It’s a fine line between stubborn and stupid. Trust me. I’ve crossed that line enough times that I know exactly what I’m talking about.
Unbeknownst to anyone, save some account executives over at Blockbuster who were probably laughing at me, when I was eighteen I began a quest to see every classic movie ever made. Given the sheer quantity and variety of what people will call a classic, this turned out to be an endless (and arguably thankless) task. It involved me going alone on Friday night to watch movies I couldn’t get any of my friends to agree to, and jogging through the rain to return videos ten minutes before the store closed. (Shut up. I was a college student. I could barely afford all of those movies, never mind late fees.) I would burrow upstairs in my room and wonder why a beautiful woman like Anne Bancroft would ever waste her time on a college student who looked like Dustin Hoffman.
Admit it, you’ve been wondering that too. And no one will ever be able to answer that question.
I saw an endless stream of movies, bad, good, and many that were light years beyond my level of sophistication. Last Tango in Paris, Breaking the Waves, The Pillow Book, and Clockwork Orange all come to mind as movies that I didn’t understand, but would possibly enjoy if I were to watch them again (fifteen years later). Also, I would to try to watch every movie that was nominated for an Oscar, and would participate in a contest with my friends. (Unfortunately, Jeanine was even more obsessed with movies, and would usually kick my ass.) I remember fighting off sleep during movies that were outright boring, trying to decipher a cockney accent, and reading an endless stream of subtitles. And yet, no matter how many movies I watched there were always two hundred movies waiting in the wings. And for every Elizabeth and The Lion in Winter, there were ten lesser movies. Yet for years, I stubbornly persevered, often fighting sleep, rain, and all common sense.
And then I met my husband.
You’re probably thinking this ended my quest, but no… No, it did not. One day, no doubt drunk on
bourbon life, my husband’s best friend suggested we start a quest to watch the AFI’s top 100 films. And so it began. At first we were completely random, and would just pick whatever we found interesting off the list. However, after watching quite a few not-so-great movies people began to sour on the concept. Whining started to ensue, and there was rancor amongst the troops. In fact, my hubby and his friend who from now on shall be called Sir Why-Did-I-Ever-Suggest-This-Stupid-Idea started pausing the videos, forcing me to grab the remote. And even then, I’d spend half the movie telling them to shut the hell up. It got particularly ugly during The Nun’s Story, but no one needs to know about that.
Finally, out of sheer desperation, I instituted the teapot. All of the titles were written down, and placed in the teapot. Now we could no longer debate what movie we would watch, and it was left up to the fates. And thanks to those fates, we managed to watch the classically horrible Birth of a Nation, which is a silent movie about the Ku Klux Klan that I’m pretty sure implies the Klan was actually a good thing… Yikes. You can probably already see how what started out as a genius idea began to seem like a chore.
The last straw, however, was when my husband and I decided to move to NY for a job opportunity. At first, we would still try to watch AFI movies without our friend, but eventually my husband and I gave up. However… Upon making a list, I’ve discovered that we got way further along then I would have suspected. In fact, I think I’ve seen 71 of AFI’s top 100 movies. With a little effort, a whole lot of popcorn, and about 60 more hours of sitting on the couch (which I rather enjoy anyway), we might even be able to get there…
What do you think, fair readers of love and lunchmeat? Should we revive the quest?
*I will be posting the AFI list, complete with (extremely) short movie reviews tomorrow.