''What movies did you watch on the flight?'' Like Dale Kerrigan in The Castle, that question is always high on my list when a friend returns from holiday.
Movies are a great companion for many things. A cosy night in, a date or just a rainy Sunday afternoon. But, on a long haul flight, movies are my saviour.
As a British immigrant, I occasionally fly back to the UK to see my family. I feel very lucky to be able to do that, but there is no way to make 24 hours in cattle class pleasant. The only way I have found to get through the flight is an unlimited supply of movies and hot chicken every six hours.
Those little screens in the back of the seats with movies on demand are a lifeline.
But, through hours of experimentation, I have discovered only certain films work on a long flight. I call it the vanilla rule. Subtle, dialogue-driven films don't work because the sound in those headphones is not great. The Godfather, for example, would be a nightmare of inaudible dialogue.
Films that do work are colourful, visual and relatively simple affairs. Films designed to appeal to the slightly impaired faculties of a long-haul passenger. In TV terms, Treme doesn't work, but Friends does.
Films that have got me through the night on previous flights are It's Complicated, Vantage Point and Run Fatboy Run. All pleasingly generic, well made and soothingly vanilla. Not great, just OK.
An epic flight is also a great excuse for a movie binge and an opportunity to catch up on those vanilla movies I didn't feel compelled to catch at the cinema. As a captive audience on those long flights, I probably watch about one month's worth of movies over the space of a single day.
However, there was one exception to the vanilla rule. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.
It's the beautifully told story of a fashion journalist whose glamorous life comes screeching to a halt when he suffers a stroke that paralyses everything but his left eyelid. From his hospital bed he comes to terms with his new life and manages to blink out his memoirs thanks to the help of his nurses. The claustrophobic confines of the aeroplane added to the power of the film for me and actually made it quite a profound experience.
Even in the tired, airless confines of a long-haul flight, movies still have the power to transport you.
What movies do you like on flights? Have you recently been on a flight and can recommend a movie? Do you find yourself watching another film on someone else's screen through the gaps in the seats? Yeah, me too.
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