Watching & Rewatching

Young woman watching television, rear view

I re-read and re-watch things all the time. This is, I know, a shocking waste of time when you think of the new items that arrive at the library every week. I really should be filling my time with new and exciting stories instead of going back over old ones but “I can’t help myself” which is a line that Greg Kinnear says to Meg Ryan in the movie You’ve Got Mail.

You’ve Got Mail is a movie that I’ve watched so many times that even the minor conversations are mapped out in my head and I return to it and others whenever the mood strikes me. It’s the same with re-reading favourite books. If I hear an author on the radio, like a recent interview that Muriel Barbery did on the CBC, then I can put The Elegance of the Hedgehog on hold to read it again so that I can feel myself comfortably back in the world of Paloma, the concierge, and 8c8b98e0-1a94-0132-085d-0eae5eefacd9the glamour of a Paris apartment building. If someone mentions Pride and Prejudice in conversation then I can walk over to the shelves and check it out before I leave work for the day. It’s not that I don’t read new books at all; I feel the pull of the bright and shiny NEW stickers but there is something about re-reading or re-watching that I love.

With re-watching I don’t even have to sit down and re-watch; I can play a movie or tv series while I do the chores in the kitchen and poof, it’s like I’m playing a 1940s radio drama while I sort the laundry or file papers. My father used to talk about listening to Amos ‘n’ Andy or Fibber McGee when he was young (it’s possible he might have called me ‘Fibber McGee’ when I was trying to talk my way out of something) and I can turn anything familiar into a radio play by just turning up the volume and hearing those voices tell me their story. Especially with a particularly well written drama like one by Aaron Sorkin or Nora Ephron. I feel like they are responsible for every great line on screen that I remember. If it’s not You’ve Got Mail I’ll usually choose When Harry Met Sally. There is really nothing like watching someone be wooed while singing music from Oklahoma. Rogers and Hammerstein music is quintessentially romantic. Everyone knows this.

gallery_ustv-the-west-wing-cast-shots-2Unless we are talking to someone who prefers… the clever lyrics and catchy music of Gilbert and Sullivan. That would be Aaron Sorkin. If you type his name into our catalogue you will be watching the screen for hours and hours to catch up on all that he has written or produced. To see references to the work of Gilbert and Sullivan you must watch The West Wing (season six is a sure bet for some great moments). This late 1990s-early 2000s drama follows fictional American president Josiah Bartlett (played by Martin Sheen) and his staff (an incredible ensemble cast) through some of the most fantastic storylines based on their interpersonal relationships and the fascinating behind-the-scenes world of the White House. It lasted seven seasons with Sorkin as the head writer on most of the first four and had multiple Golden Globe and Emmy awards for the entire run. It’s a dream-come-true show that makes for great watching or re-watching and we have multiple copies of it on DVD here at the library. If you feel like you have reached your limit on West Wing watching then I have splendid news for you because cast member Josh Malina recently began a podcast where he is sharing an episode-by-episode discussion of the show with excellent trivia, unique insight and special guests! Here is a link to that website.

I’d like to think that I’ll stop this habit of re-reading and re-watching but thinking about The West Wing makes me think about the film that Sorkin wrote just before The West Wing began production. It was directed by Rob Reiner with his singular approach to humour and starred Michael Douglas as an American president who is falling in love with Annette Bening’s character. It’s called The American President and shares many of the same qualities as The West Wing and I just love it. Michael J. Fox is sensational in this movie and so very funny. We have more than one copy of The American President here at WPL. I think I’ll go see if there is one on the shelf.

– – Penny M.