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Hogarth judge

February 2018



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Replayable movies

I am dead serious when I say that films like Goliath and the Vampires (or Barbarella, or Reefer Madness, or The Lost City) are the ones I can watch over and over again. This is somewhat difficult to explain, but I'll try.

These are deep cinematic experiences the way good, deep comedies like Dr. Strangelove or Monty Python and the Holy Grail are. Some comedy stands up well to replay: they don't become less funny on a second viewing, like, say, Kung Pow or most romantic comedies do. There's depth to them, something new to notice on a fifth or fiftieth replay. They're full of lines that become part of your mental furniture, allusions brimming with meaning. You become a soul companion to anyone you meet who recognizes them. This is the great gift of the Firesign Theatre.

Serious drama fails the replay test because it is serious, and because it is drama. For me, serious means superficial: that which is surrealistic, unintentionally funny, or just plain weird has been studiously avoided. Everything the movie wants to be is there on the surface. They are drama: the plot's the thing. Once you have seen how the plot goes and watched the actors' performances, your experience is complete. There may be some profit in a second viewing, but by the tenth the marginal return approaches zero.

Movies that reward rewatching are layered in a way that much serious drama can't approach. You can watch them superficially, as adventure yarns. And in a great film like Goliath and the Vampires, you have even more going on. There are kinky bondage scenes, damsels in distress, homosexual undertones (and in Goliath, pedophile undertones). There are weird, surrealistic shifts in perspective, like when a bunch of soldiers in Buck Rogers helmets appear in ancient Palestine (?) or wherever Goliath is muscling around.

If you can watch it once, you can watch it again and again, and get something new from it each time around. And if you can't watch it once, I think you're approaching it in the wrong spirit. You will enjoy it the fifth time through a hell of a lot more than you'll enjoy Kramer v. Kramer or All the King's Men. Goliath and the Vampires may not be a great motion picture, but it is great movie entertainment. I submit that it is in fact a masterpiece.