Too much of a good thing
One thing I’ve found over the years is that watching a favourite movie too much can actually work against you. Like saying a word over and over until it loses its meaning. There comes a point where the film tends to unravel, and becomes a sequence of set pieces. I sometimes find myself imagining what might have happened if key characters weren’t killed at particular moments, things like that (what might have happened if Apone hadn’t died?).
A good set up never gets old
After the initial fascination of a movie ends (sometime after the 20th viewing) the large action set pieces become less engaging. The one thing that always keeps me interested however is the opening set up. There's something engaging about watching the characters before everything goes wrong, you can see the aspects of their personality that will be conveniently tested to breaking point later on.
There's also a measured calm-before-the-storm atmosphere, especially for movies that take place over a single night. There's a continually mounting tension as the sun goes down. In Die Hard this is really nicely done, with a beautiful amber dusk and vague hint of Christmas here and there.
For me, the end of the beginning, so to speak, is the meeting of McClane and Takagi. Shortly after that the bad guys roll in and kick off the main event. Takagi makes a nice subtle joke in there, but it took me a while to hear it when I first saw the movie, many years ago.
- McClane wanders around the party, unsuccessfully avoiding yuppies
- He meets Takagi who recognises him right away
- They look for McClanes wife, Holly in her office
- We meet Ellis, the archetypal 80’s power exec powdering his nose at the desk
- Takagi apologetically introduces them
- McClane quips about the party, stating that Japan doesn't celebrate Christmas
- Takagi retorts with ‘Hey were flexible, Pearl Harbour didn't work out so we got you with tape decks’
- Ellis buries the joke with his over the top laughing
And that's it, immediately after that Holly rushes in and the story moves on.
Letting things go fallow
The key to enjoying your favourites is to space them out. Watching Die Hard today was a lot of fun because its been about a year since I’ve seen it, there was a sense of freshness and familiarity. Watching movies you used to watch (a lot) when you were a teenager is also a lot of fun, as you are anchored to those previous experiences.
Do yourself a favour and pop your copy in the DVD player some evening, a great movie is always fun no matter how many times you’ve seen it.