Digital Polyphony

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Those Movies?

Posted on March 5, 2014 at 1:10 PM


Those Movies?

The third entry in "Those" movies series covers movies that you tend to not think of or consider when discussing "movies I re-watch." You can read the previous entries "Those" Movies, movies I love to re-watch, and Those "Other" Movies, movies I know are great but really have no desire to rewatch again.

I have a strange habit of becoming “lost” while watching a movie. Even if I have seen it before, I often still get it engrossed. Assuming the movie does a good job of engrossing me, at least. I’ll just “forget” everything I know about it and be completely in that moment. For example, I re-watched Goodfellas for the umpteenth time again and, yet again, I’m engaged every step of the way. Sure, I know what’s going to happen, but I don’t realize I know while I’m watching.

Does that make sense?

Probably not.

In a way, that’s why I rewatch so many movies, as I noted here. Though I do have my limits, which I noted here. This time around, it’s movies that might surprise you that I rewatch.

Keep in mind, these aren’t “so bad they’re good.” These aren’t “guilty pleasures” (tune in next week for those). These are a hodgepodge of bad, ok and good films. But all are movies that I hear people say they never want to see again for one reason or another (usually the words “disturbing” or “haunting” come up on a lot of these). Sometimes people are uncomfortable or unsettled, and I can be at times too, but I prefer rewatching something that evokes something from me rather than having sit through the dullness of some Best Picture winners.

Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer - I first saw this movie in high school and swore to never see it again. Then I saw it years later and actually liked it. Taking film courses will do that because you then start to see what it’s actually about and what it’s saying.

Schindler’s List - A common one, and for good reason. Stuff like genocide or slavery or anything that’s based on actual human history of awfulness…well not a lot of people want to watch that once, much less more than once. For me, it comes down to admiring the craft, and this is Spielberg’s finest film for a reason. His use of darkness and light, handhelds, knowing how to linger on a scene and when not, and even slight bits of humor to find the humanity is a staple of his work, but here it’s done at a master level.

Grave of the Fireflies - Sure, bad things happen, but it’s so poetic and beautiful, I love re watching it for that lone. It’s a tender movie that handles the heavy subject matter beautifully.

Some movies can be bleak and brutal, a lot because of its honesty and candidness. But that’s actually why I like watching it - almost as a reminder, especially if its’ something historic.

The Road - “Bleak” is an understatement, and I already loved the book. It’s a great book. And I think it’s a damn good movie too, faithful in many respects to the book but mostly in its tone of how far humanity will fall should the end actually come. We turn in to, what McCarthy argues, is are original “form” so to speak and we struggle to hang on to decency. In other words, humans aren’t decent. We’re animals. The Road makes no bones about presenting that.

Blue Valentine - Some film relish in relationship anguish. In the case of Blue Valentine, I would say it’s the defining trait. But boy do I love the acting here. It’s Gosling’s best work, heartbreaking yet human all the same. I like to take copies of the DVD at stores and put it in the romantic-comedy section for some fun.

American History X - Another I’m surprised to see come up by some people that they never want to see it again. I feel the script and acting is too sharp and good to not want to watch it again. True, you know how it ends, you’re not getting anything new by re-watching it, but I enjoy Norton at work and the chemistry he has with Furlong and the story that unfolds.

Audition - For this one, a lot of people find it unsettling. It’s a psychological horror, and the next few entries are all just that. People don’t like their minds messed with. This one, though, has the additional benefit of a rather gruesome climax that involves steel wire and lots of patience. I find it engrossing, though I admit every time it gets to that one scene, it’s hard to watch.

Some movies have that one scene or moment that engrains yourself in your mind, like that tunnel sequence in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, only much more troubling.

Trainspotting - This was actually #1 on a lot of lists of “movies we never want to see again.” That tells me those putting a list like that together haven’t seen nearly enough film. Hey, I have a copy of Cannibal Holocaust with your name on it. Oh, wait…

Cannibal Holocaust - I mentioned in the previous entry that I love to re-watch horror movies. I don’t know why, I don’t get scared, but I love watching how a film or script or actor can manipulate the audience. It’s why I love Hitchock too. But this notorious movie is one I like just because it, along with something like The Evil Dead, were really the roots of all things indie-horror and it’s fascinating to watch.

