for smaking you with the keys, not for contradicting you about the Monopoly game, which I’m willing to believe was there.

    Renee—How could I have left off The Incredibles? I’d also like to add the W.C. Fields classic It’s a Gift; the shaving scene is one of the funniest bits of slapstick humor ever caught on film.

    Comment posted May 4th, 2007 at 10:59 am
  9. James Macchione says:

    I know you were apologizing for the keys….that’s why I said forget it…an angry Monopoly game approximately a quarter of a century ago that ended in a key swing is no reason to apologize…I’m just amazed that I can say a quarter of a century and be referring to my own life. Ugh.

    On a different note, I was recently cleaning my basement and stumbled across a couple of issues of the St. Ignatius Phantasm literary dungheap, filled with nihilistic poems, idiotic prose, and a couple of fantastic pieces of humorous genius. Ah…who can forget the creation story featuring instantly deceased cows, or Captain Dave of the Netherlands…such is the folly of our past.

    Comment posted May 4th, 2007 at 3:00 pm
  10. Lexington Green says:

    The Great Escape (“Hilts! Cooler!”)
    The Wild Bunch (“Let’s go.” “Why not?”)
    The Battle of Algiers (“Give us your bombers, and you can have our baskets.”)
    Pork Chop Hill (“I thought the next war was gonna be a pushbutton war.” “Yeah, we’re the pushbuttons.”)

    Those are the first four that pop into my head.

    Comment posted May 6th, 2007 at 5:34 pm
  11. james says:

    Thanks Eric…

    I’ve posted my ‘re-watchables’ on my blog… so take a look there.

    Quite surprised as to why youlike Reservoir Dogs… isn’t that one of the most bloody, violent, video-nasties ever made? or am i thinking of something else…

    Comment posted May 10th, 2007 at 8:18 am
  12. Karen says:

    Hi Eric,

    I wasn’t tagged, but I hope you don’t mind if I chime in…

    1. Auntie Mame
    2. An American in Paris
    3. The Patriot
    4. Something’s Gotta Give
    5. Happy Gilmore

    Comment posted May 10th, 2007 at 8:26 am
  13. John Jansen says:

    Eric,

    Two others that deserve mention:

    Dr. Strangelove and Apocalypse Now.

    Comment posted May 10th, 2007 at 2:56 pm
  14. James says:

    Still no mention of Ben Hur.
    What’s the matter with you lot?!

    shocked to see someone (Karen) put down happy Gilmore. That’s got to win a prize as one of the worst films! Cheeeeese.

    Comment posted May 11th, 2007 at 3:46 am
  15. Renee says:

    Oh yeah, also ” Babette’s Feast”. The most beautiful movie I have ever seen.

    Comment posted May 11th, 2007 at 7:51 am
  16. John Jansen says:

    Another rewatchable: Romero.

    This is a movie I’ve watched at least ten times, as it was a staple of my Social Justice curriculum during my high school teaching days.

    This is hardly an “I’m gonna make me some popcorn and take it easy tonight” type of movie, but as far as showing the awful reality of man’s inhumanity to man, it’s amazing. The closing scene, and a few others, too, are absolutely stunning.

    As an aside, I was thrilled to hear B16 note a few days ago that Archbishop Romero’s cause proceeds apace. When asked by journalists about Romero’s cause at the start of his trip to Brazil, the Holy Father said, “I have no doubt he will be beatified.”

    Comment posted May 11th, 2007 at 1:51 pm
  17. Annie says:

    The Mission.

    Also, Anne of Green Gables and Steel Magnolias.

    Hannah can watch Black Beauty over and over again. She loves horses – just like her mommy.

    Comment posted May 11th, 2007 at 3:11 pm
  18. Annie says:

    PS
    Thanks to everyone for the movie requests!

