I’m a person of habit. Some of them are good – they keep me writing every day, at more or less the same time. A structured existence allows me to do many things a spontaneous one might not. After all, we only have so many waking hours in a day, so many functional years to a life. Which is why my pre-bedtime habits are so structured. Without them – and a few medicinal additives – I have sleep problems, and with lack of sleep I’m no good the next day. So right before bedtime I take a couple of sleep-related meds and turn on the TV in my man cave, wait for the meds to do their work.
For a while now, I’ve spent that time alternating between sitcoms and news cycle shows – one inane, the other all but toxic. So I knew that eventually, I’d return to my movie collection. You see, I have this trove of movies as old as “Charade,” as recent as “Syriana”. In between are comedies, action flicks, bio-pics, book-to-cinema movies. You name it, I have it. So the other night I came back home to movies. I pulled out my DVD of “Good Will Hunting” and slid it into the player tray. Ahhh! My heart warmeth!
Why such a benign reaction to re-tread movies, ones I’ve seen as many as fifty times? True, it’s a communal experience when watched in the theater with others, or at home with family, but this isn’t my modus operandi. I most enjoy them when I watch them alone. Here’s my odd explanation:
With books, you have to put a lot of yourself in to the reading; you have to imagine the characters, you have to allow yourself thrall to the author’s voice, his/her created mood. All this is good stuff, but not right before bed. Movies do a lot of this work for you; you can watch them passively, let your mind wander, and then come back to them without missing as much as you might with a book. Turn the sound down, and it’s almost like those noise machines some people use to lull themselves to sleep.
But the main thing for me is that if the movie is right, i.e., if it’s not claptrap, there are bon mots totally divorced from the storyline that your mind will pick up and store in the nearer reaches of your subconscious, things that grow fertile during sleep and add a bit of fascination to the next day’s often numbing routine. The amazing thing I’ve found here is that these orts of fascination don’t travel well if you try to share them with a spouse, explain them to a co-worker. They’re yours, only yours.
I doubt that, even with the most astute movie makers this is the sort of thing they try to leave a viewer with. And maybe this is such an arcane reaction that it’s mine alone. But movies are more than, well, movies. Maybe someday, some cinematographer will realize that in sufficient depth to take movies to a whole new level.
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