Naked Lunch - In similar fashion, I saw this one before really understanding or knowing what it was about, and now, wouldn’t you know it, it’s one of my favorite Cronenberg movies. Right up there with Videodrome…another movie a lot of people tend to not want to re-watch yet I love my Blu-Ray of.

Eraserhead (or most David Lynch) - David Lynch movies run a wide range, so this is more in regards to his “bizarre” ones like Eraserhead, Mulholland Drive or Lost Highway. I love watching these for the same reason I like watching a Luis Bunuel movie, sometimes strange for the sake of strange is so gleefully unique and interesting that I love to rematch it. I admit, as I noted in the previous job, Inland Empire tested my limits.

There’s some similar movies in that vein, though not a lot of people have seen them. The Visitor (1979), Beyond the Black Rainbow and The Cube also come to mind. Yes, movies I like re-watch the weird and the challenging.

Jacob’s Ladder - Some feel the war stuff is a bit heavy, but I love seeing madness spread across celluloid like an HP Lovecraft novel. This one falls in to the psychological horror section of Audition as well. I just love that stuff.

Pi - This is just awesome indie filmmaking. Yes, it’s weird and strange and not always the easiest film to just sit and watch, but that’s why I like it. The cinematography is what I take away, and I love it when things are so unique in style.

Requiem for a Dream - The only movie I know of that can make a fridge seem menacing, and maybe that’s why I like to see it. There’s a lot of “craft” going on in a rather troubling movie about drug addiction. From the filmmaker of Pi (Aronofsky), and as I said the visuals and how it is shot, how it gets you inside the thought process and mental world of its characters, is something I love to watch again and again.

Happiness - It’s not an easy film to watch, but I admire Philip Seymour Hoffman’s performance so much that I’ve seen the movie at least five or six times since it flew under the radar in the late 90s. Another I see mentioned a lot of another movie I watch for the same reason: Schyneche, New York.

Terrance Malick movies - Most are one and done when it comes to Malick. Not me. Well…Too the Wonder I have little desire to see again but the rest I enjoy re-watching. yes, that includes Tree of Life. The Thin Red Line and Badlands I’ve seen the most, though.

Sometimes it’s the craft that’s to be admired. I love watching those with distinct voices at work, even if the subject matter is dark, depressing or disturbing.

Lars von Trier movies - Not all of them, some I just don’t like, but Antichrist, Melancholia, Dancer in the Dark and The Boss of It All I’ve enjoyed quite a few times. I can’t say I like Trier as a person all that much, but I separate the person from the product or art all the time so he’s no different.

Gasper Noe movies - I feel there’s few filmmakers with as distinct and unique a voice as Gasper Noe, and I love watching and re-watching him at work.  Enter the Void isn’t for everyone, and some people are seriously disturbed by Irreversible (and rightfully so), but it’s all crafted with purpose and artistic vision making me love rewatching them.


  • This list could have easily gotten out of hand. I felt I was going down a well with no bottom. There's a lot of movies that I kept seeing online of people never wanting to re-watch, but some were borderline absurd - You don't want to watch American Beauty again? Why? 2001? Really? - I had to really be selective because the lists of people saying they never want to see a movie again confounded me.
  • The "weird" movies (subjective, as you know) seem to be the most popular ones people list, but that's why I love re-watching them. Though I do have my limits, which have to do whether or not "weird" starts to turn in to "tedium."
  • Most people don't like disturbing things. Shocking, right? But some of the movies listed as "disturbing" by some people really shows the subjectivity in that. Some will list The Mist or Maniac or Funny Games. I can see it...but at the same time I love horror and will re-watch (nearly) anything. Those are good movies I want to watch again.
  • I saw The Exorcist listed quite a bit as well. Hell, I've seen the Exorcist a 167 times and it keeps getting funnier every single time I see it.
  • I'm not sure what it says about me, but "depressing" films don't make me not want to watch them again either. Most people will say "well that was depressing" and, understandably, never want to see it again. But me...I'm happy to re-watch something if it's well made enough.

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