Pauline Kael famously stated that she would never watch a movie twice for critical purposes, because she “got it” the first time. Either this is why she was a master of film criticism while the rest of us are just schmucks, or her staunchness of opinion was a weakness, its influence on contemporary criticism apparent in the continued presentation of movie reviews as objective, eternal reports rather than evaluations of subjective art appreciation. Probably some combination of both.
It is nevertheless my estimation that watching a movie for a second time can yield drastically different responses, and this is not an unpopular view. Criticwire recently posted of a survey of critics’ experiences of the same movie viewed many years apart, and the replies are fascinating. This does not only apply to movies you love, though. I’ve had a number of embarrassing experiences of hating a movie the first time I watched it, only for it to become one of my all-time favorites upon a subsequent viewing. It’s a weird experience, but a valuable one, as it’s good to have a reminder that our initial assessment of a movie or any similar experience can be unreliable or at the very least subject to significant variance if and when we revisit it. It says something about all the factors that go into how we judge movies, but what I take from it is that any evaluation should be made with humility and an appreciation of our own fallibility.
One recent movie that went through a bit of a critical revival was The Lone Ranger, which I found moderately amusing and enjoyable, while others found it either unbearable or terrific fun. I can’t bring myself to fall on either side, but both have their points. I’ll need more time before giving watching that one another try.
A few relatively recent movies stood out to me as worthy of at least considering watching a second time around. So I did. Here are those 7 movies, and a perspective on whether the time spent revisiting them was worthwhile or not.
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