Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A favorite's ability to rivet

Exhaustion is not absolute.

You'd be tempted to think that it was. You'd be tempted to think that once you reach a certain point of the evening, no matter what someone puts on the television, your eyelids will be just as heavy, will close just as involuntarily.

Uh uh.

Take Saturday night. It had been a bit of a trying day, with our older son working on everyone's last nerve, so thank goodness that my old friend Mr. Fermented Grape was there to help me unwind. However, a couple glasses of vino also made it next to impossible for me to concentrate on the first episode of True Detective, which we'd downloaded from iTunes. It's a very deliberate, gradually paced show. I was waging a desperate battle against sleep, and losing.

You might guess that I crawled right into bed as soon as it was over, but it turns out I still had a 107-minute movie -- and several more glasses of wine -- in me.

What True Detective did for me more than anything else was put me in the mood to watch The Cell again. A girl is murdered in ritualistic fashion at the start of the show, and that sure as hell sounded like The Cell to me. Her body had that bleached-white appearance of the victims in The Cell as well.

As my last viewing of The Cell was barely 18 months ago, it is now becoming clear that this is one of my go-to movies. Since I've gotten so familiar with it -- this was probably my sixth viewing overall -- I figured, the worst that would happen was that I'd fall asleep on the couch 20 minutes in.

Nope. I was awake the whole time, reliving old pleasures, discovering new ones.


There's a good chance that The Cell's winning combination of engrossing police procedural and hallucinatory world building is just the perfect thing to keep a person's attention, but it may just be that being familiar with a movie makes you less likely to fall asleep than more likely. You'd think your mind would let go, free from the worry of missing a crucial plot detail, and happily succumb to sleep in that mentally restful state. Instead, I'd argue that the tension involved in assimilating an unfamiliar plot, especially while fighting sleep, serves only to further exhaust you. It compounds a difficult situation, rather than improving it.

I don't really have anything more profound to say on this topic, but I think it's worth writing about for this conclusion: The next time you aren't quite ready to wind down for the night but don't know if you can take on a whole movie, don't try something new -- just pop in something you know and love. More likely than not, you'll make it to the end -- and feel so enthralled by the experience that you might just be ready to cue up another one when you're done.


Nick Prigge said...

Oh man. I loved this post. I NEEDED this post. Lately I've been craving a cinematic palette cleanser, which is sort of the same idea I think you're conveying here, and this just reminds me that much more how I need to take the time to do it. It'll feel so good.

Vancetastic said...

I suppose I was, yes! Cleanse that palette, Nick. Cleanse it.