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The Revisitations of Doctor Kermode

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Mark Kermode | 12:07 UK time, Tuesday, 13 October 2009

There are some films, like Heath Ledger's last movie The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (also starring Jude Law, Colin Farrell, Johnny Depp and directed by Python genius Terry Gilliam), that definitely warrant a second viewing to solidify or adjust a critic's first appraisal. Others just go to show that seeing them once was more than enough...

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  • Comment number 1.

    For me it had to be Evil Dead.

    I watched it for the first time when it was re-released back in the early 90s with BBFC cuts, and I really couldn't get in to it, because the scenes and the music kept jumping all over the place, which was mainly due to the BBFC cuts, which totally ruined the film, and in the end I thought what a load of crap.

    Several years later, I gave the film a second chance and bought it on region 1 DVD, and seeing it uncut for the first time, I absolutely loved it. With each viewing depending on your mood, you either wince
    at a particular scene (pencil in the ankle), or you laugh.

    The Exorcist is another example. The only way I was able to watch the film was on pirate video, so when it was shown on the cinema, it was a whole new experience, and I noticed things I couldn’t really see on a 100th generation pirate copy.

  • Comment number 2.

    Whenever I watch a Kubrick-film for the first time I get bored with it within the first 20 minutes (Best example: 2001) and turn it off.
    But when I re-watch it, sometimes years, later - I regret not watching it all the way through the first time.

    I loved the Evil Dead the first time I saw it sometime in the 90's, but I always had a problem with Army of Darkness, but I recently watched it again and, even though it's not a great movie, I laughed all the way through.

  • Comment number 3.

    Without a doubt - Brokeback Mountain. When I saw it the first time I absolutely loved it - perfectly constructed, sensitively directed, brilliantly acted. However the second showing unveiled whole new layers and nuances which you just don’t have the chance to appreciate first time around. For me, the underlying tensions grow with every subsequent viewing and I keep discovering more and more intricacies and details which continue to embellish the film with greater depth.

    Also - There Will Be Blood. Hated it when I saw it in the cinema, but it seemed to become coherent with the second viewing. It makes you wonder whether some films (for better or for worse) require you to know what happens in them so you can properly appreciate them.

  • Comment number 4.

    My most recent experience of this is Pan's Labyrinth, which I liked, though with reservations, when it was shown at FrightFest: it felt rather too much like two completely different films spliced together at almost random intervals. Some months later, when it turned up at my local, I caught it again and this time I loved it.

    The other one that always leaps to my mind is Aliens. When it came out in 1986 I didn't like it at all but seeing it again, on a midnight double bill with Ridley Scott's Alien a couple of years later, I literally staggered away in delight. This time I was thrilled when I really hadn't been thrilled the first time. Maybe it was just to do with the context of having the first one shown immediately before, but Aliens is now one of my all-time favourites.

    Meanwhile, Police Academy 7: Mission To Moscow was tripe fifteen years ago, and is anyone about to waste 79 minutes and £4.99 to see if it's somehow improved?

  • Comment number 5.

    It seems to be a Terry Gillam thing - the first time I saw Brazil I found it entertaining but not overwhelming but repeated viewing reveals the genius of the film.

    On the good Dr's advice I saw Mamma Mia & despite having a strong dislike of musicals I found it incredibly entertaining. I needed to see it again to see if this was just a gut reaction at Pierce Brosnan's over the top singing blinding me to shortcomings in the rest of the film, but no second time around i found it just as enjoyable.

    On the other side of the coin, the first time I saw Scarface I enjoyed it but attempting to view it again recently I found the style of filming doesn't fit with the tone of the film (ie. very precise cinematography & choreographed set-pieces clash with a film about violence, corruption & betrayal).

    Finally the Transporter series - watch them as pure action films & they're pretty dire, but revisit them looking as pieces of high camp (as the Dr recommends) & you see them in a whole new light.

  • Comment number 6.

    Interesting that Pan's Labyrinth is mentioned - I've seen once and didn't much like it, so must watch it again. Could say the same about Tideland, hope it does improve.

    The film that I really saw in a different light the second time was Funny Games.

    Going from German to English helped, but seeing the English version for the second time I saw a whole different film, if for the rather scary reason that I could see where the villains were coming from. Their actions made sense when it was clear all they wanted was to confuse the family (and therefore us). This didn't change how I felt about the film, but it was interesting how two apparently randomly acting characters suddenly had a clear motive.

    Lastly, Falling Down and Unforgiven are films I've seen over the years, and have gotten a different experience of each time. Falling Down definitely reflected how I was as a person (very young, Douglas was very cool, bit older, Douglas was a reckless man, bit older again and it very much stopped being a black and white film).
    Unforgiven, one way trajectory, I just get more and more out of it each time. Top film that.

  • Comment number 7.

    The first time I watched Bladerunner on TV back in the 80's, I was quite underwhelmed by it all. It seemed slow and dull.

    Years later I revisited it when the Directors cut appeared on DVD and I was mesmerized by it all - the density of the plot and characters, the stunning visuals and superb soundtrack all combined to make it one of the best movie experiences I'd seen.

    I don't know if I had just been "a bit slow" the first time round or maybe it was because I was a few years older and more mature on the second viewing, but it remains the movie I changed my opinion on the most on repeat viewing.

  • Comment number 8.

    I think I needed to see a lot of the Bergman canon twice for them to really sink in. Perhaps it could be put down to my lack of knowledge at the time but I certainly didn't appreciate Persona on the first viewing. I do normally try and see everything at least twice, even with the worst movies there's usually something that I missed the first time.

    However on the flip side there's also been a few films that I've thought were fantastic but have never wanted to see again as long as I live. Dancer in the Dark for one and the first time I saw Inland Empire it scared the crap out of me so much I didn't sleep for a month. That image of Laura Dern's twisted face still creeps into my nightmares sometimes.

  • Comment number 9.

    For me, the latest film I saw that I couldn't judge the first time was Lars Von Trier's Antichrist. Part of it was to do with the influence Lars Von Trier has had on me in the past (and not in a good way).

