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The Sunday Morning Movie

Akira Kurosawa's "The Seven Samurai"

Above: Akira Kurosawa's "The Seven Samurai"

There has been much discussion among film critics in The New York Times and our own Cinema Junkie about the amount of effort required to watch long, slow "art" films such as "Meek's Cutoff" or anything that has subtitles ("I gotta read?") It IS hard to ask someone who has been working all week to lay out on the couch and watch anything more demanding than "Indiana Jones." Even if you try, you invariably fall asleep. There is, however, a solution.

Like most great ideas, The Sunday Morning Movie started by accident. About five years ago I had been watching "Y Tu Mama Tambien" on a Saturday night. Even with all the sex and nudity, I still only made it about halfway through. "Great," I thought, "another movie I won't see." In the days of Blockbuster Video you only had one day to watch anything. But the next morning after doing my usual early morning things, I realized I didn't have anything pressing to do. I could watch the

The 1960 Italian film  L'Avventura directed by Michelangelo Antonioni

Above: The 1960 Italian film L'Avventura directed by Michelangelo Antonioni

rest of the movie. I got my coffee, put the sound through my stereo system, turned the speakers off, got my headphones out and sat down to finish the movie.

After about fifteen minutes, it came to me. This was it! I wasn't drowsy, there was no one bugging me to do anything, it was in digital with digital sound, I could pause it if I needed to get up and I could enjoy the whole thing. Thus The Sunday Morning Movie was born. The following week I watched Kevin Costner's "Open Range" from beginning to end without a break. Bliss!

Since then I have watched a movie almost every Sunday morning (and some Monday mornings too). And with Netflix I do not have to watch any junk. I can watch exactly what I want, be in the presence of greatness. I've seen almost all the works by the masters of film: Godard, Bergman, Bresson, Bunuel, Dreyer, Antonioni, Ozu, Kurosawa, Resnais, Fellini, etc. I've also been able to enjoy films from modern masters such as Bela Tarr, Hou Hsiao-Hsien, Wong Kar-Wai and Carlos Reygadas.

Hungarian filmmaker Bela Tarr's film "Satantango"

Above: Hungarian filmmaker Bela Tarr's film "Satantango"

You can watch silent movies, documentaries, classic Hollywood, anything. Over the Fourth of July weekend I watched parts two and three of Bela Tarr's epic seven hour "Satantango."

These films ARE demanding, long and slow but great art frequently requires you to meet it halfway. The effort is worth it. No more excuses. Get up early, watch a movie.

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