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22 May 2009

The Paradox of the Last Picture Show

I'm beginning to wonder whether I will ever get even halfway through my goal of watching all of the movies in the IMDb Top 250. I have been hovering at around 120 for quite a while now but never quite seem able to make it to 125. Actually, looking at the list, I'm fairly certain I'll never get above 200 given the number of weird Japanese films that aren't really to my taste. It doesn't help that none of the films released this year so far are in the top 250 at the moment (apart from Star Trek, which isn't at the top of my must-see list), which means visits to the cinema don't help. Nor does it help that the BFI doesn't seem to be doing seasons that interest me at the moment (at least, if they're going to do Nouvelle Vague season, can't they at least show A bout de souffle and Bande à part [edit: actually neither of those are in the top 250 at the moment anyway]).

It certainly doesn't help that at the top of what would be my next-DVD-mailed-to-me list if I subscribed to Netflix are a range of different films, some in the top 250, some not. I've been having a bit of a Hitchcock season recently, having watched Psycho, Dial "M" for Murder, To Catch a Thief and The Birds (to add to my existing list of Rebecca, Notorious, Rear Window, Strangers on a Train, North by Northwest and Vertigo). Some of these (and those in my Hitchcock to-see list) are in the top 250, some are not. As for the others, some have been selected because of their rank in the top 250 in the first place and because I think I will enjoy them in the second place (The Great Escape, for example, has been sitting on my DVD shelf for several months, unwatched); others aren't in the top 250 but I want to watch them anyway.

The trouble with my rapid efforts to watch as many movies from the top 250 as possible and also as many Hitchcock movies as possible is that although at the time, I paid the utmost attention to the film, trying to remember the actors' and characters' names, a lot of them are quite similar or have different combinations of the same set of actors and as such, although I could recount the plot of each film, I might struggle with the characters' and actors' names. This means that in theory, I should probably watch the ones I really enjoyed again. But when is there time for that? Without a TV, I don't tend to just turn on, discover that Channel 4 is showing Vertigo one night, tune in part-way through to refresh my memory.

My self-imposed challenge is beginning to sound like some kind of paradox of the Grand Picture Palace: I will never see as many films as I want to see and as many times as I would like. This is very irritating, which means that I have to stick to trying to watch at least 125 films on the list at least once. Once I have done that, I can forget about trying to watch films on the list and just see whatever the hell I want (though I won't of course). Still, as long as I enjoy each film I watch and don't break away from my rule of cinematic confirmation bias, all will be well. Probably.


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