    As you said, I hated Breaking the Waves, The Idiots, Dancer in the Dark and The Boss of it All. However, when it came to seeing it the first time, I felt like snooting at the film. The second time, I started to admire the film a lot more and that my judgement of Lars Von Trier was the only thing keeping me from liking it the first time.

    Another film that demanded a second viewing was The Piano, because I fell asleep half way through the first time. The second time, I was awake long enough to laugh at the scene where she gets dragged by the piano

  • Comment number 10.

    I have a similar relationship with Francis Ford Coppola's film version of Bram Stoker's Dracula. I first saw this film at the cinema on its original release back in 1992 and absolutely hated it. I remember loving the visuals but just finding it all terribly boring which, obviously, isn't quite what you would want from a film about Dracula. After about 6 months or so the film eventually came out onto video and I thought I'd go for a second viewing. I hired the film from my local rental shop and found to my amazement that it was even worse. Great visuals but just bum numbingly boring with some terrible acting to boot. A few years passed and eventually Dracula made its way onto TV and I thought I'd try again as I really did love the visuals and found myself strangely keen to like the film if I possibly could. Once again I found myself hating it and gave up on the experience. Inevitably I thought that was the end of my relationship with that particular film. I'd tried everything but it never worked. I figured it was time to give up and go our separate ways. Then something odd happened. A few years later I began to think about certain images from that film and how good they were. I actually loved the fact that the film had the look of an old Hammer horror movie as opposed to the look of other horror movies of the time. This being the case I bought the film on DVD and to my surprise absolutely loved it. The horror, the drama, the romance, even Keanu's crappy english accent. I loved every single second. It had taken me the best part of 10 years but, at last, I had found the love for this movie. After this my relationship with the movie went from strength to strength. Weekly viewing, special occasions, you name it and I had the excuse for watching it. After a while though Dracula slipped to the back of my DVD collection once more as you can't have too much of a good thing. Anyway the other week I decided to revisit Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula. It had been a while since my last viewing and it was high time to revisit this modern classic. What a load of rubbish! Terrible acting and soooo boring! Great visuals though....

  • Comment number 11.

    "The Big Lebowski" seems to be a movie that leaves a lot of people cold after a first viewing but which improves for many after a second viewing; I had that experience myself and I've heard lots of other people say the same thing.

  • Comment number 12.

    Anything with a proper twist in the tail should be re-seen (reviewed?) in the light of that twist.

    Therefore (Spoiler Alerts!):
    Watching Bladerunner with the knowledge that Deckard was probably "switched on" (by Gaff) just before the film started, and that the other cops are watching his behaviour as much as his progressing investigation.

    Planet of the Apes (original), Usual Suspects, Prestige would also fall into this (though I admit haven't yet reseen that one - can't face the Bowie!). Even sixth sense where watching how cleverly Shamalamalama constructs some of the conversations Dr Crowe thinks he is participating in.

    Then there are the "cult" classics that (lets be honest) aren't all that riveting (in terms of structure, pacing or tension) as you sit though them the first time. But then, when you've warmed to them and you can indulge them, they just make you smile with every line. Almost anything by Christopher Guest for instance.

    Finally a special mention from me (a parent) to thank Pixar for mostly making films that I still don't detest... even 100 viewings in.

  • Comment number 13.

    'Heat'. Saw it in the cinema upon release and was bored to tears. Gave it a second go at home and absolutely loved it.

  • Comment number 14.

    When I saw 'Lost in Translation' at the cinema I found it very dull and underwhelming. It took me until the 3rd viewing of this film to fall in love with it and it now would appear on a list of my top ten films of all time.

  • Comment number 15.

    I love Terry Gilliam's film , but this one seems like a bit of a rip-off. Has he never heard of Troy McClure's classic , 'The Contrabulous Fabtraption of Professor Horatio Hufnagel' ?

  • Comment number 16.

    Odd as it may sound, I had to watch Seven a second time to really appreciate it. I also think just about every Lynch film requires repeat viewings, not only because they are works of genius, but especially with INLAND EMPIRE, it takes a few viewings to just take it all in. I remember watching Fire Walk With Me for the first time and hating it, just not getting it at all. Subsequent viewings have convinced me it is one of his greatest achievements.

    Some others that needed repeat viewings for me were 2001, Heat, and Coppola's The Conversation, which I still maintain is one of his most underrated films.

  • Comment number 17.

    For me it was "twelve monkeys"..first time i saw it i really liked it but i had to watch it multiple times after to fully understand and appreciate it.
    That and "a guide to recognizing your saints".Brilliant movie!

  • Comment number 18.

    I've seen Inland Empire mentioned a few times on here, but not Mulholland Drive, which really threw me when I first saw it when I was about 13, and I really hated it. But there was something about it that made me want to watch it again, something I can't remember feeling in regards to any other film. Each time I watch it now, I come up with a different theory about what's really going on, and the truth is that I've still not convinced myself of one explanation or another after about 5/6 viewings over the past few years. I'm not sure whether it's because of, or in spite of this, that it is one of my favourite films.

  • Comment number 19.

    I agree with QuaterPitandtheMass's point about Kubrick - there's so much going on in a Kubrick film that you simply can't spot everything first time round, and hence it can seem overwhelming. The first time I watched The Shining I thought it was scary but not really interesting. But saw it for a second time recently and really liked it, one of the most open-ended and ambiguous horror films I've ever seen, and one of the scariest (though Mark will disagree).

    Personally though, the one film I've completely changed my mind about was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I wasn't hugely devoted to the original and I'm a huge Tim Burton fan, but when I first saw it in the cinema I disliked the creepiness of it, and I really HATED the happy ending. It was so jarring the first time round that it reminded me of AI: two thirds of a really dark, interesting film and then a mawkishly sentimental cop-out ending a la Spielberg. But saw it again recently, and I really like it. The creepiness is much closer to the tone of Dahl's story, the dentist backstory works, the creepiness is in keeping with the character of Wonka as essentially Howard Hughes with chocolate instead of planes, and the ending just about fits.

