The One That Got Away

“Towards thee I roll, thou all-destroying but unconquering whale;

to the last I grapple with thee;

from hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee.”

Tonight we have a post not about the search for the illusive white whale, but one that invokes a not dissimilar degree of obsession amongst some. It’s those pesky, gaping, infuriating film voids that everyone has in their “seen that, bought the carefully branded t-shirt” repertoire. And by some, I of course mean me.

These are ones we never quite got round to seeing at the cinema, the DVD release that somehow passed us by and the TV schedules that never quite synced with ours. It gets even worse when you factor in those artificially truncated, half seen movies on television that seem to toy with our viewing affections with a blatant disregard for propriety.

Often they are frustratingly close to full movie completeness, other times just mere snippets hinting at glories yet unseen. Missed beginnings, distracted middles and endings with credits destined never to roll. The positively blood drenched cult classic Battle Royale comes into blood splattered focus at this juncture. It seem to delight in being shown at stupid o’clock, escaping at the last moment by playing the ‘you just fell asleep’ card.

Sometimes it’s enough to make you want to forget the cares of the modern world and take up whaling or at least the modern equivalent, which strangely enough may be jumping in an inflatable and setting out to disrupt some Japanese ‘scientific research’ somewhere deep in the Southern Ocean.


Okay, if we are being candid, parts of that opening may, just may be hyperbole, but I’m not alone in getting all worked up about the trivia. It appears one of the default settings in the male psyche is the collection mania, and ‘collecting’ films is a lot cheaper than many hobbies out there and a lot more socially acceptable than most.

Movies are irrefutably great pop culture fodder. They supply an endless selection of ready made pithy one liners to mix and match with whatever weird and wonderful situation life drops into your lap; there is the secret joy of sneaking movie references into places they have no right to be or simply chatting about the great and good films of past years down the pub with your mates. Being a movie geek can be kinda fun these days.

Some of my omissions I can live with. Black Swan. King’s Speech. Social Network? They’re all on my Lovefilm hitlist over the coming months. I tend to catch a lot more stuff when it comes out on DVD rather then at the cinema. It would be brilliant to have the time / money / company to see all those films in their natural environment, but even the most neurotic film buff must accept reality (or get a second mortgage!) and wait for them to come to you. Patience is apparently a virtue.

Transformers 2? Twilight? Whatever Adam Sandler’s last film was? These I can miss without batting an eyelid and will sleep soundly at night knowing the chances are that I will only see them if a) drunk b) forced to by some unkind soul or c) go clinically insane. But then there are those movies that reach the dizzying height of The List…

  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
  • Marathon Man
  • Cool Hand Luke

…and list goes on, probably ad nauseum.

But there is hope. In today’s on demand society its much easier to fill in the blanks, a lot less like pulling teeth than it was a few years ago (I toyed with a Marathon Man picture here, but lets keep things relatively family friendly). No more long pilgrimages to Blockbuster, no more tracking down obscure VHS copies of classic Akira Kurosawa flicks or waiting in vain for a cinema re-release that will never come.

It can still be hard work trying to separate the molten filmy goodness from all that floating dross. Reviews need to be treated with respect for, as in all matters, personal taste is fairly subjective. I’ve even heard tell of a benighted few who can resist the whiles of the Shawshank Redemption. However, get to know the best critics (take a bow Dr Kermode) and review sites (hello IMDB you beauftiful thing you) and Robert’s your father’s brother.

Perhaps the best trick is not view those gaps in your film back catalogue as holes in your armoury, you may as well tilt at windmills if you attempt to see everything that’s interesting out there. It’s much more comforting to think that each new film tracked down as a potential classic for which you get that unique joy of experiencing for the first time, a pleasure forever denied your more jaded fellow traveler who has viewed it all before.

Now I’m off to catch up on those cinematic gems yet unseen, or maybe even get re-acquainted with Moby Dick. Whichever, I think I may need more popcorn, ‘cos this could take awhile!


~ by Jack on May 5, 2011.

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