Thursday, September 05, 2013

Penny Thoughts ‘13—Rocky (1976) ****

PG, 119 min.
Director: John G. Avildsen
Writer: Sylvester Stallone
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young, Carl Weathers, Burgess Meredith, Thayer David, Joe Spinell

I’ve placed “Rocky” on my list of 10 Best Sports Movies. I’ve never formally reviewed the movie. I think it is a wonderful movie. It’s as much, if not more, a romance than it is a sports flick. It doesn’t succumb to cliché. It created them. But, I don’t really want to talk about what a great movie it is. I want to talk about why we watch movies that we already know very well.

I touched upon this subject with yesterday’s entry, “Von Ryan’s Express”, although I was talking about watching a movie of a certain genre with all of that genre’s clichés. This is more about what triggers that urge to watch something you already know.

For me, it really doesn’t take much. Movie references are being made everywhere everyday. Every time I recognize a movie reference I think to myself, “I need to see that movie,” or, “I need to watch that again.” With this viewing of “Rocky”, I was watching a TV show and one of the characters started talking about “Rocky II” and the end of “Rocky” because Rocky didn’t beat Apollo Creed the first time he fought him. He had to fight him twice to beat him.

Naturally, this made me think. You know, they’re both great films. “Rocky Balboa” is also a great film. I’ve seen “Rocky III” once. I’ve never seen all of “Rocky IV” or any of “Rocky V”. I’ve never even had the urge. How strange that I could be so compelled to see “Rocky”, “Rocky II” and “Rocky Balboa” enough that I would actually add them to my movie collection, yet not have any urge to revisit or even see some of the others for a first time. I think in this case, the first two films said everything that needed to be said about Rocky. Once Stallone had gotten older he discovered another tale to be told about the character that had a good deal to do with his own career as a movie star. It also helps that none of these stories cheat in any way. The other three are unnecessary and cheat in order to fulfill expectations maybe.

Perhaps the key in the urge to watch these movies, or any, repeatedly has something to do with those expectations. We’re drawn to what we know, but we also like to be surprised. When we’re drawn to revisit a certain kind of movie, as I was to see “Von Ryan’s Express”, what we’re looking for is what we know. When we’re drawn to revisit a specific film, it’s that mysterious something special, or unique, or different that originally struck us about it that we seek to understand. I love movies so much. I’m even fascinated by these strange urges that get down to the core of what it is to be human, the little bundles of contradictions we all are.

Oh, and yes, you can expect reviews of “Rocky II” and “Rocky Balboa” soon. Hell, maybe I’ll even force myself to watch the other three, to discover whether I’m correct about their lack of necessity.

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