    One other passing mention for Alien 3 - disliked it the first time, but then found out about how David Fincher's 'vision' had been torn apart and recut by the studio. Caught some of the director's cut on TV recently and though it's still problematic it's a very underrated film, much better than Alien: Ressurection and you can see hints throughout of the grimy, nihilistic visuals and atmosphere that made Se7en such a joy.

  • Comment number 20.

    Again, it does seem to be a Gilliam thing, all of his films (the excellent ones and the not quite so excellent ones) are improved with more than one viewing.

    Maybe it is any film that crams so many ideas in that it is impossible to wrap you brain around them in one sitting (sci-fi, fantasy and anything a bit odd seem to be common candidates). Or maybe it is a film that doesn't serve up what you were expecting and you need a repeat viewing to enjoy the film on it's own terms.

    Non-Gilliam wise, both The Fifth Element and Alien Resurrection were far more enjoyable when watched again some time after first seeing them.

  • Comment number 21.

    Three fairly recent movies that I HAD to watch again were, There Will Be Blood, Inland Empire and Calvaire. The first viewings of these movies just left me completely overwhelmed and unsure of what just happened. Each time I have seen them again they start to reveal more.

  • Comment number 22.

    For me it has to be the Rian Johnson noir thriller film 'Brick', couldn't make my mind up whether i loved it or hated it on the first watch due to its unique high school hard boiled detective story. It certainly took a while to get used to the 30's style slang speech as well but on the second watch, something clicked and i instantly got it, i could appreciate the decent story, the good acting, the well written script and its now in my top 5 films of all time.

  • Comment number 23.

    Basically every movie by Christopher Guest. The first time I saw Best in Show for example I enjoyed it but wasn't really sure if I loved it. Now it gets funnier and funnier each time I watch.

  • Comment number 24.

    Donnie Darko was a film I didn't fully understand the first time I saw it, but after watching it a few times for writing an essay, it became clearer.

    Can't think of many more off the top of my head for now, infact I only thought of Donnie Darko because I didn't bother to change my calender to October.

  • Comment number 25.

    There's the flipside to this, of course, in rewatching something you loved first time. I wish I hadn't watched Eternal Sunshine again, not because it suddenly became a bad film, but the experience of watching it at home didn't match up to that first time on the big screen. And have you tried watching the original Matrix again? The first 40 minutes are so slow they practically go into reverse.

  • Comment number 26.

    Most Kubrick films but definitely "Eyes Wide Shut".

  • Comment number 27.

    Funnily enough: The Departed.

    I'm a devotee of Martin Scorsese and found Gangs of New York to be very problematic. Ever since then he began this collaboration with Dicaprio who seemed to be trying to replicate what Deniro had done in the 1970s onwards with the director.

    This was a turn off and I approached The Departed with caution. First time I saw it I could see certain similarities to the Scorsese back catalogue (even using some of the same tracks in Goodfellas). I found the ending to be almost humorous in the way every main character got blown to hell bang, bang, bang! I felt this to be slightly immature for such an experienced filmmaker.

    I put it to one side, then about 2 years later I watched it again on Film4 and fell in love with it! While I still have some issues with the movie I found myself drawn in by the characters as I loved the cast and one cannot fault the acting ability on screen. I found that once I just relaxed into the film it was incredibly funny and while it was full of Scorsese self-references it didn't seem so Oscar demanding in the way The Aviator was - and then it goes on to win Best Picture!

    I stopped trying to compare Dicaprio to Deniro and enjoyed his unhinged performance, Damon's shark-like bent copper, Sheen's wholesome goodness, Walberg's in-your-face taunts, Baldwin's melodramatic boss man, Winstone's cuddly psycho and of course Nicholson's lovable Devil which he does all the time nowadays but I don't get bored of it one bit.

    Being a film student I had to take off the purist, film fanatic hat and just appreciate what is a very competent cop thriller that is very funny and entertaining (precisely what a film of this kind should be)! It made me realise how much Infernal Affairs lacked in terms of fleshing out characters in the story. Also, the original was slightly too eager in terms of pace. I found The Departed to be wonderfully paced even though it shifts gears a few times it never looses you.

    At the end of the day, when you have a film with so many great actors that can make you care about their characters and a script that is pretty tight, the result is great entertainment. I give plenty of credit to Scorsese for pulling off a great film. I look forward to love/hating Shutter Island!

  • Comment number 28.

    I had this experience with Barton Fink, the first time I quite enjoyed it but much of it went straight over my head. With repeated viewings it has become one of my favourite films.

  • Comment number 29.

    There Will Be Blood is the first one that came to mind, and I can see that sentiment echoed here. I actually liked it the first time round, I think, I just wasn't sure exactly what I thought, but the second time cemented it as one of my favourite films. It helped to know where the story was headed I think.

    The Conversation is another one, surprised to see someone else mention that. The first time around it just seemed like an incredibly slow and weirdly structured film, but the second time round it made much more sense. What's more, this was years later when I'd totally forgotten what happened in the last third of the film, so I don't think it had anything to do with having more of an idea of where the story was going, as is often the case.

    Intacto is an interesting one, didn't grab me the first time round although I liked the concept. Later I watched it again and it was like a different film. I don't know why...

    Primer was much better second time round. The film is so dense and so far removed from what I expected that the first time just left me confused. The second time I had at least some idea of what was going on, and in fact I'd read a bit about the timeline of the film, so it was more engaging. You could probably watch that film a hundred times and still not completely follow it though.

  • Comment number 30.

    Without a doubt, a guranteed repeat-viewing of (is it a film?) is Das Boot.

    The first time I saw it I was bored beyond belief through about four-fifths of the way of thinking, 'Well what's so special and viscerial about this tedious nonsense?'

    And then it came out on DVD a few years later, and I thought I'd buy it for old times' sake: it's now one of my favourite films of all time.

    I was completely blown away by how intense a movie it was. Even though they sit around doing little for most of the film, hunched up in an iron set, it's the fact that *something* could happen, as it did several times in the film, that raises the spectre of the film.

    It's also a perfect analogy of what war is about: long periods of numbing boredom punctured every now and then by adrenaline-filled moments of sheer excitement and terror, leading to a tragic but satisfactory denouement.

    Does the Good Doctor agree with this analogy, or not?