    Comment posted May 11th, 2007 at 3:12 pm
  19. Eric says:

    James—Yes, Reservoir Dogs is a very violent movie, and yes, it’s one of my favorite movies of all time. Besides being a gripping story, with extremely tight writing, brilliant cinematography and fabulous performances by Tim Roth, Harvey Keitel, Michael Madsen, Steve Buscemi and Chris Penn, Reservoir Dogs is a fascinating exploration of loyalty and its perils.

    Comment posted May 14th, 2007 at 11:56 am
  20. James says:

    Thanks, Eric, for the clarification about Res Dogs. But I’d be interested to know your views on censorship and violence. Would you, in this case, hold the view that the ‘ends justify the means’ – ie the violence is necessary – even explicit violence – in order to prove a point.
    Or is the portrayal of violence, in and of itself, damaging?

    just a thought…

    Comment posted May 15th, 2007 at 5:19 am
  21. James Macchione says:

    An adult with a brain, who is well read, intelligent, and can form rational decisions should abhor just about all forms of censorship. If you do not want to watch something, by all means, do not watch it.

    Reservoir Dogs (or any Tarrantino film for that matter) is intrinsically violent. Over the top violence. But almost without exception, this violence is intrinsic to the overall story and theme of the work. Just as it is wrong to put fig leaves over ancient statues, it is wrong to show a film like Reservoir Dogs (or Schindler’s List) with cuts. Just as it is wrong to burn books and kill ideas…

    As a society we must remember that not everything is intended for everyone. Not everyone will like Catcher in the Rye, not everyone will like R.E.M, not everyone will agree with Tarrantino, but we need to have the opportunity as adults with free will to decide what we can and can’t see. The problems with society don’t stem from movies like Reservoir Dogs, they stem from people censoring them rather than having an intelligent dialogue about them.

    Comment posted May 15th, 2007 at 10:51 am
  22. Eric says:

    James: The ends never justify the means. See Romans 3:8. In the case of a Tarrantino film—as James M. points out—the violence helps to tell the story. I find this technique is used in the Bible too—and not always unambiguously either (“Blessed shall he be who takes your little ones and dashes them against the rocks!” [Ps. 137:9]).

    However, I wouldn’t go so far as James M. does in declaring that the problems of society stem from censorship of movies like Reservoir Dogs, because in fact Reservoir Dogs was not censored (or I wouldn’t have been able to write about it), and yet I look about me and see that society still has problems. Hard to lay those problems at the feet of the non-existent censors.

    I’m no friend of censorship, and yet I have caused thousands of comments to be censored from this list; every day hundreds of spam comments and trackbacks are blocked from this blog by Akismet. So censorship isn’t all bad!

    (By the way, as to the portrayal of violence, that’s a big part of my job!)

    Comment posted May 15th, 2007 at 11:33 am
  23. James Macchione says:

    Eric-

    Censoring your own blog, isn’t really censorship, it’s yours, it belongs to you and you can do with it what you want. That is very different than someone else telling you what to do with your blog, or your isp telling you that you couldn’t view certain sites or put link up on your blog, or write about certain things.

    So what you are doing isn’t really censorship at all. But like most things, people need to learn things for themselves. As for my comment that problems in society stem from cennsorship, the more people try and tell people they can’t drink, do, or say something that they have a natural inclination to drink, do, or say – the more people will strive to do these things. I can think of numerous examples of people who don’t know facts because they have been intentionally censored or misrepresented (I have students who believe that Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11; or students who have no conception about the ill effects of alcohol or tobacco)…it’s not because these things were necessarily censored in the traditioanl sense, but rather, they were misrepresented through advertising, government, etc.

    Comment posted May 18th, 2007 at 8:51 am
  24. James says:

    I think misrepresentation is the issue as it is a twisting of the truth.

    Without censorship there would be nothing stopping hard core porn being displayed on billboards around the town. Try telling a young vulnerable person – a child maybe – that they “don’t have to look at it if they don’t want to”. In fact – try telling most adult males that. Because as soon as we’ve seen what we are trying to avoid – BAM! too late! image saved in brain, ready to review at will.

