Digital Polyphony

film, games, memories & random thoughts


Those "Other" Movies

Posted on February 19, 2014 at 1:05 AM

Those "Other” Movies

In the previous blog, I listed and half-assed analyzed the movies that I can always watch repeatedly and gave some potential reasons why we all do that.

But then there’s the flip side: the movies you like or know are good, but never want to see again.

This list was a little harder to put together. Even hard-to-watch movies I still will watch again if they’re well made enough. Just this past year's12 Years a Slave can sometimes be a tough watch, but I’ve seen it twice already because it’s so well acted, so well shot and brilliant that it’s hard not to and Iook forward to seeing it again. So sometimes, even when the subject matter is tough, if a good movie is just so damn good, I’ll watch it again.

Now there’s a lot of movies that I’ve only seen once. I would venture to think that MOST movies I’ve only seen once. But these…well these I have a reason behind. They’re the movies that you think of when you’re asked “What movie do you like or even love but never want to see again?"

The King’s Speech - Saw it once and I’m good. It’s a great movie, a fantastic script at its core, but I have no desire to ever see it again.

300 - I saw 300 once, the year it came out on DVD, and haven’t had any desire to see it again. It’s a beautiful looking movie, it’s memorable, it’s overall well made, but I have nothing else to get out from it. Strangely enough, I’ve seen Sucker Punch three times by comparison. I just think it’s a more interesting movie that has more going on.

Rush - Such a well made movie, yet such a movie that I don’t think I would get anything from seeing it more than once. This one is fresh in my mind as it came out just last year.

Atonement - Look, that's a damn good movie, so well directed...but I call this one the "English Patient" syndrome: once is enough. Well made through and through, one of the most gorgeous films you could ask for, but there's nothing else happening that I feel repeated viewings would give me.

We often repeat viewing of something because we’re still getting something out of it. But there’s still some great movies that you can just see once and say “I’ve seen all it has to offer” and move on. Great movie…but I’m good.

Sophie’s Choice - When it comes to dramatic films about the holocaust, it’s pretty easy to say that you don’t want to watch any of them more than once. Well, off the top of my head (other than Night and Fog if you want to count documentaries here) Sophie’s Choice would be the only one I have no desire to see again. Not because it’s harrowing, all of them are, but because it is so dramatic, or melodramatic, that it becomes exhausting. It’s a great movie that I never want to see again.

Biutiful - Similar to our previous entry, this fantastic film is another very exhausting, emotionally especially, watch.

Million Dollar Baby and Mystic River - Eastwood is a phenomenal filmmaker, and these are phenomenal movies, but I have no desire to re-watch them. Hell, I’ve seen Gran Torino, a movie some consider lesser than either of those, three times.

Hotel Rwanda - For some reason, I went out of my way to buy Hotel Rwanda. I have no idea why, I never really want to watch it again. Perhaps it was Don Cheadle’s wonderful performance that I thought would make me want to see it again, but even that hasn’t made me ever pop in my DVD player.

Another thing I’m noticing, anything that has a strong emotional element that exhausts you. By that I mean it’s a long movie, usually slowly paced and incredibly melodramatic. It’s not about the subject matter, it’s about the presentation of the subject matter.

A Good Chunk of Bergman - Certainly not all, of course. I’ve seen The Virgin Spring, Wild Strawberries, The Seventh Seal and The Magician quite a few times. But then you have those very desolate and grim movies that Bergman would do, like his “Trilogy of Faith.” Or you would have  something like Fanny and Alexander or Cries and Whispers. Brilliant flicks, but also a bit of a chore to sit through.

A Good Chunk of Pedro Almodovar - I love the man's work, yet I can't see myself ever wanting to watch any of his movies a second time. I mean, Broken Embrases is an amazing movie, and The Skin I Live In an incredibly memorable and unique one...yet I really couldn't care less about a repeat viewing.

The Usual Suspects - I’ve tried rewatching this movie, but about a half-hour in I just get bored.  Once you know the twist, it’s pointless. The rest of the film just isn’t interesting enough or well-done enough to carry itself outside of that one twist. I think, technically, I have seen it more than once, but it was probably by accident.

Memento - I love Memento. It’s brilliant. But at the same time, I know everything it has to offer me now. I don’t have much desire to see it again. I think I only saw it twice, once on the initial viewing and then a second time, now knowing that twist, to see the pieces. But since then, not even once. and with no desire to.

Hard Candy - This is a movie that kind of “lingers” with you, but unlike other “lingering” or “hauting” movies, like Audition or Irreversable, there’s really nothing interesting happening once the reveal is shown. Some alright acting, maybe?

Shame - I both love and hate Shame. I think it’s an incredibly well directed and well acted movie, but there’s an atmosphere here that’s of constant distress and anxiety.

Dogville - Some people really love Dogville. I did not.

In some other cases, movies that rely heavily on a “hook” or “twist” to sell itself we may not want to watch again because we already know the conclusion to the best part. If it’s well made enough outside that, (for example, The Sixth Sense or Psycho) then not so much, but those that have nothing else going on…yeah, we’re probably good. I know I am.

A Lot of those old Biblical Movies - Your Ben Hur, The Robe, Ten Commandments and the like…even as a kid I felt they were so theatrical, as in “over the top” and often cheesy. Still have to love that Ben Hur chariot scene, though. That’s a marvel, but outside of that scene…oh and let’s throw Spartacus in there as well, it was only there to ride that wave and Kubrick more or less disowned it.

