Sunday, April 5, 2009

A Sleepy Little Movie

The other day, we noticed a link on IMDb about movies that cure insomnia. It’s a list of snooze-fests like “The English Patient” and “Out of Africa.” It should include Blade Runner... but, waddaya gonna do?
But the list got me thinking about a movie that I actually used, on multiple occasions, to induce sleep: Othello.
No, not the super-fun strategy game. But rather the gripping 1952 adaptation of Shakespeare’s Othello starring Orson Welles.
Now, let me state emphatically that this is a wonderful production and it’s done really, really well. From what I’ve seen. Which isn’t much. I’d always tell Jami, “No, it’s really good.”
Let me also say that 99.999% of the time, I sleep fine. Log-like. So I don’t need any home sleep remedies (unless they involve copious amounts of vodka).
On the rare occasion when I couldn’t sleep I put it in my VHS and I was in a deep, drooly sleep within half an hour.
I don’t know what it is about it. Is it the exhaustion of trying to keep up with Shakespearean dialogue? Is it the haunting imagery that lulls me to sleep? I don’t know what it is but I always have a Mary-Hart’s-voice type of reaction to it every single time.
The last time I watched it, I was bound and determined to see the whole movie. I made sure that I had a full night’s sleep the night before. I brewed extra coffee. I sat in an uncomfortable chair. I carbo-loaded the night before. I put myself on a Red Bull I.V. drip. I did everything short of the Clockwork Orange eye-openy-thingies. When I sat down, I was like frickin’ Ricochet Rabbit (bing-boing-boing). And…
Babies don’t sleep that good.
I tried actually watching the movie three times. I used it as a sleep aid at least five times.
When I first bought the movie, I tried watching it and went right out. I didn’t think much of it. "Guess I was more tired than I thought."
The second time made me realize that this is a pattern. It wasn’t me being tired or extra-cozy on the couch. This was some sort of ingrained Pavlovian response.
After realizing this, I decided to hold onto the tape specifically as a sleeping aid. I could have stored it in the medicine cabinet.
Mostly I used the movie when I wanted to take an afternoon nap. When I was tired but not sleepy. I’d pop it in, lie on the couch and snuggle up under a blanket. BAM – visions of Scarlet Johansson & baby oil danced in my head.
But there was a time or two when it was 3:00 am and sleep was eluding me like a Matt Damon Oscar nomination. When I can’t fall asleep, I usually read. When I can’t fall asleep reading, I usually read The Seven Pillars of Wisdom. When that doesn’t work, I’d pull out the big guns.
Merk should market this movie.
Recently, in a semi-annual paring down of our movie collection, we got rid of Othello. I think I will come to regret that decision. Yes, it was rare that I “watched” it. But in losing this movie, I have lost my magic elixir. There will be a time, maybe not in the near future, where I’m tossing and turning like a salad spinner convention and I’ll have nothin’.
My safety net for that .001% of the time that I can’t sleep is gone, condemning me to either lying in bed as the seconds slowly slide by, or learning about how I really, really need a Little Giant ladder and I can get one today for only 12 easy installments of…
But for those of you with sleeping problems, put this one on your Netflix queue and give it a whirl. I’m telling ya: Babies don’t sleep this good.

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