  • Comment number 31.

    I'm not quite sure why, but the first time I saw Pulp Fiction I hated it. The opening scene in the diner, the dialogue about Royale with cheese, and especially the date John travolta goes on with Uma Thurmans character bored me out of my mind. It picked up towards the end, but my final verdict on the film was poor.

    Then, after a few years of watching the likes of Guy Ritchie attempt to make crime and gangster endevours interesting, I revisited Mr. Tarantino's work and found that it was not the film i remembered it to be. Like I said I can't explain it, but it was somehow, strangely, magnificant.

  • Comment number 32.

    This is true with Kubrick cause i remember a story Woody Allen told once on TCM about how Manhattan Theatres would always show "2001 A Space Odyssey" even ten years after release. In those ten years Woody Allen was always dragged to a showing by his latest squeeze, but he only ever dreaded having to sit through it the second time cause after that it just kept getting better. "Kubrick was way ahead of us" he said.
    More recently id go with "Zodiac", maybe cause i was expected a dark thriller like Fincher's "Seven" and instead got a boring movie with no real ending.
    Watched it for the third time a few months ago and cant believe a brillantly detailed , suberbly acted fim it is.

  • Comment number 33.

    Matchstick Men was a film that for me I really loved the second time around knowing the twist and seeing how everything was really cleverly put together.

    To be honest, anything that has Nicolas Cage in needs a second viewing. Dr. Kermode mocked him when "Knowing" came out earlier in the year, laughing off the claim that he was one of the versitile actors of all time. Films like Adaptation, Leaving Las Vegas, Wild at Heart, Raising Arizona, heck even Con Air and Face Off all just get better and better after the second viewing.

  • Comment number 34.

    I see its already been mentioned but i'd have to go with 'Brick' as well. I went to see it knowing virtually nothing about it and the film-noirish slang threw me, so I felt I lost some of the story.
    But for me the second viewing really cemented my feelings for it and I really think its a terrific, intelligent film.

  • Comment number 35.

    I agree with Alien 3 being one that benefits from a second viewing. I once went to a marathon Alien movie day at an arty cinema in York and saw all four Alien movies back to back, so had a chance then to see Fincher's take on it for a second time (and for the first time on the big screen). It is flawed for sure, but there is something menacing and understated about it that harked back to the original in a way, and was so much better than the bloated, ridiculous - and frankly disturbing (in a bad way) - Alien: Resurrection.

  • Comment number 36.

    You have to see Blade Runner more than once if you want to have an intelligent discussion about that film. It wasn't really until the third viewing that the movie really clicked with me and now it's my all-time favourite movie.
    That is the reason the movie was a hit on home video, I think, because it allowed people the chance to watch the movie over and over, pause it, rewind it, fast-forward it, manipulating the movie much like Rick Deckard manipulates the photo on the ESPER device.

    On another note, sometimes I watch a movie a second time, to verify if it was as good as I thought the first time. For example when I first saw Magnolia, I absolutely loved it, and subsequent viewings made me love it even more.
    However when I first saw The Boondock Saints, I thought it was silly and derivative, but with a certain b-movie charm, on second viewing I didn't think there was anything charming about it at all, it was just stupid, infantile and full of itself. God, I hate that movie.

    But let's not dwell on the negative...
    I have found with Terry Gilliam's movies, that it always helps to watch them more than once because they are so visually dense that you are simply bound to miss something the first time around.
    In my opinion we should watch the movies we love as often as possible, because watching great movies is simply heaven.

  • Comment number 37.

    I had a problem with wild at heart, david lynch has been recommended by the DR on more than one occasion and wild at heart was being shown tv so I recorded it, watched it and hated it was too long and was to wierd.
    But over the next coulpe of days the imgaery of the film stayed with me and I began thinking about it more and more in particular the image of Diane Ladd with bright red lipstick smeard over her face.
    I decided to go back and face the image and on the scond viewing of the film I became more absorbed by the film I found it alot more interesting and noticed something that I had'nt on the first viewing
    I noticed the wizard of oz nodds.
    Wild At Heart is now amoung my favourite films and have begun to track down many of david lynch's other works, recently I added eraserhead to my list of favourites.
    I advise anyone to go back and rewatch a film that they hated first time round with the exception of the pirates of the carribean trilogy which isnt worth the film its printed on!

  • Comment number 38.

    We can all name 'Must View After Twist' films like The Sixth Sense or Fight Club, but I'm not a particularly sophisticated fiilmgoer. For me, the meaning's either accessible on first viewing, or its operating at the level of an abstract artwork that I know within the first 10 minutes I'll never be able to get a hold on. That's not necessarily saying the meaning's not there - just that I'm not up to joining the dots in the way a PhD-sporting film critic would.

    This was confirmed to me after revisiting a short film after many years called Solid Geometry (2002) with Ewan McGregor, adapted from an Ian McEwan story. And like the first time, a string of things happened that made me feel things, and I could certainly pick out throughlines and motifs like intimacy, mathematics, obsession, sex, and the fetal position kept popping up now and again. But do I know what the accumulative weight of that seemingly random grab-bag was in the way I could with a McEwan adaptation like Atonement, where I could comfortably see one event in the narrative having a thematically logical progression to the next, thus telling me broadly what the messages were? Well, no! As you would put it, "a bunch of stuff happens and then it ends".

    That's not to say I'm completely adverse to ambiguity - I love Blade Runner, There Will be Blood and Pan's Labyrinth for example, none of which strike me as obvious films. The Crying Game is a good example of a film that isn't obvious to me at all, as the reasons for mixing a political thriller about the IRA with a screwed up relationship love triangle will never be fully apparent to me. But the unfolding of the story and characters is so good that I enjoy coming back to it and simmering over its meaning. And so the acceptable condition for returning to ambiguous works might be the same as any "regular film" - a rudimentary understanding of a good story or characters. But in general some people find that abstract, obscured style inviting on its own terms, whereas if the basics aren't obvious, I don't.

