Catching up

I try to watch at least 2-3 movies a week. I don’t always succeed. Sometimes I’m too tired, too busy, too distracted. It doesn’t help that as of right now, I don’t really own a DVD player and TV set, only a laptop, which really isn’t the ideal choice for that. I cannot watch DVD’s using my laptop because of the copy-protect encryptions that the studios put into them. Sure, you can rip it, or watch it in fits and starts, but it’s really no fun this way, it makes the viewing experience tedious. Ironically, downloaded movies play with no interference at all. So the copy-protect method does not really prevent ripping out the movies, it just won’t let people who want to rent of purchase legit DVD’s watch them on their laptops, thus forcing them to explore (cough) other (cough) methods of watching movies. When will the corporations realize that fighting a technological war with millions of talented computer geeks is a lost cause? Just release the movies. People will buy them. People will rent them. So you’ll make 80 million instead of 90 million. As it is, the vast majority of people who are downloading movies illegally wouldn’t have watched those movies in any other way. It’s really a win-win situation. Laptops have become a viable viewing platform. Give us DVD’s with no redundant encryption methods that could be cracked by a ten year old. it’s just useless.
Anyway, I’m going on a tangent here. Whatever there is to be said about laptops as TV’s, it’s not the ideal viewing platform. The screens are small. You have to tilt them to get a good picture.

I’ve been going a lot to the cinema in Toronto. At first, it was about one movie a week. Now it’s more like one movie every two weeks. But still, I go to a lot more than I used to. I don’t really mind going to movies by myself here. It’s more fun when you’re with someone, naturally, but it’s not as depressing as it was back in Israel, which I didn’t do a lot just for that reason. I think it’s because a lot more people here go the movies alone, so you don’t feel like you’re the only one. I think Israel is a much more sociable country than Canada and the US. When you go to a movie house in Israel, you hardly see people alone. You see a lot of couples, groups of friends… Israelis love to be together, to be in groups, there’s even a term for is in local slang. It’s called “Hevre”. The closest translation I can think of is “Bunch of people”, but basically it’s untranslatable. I don’t think there’s another word like it in any other language.
So yes, it’s a very miserable experience going to the movies alone in Israel. In a country which is like one big family (including all the usual confrontations), doing inherently social activities all by your lonely self just feels wrong and depressing.

Anyway, I’ve watched a lot of movies over the years. It started very early, and after those early films, which were basically holiday revivals of classic movies, my “official” cinema viewing began with another revival showing of Star Wars in Tel Aviv, sometime in the beginning of the 1980’s. I can’t really say what I exactly felt back then, because I don’t remember. Also, I’ve seen this movie so many times since then, that I can’t recall my initial impressions. I do know that it made me thrilled and excited about the possibilities of Cinema. It was a movie that combined everything: Drama, comedy, special effects, great score, to an unbelievable effect.
In the years following that I watched a lot of 80’s dreck (yep, at some point, Police Academy was my favorite movie of all time), but we were kids, we weren’t really that demanding, we watched everything, as long as it entertained us. I’ll be the first to admit that my cinematic tastes weren’t particularly sophisticated, but that was a time when the main reason to go to the cinema was to have fun, and not ponder about life or the human condition. and to this day I think that having fun in the movies is nothing to be looked down upon.

Apart from the idiotic but enjoyable 80’s comedies, Spielberg was my main diet. Not only films directed by Spielberg, but the entire “Spielberg universe”. The Goonies is one of my favorite films ever, it reminds me of childhood innocence and great, straight-up adventure stories. The Zemeckis films, like Back to the Future trilogy and Romancing the Stone (with the shot where Michael Douglas’s head pops out of the water in the pool between Kathleen Turner’s white, long legs, which is one of the sexiest scenes I ever had the privilege to watch).
And of course, The Spielberg ones, when the guy was having an amazing streak with the Indiana Jones movies and E.T.

There are those movies that you need to watch if you consider yourself a serious film buff. It’s like being an art major and not seeing a famous Picasso or Van Gogh. Those films need to be seen because they have an importance in the wide context of the art of filmmaking, either in relation to a director, an actor, a technical innovation, or anything else that serves as some kind of benchmark in the chronology of film and filmmaking.

Some of these films I saw in real time. As my cinematic tastes expanded, I went back and caught up on some that I either missed when they first came out or wasn’t even born when they did. Even when I didn’t feel like watching an “important” film (because that word makes you look forward to a tedious experience, like those books they made you read in school and write a report on), but I tried to do it anyway. Sometime I didn’t know what all the fuss was about – I’ll admit that some of these movies have been copied and imitated many times and thus lost their initial innovative uniqueness. But for the most part they remained good movies. Some were indeed stupendous, and I couldn’t believe I’ve waited so long to see them.

And some… well, some had eluded me.

It’s hard to put the finger at the cause. It just happened. I never caught them on TV, there were always other movies I wanted to rent and I always said “yeah, I should see that sometime”. The bottom line is that there are some heavy hitters out there, classic, trend setting pictures that I haven’t seen to this day. I’m quite ashamed of that, really.
Some time ago I made a conscious decision to eliminate that shameful blight on my cinematic pedigree by picking them up one by one from Amazon – yes, actually buy them, as if to clean my conscious, but it didn’t really materialize. Also, I refuse to download them from (cough) certain (cough) sites. It just seems that if I’m about to watch them for the first time, this is not the way to do it, which is silly when you think about it – I mean, wouldn’t it be better to watch them than not watch them at all? Go figure. It’s not really rational, this whole thing.

So taking the 2007 AFI list of the best 100 movies ever made as a model, here they are, those classics that I have yet to see and don’t really have any excuses:

On The Waterfront (1954)

The Maltese Falcon (1941)

One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)

The Deer Hunter (1976)

Nashville (1975)

Cabaret (1972)

The African Queen (1951)

All the President’s Men (1976)

And some foreign titles from the top 250 films of all times from IMDB (a list that quickly loses it’s credibility thanks to what seem like hordes of impulsive teenagers):

The Seven Samurai (1954)

Cinema Paradiso (1988)

Yojimbo (1961)

Nosferatu (1922)

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)


1 comment so far

  1. Shel Berman on

    If you have not watched it yet, I’ll add “The Thin Red Line”, of course.

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