Watching on repeat: the mesmerizing effects of media

Over at The Atlantic, senior editor Derek Thompson theorizes that there are possibly four reasons why people watch movies over and over again. Nostalgia, he says, is one of them giving us a rush of childhood-like glee when we pop in our favourite DVD from a time long gone. Therapy is another reason with people looking to movies as a way to escape the harsh world around them and dissolve into hypnotic bemusement for a bit. And existentialism allows a movie, or a song, to take us back to a moment in time when you felt at one with humanity. These are the three modes in which we play thing on-repeat, he writes, with a fourth being that we simply love the dang movie.

With that in mind, what are some of the movies you’ve been playing on repeat? I’ve got quite a few to list and with a fairly specific set of memories associated with each. However, if you’d like to comment don’t limit yourself to just movies. Music, video games, and books are all fair game here.

Star Trek (2009)


Once upon a time, I worked at the Ontario Science Centre. Over the summers, I would wear my beige shirt, take tickets, point people in the right direction, and be much friendlier than I normally am for a pretty good paycheck at the end of the day.

It wasn’t exactly a terrible job, but I wouldn’t go as far to say that it was the most stimulating either; however, one fateful summer I was introduced to a film I’ve watched more times than I’d like to admit.

The reboot of Star Trek directed by J.J. Abrams played at the Omnimax theatre for an entire summer and whenever a shift would open up at the theatre, I’d go for it. Normally, students who worked over the summer would try their best to stay outside of the theatre for the long shows, but not me… I freaking love this movie. I even went as far to change the little speech we had to say at the start of the films adding in a little zest to the ending.

“Good evening. My name is Matthew and I would like to welcome you to the Ontario Science Centre’s Omnimax theatre. Before we start, a few reminders. If at any time you feel overcome by the film’s images of motion, simply close your eyes and the feeling should pass. If at any time you wish to use the facilities, please walk to the back of the theatres and we will assist you. As well, please remember that cellphones and recording devices must be turned off for the duration of the show and at the end of the film please exit at the back. We hope you enjoy your Omnimax experience and see you again soon” and then I would add “Live Long and Prosper”.

This little addition wasn’t done for laughs, shits, or giggles, but out of a real appreciation for the film. The evening double bill movie became a bit of a ritual for me and I actually enjoyed doing my job. I also remember getting super pissed on several occasions when I found people recording the film using their cellphones and had them kicked out on their rear ends.

Anyway, this is one of the films I watch on repeat and I guess it’s mostly for nostalgic reasons. It was fun to watch the movie on the late shift with the warm summer nights, a box of popcorn, and Star Trek.

Harry Potter


I think from the rest of the posts on the site, I don’t think this one comes as a surprise; however, the origins of my obsession over Harry Potter yields some startling revelations on my person as a whole. Well, not really.

It all began when I was just a kid and my parents would take it in turn to reads the books to my brothers and I. Yeah, I know, we could probably read it ourselves as my brothers did, but there’s something engaging about story time and we rarely get a chance to actually have someone read stuff to us in our adult world outside of a stuffy lecture. However, I wouldn’t exactly say this was the point of origin for my obsessive watching of the films.

Back at the end of high school, I went through a breakup as most young adults do a few times in their lives. One of the reasons why the young lady and I had gotten together in the first place was because we were both in the same writers club at school. Her book series of choice was Harry Potter and she’d even asked me to read through the rest of them when I told her I hadn’t.

A few years later in university, I met another young lady who loved the book series. I picked up the books and in a mad dash to not miss another opportunity to find true love, I pored over them and became the slightly odd Harry Potter encyclopedia I am today. However, being lazy the first way I started to truly learn about the series was by watching the movies over and over again. I can, in my head, go through the scenes in the films from beginning to end. It’s that bad, or good, depending on your perspective.

The point being, nostalgia, again, is a reason for the repeating madness. It’s also really lucky the books and films are as good as they are. That young lady also recently bought me the Blu-Ray collection of the films and I’ve been steadily going through all of the discs.

Hotel Dusk: Room 251


My favourite video game handheld console will be and forever will remain the Nintendo DS Lite. The faithful pearly companion I bought with the blood money earned from the OSC, seen the story at the top, still works to this day and is still in immaculate condition. It does sometime have a weird blue line that shows up on the touch screen… but whatever, I love it.

One of the first games I bought on the little handheld system was Hotel Dusk: Room 251. Developed by Cing and published by Nintendo, Hotel Dusk features a light detective story that has you playing as Kyle Hyde, a washed up detective turned salesman. He turns up in a rundown motel in the middle of nowhere in California on a job from his boss and unravels an old mystery. The story also gets him steps closer to finding out what happened to his old partner Bradley.

Anyway, the atmosphere of the game is just so pitch perfect and the storytelling mirrors that of some of the detective pocket books and television series I’ve recently taking a liking to (Endeavour being one of them).

It was just this perfect little game on my perfect little handheld console, but I soon learned of a challenge in the game. Apparently, if you went through the entire game and never made a mistake during a conversation you could get a secret ending. After hours of inner turmoil and play, I finally managed to land the secret ending. And then a few months later, I played through the game again abandoning the perfect run because, well, the game was just so fun.

Unlike the other examples on this list though, Hotel Dusk isn’t one that I’ve kept up. Video games require a lot more time and attention than a book or film series, so it can ruin the fun a little if you get a bunch of false starts in a game. It’s still a game that I went back to more times than I can count and I love going back to Kyle’s notebook to see the little notes I made about the game.

Starship Titanic


Oh man, I love Starship Titanic. The video game, I mean, not the books so much. Over the years, the point and click adventure game developed by The Digital Village has been the first game installed on the various computers and laptops I’ve owned, and also invariably the first program that causes me to cuss out whatever version of Windows that’s currently running.

As someone who has a deep love of Douglas Adams, I’m only too happy to go through the game every once in a while and play it all the way to the end. Unlike Hotel Dusk, which can be a bit long, I can get through Starship Titanic in under and hour with how many times I’ve played the game; however, there’s a good reason not to do that.

Throughout the game, you meet a number of interesting robots who you can talk to. They’re not exactly the most useful bunch of automatons, but the game’s developers took pains to give them what seemed responses that were kind of relevant to what you were asking.

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