What Are the Movies You Can't Stop Watching


#1

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Last night I randomly opened Netflix and noticed that the card for Michael Clayton was right there on my homepage. I couldn’t sleep and thought, what the hell, I’ll watch a few minutes of Michael Clayton and go to sleep. Which is how I learned that Michael Clayton is apparently on that list of movies that I am constitutionally incapable of turning off. Gilroy’s incredible script—and the performances it draws from Tilda Swinton, Tom Wilkinson, and especially George Clooney, who has some the best reactions of his career in this film—just pulls me all the down into this story of ethics in a morally bankrupt job. It was light outside before I went to bed.

I’m sure you have a few of these. Movies that, when you see them on cable when you’re staying at a hotel, or when you spot it playing over someone’s shoulder on an airplane, you just have to watch through to the end. Yet you’ll rarely actually make the active decision to watch this movie during your free time. It’s just that it exerts and almost gravitational attraction for you if it passes in front of you.

A couple weeks ago I stumbled across the interview scene in Crimson Tide. I definitely did not have have time to watch that movie, and yet watching a young Denzel Washington carefully navigate the instability and prejudice of Gene Hackman’s old-school submarine captain reminded me why this is one of my all-time favorite movies. It’s an incredibly smart, well-written movie (albeit with some breathtaking examples of gross machismo, in the tradition of all great Simpson and Bruckheimer productions) about race, professionalism, and generational change… that also happens to be one of the most tautly-paced submarines thrillers ever made.

A quick aside here: I am haunted by the storyline around Viggo Mortensen’s character, who is longtime friend of Washington’s young executive officer and who utterly and completely fails to have his back throughout this film. I’m not sure there’s a more 2018 thing in this movie than the white best friend completely abandoning his black XO when subjected to the least bit of pressure from the rest of the sub’s officers. It’s a chilling subplot in this 1995 movie that saw clearly how ostensibly meritocratic institutions respond when white male-led, good old boy hierarchies face real pushback and challenge from the minority professionals rising through their ranks. Mortensen’s character throws Washington under the bus and basically greenlights a mutiny because he’s told he’s being “disloyal”. Meanwhile, the most steadfast yes-man serving under Hackman turns out to be Washington’s critical ally because he actually believes in the institution of the Navy and its rules, and places that above personal loyalty to the people that institution has historically rewarded.

Scenes like that elevate Crimson Tide above being a Clancy-esque military potboiler. The Hunt for Red October, for instance, is a great submarine thriller but it's also a story of a lot of smart, honorable, and competent men learning they're all on the same side and working together. Crimson Tide—when you take away then tense showdowns, or the deadly battle between submarines—is a movie about our frailties and our empathy. While the movie is clearly a product of the early 90s and post-Cold War euphoria, its unsparing but sympathetic look at its characters is what has let it age into greatness.

Anyway, what are the movies that you are compelled to watch through to the credits when you stumble across them? Why do they have such a hold on you?

Let me know in today’s open thread!


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/7xmbje/what-are-the-movies-you-cant-stop-watching

#2

There are many that are like this for me. I feel like turning off either Mad Max Fury Road or CREED should be a crime.

A personal one for me is Django Unchained. Jamie Foxx is a magnetic force that I just can’t look away from. I love love love watching him observe, absorb, understand, subvert, and then finally destroy the people and institutions of white power over the course of the movie. The character is so driven and yet the performance is so quiet that I can not help myself when I see it.

I feel that way about Inglorious Basterds and The Hateful Eight as well, but the hopefulness of the former and the deep, disgusting nihilism of the latter (as well as a growing distaste for Tarantino himself) have worn those off for me.


#3

I think I’ve seen Casino Royale close to 20 times already. Everything about that movie, positive and negative, has been said, but I friggin’ live for the final scene of the movie where he dials Mr. White (before all the Spectre nonsense), “Who is this?” Gets a bullet in his leg, and Daniel Craig walks past him up some stairs:

“The name’s Bond. James Bond.”

Boogie Nights is another one I’ve seen too many times. It’s like watching a dark comedy about the saddest group of people in the 1970s porn industry.


#4

The Weather Man

It’s not my favorite movie and I don’t tend to rewatch movies a lot. Even my favorites I’ve probably only seen 2-3 times but The Weather Man, idk why, I’ve lost count. It’s one I seem to be able to go back to infinitely. Unfortunately, melancholic but funny is just the right taste for me.

The Days of Being Wild might be another one. I’m just mesmerized by that movie and I guess I’m a sucker for Wong Kar Wai’s brand of unrequited love, particularly this one.


#5

The Mummy
The Green Mile
Shawshank Redemption
Any of the Hunger Games
Any of the Bourne movies
Forrest Gump
Back to the Future Part III
Rush Hour 1 & 2
Coming to America
That’s all that comes to mind right away


#6

I’m cheating because this isn’t a movie, but any episode of Law and Order does this to me.


#7

The Mummy
Batman Begins or The Dark Knight
Iron Man
Casino Royale
The Matrix

Just thinking of TNT/FX movies that shown relatively often. They’re my favorite “Let’s blow a Sunday afternoon” distraction.


