The Movie I've Seen the Most
Films that Spike Lee, Peter Farrelly, and Paul Schrader watch obsessively.
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What movie have you seen the most? That's the question Slate asked a collection of filmmakers and critics, knowing that what's addictive is different than what's deemed the best. The answers vary from Ghostbusters to Dr. Zhivago, from Citizen Kane to Election.
Adam McKay, director, Anchorman
My movie would be Election: I think I've seen this movie 40 times. It's a perfect movie. Seamless, hilarious, social, political, and yet local and specific. It's intimidating it's so good. I think because it's funny and about a high school, people tend to treat it lightly, but I think it's a heavy hitter masterpiece.
Paul Schrader, writer, Taxi Driver
Pickpocket. It was the first film that made me feel there might be a place for me in the world of filmmaking. I return to it when I have doubts about whether I should continue. The Conformist. A textbook of film style. It never fails to provide fresh visual inspiration. Same is true of Performance.
Liev Schreiber, director, Everything Is Illuminated
Citizen Kane. I've seen it two or three times because of my mother—I watched it as a kid. Then I probably watched it five or six times while I was getting ready to do a story about Orson Welles for HBO called RKO-281. So, I've probably watched it somewhere between eight or nine times total. As I watched, I started looking at the film for different things. I was looking for the performances, looking for [cinematographer] Gregg Toland's work, looking with regard to [screenwriter] Herman Mankiewicz's work. Other times I was listening to the score. There's a lot in it.
Laura Ziskin, producer, Spider-Man
I am not much for re-watching movies I have already seen. But whenever All the President's Men is on TV, if I happen past it, I always stop and end up watching the whole thing and marveling at what a great movie it is. When the movie came out, I, like everyone else, knew the story and the outcome. Nonetheless, it played with such suspense and tension. I have probably seen it at least 10 times, and I am always on the edge of my seat.
Peter Farrelly, director, There's Something About Mary
I've seen Something Wild about 10 times. It's not my all-time favorite movie, but it's right up there. Something about the story and the people and the look of it comforts me. It's a place I know, and it's real, and it hasn't been captured in many movies. I love the music. It's the movie that inspired us to use Jeff Daniels in Dumb & Dumber. He's hysterical here, and Ray Liotta couldn't be cooler and more ominous—he just popped—and I think it's the most interesting thing Melanie Griffith has done, as well. It was written by E. Max Frye and directed by Jonathan Demme, and Demme's just hipper than shit. It's the road stuff that I love the most, but Demme and Tak Fujimoto (the director of photography) managed to make even New York City seem bright and welcoming.
I've talked to people who said Something Wild felt like two movies, which they considered a flaw, but that's what I loved about it. You're going along on this dreamy little trip, and suddenly there's a sharp tonal shift as reality kicks in and for the last 30 minutes, you're sucked into something that you never saw coming. Quick story: About 15 years ago I drove straight through from L.A. to Albuquerque to attend a friend's wedding. It's about a 16-hour drive, but I floored it and, despite getting a bunch of tickets, made it in 13 hours, which gave me about 20 minutes to get ready for the ceremony. I took a quick shower, and as I was getting dressed, I flipped on the tube, and Something Wild was on. Anyway, I never made it to the church, and I was about 20 minutes late to the reception.
Judd Apatow, director, The 40-Year-Old Virgin
The movie I have seen the most is Bottle Rocket. I can't see it enough. It is odd and sweet and original and contains some of my favorite performances of all time. Especially Kumar's.
Phillip Lopate, editor, American Movie Critics: From the Silents Until Now
One of my favorite filmmakers is the Japanese director Mikio Naruse. I have watched his Flowing, for instance, four or five times, as I have his Late Chrysanthemums. I like the quiet, subtle, and engrossing quality of his small, intimate world, where I can never quite predict what is going to happen in a scene. I find that those movies I can watch again and again are not the most tragic or histrionic or even happily energetic, but the ones that fall into a middle emotional range: not La Strada but I Vitelloni, not Singin' in the Rain but Meet Me in St. Louis.