    We’re weak, we’re fallen. We do what we don’t want to do cause it’s there and tempting us and we don’t have the strength, on our own, to stop it. Read St Paul.

    Hard core pornography wasn’t rife a hundred years ago, as it is today. And I bet you there were less people ‘screwed up’ by it when it wasn’t around. And it wasn’t around becuase it was censored. And rightly so.

    Comment posted May 18th, 2007 at 9:48 am
  25. Eric says:

    I don’t know, Jim—that seems like a rather simplistic view of human nature to me. Sure, if you tell a two-year-old she can’t have something she’ll want it all the more. My daughter Mary is nearly two and she’s the Contrarian of the World.

    But Ada, who is four, is quite different. Yesterday, for example, I told her not to step into the garden because the boys and I were working in there putting up a rabbit fence (bits of wire, sharp tools, etc.). She did as I asked without complaint.

    My ban did not heighten her desire to enter the garden. On the contrary, because she trusts me she no longer wanted to step in there. Later, when she came to say good night, she remembered the rule and said, “I can’t step in there to say goodnight to you!”—so I went over to her.

    It should be noted that Ada is an extremely strong-willed child, still capable of throwing tremendous tantrums. Poor little Mary, the Contrarian, has nothing on Ada and her little tantrums only make me laugh. Ada—and her sister Clare and brother Sam who are similarly strong-willed and independent—have always been almost impervious to Reverse Psychology. They know exactly what they want, and whether Authority says they can have it or not means nothing to them.

    In my observation it is the weak-willed person whose desire for something can be exaggerated by being forbidden it. Such a person does not really know his own inclination or desire and cannot form an attitude towards something independent of what someone else has to say about it.

    The flip-side of this weakness is a tendency to succumb to peer pressure. Again, reference to an outside source rather than one’s own real feelings. My friends do it, so I want to do it. My parents say not to do it, so I want to do it.

    Some children are like that, some are not. Likewise adults. But contrary to what you might think—at least as I’ve observed—it’s not the strong-willed, high-spirited people who do something just because they’re told not to, but rather the weak-willed ones.

    That said, you already know I’m not a big fan of censorship. In fact, I’d like to recommend a great article from the current First Things, “Lost and Saved on Television” by Russ Douthat which argues that the lifting of decency standards on TV has actually made room for more serious treatment of the spiritual condition of man.

    Douthat discusses at length Lost, Battlestar Gallactica and The Sopranos in his analysis. Interestingly, though I do not watch TV, I’m devoted to Lost and The Sopranos on DVD (though I think The Sopranos jumped the shark in Season Six). I’ll have to check out Gallactica.

    Douthat’s article isn’t available to non-subscribers online until next month, but here’s the link anyway.

    Comment posted May 18th, 2007 at 10:07 am
  26. James Macchione says:

    James-
    Your view really paints a dim and grave view of humanity.

    But first, let me begin by saying that there is an enormous difference between simple decency rules and censorship. Hardcore pornography on a billboard should of course be illegal, simply because people who do not want to view it, can view it. When I speak of censorship, I am speaking of things that are more intellectual (even perhaps artistic).

    When you write “We do what we don’t want to do cause it’s there and tempting us and we don’t have the strength, on our own, to stop it. Read St Paul.
    Hard core pornography wasn’t rife a hundred years ago, as it is today. And I bet you there were less people ’screwed up’ by it when it wasn’t around. And it wasn’t around becuase it was censored. And rightly so…” you seem to be saying that man (or woman) doesn’t have the capacity to resist temptation, that we are better off not being offered the (metaphoric) apple in the Garden of Eden, because without the temptation we cannot sin. But of course we will sin. Without the fall, there is no Jesus.

