Time to talk about movies again! Well, a specific type of movie – the basic cable classic. Movies that are infinitely watchable that you’ve seen countless times on networks like TBS, AMC, TNT, USA, and even Bravo, occasionally.
What are your ‘Basic Cable Classics’? Movies you can watch over and over again? Bonus points if you found them on basic cable.
To qualify as a basic cable classic, in my humble opinion, you (typically) need a couple of things:
1) Process – the movie shows you something cool / interesting while telling a great story – normally through narration. “The Shawkshank Redemption” shows you the inner workings of prison life in a cool way, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” shows you the process of how to properly play hookey, and “Dawn of The Dead” (the remake), gives you several slice of life segments inside a shopping mall while trying to avoid evil zombie folk. “Goodfellas” and “Casino” do the same thing.
This makes these movies easy to watch and enjoy because even if you come in half way through, there’s enough interesting stuff going on.
2) Ensemble – memorable characters are super important, even if they’re not super fleshed out. We remember Brooks and the Warden from the Shawshank redemption, despite them both being relatively two dimensional. Same with Dawn of the Dead – there’s the big angry black guy, the douchey dude with the boat, the guy with the weird ass mustache, the old guy, and the blonde bad ass dude.The Dark Knight had Harvey Dent, Jim Gordon, Alfred, The Joker, and fuckin’ Batman.
Memorable doesn’t always mean ‘good’ but you can point to any number of characters in a basic cable classic with fondness – Charlie Sheen from “Day off”, Joe Peschi from “Goodfellas” and “Casino”, that guy from Star Trek: TNG in “Dawn of The Dead”
3) Watch-ability – Typically basic cable classics focus on entertainment FIRST. While classic and great movies can be slow and a little self-important – to great affect, I don’t think anyone is carving four hours out of their Thursday night to watch “The Tree of Life” or a Goddard film. Goodfellas is an amazing movie, but it’s primary focus is entertaining the audience, versus telling some nuanced and symbolic story.
Thus here are some of my favorite ‘basic cable classics’:
The Dark Knight, The Shawshank Redemption, Dawn of The Dead, Casino, Goodfellas, Ferris Beuller’s Day Off, Limitless, Lethal Weapon 4, The 40 Year old Virgin, X2: X-men United, Iron Man.