Speaking of Kubrick, you’d think Barry Lyndon is a movie I would only see once, but it’s such a technical marvel I’ve seen it more than once…twice. Yeah…sometimes I have to force myself to want to watch it again.

The Rules of the Game - that’s right. What? Come at me, bro. Actually it’s an amazing movie, yet if I want to sit and watch a Renoir picture, I feel there are simply better ones. I'll say “Hmmm…let’s watch a Renoir film” and I’ll just go straight to something like The River or Grand Illusion (especially Grand Illusion) long before popping in the Rules of the Game. Outside of watching my Criterion DVD once, I haven’t re-watched it since.

My Dog Skip - Thanks to this movie, I’ve avoided any movie about dogs. Because you know what’s gonna happen.

The English Patient - Arguably the biggest “meh” Best Picture ever. I can see something like The Artist or The Kings Speech or even Shakespeare in Love winning, but The English Patient is just a dull, ponderous film that, while incredibly well made, is something I never want to sit through again. IT has nothing to do with length either. If length was a factor, then I wouldn’t have seen Lawrence of Arabia a dozen times.

Gone With the Wind - Saw it. Respect it. It’s powerful when it needs to be. But I’m good. Once is enough. It's long and the nearly four hour epic wears out its welcome.

Sometimes length is an issue for some people, but really, it has to do with what a film does with that length that the length itself. The English Patient is the same runtime as Bridge on the River Kwai - but the latter I've seen a half-dozen times because it's interesting and compelling throughout.

Logan’s Run - There’s a better version of this movie to be made. The set up is there, but the execution is so uninspired and seemingly disinterested in itself.

The Da Vinci Code - It was supposed to be the next big thing. You had Hanks. You had Howard. You had the biggest book of its time...and boy do I never want to see this thing again. I love mystery. I love suspense. I love ancient secrets...I should love this movie. And it's a fine movie, to be perfectly honest, but it's also not a very memorable or distinctive one to warrant a second viewing.

United 93 - I would have to think it’s the very realistic depiction plus the “handheld” style that puts you right in the middle of the fateful flight that makes me not want to see it again. It’s a brilliant movie, but boy does it kind of rattle you.

Inside - Considered one of the best horror movies of the past decade, Inside is graphic and gory. But it also comes down to the motivation of our “killer” that makes me not want to see it again. Because that actually feels real.

Martyrs - I don’t think Martyrs is a “great” movie, but it’s hard not to be engaged with every moment of it. It’s also hard to really want to see it again.

Then, of course you have the weird, surreal, disturbing or unsettling. While I’m good with most (I’ve seen Eraserhead plenty of times, even saw something like Melacholia a few times), some I really never want to see again, such as United 93.

Elephant - The way Gus van Sant puts you in the moment in this film is one of the reasons I never wish to see it again. It takes a very grounded and realistic approach to a school shooting.

We Need to Talk About Kevin - for a number of reasons, I never want to see it again, not least of which is the reveal towards the end, so it has both that reveal plus deals with the same subject matter as Elephant in a very candid way.

Inland Empire - I’ve seen and re-watched David Lynch movies (and TV show) plenty of times, but not this one. This one is the one that made me say “ok…what?” I love it yet don’t for that reason. Being nearly three hours long and not shot on film (you can tell) is another reason.

Notes and Observations:

  • A movie can be as long as it wants to be, but it needs to make use of that time. Long movies aren't "long" if they keep it moving, stay interesting and don't turn dull.
  • If your entire script is centered around a twist, you better make sure the rest of the film has something that will make people want to come back once that twist is revealed.
  • As with the previous blog, this certainly isn't everything, but the fact that these were the first movies that came to mind tells me something about my own tastes and where these movies just missed the mark. They're all good or great movies, let's not forget that.
  • Just because I don't want to re-watch a movie doesn't make it bad. But as the previous blog entry showed, just because I do re-watch one doesn't necessarily means its good either. Sometimes you have to seperate your own enjoyment from actual taste.
  • A lot of period dramas. That doesn't mean much. I mean, I've seen plenty of Powell and Presburger or Merchant and Ivory movies and a few times each througout (some of which are amongst my favorite movies). Perhaps thoese are just better movies? I don't think the period or the fact they're dramas have much to do with it - not when I've seen Room with a View as many times as I have.
  • Other than "Inside," - no horror. I tend to watch and rewatch a lot of horror and thrillers, even mediocre ones. I rarely watch a horror movie just once - especially a "good" horror movie. Now there's plenty of bad ones I've only sat through once, but that's not what this is about.
  • I had a hard time keeping some movies off this list, actually. There's a lot of movies I could have put on a "only seen once" list, but they're also not particularly good movies either.
  • Even the "worst" movie an auteur puts out there, I'll usually see more than once (The Ladykillers by the's the Coens...actually I don't think that's a bad movie so 1941 by Spielberg or Alexander by Oliver Stone). Of course, I still have Almodovar and Bergman on this list. There's some people that wouldn't watch The Last Temptation of Christ more than once, but I've seen it a number times because it's Scorsese and it's legitimately interesting.

Oh, that reminds me...

Next week: "Those Movies?" - Movies I should never want to watch again, and in fact most people never want to watch again, yet I do. Here's a hint:

Now we dive less in to rewatchability and more in to the psyche of the person watching.



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