Monday, September 14, 2015

Top 10 Movies I’ve Seen the Most

I thought this would be fun, to make a list of films that have nothing in common, other than the fact that they are the movies I have watched the most. Interesting and random trends I noticed in drafting this list: Most films here are from the ‘90s (a by-product of my mid-‘80s birth), seven of the movies have one-word titles, all are in the English language, only two of my top 10 films of all time are here, and no movie on this list is from the ‘70s (my favorite decade of film). The truth is, I watch at least one of these films every few months. Do feel free to share the movies you’ve seen the most in the comments – I love knowing what flicks people watch a lot.

Cinderella (1950)
A childhood favorite, the first film I ever owned. I watched it over and over (and over and over and over). To this day, it’s really the only “from the vault” Disney film I still rewatch (though nothing against the others). The fear I felt during the Stepmother’s opening, shadowy shot; the joy of Gus-Gus; the pleasure of Cinderella’s smile – it never gets old.

Psycho (1960)
There were certain films I didn’t have to rewatch for my massive Hitchcock post earlier this year. The Birds, Rear Window, Shadow of a Doubt, Notorious – all are forever burned into my memory from decades of rewatching. Psycho is certainly chief among them, yet, of course, I found myself rewatching it again. Because it never gets tired, it never gets weak, it always stays fearful.

E.T. (1982)
While Cinderella was a childhood favorite, Steven Spielberg’s E.T. was the childhood favorite. True story: I burned through three VHS copies of this film, simply because I watched it so much that I ruined the first two, gloriously green-colored tapes.

Cliffhanger (1993)
Yep. As a kid, my friends and I would quote this action romp endlessly, reenacting scenes like the epic cave fight (“WRONG ANSWER, MOTHAFUCKA!”) in our backyards, minus the stalactite-inducing death. Also, Cliffhanger is my go-to hangover movie. I don’t have nearly as many worse for wear mornings as I used to, but when I do, there’s a good chance Cliffhanger is playing in the background.

Pulp Fiction (1994)
My second favorite film of all time, a constant fixture in my life. I remember one night when I was in sixth grade, my best friend Chris and I stayed up so we could memorize Jules’ famed Ezequiel 25:17 speech. This was before the internet, before DVD subtitles, before looking scripts up online and copy/pasting them in seconds. We rewound that damn tape hundreds of times, writing down every word by hand, then practicing the stylized scripture over and over. Still got it down to this day.

Casino (1995)
This is what I love most about this list: although Casino isn’t my favorite Martin Scorsese film, it is easily the one I’ve seen the most. Even more than Goodfellas. Even more than my favorite film of all time, Taxi Driver. Goodfellas, The Wolf of Wall Street, The Departed, those flicks cruise by, but Casino fucking cruises by. It’s so fast and furious and glamourous and raw. I love watching it, and why mess up a good thing? And that’s that.

Scream (1996)
Wes Craven, may he rest in peace, will always be a horror legend, and Scream will always be my favorite film of his. Is it his best? Not my call to make. But is it the Craven film that will always be closest to my heart, and most in the forefront of my mind? Damn right.

Sleepers (1996)
I think a strong case can be made for any film I’ve mentioned here so far. Even for the silly popcorntainment of Cliffhanger, or the pulp fiction confidence of Scream. But Sleepers is a film with as many admirers as detractors. And fair enough. It’s heavy shit, and it’s long, and it’s ugly, and it’s sad. And it’s reasons like those that I absolutely love it, and come back to it often.

The Thin Red Line (1998)
The Thin Red Line isn’t the longest film on this list (Casino tops it by 8 minutes), but it is inarguably the longest feeling film here. And yet I can’t get enough of it. Its look, its tone, its narrative design – and the faces. The faces of physical pain and emotional brutality; of terrifying anticipation and well-earned regret. I’ve marveled at those faces for days, and will certainly continue to do so.

Shame (2011)
A story: when Steve McQueen’s Shame was released on DVD, I was in the middle of editing my short film, Earrings. One Friday night, I had dinner plans with my friend Brent and his girlfriend. I got home from work, put on Shame, and completely forgot that Brent and his lady were picking me up at 7. About 7:10, Brent walks into my apartment and finds me sitting on my couch, watching the threesome scene from Shame on my 55” plasma, taking notes on a yellow legal pad. The funny part is, he didn’t even acknowledge the scene that was playing. Didn’t acknowledge that I was taking notes, either. He just asked if I was ready to go, and I apologized for being distracted. He knew I was watching the scene because I always watched the segment contained within that scene. He knew I was taking notes because I was memorizing editing beats to incorporate into Earrings. That’s true friendship, that’s my true love of this film.