    But then maybe that's a failing in me as a "Western moviegoer" that I'm too preconditioned in A-to-B narrative filmmaking with one scene directly tying into the next. It seems clear that the more artful moviegoing cultures like Europe don't have such a problem taking meaning away from that kind of 'montage filmmaking', so it might simply be a case of watching more world cinema and learning to appreciate difficult films, or conversely to not credit the simplicity of Hollywood so often.

    I'll end this post by listing a few films I didn't understand or enjoy on first viewing, but feel I owe it to you to come back to, since you love them :

    A History of Violence - didn't enjoy the story enough to care about what it meant;
    Hidden - its density was way out of my league but I feel if I read up on the politics at the heart of the film, I might take away a bit more;
    and Magnolia - a film I saw when I was quite young and something as reasonable as raining frogs would really irk me (but I'd like to think I'm more open minded today).

  • Comment number 39.

    Taxi Driver

    Just didn't get the hype when I first watched it. I now think it's one of the best films made with fantastic performances.

  • Comment number 40.

    The movie 'Awake' was one that enjoyed immensely the first time i saw it. But i watched it again a few months later and it really wasn't as spectacular and i thought it was the first time around. This is the same with films like Pans Labyrinth, Donnie Darko etc.

    A film that i really enjoyed from a second viewing was American Gangster. I really didn't like that movie at all the first time round but watching it a second time really made me like it a lot.

    The Blair Witch Project; now thats a film that loses any worth once watched again. I remember seeing it without any knowledge as to what it was about and thought it was real - forgive me, i was young - but i tried to rewatch that as it was on Film4 the other night and i had to turn it off. LOAD OF RUBBISH.

    Lady Vengeance, enjoyed it the first time but didn't really like it all that much. Rewatched it a few weeks later in a nice relaxed mood and absolutely loved it. Same with Sympathy for Mr Vengeance, i didnt like that first time around but loved it second time.

    The Wrestler - enjoyed it first time round, thought it was quite sad and moving; second time round, was still good but i think it lost something that it had on its first viewing.

    the list goes on...

  • Comment number 41.

    A Slightly different take on the theme here: films you LIKED the first time you saw them, then subsequently HATED on further viewings.

    1. Mac & Me (i.e. the dreadful ET clone) - Enjoyed it the first time around as a child - saw it relatively shortly afterwards and realised how crass and commericial it really was (particularly the big advert for a popular Fast food franchise).

    2. Moonwalker - Again saw it as a child, at a time when I was listening to virtually nothing but 'Bad', and loved every minute - I particularly remember chiding my Dad for falling asleep halfway through and insisting that he stay awake for the remainder (poor Dad!). I saw it again about 10 years ago and... jings... isn't it just about the creepiest film ever made? 1/2 unabashedly self-regarding pop promo, 1/2...erm...weird wacko-as-superhero mini-fantasy, featuring Danny DeVito as the villain (well seeing he doesn't promote *that* on his CV).

    I would actually recommend seeing Moonwalker just for curiosity's sake!

    p.s. the innuendo and double entendre in 'Young Frankenstein' went way over my 5 year old head!

  • Comment number 42.

    After the run of Sydney, Boogie nights and Magnolia I was a huge fan of PT Anderson and compared to these epics, Punch drunk Love felt like a pretty empty experience. Having been told how good the film was by others and with Magnolia firmly in my all time top 5 I kept going back to it to see if there was something I missed and on the 5TH!!! viewing it finally clicked and i got its crazy clasustrophobic comedy. Now I feel it can go toe to toe with any of PTA's work

  • Comment number 43.

    Well for me it would have to be Memento (Loved it the first time and my fav film of all time).
    It's a film that for me changes (in terms of charachter and their motivations) everytime I watch it.
    It's one of those films that I spot something new everytime I watch it, due to the brilliant use of Non-Linear story telling by Christopher Nolan.

  • Comment number 44.

    For myself, though i was not born until a year after it was released, it has to be David Lynch's 1984 production of Frank Herbert's Dune. I was given it on video one Christmas, as my Dad and I are both ardent Sci-fi fans.

    Having sat down to watch it, i was left thinking " What on earth was all that about? Kwisatz Haderach, for goodness sake, what's he playing at?" However, having upon watching it again, i found I began to see and understand things that i had missed in the first viewing, as the groundbreaking visuals and effects had drawn me away from some of the more nuanced dialogue and subtle points of the story. Maybe this is something of a David Lynch phenomenon as much as anything else, as many of the comments have posted on his films.

  • Comment number 45.

    Moulin Rouge. Like a lot of the films mentioned here, it was just too fast, too frantically edited, and I couldn't keep track of it in one viewing.

    But it's part of an issue that's a bit of an offshoot from this one; that of musicals and the need for several viewings. I guess most of us acknowledge that MOST good songs don't seem amazing at first, they have to settle into your synapses and become part of your history before you can love them. So when seeing a film whose plot is based primarily on music and lyrics, of course there's a lack of connection in the first viewing.

    I think the trick is to create songs that USE this progressive apprecation thing. Alan Menken's good at this. In Enchanted, he employs some lovely little melodic quirks to keep one's attention (such as the ah-ah-ah-ah-aahs out of the window). These are short and funny enough to sustain you through the film. It's only when going BACK and watching again, that you start to appreciate his lovely swooping choruses and staggeringly clever arrangement. In short, you like it first, you love it later.

    Of course, you can just go the Tarantino route and pile stuff in from your bedroom jukebox. That way you don't have to faddle around borrowing your audience's ears, they were handed over in the previous decade. (This is my long-winded way of saying that scores are better things than soundtracks, at least in general)

  • Comment number 46.

    Surely the classic example is David Fincher's Fight Club. Never has my perception of a film been so drastically altered when it came to the second viewing.

  • Comment number 47.

    I can think of only 2 examples in which this has happened to me. Miike Takashi's Audition and David Lynch's Mulholland Dr. Both times I ashamedly turned the film off as I found it too boring. Maybe I was too young. I watched them again a few years later, and now they're both included in my top 3 films of all time.

  • Comment number 48.

