Rewatching movies is my favorite cinematic pastime

I used to adore the upcoming movie release schedule. I looked like a kid in a candy store, looking at the expensive shit I couldn’t touch yet. Seeing what was coming down the pike filled me with purpose as a film detective, and laid the breadcrumbs for the following season of cinema. You could get an idea of what was going to be heavyweight Oscar weight, what would feel like a cold beer and double cheeseburger, and maybe the movies to miss. It was great, and I was a young writer falling in love with each and every movie.

I’m not that guy anymore. Things have changed. The game has changed, with movies being released 3-4 days a week instead of Friday for new and Tuesday for Blu Ray/DVD. You can’t plan for all of the streaming TV shows and films that populate 5-10 platforms. Apple TV Plus releases new shows and movies each week, and Netflix drops crime docuseries every other day on their service. Paramount Plus, Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBO Max, and about 16 others do the same or close to it. Instead of looking forward to a big comic book release like “Black Adam,” there are 10-15 low budget and medium budget movies to sift through.

Picture a relentless pass rush that doesn’t let up, and you’re the quarterback and head coach in this situation. You’re trying to find time to adult and watch new movies, and the effort and search are seemingly endless these days. This has shoved me back into a comfortable cocoon that loves rewatching movies. It’s not a new phenomenon, because there’s a great podcast out there called “The Rewatchables.” I have unofficially joined that crew over the past year or so.

Example: Last night, after watching a new movie with Zac Efron and Russell Crowe and finishing another documentary about Nolan Ryan, I chose a rewatchable instead of starting another new movie. “Begin Again” was the choice last night. “Hell or High Water” was the pick a couple of times last week. Diving into something familiar that you are guaranteed to love can be more worthwhile than trying out something new and most likely not as good. Seeing a great movie isn’t as common as some would like to think, because a true masterpiece or something near doesn’t always hit immediately.

Hence, the rewatch. In a day of relentless releases, I have started to retreat back into that visually pleasing foxhole. A place I can stay awhile and not feel like my time was wasted. My diehard baseball passion has simmered in recent years, and that was a result of understanding every game didn’t need to be watched or agonized over. Those three to four hour pockets of time spent watching a team play a game that can go either way ate up so many nights. Bad baseball puts me in a bad mood.

Bad movies can have a similar effect. They take two hours of your time, and give nothing in return yet second-guessing and mood shifts. For a business built on playing with emotions and triggering passionate reactions to movies, it’s going to bite you on occasion. After finding a way to lessen the baseball agony, I have found similar comfort in my movie watching.

I don’t want to watch a movie that requires a mental notebook and take notes while trying to enjoy the movie. That’s documentaries and cerebral thrillers. I don’t want to have a job while I watch a flick, unless I’m the director in the editing bay.

I don’t want to stop what I’m doing and view the movie that everyone says will win the Best Picture award. No it won’t, and how do you know exactly? That movie this year is “Tar,” which revolves around a world-renowned musician seeing her world collapse before a big show. Cate Blanchett is a maverick and the reviews have been near perfect, but it doesn’t do much for me from a distance. I’ll watch it due to being in two awards groups (there’s no glamour, only access), so missing it is unavoidable.

But I’d rather watch “Chef” again. I know that’s good. It’s proven and beloved in my house. I can flip that on and the wife may sit down to watch with me. Since we both work day jobs, watching something with the wife is swell–especially if you’re like me and adore your wife. She may not want to watch “Tar,” a movie that will have me holed up in the basement watching alone. Watching “Chef” makes me feel good, can zap a bad mood, and gets me thinking about why I LOVE the movies in the first place. The way they can make you feel free, empowered, and energized.

Jon Favreau, playing a disgraced chef rebuilding his culinary reputation with the launch of a food truck, tells his son in the film that he cooks for a living because he’s good at it and enriches people’s lives with it. It felt like Favreau was speaking about his character in the film and his own real life of making movies, and that left a dent in me. Every time I watch it, something emotional and real is felt. You can’t find that in 95% of the new movies you watch.

When you retreat from seeing everything, the inclination can be that one is losing interest or doesn’t love the movies as much. That’s bullshit. Ask most movie fans why they can’t see most releases, and they say finding time is the hardest thing. It’s not a lack of or lower amount of love for the world of make believe. Between being outside, working, or just doing something that doesn’t require sitting quietly in a room for two hours, the 24/7 grind doesn’t slow down for special needs, aka extra movie time.

Recently, I rewatched “Top Gun: Maverick” with my wife and son, and loved it more than the first time I viewed it. The need to watch it a third time’s a real thing, because that’s one of my favorite pastimes: rewatching great movies. If you’re a gambling man, the bet is stronger to relive something cherished than to step into something dark and unknown.

This whole conversation has an “old man yelling at his front lawn” feel to it, so I’ll wrap it up by saying this. Watch what you want, even if it’s old and forgotten by others. Watch what you want to see, and not what some depressed or enraged film critic demands you watch. The time is yours, so the choice should be as well.

Tonight, there’s a good chance I’ll rewatch something instead of digging into something new. After a day of learning new things and meeting new faces, I need the trusted emotional waves at night.

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