Honorable Mention
Wait (2015)
Perhaps cheap to mention my own movie here, but in all honestly, I’ve seen my first feature, Wait, upwards of 1,500 times. I lost official count sometime after 1,000, but this thing is wired into my brain as tightly as my speech pattern. I promise it will be out soon, and I thank all those who have supported the project and are waiting patiently for its release!

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52 comments:

  1. Very cool story about Shame. If anyone I know would have walked in on me during that scene taking notes there would've been a lengthy conversation to follow, lol. Love this post. I may have to rip this off and do one of my own. As a matter of fact, call this fair warning that I AM GOING TO RIP THIS OFF. I'll probably post mine this weekend, so I'll hold my cards pretty close to the vest. Though I will say that off the top of my head we may have Scream in common, but I think it's going to just miss the cut.

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    1. When I was in the thick of editing Wait, I watched Shame at least once a week. My then girlfriend got used to that pretty quick haha. Can't wait to see what films are on your list!

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  2. YES Sleepers! Can come back to it whenever, wherever. For me its Jungle Book (which I watched twice a week at my grandpa's for the majority of my 17 years) so yea- A LOT and then both Clockwork Orange and Once Upon A Time In America (Four Hours? I could watch that shit on repeat for DAYS). Was always curious what films you had seen the most. I really need to stop searching for new ones all the time and settle down with the films I adore a little more.

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    1. I thought you'd like seeing Sleepers here! Your last sentence is something I battle with a lot. I can often find myself stuck in a trap of watching movies I love over and over, and not exploring new stuff. And then sometimes it can be the exact opposite haha. Good to have a balance of the two.

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    2. Certainly. There is so much good shit I haven't seen (despite spending last December watching just under 160 movies) and yet so much stuff I love that I want to see again and again. Tough line to tread. Hardest part about timing is I've always wanted to see Sátántangó- but...

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    3. 160?! In one month?! Dude, you are a king. So how many of those were new-to-you vs. rewatches? I try to keep a balance of 70% new-to-me, 30% rewatch. I try.

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    4. Oops did even notice this reply :P 100% new-to-me viewings. Basically scoured Netflix, BT, YouTube open access and then begged borrowed and stole every DVD I could get my hands on. Discovered a few of my favorite movies along the way too, which was great :D

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    5. Wow, what dedication. Great job man.

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  3. I've long thought about doing a category on movies I always stop to watch when I encounter them while flipping through channels, even if I already own the DVD. They would be ones like The Hunt for Red October, Groundhog Day, etc. I've seen parts of those movies many times, but not the whole films.

    My early years were before the prevalence of rentable movies so I never did the "watch a kids movie a hundred times" thing. Consequently, I don't know what my 10 most watched movies would be. I can tell you that number one is probably The Princess Bride because I've probably seen it as many times with others as I have watched it on my own - at least a dozen in total.

    Die Hard is probably close to 10 times, with the first time being in the theater during its first run.

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    1. The Princess Bride is such a gem. But given your level of consumption, I am surprised that the most you've seen a single film is 12 times. Still, you watch more new-to-you movies than most anyone I know, which is so cool.

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    2. Actually, one of my mild regrets from doing various lists is that when it comes time to watch a new one or rewatch an old one I usually feel I have to go with the new one. It's a completely self-inflicted "problem", I know. Go back 5 years and I used to rewatch movies more often.

      As a kid I re-read books I liked many times so I definitely have the tendency to revisit movies, too. I've read The Lord of the Rings trilogy at least seven times over the decades since I first discovered it.

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    3. Oh interesting. I'm definitely not an avid re-reader, but I wish I was. Only a handful of books I tend to revisit every few years.

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  4. Ah, all of these are re-watchable and... why not? They're the definition of true classics. Who can't watch these films and not watch it over and over and over again?

    As for Wait (which I still haven't seen, when is it coming to a theater near me?), I can understand why. You're trying to find the right cut, pacing, and running time. That is editing.

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    1. Hell yeah man, why not?!

      Wait won't be released in the theater. I explored opening it in big cities, but the market isn't there for movies of this size. The cost-benefit simply doesn't match up, so I'm going to release it online, presumably on Hulu first, then expand to Netflix and iTunes. So much time, sooo much money. It's insane!