    Well with Terry Gilliam in mind, Twelve Monkeys comes instantly to mind. As you might imagine, most of us don't find ourselves visiting the same movie more than once very often. We are unlikely to choose to watch a movie again that we didn't like the first time around. That said, many of us will have experienced the phenomena of tuning in to a television channel to find a movie is showing which, though we've seen it before, suddenly seems to possess a quality we failed to recognise first time around. I tuned in to see the scene where Bruce Willis first has Madeleine Stowe held hostage in his car. Willis' character manages to be both menacing and innocent at the same time when he demands at gunpoint that the radio be turned back on only to return to a childlike fascination with what he hears playing. When originally watching this movie, the precededing scenes had been quite action-packed and this felt like an over-long break in the action rather than a fascinating interaction between these two characters.

    Similar things can be said about Jackie Brown, in which I think Tarantino himself notes that the second viewing makes you feel like you are 'hanging out' with the characters. Perhaps it's because on the second viewing you can relax more because the way the movie ties together is more obvious.

    Having mentioned a Tarantino film now, I feel compelled to mention Pulp Fiction. This is one I really CAN'T explain. Originally I considered Reservoir Dogs to be the better of the two movies, but I still liked Pulp Fiction quite a bit. However, upon showing Pulp Fiction to a friend I realised that on a second watch the film felt completely different. I've felt this pretty much every time I've seen the film. It always feels different somehow.

    Something that's been mentioned already by one or two people here though is 'expectations'. There are some movies which are 'guilty pleasures' for me. I know that they are horrendously bad movies. It's not that I think they are underrated, but that I think they deserve every criticism and yet I still enjoy them. One of the worst examples of this is Kurt Wimmer's "Ultraviolet". It's got some imaginative imagery, but the dialogue is horrendous and the plot is non-existent. However, on one of those rare occasions I randomly decided to put the DVD back in the machine and give it a second try. This time, fully recognising that there would be no plot, that many lines of dialogue would be plain daft and that it would require no cerebral effort on my part, I sat down to watch it. Somehow I loved it this time. And it wasn't just me. My girlfriend wandered into the room and she started getting into it too. (She saw it with me the first time around.) I think it helps that while the film is horrendous, it's not boring like recent stinkers such as Terminator Salvation. While this was a matter of me perhaps expecting too MUCH from the movie the first time around, I think having the wrong KIND of expectation can affect our judgement of higher quality movies.

  • Comment number 49.

    I was very disappointed with A History of Violence when I saw it at the cinema, it just didn't grab me at all and I felt it was overly simplistic. Revisited it on DVD and loved it and Cronenberg's commentary only heightened my appreciation of the film. I think the problem was that it's a very subtle film where you have to pay very close attention to the details, especially in Mortensen's performance. These aspects only became apparent to me on the second viewing.

    I feel the same will happen with Crash when I finally get round to watching it again. I hated it the first time I saw at due to its repetitive plotting and simplistic plot. However I feel compelled to see it again and I'm sure my opinion will change.

    Also really didn’t like Brazil on the first couple of viewings but as with A History of Violence I felt I had to watch it again due to the amount of praise the film got and now I love it. The visuals are stunning and once you get used to the tone and style of the film it much easier to watch.

    Other films like this would be Fargo, not funny the first viewing but hilarious on the second, King Kong (2005), Blade Runner, The Wild Bunch, Seven Samurai and 2001.

    Eyes Wide Shut is still rubbish though, no matter how many times you watch it.

  • Comment number 50.

    Eyes Wide Shut. While everybody else in my class was drinking cheap cider in a damp ditch somewhere down by the canal, i decided to celebrate my Junior Certificate Exam results by taking in Stanley Kubrick's latest film. I was shocked, frightened and made to feel quite edgy afterwards. I had not seen a film quite like that or as intense in my cinema going lifetime until i had seen The Exorcist a year or so later.

    I went back two weeks later to see it again with my brother-in-law who described it as "horrendous, boring and a complete waste of time". I on the other hand came out thinking that it is not only one of Kubrick's best, but the greatest film of the 1990's along with Michael Mann's Heat.
    Throw in Halloween 3: Season of The Witch and Sunset Boulevard along with Eyes Wide Shut, Heat and The Exorcist and you have the five greatest films of all time...possibly.

  • Comment number 51.

    Hi Mark, interesting video.

    One film that I thought was awful on first viewing was "Brick". I watched it for the first time on DVD and for some reason, there were no subtitles and due to the time of day (it was late night) the volume had to be kept relatively low.

    As a result I couldn't really follow it, and thought it was pretty awful. I also hated the fact that it was a detective/film noir-ish type film combined with being set in a (high) school.

    However, a few months later it was on Film Four and I decided to give it another chance. Thankfully, this time the subtitles were working and it was much easier to follow and understand the story/characters/atmosphere etc. (This actually brings up another point, how important are subtitles to films of this nature? And no foreign films don't count).

  • Comment number 52.

    "There will be Blood": definitely needs to be seen twice.

  • Comment number 53.

    You saw "Synechdoche, New York" twice? ARE YOU MAD?? I couldn't make it to the end the first time. It felt like it was sucking the life out of me.

    When I was a kid it used to puzzle me how people would talk about Casablanca as if it was a very good film. It was a boring black and white film starring someone who didn't seem to have a big acting range and had a boring song that kept getting played. I must have been in my late teens when I figured out it was a good film. Now when I watch it, it still seems to get better and better.

    The first time I watched Citizen Kane (in my twenties) it was extremely boring. Sledge? Oh, yeah. Who cares? What was all that about? The next time I saw it it was entirely different. By now it probably is not going to improve any more, though.

    I had to watch JFK several times before I felt I had got all the details and nuances although it was enjoyable each time (apart from Sissy Spacek). The first time I watched Syriana it seemed a bit confused but on the second attempt it made perfect sense and was worth it.

    I try to avoid watching films on planes but if I do and watch the film again later it can seem very different, presumably because of all the editing and cutting. When I saw "When Harry Met Sally" for the first time on British Airways, somebody had completely cut out the "I'll have what she's having" scene. I am convinced that the person that did that is going to go straight to Hell.

    Despite what I might have said about "Of Time and The City", I went to see it three times because it was mesmerizing. But I still think Terence Davies is a miserable old scrote.

