It is hard to pick a favorite. Especially when you truly love something. Ask any comic book collector what their favorite comic book of all time is. Talk to a basketball fan and ask them about their favorite player. Try to get a straight answer from someone who watches every professional wrestling show there is. Sure, you will get a quick answer. But you better pull up a seat, because it is also going to be a lengthy one.
I love watching movies. It has been one of my favorite things to do since I was a little kid. I would watch them on TV, go to friends’ houses, and rent them. I would borrow them from friends and record them. As I got older, I went to flea markets and got into tape trading. I heard people talk about something called torrents (I would NEVER do whatever that may be) and now I am subscribed to I do not know how many streaming services. In other words, I have had the opportunity to see lots of movies.
So what is my favorite movie of all time?
A fair question that people ask me all the time. I normally do not go through the whole spiel about how I have loved watching movies for pretty much my entire life. People who first me also come to learn very quickly that I really enjoy movies. The first question is usually to tell them about some movie they do not remember the name of. This is followed by suggestions as to what they should watch. Then comes the inevitable.
So, what is your favorite movie?
Every time I give the exact same answer. I am not sure how it started but I think I know why. Not everybody watches foreign movies. When they do, they are usually Oscar nominees like Roma. The closest most people will come to watching a foreign movie is a remake like The Ring. (There is nothing wrong with this. Movies are primarily a form of relaxation and reading subtitles is not the most relaxing thing to do.) It is rare people will watch a random movie of South Korea.
The other problem is the high number of remakes Hollywood produces. Whether a movie is incredibly popular or just a cult classic, studios rarely pass over the chance to release a profitable remake. Unfortunately, not only do these fail more often than not (The Departed is a HUGE outlier), then tend to be on “Worst of the Year” lists. I mean, I have a reputation to uphold.
So what is my favorite movie?
I have had said the same thing for years. My favorite American movie is Goodfellas. Martin Scorsese does the best work of his career. Joe Pesci has one of the most quoted moments in movie history. Ray Liotta puts in a career performance and the always dependable Robert DiNiro is great. There is also a cameo from Scorsese’s mother that is one of the best parts of the movie.
Goodfellas is a movie I can watch anytime. It is not difficult to find a theater that shows it at least once a year. Even decades later, it is worth paying full price to watch on the big screen. Hell, I paid $50 a year ago just so I could watch it while being served a four course Italian dinner. If you prefer not to pay, you can find it on cable. It always seems to be showing somewhere. It is edited for language and violence and there are commercials, but I will watch it every time. You know why? Outta respect.
Without a doubt, my favorite American movie is Goodfellas. Of course, this leads to an obvious question.
So what is your real favorite movie?
My answer follows the same rhythm every time. “My favorite movie of all time is Oldboy. The South Korean version. It was made in 2003 and directed by Park Chan -wook. I’ve never seen the American remake. Don’t need to. I’ve already seen the best version.”
At this point, it is irrelevant why I like the movie so much. (There are great performances and action sequences, but what gets me the most is the great characterization and storytelling.) All that matters is I have become THAT movie fan. When someone first asks about my favorite movie, I always make it a point to say my favorite “American movie is Goodfellas.” Right off the bat, I make sure my eclectic taste in film is known.
Unfortunately, I do not let it go there. I then answer with my actual favorite movie. I make sure to state that it is a South Korean movie. I let it be known that not only have I not seen the American remake, but I will never see it. After all, the original South Korean version (have I mentioned I have never watched it dubbed?) is better than any Hollywood retread.
It is the kind of answer I would lambaste someone else for giving. It is pretentious, arrogant, a little insulting, and kind of pitiful. Even as the words are coming out of my mouth I want to punch myself. And yet, I cannot stop. I need people to know that I am not just a fan of great American films, I love films from around the world. Is that such a bad thing? No, it isn’t, but that does not mean that people want to hear a fifteen minuet dissertation when they ask what your favorite movie is.
Maybe they just need to ask better questions.
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