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  5. Wow, what a list. What a list idea, too. It's funny how your favorite movies and the ones you watch the most can be so different? Like, I've long considered 2001 to be my all-time favorite film. I've only seen it twice. As for the films I've watched the most, well, Jurassic Park will have to be on there. That movie practically was my childhood. I practically had the entire thing memorized once upon a time. Lost World, too. Also, thinking back, The Fifth Element and The Mummy (with Brendan Fraser) were both on a lot, too. Then, of course, countless holiday viewing traditions. More recently, there's Jaws, Blazing Saddles, GoodFellas, and Fight Club definitely. And while we're counting our own movies here, I might even consider these three minutes of amateur hour: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BHd82bMGYn4

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    1. Thanks man! Yeah, looking at my favorite films of all time... I've seen them all multiple times, but not nearly as much as the ones listed here. 2001 included.

      Loved hearing about some of the films you watch a lot. And Of Being was insane! That music.

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    2. I'm so glad you liked Of Being. That really means a lot to me man. Definitely my best work so far (of course, I have a long way to go). And the music is the New World Symphony by Antonin Dvorak. One of the greats. :)

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  6. Great list! The Disney movie of my childhood was The Little Mermaid, I watched it so many times! I still like to revisit it every now and again too.

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    1. I need to go back and rewatch that one. Literally been at least 20 years since I've seen it! Thanks for the comment!

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  7. Love this list! Like Dell, I may have to do a list like this of my own :) Your story about Shame made me giggle, but isn't that always the way? I tend to find family or friends always walking into the room just at 'the wrong moment' and when I pause to find out what they want, it just makes it all the worse, haha.
    - Allie

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    1. Haha so true. I've been "caught" in some awkward movie-watching situations, but I always brush it off, because my intentions are just to watch the movie, you know? Can't wait to see your list!

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  8. Awesome idea, I may have to make one of these too. :)

    I've seen Scream, Pulp Fiction, and Cinderella so many times as well. It's funny you mention Cinderella, my son (he's 3) went on this Cinderella kick last year where this was all he would watch. And he would get so excited when all the new characters appeared on screen, even if they didn't have names. He'd yell "MOMMY! IT'S THE OTHER MOUSE!!" I'm glad someone else shares his love of Cinderella. lol

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    1. Oh my god, your son sounds like me at that age! I watched the ever loving hell out of that movie. Over and over. Still love it. Can't wait to see your list!

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  9. Great idea for a list, and I really like your choices :)

    Your Shame story reminds of when I was younger, and whenever a kissing scene showed up in a movie I would be watching with my parents, my dad would discreetly turn down the volume, and then he and my mum would either begin to talk to me about school or begin to hum a song. Or if things got a bit *too* heated, the channel would be changed to the news or sports haha. Good times.

    Like you, my favourite film of all time (Eternal Sunshine) probably isn't one of my most watched films. I remember renting Coraline numerous times from my local video store, I just adored its originality and creepiness. Another memory I recall is when I watched The Piano for the first time. I watched it, sat still for a minute or so, completely stunned and overwhelmed by its perfection, then I watched it again... and again.

    CINDERELLA :D my heart leaps whenever I read praise about Disney classics. What did you think of this year's new version? I personally enjoyed it quite a bit. Cate Blanchett is queen.

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    1. Ha, love that kissing scene story! The Piano is a real gem. I've only seen it four or five times, but I love it.

      I thought the modern Cinderella was okay. There's nothing Cate Blanchett can't do, but the film still lacked the creepiness of the animated version. It just felt very fluffy, you know? But decent, for sure.

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  10. Oooo nice list. Cliffhanger :P

    My list will definitely have the Harry Potter movies, Mean Girls, The Avengers, Edgar Wright's movies, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist and Fight Club. I feel like I watch The Dreamers a lot but then I always turn it off at some point because I cannot take in the combined beauty of the leads any more.

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    1. Haha, I love your ongoing aesthetic dilemma with The Dreamers. That's one hell of a gorgeous cast there. Love your picks, they seem very "you." :)

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  11. Awesome list! So you definitely watched CASINO more than GOODFELLAS? :D

    Anyways mine is definitely going to be "Schindler's List"; my favorite film ever, I may have probably seen this more than a hundred and there's "Jurassic Park" and "The Exorcist", alot... I've seen those two... a lot... Cuaron's "Gravity" would have to be next, but it kind of lessen now, so yeah "Night of the Hunter" will probably top that and "UNDER THE SKIN"! That movie is absolute masterpiece. And now... I'm pretty sure "Persona" will join that "movies I've seen the most." :D

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    1. Thanks! I have definitely, no question, watched Casino more than Goodfellas. I think Goodfellas is the better film, but I always have Casino on.

