Halfway through August I realized not only that I probably wasn’t going to get out to see anything new in theaters—it’s rare that I don’t go see at least one movie—but also that almost everything I was watching at home was something I’d seen before. The one “new” movie that I watched, “Deadwood: The Movie,” was essentially a retread of a show I’d watched years before, and it reminded me why I’ve lost interest in television.
I enjoyed “Deadwood” the series in its initial run on HBO from 2004 through 2006, watching faithfully just about every week throughout its three seasons. But when it was over, I really didn’t feel great about having consumed all thirty-six hours of it. All in all, there were probably about, say, six hours’ worth of truly worthwhile content there, extrapolated six times over by creator David Milch’s admittedly powerful narrative voice. “Deadwood: The Movie” was more of the same: the same annoyingly artificial narrative tricks used to get everyone into the same place yet again; the same sense of treading over familiar thematic ground; and more of Milch’s same uncanny ability to make it all seem more interesting than it really is, at least until the credits roll.
It’s ironic that I’d complain about being served up the same thing in new clothes when I spent the rest of the month rewatching movies I’d seen before, particularly Quentin Tarantino’s back catalog (obviously inspired by “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.”). But movies offer something on rewatch that I think television rarely does: new surprises, new depths, new meanings. Tarantino’s past works are as rich and vibrant today as they were when they first debuted, but rewatching them offers new details, like the countless subtle nuances he captured in his actors’ performances, or the precision with which he arranges people and objects in relation to one another in his scenes. Mostly, what comes out on rewatch is how much he truly cares about what he puts on screen, how every bit of it matters not just to the story, but to him as well. That’s what the best movies give you in two hours that television just cannot over a season or more: an attention to detail, a sense that the creators have just one shot to get this thing right. It almost doesn’t matter whether they nail it or not; what matters is they are putting their very best forward for this particular outing, and they’re not saving anything for the next one.
Here’s the full list of all nineteen films I watched in August.
“Iron Man” (2008) Rewatched. Clear from the beginning: the real auteur in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is the studio.