There is something about movies that is magical to me. I struggle sometimes to unearth early memories, and so it is with movies. My earliest movie memories are going to the local drive-in with my family and another which had four children. They had a woodie station wagon and we had a VW Bug. The adults would sit in the VW and we seven kids would sprawl-out in the station wagon in our PJ’s. In my memory, it was always a double feature and I was most definitely nodding off half-way through the second feature.
Most movies I watch once or twice, but some I’ve watched many times over. I started to wonder what it was about these movies that drew me to re-watching them. Of course, I’ve watched many children’s movies with my kids, and as each child was old enough for a movie I’d watch it all over again. Lately, I watch my younger daughter’s favorites with her over and over again. We’ve probably watched The Hunger Games half a dozen times. We’re only on round two of Catching Fire…
I re-watch some movies because they are seasonal and a way to recapture past holidays or share a tradition with my children. It’s a Wonderful Life at Christmas, Ground Hog Day on February 2nd, Jesus Christ Superstar at Easter. But what about the movies that I choose to watch over and over again with no special purpose in mind?
It’s been years since I’ve watched Romancing the Stone (1984), but I’ve seen it many times. It stars a young Kathleen Turner as a shy, reclusive, romance-novel writer. She is drawn out of her comfort zone to rescue her sister from kidnappers in Columbia. This movie touched on many things for me. Since I learned to read as a child, I always dreamed of being a successful novelist, so the main character drew me in. I love action/adventure movies and this one fits that genre. It’s also a romance, a plus.
The next movie I got hooked on was a classic film-noir, Gaslight (1944) starring the beautiful Ingrid Bergman. Her character moves into her murdered aunt’s home with her new husband. He systematically starts to convince her that she’s insane and we follow her slow, sad decent into seeming madness before the mystery is resolved and her sanity is affirmed. Even knowing the ending of the movie, I love to watch it again just to see it all unfold. The phrase “gaslighting” has come to mean altering someone’s perception of reality. It is a very abusive behavior and having been on the receiving end, the movie has taken on even more significance to me.
On to more light-hearted fair, a have probably seen the The Princess Bride (1987) more times than any other movie and each time I watch it I enjoy it more than the last. The crew is heavily populated with talented comics with Robin Wright as the straightwoman playing Princess Buttercup. It is a swashbuckling, comedic, love story and easily the most quotable film ever made. I suppose it was made as a children’s movie, but it is a movie with so many layers of humor that it is enjoyable at any age.
Another love of mine is science fiction. Contact (1997) was an instant hit for me. It stars Jody Foster, a favorite actress of mine, as a scientist set on discovering proof of extra-terrestrial life. Even though she has a PhD and is incredibly intelligent, she doesn’t get much respect from the scientific community. This is also the first movie I saw starring Matthew McConaughey. He plays a sexy preacher. The non-religious scientist and the preacher develop a great appreciation for an all-encompassing, common view of awe and wonder, science and God. This movie just hit the sweet spot for me and I watch it about once a year.
I have other favorites, too, like Bend It Like Beckham (2002) and Akeelah And The Bee (2007) both of which involve breaking from tradition and stereotype. There is difficulty and there is triumph. These are feel-good, young-adult films made before the current wave of dystopian films. I don’t know why I am so drawn to the young adult genre…maybe because it allows me to imagine a different experience growing up without actually having to be a teenager again.
Find the Joy in the Journey…and the joy in discovering a new, must-watch movie!