      Awesome choices!! Schindler's List on repeat, huh? Man, that's a rough ride right there. I think I've only seen that one 4 times. Brutal as hell every time. Thanks so much for the comment!

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  12. Brilliant list! Love that Shame story, and I can't wait to see Wait.

    Tough to be accurate, but my top 10 would probably be:

    Star Wars (the original trilogy), Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Philadelphia Story, Rear Window, Dial M for Murder, Mrs. Doubtfire, A Good Year (forever defending this one), Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Jaws, The Godfather

    From my early childhood I'd have to add some Disney flicks:

    Peter Pan, the Davy Crockett movies, Swiss Family Robinson, In Search of the Castaways, Treasure Island...stuff like that

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    1. A Good Year?! Very interesting. I had no idea. Loved your choices. Of your list, I've clocked the most watches of Mrs. Doubtfire (duh!) and The Godfather.

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    2. A Good Year just goes down so smoothly. It's light, breezy, and I LOVE that cast, as well as the score and cinematography. A few years ago, I used to put it on almost every night before going to bed. A feel-good flick, for sure.

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    3. That's awesome man. I've only seen it once. I mean, any film with my dear Marion...

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  13. This is one of my favorite posts as of lately, Alex! It should be made into a blogathon! I'm surprised to see Shame make this list only because it's still relatively new. Great stories behind all of these classics though :)

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    1. Thanks! Glad you dug the stories. I'm wayyy too lazy to host a blogathon, but a few people have expressed interest in doing this same post, and I say have at it! I'd love to see your list.

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  14. Absolutely brilliant list you've got there Alex :) the ones I haven't seen are Cliffhanger and Sleepers and I'm gonna get on that a.s.a.p. Here's mine: Carrie, Beautiful Thing, An Education, We Need to Talk About Kevin, Hedwig and the Angry Inch and Bridge to Terabithia. Also awww, that's so sweet that Disney was your first ever film you owned.

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    1. Thanks! Nice picks there. Not surprised by Carrie ;), but I really dig your list. You know, I've only seen WNTTAK twice. That's a tough one to sit through. But then again, I suppose Shame is as well!

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    2. Thank you ahaha ;) I know, WNTTAK is tought but just the mise en scene and freaking Tilda Swinton makes it worth it regardless of how much it destroys me. I also forgot another mention, I've done my fair share of repeated viewing of Mean Girls. It never gets old for me haha

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    3. Mean Girls is awesome! I really want to rewatch WNTTAK now.

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  15. Love the idea for this list! From it, Pulp Fiction is the only one I'd also have on mine, although most of the classic Disneys would have to be honorable mentions since I've all of them so often. Other than that I'd definitely have to include Breakfast at Tiffany's, The Breakfast Club, Jurassic Park, and When Harry Met Sally.

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    1. Yay Pulp! Jurassic Park... yeah, I've clocked that one sooo many times. Whatta gem. Thanks for the comment!

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  16. Shame is an interesting one, not something I think could watch many times haha.
    Scream is a great choice, and would probably be on my list too!

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    1. Nice! Yeah, I imagine I'm alone in having Shame as a all-time most watched film haha.

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  17. I have so much respect for the fact that you and your friend memorized that passage from Pulp Fiction. If we ever meet in person, I'll ask you to quote it. ;-)

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    1. Haha, will do. So glad it made your list too!

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  18. I assume the movie i have watched the most times are cheesy 80's and 90's action movies like Bloodsport, Cobra and Demolition Man because i loved movies like that as a kid. It's also probably movies like Halloween and Nightmare on Elm Street that i watch yearly around Halloween and movies like Home Alone, Christmas Vacation and Die Hard that i watch yearly around Christmas. I have also watched Collateral, Goodfellas, Rocky, Back to the Future, Jurassic Park, Drive and the first three Indiana Jones movies countless time though.

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    1. Great picks. I also watch Home Alone and Die Hard every Christmas. I mean, how can you not?! Definitely always put Halloween on around that time of the year. I looove that film.

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  19. I'm definitely the same with Scream.

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  20. I think Pulp Fiction is the best Quentin Tarantino work

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