The movie night conundrum: try something new, or rewatch a classic?
Can anyone relate to this? What’s best to do when you’ve got the telly to yourself: watch something you’ve never seen, or rewatch something brilliant?
Picture the scene: you’ve got a rare night in to yourself. The telly is yours. The choice of movie needs no committee, or approval from family members/flatmates/squatters/children. For once, you get to decide what to watch, and you alone.
Enter, then, the conundrum: do you watch an old favourite, or a film you’ve never seen before?
It’s a seemingly straightforward question, yet it’s one that I find myself wrestling with time and time again. Whenever I spend 90 minutes or so going through the extras on a DVD, for instance, I more than often conclude that I could have watched a whole new film instead, Much though I enjoyed the Red Letter Media dissection of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, I had to stop watching it, because once more, I wondered if I should just be watching a new movie in the time I was spending on it.
I think this is a by-product of getting older. With each year I age, I’m consciously aware that the list of films I want to watch is, if anything, getting longer (not aided by so many new, interesting releases toddling along). It certainly never seems to decrease. A further consequence of my aging, I’ve noticed, is that demands on time seem to increase, too. As such a spare, utterly uninterrupted two hours in front of the telly, all by myself, is a real rarity.
In his stand up tour of a couple of years back, this is something that comedian Dara O Briain discussed. He went through the conundrum of choosing which of the film, game or album to enjoy when you get some time to yourself. He talked of how he spent so long pondering, the he eventually opted to watch the last half-hour of RoboCop instead.
I never used to have this problem. I’d watch everything and anything I could lay my hands on. I had a video, then DVD collection that commandeered every spare bit of space in my house. Until the day that I look at most of them, and realised that the vast majority of films I own I’d, at best, watch once again in my lifetime. In some cases, not even that. One clearout later, and my philosophy changed: it was far more fun, I reasoned, to discover something new, than go back to something I’d seen before.
This phases lasted months, at best. Because while it’s clearly laced with good intentions, it only takes a few bad movies in a row to leave you questioning it. I find this with books: the years when I’ve read dozens of books are the ones where I’ve discovered so many new, interesting titles to read. Late last year, I had five duffers in a row. It certainly made getting into the book that followed a bit of a job.
So, what do you do? If you’ve got a night to yourself, and if this doesn’t happen very often, do you go back to the comfort of something you know to be brilliant, or at the least you know will entertain you for an evening? Or do you take the gamble and try something entirely new?
The rewards are these. If you take the plunge, try something new, and find a new film to love, then that’s one of the best decisions any movie fan could make. You never know how it’ll work out, of course, but the genuinely brilliant new film is the reason many of us watch movies in the first place.
I’ll go further: the fascinatingly terrible movie is always good reward for giving a new film a try. What I resent, and where I wish I’d watched RoboCop, is when I get to the end of another three star, perfectly functional piece of cinema, that’s just coasted through a couple of hours, leaving barely any memories by the end. That strikes me, increasingly, as a waste of an evening.
You never get that with RoboCop, though, do you? You always know that you’re in for an excellent film, one that’s possible to appreciate more and more over time. But, and I accept many of you won’t agree here, I’d still rather discover something new and excellent, than rewatch something. Sometimes, it’s a close run thing, and there are always exceptions to the rule, but my personal take? The gamble on something new is always just a little more interesting, at least in theory, than the reliability of something I’ve watched several times before.
There’s no, obviously, clear and correct answer to the movie night conundrum, and there are times when only a RoboCop, or something of its ilk, will do. But I’d suggest the ratio should be firmly weighting in favour of films you’ve not seen over films you have.
As ever, though, feel free to disagree…