#8

The Wachoski’s 2008 Speed Racer.

Seriously. I watched it out of a friend’s recommendation the other day. It’s on Netflix, and I was hooked instantly. The visual style drew me in instantly. The same year we saw gritty, hardboiled aesthetic of the Dark Knight and Gran Torino, the Wachowskis went the other way completely, embracing color, patterns and style. The CGI and Green Screen can feel dated at times, but you can see that the Wachoskis weren’t trying to make it look realistic. They were trying to make a live action cartoon, and I honestly think they succeeded. The story is also incredibly captivating. It adds depth to these characters while still staying true to the original cartoon. Watch this movie right now and you won’t regret it. The Wachowskis have a sequel written already. I’ve watched this movie 3 times in the past week.

ALSO: John Goodman playing Pops is the best casting decision of the 21st Century.

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#9

My pick isn’t a movie but rather a show. I can’t help but revisit specific episodes of Mr. Robot. Something about the unorthodox way the show is shot and its color composition, to the performances Rami Malek and Christian Slater delivers always has me coming back.


#10

Perhaps obvious for a certain sect of people, but when I hear the phrase “movies that I am constitutionally incapable of turning off” the number-one-with-a-bullet answer is The Big Lebowski. Basically perfect from start to finish, it’s funny, quotable, absolutely stuffed with unforgettable performances, great soundtrack, and frequently on cable (extra points if its a “This is what you get when you meet a stranger in the Alps” dub), there’s just nothing better. I couldn’t begin to count the number of times I’ve seen it.


#11

Yes! I think what always gets me about Casino Royale is it taps into one of my favorite story tropes of the dramatic poker game. I’ll never watch professional poker, but any film or show where a game of poker has incredibly high stakes is entirely my shit!


#12

Oh my goodness, yes!

I have been a huge fan of this movie since I got it on Blu-Ray. It’s like cotton candy for my eyes. The cast is awesome (well, minus Emile Hirsch being a trash human being). The Wachowski sisters turned the racing into well choreographed martial arts. The story itself, while pretty straightforward capitalism is trash, is surprising for what’s ostensibly a children’s movie.

The movie is absolutely gorgeous.


#13

The LEGO Movie, because even after having seen it fifteen times I still find myself appreciating its many little touches and the way it picks apart a lot of the tropes of modern animated films and action movies. And beyond the good satire, hearing Liam Neeson say “darn darn darn DARNY DARN” never gets old.

And to a lesser extent the first Iron Man. A couple Marvel movies (Homecoming and Black Panther especially) have outpaced it for me since, but it’s sleek and stylish and I think still one of the best pure superhero movies they’ve made.


#14

No one will ever show it on television, because they are cowards, but I could never turn off Chunking Express.

Back To The Future is my answer as far as stuff that might actually be on TV though


#15

One time I was going through folders on an external HDD and there was a video file called L.mkv. Intrigued, I double-clicked and it turned out to be Léon(/The Professional, depending where you’re from). I think whatever tagging tool I’d used was confused by the “é,” and thus renamed the file “L.” Either way, I found myself accidentally watching all 110 mins.

I know he’s had some not great press the past few years, but man I really enjoy Gary Oldman’s performance in this. Manic and threatening and ludicrous all at once–the complete opposite of Jean Reno’s reticent antihero. Also, what a weird début for Natalie Portman. She was 12!

Otherwise, I’m likely to get accidentally hypnotised by most Coen brothers films, or pretty much any 80s action movie (especially Schwarzenegger). Actually, I’d probably find myself in the same situation as Rob if Crimson Tide and it’s ilk were on since those kinds of thrillers really appealed to me as a teenager.


#16

I can always get sucked into 2011’s The Guard - Brendan Gleeson is an … unconventional Irish police officer who partners up with Don Cheadle as a serious FBI agent to stop some international drug smugglers. Solid cast and pretty good comedy.


#17

Oh man, I’ve never seen Speed Racer but have been meaning to rectify that for a while now. The number of trustworthy folks saying, “it’s good, actually,” these days is pretty high.


#18

Movies I’ve watched upwards of twenty times and still would watch like right now:

Not-so-coincidentally, that’s like 4/5 of my top 5 favourite movies of all time so maybe those disqualify them, but Ferris Bueller definitely started as a “‘yeah, I’ll watch 10 minutes of Ferris Bueller’ and watch the rest of it every time” movie.


#19

I’m pretty much always in the mood for the Coen brothers - and if Fargo, The Big Lebowski or O Brother where Art thou is available, those are some favourites :slight_smile:


#20

A teacher of mine said The Shining was this for him. There are lots of movies I feel this with, but for me the main one is Magnolia.

I can’t even stop watching the goddamn trailer. It wouldn’t be such a problem if the film wasn’t like 3 hours long. I accidentally ended up watching like half of it when I just meant to watch the opening sequence. But something about the structure of this film makes it extremely engrossing. There’s just this constant flow of energy from scene to scene. PTA compared the structure to A Day in the Life by the Beatles, because it’s a series of these crescendos that lead into each other until an impossible climax. And that final climax, for what it’s worth, is one of the best sequences in cinema I’ve seen.

i like movies