  • Comment number 54.

    No Country for Old Men definitely deserves at least two views, even if just to discover how funny it is.

  • Comment number 55.

    For me the film that required two viewings to fully appreciate was Serenity. I wasn't aware of the epic yet short lived series that was Firefly, so i did not quite grasp certain key elements to the story. However, after watching firefly and then going to watch serenity for the second time i was anxious, i ahd bad memories of this film, however, i was glad to be proven wrong., the film was completely different i understood everything, knew who the crew of the ship were. And now serenity is right up there in terms of great sci fi films such as the new Star Trek and The Empire Strikes Back. I just love this film to pieces.

  • Comment number 56.


    Most recently, Public Enemies. Still a frustratingly flawed piece, yet well worth a second trial.

    The French Connection - on first inspection I thought it was merely okay. I wrongly compared and contrasted it to Dirty Harry and Bullitt, proclaiming that it couldn't touch either of those two. I revisted it a couple of years later and was absolutely blown away by it. Couldn't believe how wrong I had initially been about it.

    I think my prime example is Blade Runner. However, this is more of a maturity issue. I saw it - and it was the Director's Cut - in my early teens and thought it was really, really dull. Didn't get it at all. Then in my late teens, I revisited it at university. Guess what...I completely fell in love with it. Actually, that was the version with the horrible voice-over and Shining outtakes ending!! Of course, I ended up favouring the Director's Cut. In fact, this was around the time the good doc did that documentary On the Edge of Blade Runner. I was Blade Runner mad. I loved what Scott did with the Final Cut and the latter is my overall favourite version. Blade Runner will ALWAYS be in my top 10.

  • Comment number 57.

    The first time I saw Bride Wars, I thought it was one of the worst films of all time. The second time, though...

    I liked Titanic the first time around, but when I caught it again on TV, I attributed that to the giant screen for the effects and the fact that it was a Date Movie for me and my company made it better.

    The first time I saw Seven Samurai, however, I was bored. Maybe I wasn't ready for it, because when I saw it again years later, I loved every second.

  • Comment number 58.

    in keeping with J_O_E_L_-_C's theme, i saw Spielbergs "Gremlins" and remained baffled with sporadic instances of mirth (chiefly the granny on the turbo-charged stairlift) throughout the film. second viewing it really grabbed me as a completely two-faced story. the mischief of the Gremlins can be seen as quite innocent and in the end an innocous family film; alternitively, it can be truly disturbing frankly eerie

  • Comment number 59.

    Great video, Dr K, and a thoroughly interesting topic.

    The two biggest films for me, in this regard, are Citizen Kane, which has already been mentioned but I'll talk about anyway, and Brad Bird's The Iron Giant.

    As others have mentioned, expectations about a film can cloud our judgement when watching a film for the first time, and that was definitely the case when I first watched Citizen Kane. If anything, I approached it with an antagonistic attitude, a snotty, adolescent contratiness that had nothing to do with the film; I began watching it thinking "Go on then, impress me!" and left thinking "Pfft, what's all the fuss about?"

    Several years later, I went back and rewatched it, having watched a great deal more films and with a greater sense of the language of films and the influence that Citizen Kane had, and I was completely spellbound by it. I realised that there was so much more depth to the story and so much richness in its visuals that I had completely missed the first time around. Every time I watch it, I find something new to like in it and it is truly a gift that keeps on giving.

    The Iron Giant was a film which I barely gave a first chance to in the first place. I had spent my formative years enraptured by the Disney Renaissance of the '90s, as well as their many classics, and was a huge Pixar fan (still am, in fact) and animation was my preferred form of film-making. By the time that The Iron Giant came out, though, I was in my early teens and had decided that cartoons weren't cool any more, except for South Park. Consequently, I sat through The Iron Giant with a sneer and derided it as boring and dull and complained that "it didn't even have any good songs in it".

    After Brad Bird joined Pixar and made The Incredibles and Ratatouille, both of which I am very fond of, I rewatched The Iron Giant and could not have enjoyed it more. I found it to be an hilarious, provocative and heartbreaking film that never fails to put a skip in my step or bring a tear to my eye. Just thinking about the giant's final utterance of "Superman" is making me well up as I type.

  • Comment number 60.

    The Exorcist for me... shamefully. The first time I saw it I was about 13 and I was sat downstairs with the TV turned right down, and I got very bored very fast, I watched it a few years later and allowed the atmosphere to take hold and loved every second of it.

    Conversely, I can't stand Toy Story anymore, I think Family Guy highlighting Randy Newman's terrible score has killed it for me, luckily that won't happen again... South Park have equally ruined Family Guy. Once you notice these things it's difficult to ignore them.

    Maybe Outlaw warrants a second look... maybe not.

  • Comment number 61.

    All of Gilliam's films warrant second viewings, and I say that as a huge fan as well. I hated Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas the first time around. Second time I liked it a little more, third time I realized it was one of my favorite films.

    A big one for me was Mike Leigh's Naked. I despised the central character so much that I could barely get through it. Some time later, I was drawn back to it -- mainly because of David Thewlis' brilliant performance -- and realized I was 100% wrong. Naked is a masterpiece. But you need to be in the right mood to appreciate Johnny's acidic tongue.

  • Comment number 62.

    Wow! Lotta replies this time around. Have fun sorting through them all, Doctor (when you're well, that is).

    My pick - and a movie that I think deserves a second viewing by every critic that rubbished it at release - is Speed Racer. I saw it in the cinema after much anticipation and enjoyed it, despite picking up on some obvious pacing problems. I rented it out again to make sure I wasn't being delusional, and ... well, I wasn't. For all of its flaws - some pointless scenes and dialogue, an over-long running time, the way it takes itself a little too seriously - I love it. It takes a proud place in my DVD collection.

    I think everyone who hated the movie should watch it again on a smaller screen, so that they're not completely thrown by the daring visuals. That way, they might be able to see that the movie comes amazingly close to being a live-action cartoon, with delightfully over-the-top acting and fighting scenes (on and off the track). In my opinion, it's the closest we've come to a modern-day Tron, i.e. a movie that dares to tread where few have before in terms of CGI-dependent filmmaking and has enough retro appeal to earn itself a cult following.