    But onto your belief that “And I bet you there were less people ’screwed up’ by it when it wasn’t around.” History is littered with atrocities that have absolutely nothing to do with sex, from the Holocaust to Darfur to slavery. Orgies happened in ancient Greece and Rome (before photography or videotape or the internet), prostitution and promiscuity existed in large numbers throughout all of recorded history.

    As a 7th and 8th grade teacher in a Chicago Public School, I can tell you first hand that society isn’t all that screwed up. Most kids have their heads on pretty straight. They’re not all scouring their computers for naked ladies, they aren’t a bunch of disrespectful little cusses, most of them are being rasied on computers, videogames and television because both parents have to work–and most of them are doing just fine.

    Pornography is not the root of all evil. Sex is not the root of all evil. They both exist, and need to be discussed with adolescents. They need to understand respect and honoring their bodies, and treating their peers as they would want their mother or sister or brother or father treated.

    Eric –
    Onto a more mundane topic, I’m not sure if I think the Soprano’s has jumped the shark. But I will agree that since broadcast tv has had to keep up with cable, a lot of more serious issues have come up. Lost is a great example of that…it’s constant battle between the concrete and the spiritual, faith vs. matter…it really is a pretty great show. The same can be said for Heroes, which deals with some very real issues of exactly what route is correct when trying to help the world…sparing one life with possibility of harming thousands, killing thousands with the possiblity of helping millions, are things really predestined, can we shape our future…if you haven’t started watching Heroes, it’s definitely worth renting when the dvd releases later this summer. Oh, and if you haven’t seen any of the new Doctor Who episodes, they are also pretty darned good as well, and continue to deal with good vs. evil is an excellent manner.

    Comment posted May 19th, 2007 at 10:51 pm
  27. james says:

    you know what, I don’t agree with either of you. i think censorship is great, and am all for more of it.

    but I’m too tired to argue right now, as its gone midnight and I’ve bene on a train for 8 hours. so I’m off to bed.
    but I will gather my thoughts another time.
    as for all these DVDs Eric – isn’t it just the same as having TV?

    (says he, who has just got hooked on 24. but late, i know. but just seen series 2.)

    Comment posted May 21st, 2007 at 5:59 pm
  28. james says:

    you know what, I don’t agree with either of you. i think censorship is great, and am all for more of it.

    but I’m too tired to argue right now, as its gone midnight and I’ve been on a train for 8 hours. so I’m off to bed.
    but I will gather my thoughts another time.
    as for all these DVDs Eric – isn’t it just the same as having TV?

    (says he, who has just got hooked on 24. bit late, i know. but just seen series 2.)

    Comment posted May 21st, 2007 at 6:00 pm
  29. Eric says:

    James & James—I’d love to respond to both of you, but early this morning I chopped up the tips of the index and middle fingers of my left hand with a table saw. Five sutures in my middle fingertip!

    I’m writing this with my tablet pen—great fun (new Lenovo tablet) but too slow for extended pontification. The Vicodin doesn’t help much either. (I mean, it helps the pain—and how —but doesn’t help with the whole “thinking clearly” thing.)

    Comment posted May 21st, 2007 at 8:47 pm
  30. james says:

    ouch.
    sorry to hear of your woes.

    keep taking the ‘tablet’s, Eric. boom boom.
    and i’ll get praying to st joseph for your carpentry skills.

    ;o)

    Comment posted May 22nd, 2007 at 4:40 am
  31. James Macchione says:

    Yikes-
    Sorry to hear that. Hope all heals well, I guess nows as good a time as any to actually watch one of your rewatchables…in fact, right after your next dose of vicodin, I recommend a viewing of Reservoir Dogs…

    Comment posted May 22nd, 2007 at 6:51 pm
  32. James says:

    Forget that. Watch Sound of Music. All the nasty bits have been censored out, meaning you have just pure rogers and hammerstein feeding your soul.

    Comment posted May 23rd, 2007 at 4:22 am
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