What movie have you seen the most? What does it mean to you?
That’s the premise of Slate’s puzzlingly titled “The Movie I’ve Seen the Most” from last week. Spike Lee offers West Side Story without explanation. Peter Farrelly says Something Wild.
The unfortunate truth is that I’ve seen Star Wars more than any other movie, probably followed by The Wizard of Oz.
But that’s strictly from a volume perspective, which is inevitably skewed by the child’s insatiable desire to see the same damned thing over and over and over, and CBS’s insatiable desire to show the same damned thing over and over and over. The spirit of the question is more current, as in: “What movie do you watch most frequently?”
Two runners up for me are Fearless and Babe, but those don’t really count because I tend to do a selective viewing — the final half-hour of each.
The movie I return to in full most often is Antonia’s Line, written and directed by Marleen Gorris and released in 1995. It’s one of those family-through-time pictures that typically use their scope and acumen with old-age makeup as markers of their depth. It’s also one of those up-with-liberated-women movies that often use their feminist appeal to disguise how crappy they are. And it’s one of those life-affirming movies that almost always ignore that existing sucks donkey balls sometimes.
Antonia’s Line is all of those things, and it’s not. It expertly taps into the potential of all those formulas while avoiding their pitfalls, and it’s anchored by at least a dozen sharply drawn characters performed with zest. It celebrates the anguish of grief along with the ecstasy of love and finds a place for anger, violence, and justice within its expected theme of accepting and embracing difference.
Watch for an essay and/or audio commentary on Antonia’s Line on Culture Snob in the coming months.
In the meantime: To what movies do you return to again and again, and why?