Thursday, January 26, 2012

Dale begins to report January's re-nerding progress but gets side-tracked preaching about movies

The thing you need to understand is that I am inherently lazy. And not in the “I think I'll sleep in an extra twenty minutes” kind of way. If not for guilt and the ever-increasing and urgent needs of the body for sustenance and, more often, waste disposal, I could probably rationalize myself into a full day's worth of extra sleep. I could do this every day.

But guilt and duty pull me up (eventually) each morning and I rise to take on the world, which I realize will eventually pummel me into submission until I am old and spend my days complaining about how the nursing staff is stealing from me and lying to my grandchildren about bands that I've never seen. I will also in all likelihood hold several petty grudges and nurse elaborate planned vengeances against unsuspecting enemies for minor crimes blown wildly out of proportion by my frenzied imagination. I make this last assumption based on the behaviour of people in my own family who, as they age, have gained the ability to hold grudges like Dick Nixon, but thankfully do not have a team of former CIA operatives to carry out their orders.

I mention my tendency toward laziness to set up my lack of dramatic progress on my re-nerding project. This is not to suggest that I've made no progress, just less than I know I could have made.

So in this post I will lay out the first part of my January progress report.

On the movie front, Friday night movies have been successfully implemented. Troy was over on Friday and, as expected, we watched only one film. Since Warren wasn't present we held off on Shaun of the Dead and opted to watch The Guard. We both loved it and, based on Troy's enjoyment of it, I decided that he will also enjoy In Bruge. Both films feature Brendon Gleeson trading colourful quips with a talented co-star, they both make similar use of their settings, and both combine comedy and drama in a unique way. They also both have really entertaining villains. So we'll be watching that one soon.

After The Guard was done, I suggested that, since it was reasonably early, we could watch a second film. At that point it was explained to me that since we had just watched a movie that we really enjoyed, a second one would be anticlimactic. Or it would be too much of a good thing. Or something. I can't really recall, but suffice to say it made little sense to me. I mean, if we had just listened to a really great song, I wouldn't have told him, “Okay, that's enough music for tonight. We don't want to ruin this feeling.” I guarantee we'll be discussing this on future movie nights.

My wife, Karen, is of the same opinion, by the way, though she leans more to the “I've seen that movie, why would I watch it again” school of thought. My response to this is similar to the one above. I cannot imagine the following scenario:

Warren: Hey Dale, I just got this new remaster of Pearl Jam's Ten album! I'll just pop it into the old CD player, yeah?
Dale: Pfft. I heard those songs once. Why would I want to hear them again?
Warren: Umm, because they're awesome? And the whole album's been remastered.
Dale: Take your CD and get the hell out of my house.
Warren: What? What the hell did I do?
Warren: God, you're such an asshole now.

Correction: I can imagine certain aspects of that scenario, just not the parts where I refuse to listen to Ten.

Anyway, my point is that for people like me, movies are like music. I have certain films that, if I'm flipping channels and run into one of them? Well I'm stuck there for the long haul. This list includes titles like Rio Bravo, The Shawshank Redemption, The Big Lebowski, and rarer these days, Casablanca, All About Eve, and The Maltese Falcon. These are all movies that, to my mind, grow better with age. They are all eminently quotable, and the dialogue becomes more enjoyable the better you know it. This is especially true in Lebowski, where the more you listen to the dialogue the more you note patterns, repetitions, and callbacks that are embedded throughout the movie. Lines like “This aggression will not stand, man”, and “in the parlance of our times” become so much more meaningful and funny on repeated viewings.

None of this, however, can match the outright joy you get when you discover a film that you realize you're going to have a life-long love affair with. And no repeat viewing can ever recapture the experience of seeing that movie for the very first time. There are so many movies that I wish I could erase from my memory just so I could go back and watch them with fresh eyes one more time. The six movies I listed above are all great examples, but there are many more that come to mind, like Rushmore and Blue Velvet, two movies that changed the way I watched movies forever.

But until they actually create one of those little Men in Black flash doodads, we're stuck with our memories.

There is one thing you can do, however, that brings you as close as you can get to actual rediscovery, and is something I do whenever possible - show the movie to someone who hasn't seen it. Believe me, if I find out a friend hasn't seen Casablanca? Well guess what we're doing next Friday? It works, because for a brief few moments you kind of see the movie through their eyes and it makes you remember all those joyful little moments that you had when you first saw it. Trust me, this really works. Unless your friend doesn't like the movie.

Or should I say, ex-friend.

Of course, exceptions sometimes have to be made. Like, for example, if you were to show your wife Almost Famous, almost dancing with gleeful anticipation of the joyful discovery she was about to experience, and then for some reason, she was totally underwhelmed by it? A frivolous disagreement like that couldn't possibly be worth a huge fight followed by hours of silence and glaring, finally culminating in an unspoken agreement to never ever mention that movie again, as long as we both live.

Or so I imagine...


  1. I've never seen Casablanca, I have no desire to.


  2. Omigod Noq, you have been severely misinformed. That movie has EVERYTHING. Doomed romance, intrigue, action, suspense, a perfect cast, and the best dialogue you have ever heard in any movie made by humans. The only thing missing is a bit with a dog. Get on a plane, get back here asap, and I will cook you dinner and treat you to one of the most entertaining movies ever.

  3. does it have dragons? Jedi Knights? Naked hairy men kissing in a hot tub?

  4. I just googled the trailer..I don't think I've ever seen it either. As you know I've not see MANY movies. So eventually when I am free from school for awhile, I will try and watch some of the titles listed above. I love movies, I just need to watch more of the right kind of movies. I mean Disney and Pixar films are great but those quotes only take you so far.

  5. I go under the knife tomorrow and will be stuck at home for a while. Come see me. We will watch Casablanca. You too Noq.