Monday, February 05, 2007

Deja Viewing

One of the toughest things about marathon training is the insane amount of time you have to run.  Sounds Yogi-ish, I know, but what I’m getting at is the time, not the running.  When you’re out there for over 4 hours, that’s a lot of time to pass.  Picture yourself sitting in a chair for 4 hours with no TV to watch or Hulk comics to read.  You’d go nuts.  It’s crucial when running to have something distracting you, beyond the boredom.  From the moment you start to the moment you finish, all you hear in the silence is “let’s just stop now, this sucks,” echoing within your skull.  It’s critical that you have something, anything, taking your mind off the actual running; it’s a big reason why marathons are 80% mental.  

I have some tricks.  I’ve found that starting the run a couple of hours before dawn leaves you in such a deliriously tired state that most of the time flies by.  The more awake you are, the more alert you are to the fact that you are in fact running and it’s not pleasant.  While running with my iPod, my imaginary band and I are throwing one heck of a concert.  We tend to open with ‘Standing on the Moon’ and close with a wicked ‘The End’ segueing into ‘Paint it Black,’ and it’s a good time.  I’ll go ahead and admit that Michelle Branch sometimes comes out for a number during our set break.  

Going into my 22.4 mi training run this past Saturday for the Austin marathon, my running support group mentor Rob suggested I go with one of his mainstays, coming up with a ranked list, in this case, for the most rewatchable movies.  Now, deep thinking tends to go out the window once I’m a few miles in as I become increasingly more loopy and fixated on the thought of being laid out on our sectional at home, but I figured I’d give it a go.  Here’s what I came up with.

First thing I wanted to do was clarify my definition of “most rewatchable” movie.  I didn’t want to let it meld into my list of favorite movies or my list of most highly regarded movies.  I realized the penultimate litmus qualifier was:
If I watched this movie yesterday, would I be game to watch it again with others today?

I think that bumps off a lot of great/cherished movies right off the bat.  I’ve never been able to watch the entire thing, but I can’t see even the most girly Gone With the Wind fans sitting through that behemoth twice in two days.  The first two Godfathers validate the cinematic medium as a form of art on their own, but back-to-back viewings wouldn’t be possible without a healthy amount of No-doze.  The time commitment is a factor; I’m less likely to plop and watch if I need to clear out 3+ hours to do so.  Major dead spots hurt - the final 40 minutes of Wedding Crashers got that one disqualified.  The date-movie scenes/subplots that I have to tolerate the first time around become crippling with repeat viewings (no Rocky).  Eye candy is certainly a bonus factor – there are more than a few movies where I’m not paying any attention to anything (audio or visual) that might make the movie unenjoyable thanks to effects, cinematography, or, you know, maybe an actress.  Another qualifier was: If in a conversation it comes to light that someone hasn’t seen movie X, how compelled would I be to slap them into the couch and watch movie X with them on the spot?  Similarly; how excited would I be to rewatch this movie right now?  

As a final rule, I only considered movies I’ve seen at least 4 times total and at least once in the past two years.  That helped me resist the temptation to add any ‘heart grows fonder’ pity cases into the mix.  I also only considered DVD-watching.  Seeing a movie as I flip through cable was taken out of the equation, for reasons I’ll explain later.  As a final disclaimer: this is not a ‘best movie ever’ list, it’s my personal list of movies I’d be most inclined to rewatch.  If you find yourself getting huffy looking through this, I’d (a) recommend you go with Trek bikes instead and (b) rather not hear about it.  

My Personal Top 25:
  1. Animal House

  2. Psycho

  3. Drop Dead Gorgeous

  4. From Russia with Love

  5. Bela Fleck & the Flecktones: Live @ the Quick*

  6. Arrested Development Season 2*

  7. The Office Season 1  (BBC)*

  8. Dazed and Confused

  9. Pulp Fiction

  10. The Blues Brothers

  11. Billy Madison

  12. This is Spinal Tap

  13. The Wizard of Oz

  14. Goldfinger

  15. The Empire Strikes Back

  16. Back to the Future

  17. Temple of Doom

  18. Raiders of the Lost Ark

  19. Mallrats

  20. Coming to America

  21. The Matrix

  22. A Few Good Men

  23. Tommy Boy

  24. MST3K: Pod People*

  25. Ricky Bobby**

Honorable Mention:
Austin Powers 2; The Wrath of Khan; The Princess Bride; Matrix Reloaded; A Christmas Story; Brahm Stoker’s Dracula; Gone in 60 Seconds; Goldeneye; Desparado; Chris Rock Bigger & Blacker; 10 Things I Hate About You; Vampires; Army of Darkness; Shrek 1&2; Trainspotting; Young Guns; Beverly Hills Cop 1&2; Kill Bill Volume 1; Jackie Brown

Missed the Cut:
These movies are close, but need at least some air between viewings before I’d sit through them a second time.  
The Godfather 1&2; Heat; the Lord of the Rings Trilogy; Top Gun; Swingers; Breakfast Club; Batman; Dusk til Dawn; Waynes World; Vacation and European Vacation; Clerks; Sixteen Candles; Ghostbusters; Usual Suspects; Goodfellas; Reservoir Dogs; Terminator 2; Ocean’s 11; Aliens; Old School; Wedding Crashers; Chasing Amy; Boogie Nights; Office Space; Austin Powers; Happy Gilmore; the Blade Trilogy

TV versus DVD:  
A trend I noticed when compiling the list was that guilty pleasure movies popped up a good deal.  Further, I realized I had to separate the movie watching into DVD and TV categories since what I’d be inclined to watch changed dramatically.  I can’t explain why, but I’m ten times more likely to watch a semi-bad movie over and over on cable than I am to rent or even own it.  I don’t know why, but it happens.  I think I’ve seen Blast From the Past almost a half-dozen times on cable and there’s no actual draw to it; even Alicia Silverstone is at her career low in it.  I can tell you right now there’s not a single thing that would get me to switch from Josie and the Pussycats if it aired on a Saturday afternoon, not even college football or March Madness.  Despite all that, this bizarre genre of movies wouldn’t cut it in my “proper” list above.  A few would get honorable mention, maybe, but nothing higher than that.  Maybe with some time and self-reflection I’ll be able to put forth a thesis on this crazy DVD-Cable movie phenomenon.  I promise, you’ll be the first to hear it.  Til then, go rent a movie from my list and enjoy!

* - That’s right.  I put two TV show box sets, a Mystery Science Theater 3000, and a concert DVD on there.  I’d watch any of them end to end sooner than The Breakfast Club (and I do!)
** - I want to put this much, much higher, but not enough time has passed for me to do so with a clean conscience.