The other day, I was having an email conversation with my friend Marty. I mentioned that I had seen Taxi Driver over the weekend. And that prompted Marty to tell me a small story about his relationship with that particular movie. “I was working on a huge art project when I was in college,” he said. Marty is now an award-winning graphic designer and art director. “It was a 10-part drawing series that had to do with crime. I was given the subject matter of a guy who robbed a liquor store, killed the clerk and was then given the death penalty,” he continued.
“I had to do ten HUGE drawings to tell the story. I was having a really hard time with it, and my awesome art teacher told me to watch Taxi Driver. That was the first of probably–no joke– 30 viewings within the next few years. I love that movie maybe more than any other.”
There are a lot of things I love about that story. First of all, it’s great that an educator found a way to reach his student. Second, he reached his student using cinema. Most importantly–the reason I’m writing this article–is that it inspired a deep appreciation for a single film. That really resonates, because I think it’s true of a lot of people. Admittedly, thirty times is a lot of times to see a movie in a lifetime. It’s an even wilder feat to accomplish in a few years. Still, anyone can relate. Our favorite movies are visual comfort food.
We all have those movies we turn to again and again at certain times. We do it because we’re bored, or because we want to be inspired, or we want to laugh, or we need a pick-me-up, or we need to stir our creativity. There are countless reasons for the phenomenon. Before you know it, you’ve been alive for 20 or 30 years and you’ve seen a certain film five, or ten, even fifteen or more times. One of my other friends–the guy who met Kevin Meaney–has seen The Blues Brothers more times than he could count. For another one of my friends, it’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, initially sparked because he wanted to have a full understanding of it. When I was a kid, it was National Lampoon’s Vacation. In my late teens and throughout my 20s, it was Animal House and The Big Lebowski. Now in my 30s, it’s become Hot Fuzz. I couldn’t begin to estimate how many times I’ve seen those movies, and I’m sure I’ll see them countless times more in the future. They fit me like a warm blanket.
Hearing other people recount their own tales proves that it’s not a unique phenomenon, and it adds a really fantastic dimension to cinema. Like our own DNA, certain films have an engaging quality that fits individuals in their own special way. It moves us to embrace them for a lifetime the way we might embrace a pet.
What films have you seen countless times?