If you've ever had to flip back through your checkbook to find out how much you spent at that one store last week, or you've gone through the junk drawer to find a piece of mail, you've muttered something along the lines of "needle in a haystack."
But artist Christian Marclay took the ultimate needle-in-a-haystack-y challenge when he spent around three years combing through hundreds upon hundreds of films from every era while searching for a single thing: A clock showing the time.
He compiled all of those times in "The Clock," a clip-saturated movie that is, in total, thousands of clock cameos, all showing the exact time, to the minute, that the audience member is experiencing.
So if you're wondering if it must be a 24-hour film, wonder no longer: It is a movie that lasts an entire day.
But then you likely know that: When the premiered-in-2010 "time" piece has appeared in Los Angeles in the past, at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, queues out the door have been notable, especially in the afternoon hours.
Those viewers who stay overnight to catch 2:13 a.m. on an on-screen clock or 3:39 are fewer but no less mesmerized by the quirky concept.
"The Clock" is back at LACMA, for a two-month run, from July 5 through Sept. 7. Here's a twist: It'll show only when the museum is open, not the full 24 hours, except for two special screenings on Saturday, July 25 and Saturday, Aug. 8.
Those two daylong showings are free to the public while the movie-during-museum-hours presentation will require general admission.
You could, of course, go on several days and, depending upon the hour you arrive, see a different movie. And while people some hook into the concept right away, and feel satisfied after spotting a few accurate times (glancing down at their own watch to confirm), other viewers stay for hours, waiting to see just one more clock, just one more.
In a world of lightening-fast exchanges and oh-so-brief character counts, "The Clock" is something fresh. Is its length and clock obsessions comments on modern time usage, and how zippity we've made it, what with our texting and our tweeting and such?
Feel free to discuss the layers with friends as you all take a break from your 24-hour marathon viewing.