    I can't tell you how pleased I was to hear you trumpet the movie on your own show. After being so let-down by the terrible Rotten Tomatoes score, it was a relief to know that someone in the movie-reviewing community was on my side.

  • Comment number 63.

    For me it has to be little known classic Chuck and Buck. Watching it for the second time, when I knew that Mike White's character Chuck wasn't simply imagining his childhood relationship with Buck, made me realise that it was he who was the victim.

  • Comment number 64.

    For me it has to be Pulp Fiction, which is a film I have a very strange relationship when it comes to return visits. First time I watched it I was in my mid-teens and I loved it, returned to it a year later and I thought it was somewhat over-rated, several months later I loved it again and two years ago, watched it twice and thought it was over-rated.

  • Comment number 65.

    Can I ask you something Mark? Some time ago I left a message on your IMDB board answering someone who wanted to know what the whole HARVEY KEITEL STORY was about. At the end of my response I left a P.S asking you to watch Eyes Wide Shut again, because, as you have mentioned in regards to Blue Velvet, you can't always judge a film upon first viewing. A little while after posting this you did a Culture Show segment about the La Charrette cinema in Gorseinon, and when you where going through a book of some of the films it had shown you singled out, yes, you guessed it, EYES WIDE SHUT, declaring it Kubrick's worst film; a shocker. Was this intentional?? Did you read that post. Where you mocking me???

  • Comment number 66.

    Darren Aaronovsky's The Fountain. Liked the first time, loved it the second, which just happens to be tonight. A wonderfully challenging piece of work with real heart which is a difficult balance. Ranks with yes, Synedoche, New York (which I think is also a classic) as one of a number of films attempt to reproduce the weird experimental excitement of 70s cineaste titans like Tarkovsky and Alain Resnais.

    Films can be strange and fragile. Some, like My Blueberry Nights or Stranger Than Fiction, which I very much enjoyed, I'm afraid to return to in case their flaws become all too apparent, as though like really nice holiday places of our youth, they're best existing in the memory, or the version that's in our heads where everything is perfect.

  • Comment number 67.

    I can't really think of any films that I've left loathing and then returned to and really loved but vice versa...

    Traffic. I found it so-so the first time around, but a friend who loved it got me to watch it again on DVD. By the end I had convinced him it was a clunky, cliche-ridden, hammily acted pile of horse-manure. I hate everything about that film. I hate it. Hate it. Hate it.

    Arggggh! The Michael Douglas bit just does my head in.

    Give me Crash anytime.

  • Comment number 68.

    The only thing that redeems the overblown arty pretensions of ' irreversible ' is Vincent cassels performance.Eraserhead took a few screenings to get.but I think its Oldboy for me or anything by Park chan wook.

  • Comment number 69.

    2001, couldn't get into the first time so I turned it off, finally watched it all and really liked it, same goes for Reservoir Dogs

    A film which I really like but couldn't get into at all and actually fell asleep (i didn't sleep the night before) to when I saw it first time was "Running Scared", the film by Wayne Kramer, really interesting thriller with some great lines like "JOHN WAYNE WAS A FAGGOT!" and the padophile is one of the great creepy scenes.

    There is the obvious films that must be watched numerous times...
    Donnie Darko
    There Will Be Blood
    No Country for Old Men
    Southland Tales
    Blade Runner

    All films I loved first time I saw them but there is lot to be seen on repeated viewings.

    P.S Mark I loved loved Tideland from the first viewing, I saw it at the UK "premiere"/preview with a Q&A with Gilliam (who I met afterwards and we talked for like an hour), I was greatly angered by some reviews of that film that said Dickens was a "padophile", the reviewers just didn't understand he had a mental age younger than Eliza Rose and the release of that film was horrible, made half a million worldwide which is shameful.

  • Comment number 70.

    Two words: Mulholland Drive

    For me, Lynch's films all share a peculiar quality: the more films you've seen by the man, the better or more you can understand each single one of them individually.

    I saw Mulholland Drive for the first time because everyone kept telling me how good it is: thought it really was good (and original), but nothing THAT special. Then I saw Twin Peaks (the series), Lost Highway, Blue Velvet, Wild at Heart and Eraserhead and the rest (in that order). With each work, I came to understand all of the previous ones better. Finally, after some time, I watched Mulholland Drive AGAIN and was just completely blown away. The first time around, I wasn't familiar enough with his visual language to appreciate the poetry. I can now honestly say, I think Mulholland Drive is Lynch's best film. But only because I've seen the rest which I initially enjoyed more.

  • Comment number 71.

    Blade Runner – The Reverse Reaction Cut Special Edition.

    The first time I saw this film was on the original video release, and I absolutely loved it. Over the years, I didn't watch it again, but countless pub and film school discussions later, and the film had evolved in my memory to become the most significant piece of sci-fi-art ever made.

    Then...I bought it on DVD, and watched it with my girlfriend, who (sacrilege) hadn't seen it.

    30 mins in and the feeling of embarrassment at having chirped on about this film so much over the years was nearly too much to take. It is, like all Scott bros. films, an exercise in style over content. I found it dull, pretentious and nowhere near as intelligent and significant and crammed full of ideas as the cultists have made it out to be.

    There...I said it. Let the stoning commence.

  • Comment number 72.

    My favorites are the movies you watch as a child and then see again as an adult.

    When I was a kid I would watch Monty Python's Meaning of Life, which I loved for its slapstick and general silliness (my mother, a midwife, would show the "Miracle of Birth" scene at antenatal class). By the time I was a teenager, I enjoyed the shock material and nudity. When I watch it now, its the social commentary, surrealism, Python intelligence and "The Crimson Permanent Assurance" have grown on me. Those old gits would have Orlando Bloom for breakfast. A truly great, messy, nonsense film.

    On the other hand there are the movies I innocently enjoyed as a kid, and now I question how they managed to ever get made. The Labyrinth for example. It's incredibly imaginative, a great use of Jim Henson's talents, a good early performance by Jennifer Connolly, but David Bowie is really dodgy as Jareth. He's must be 30 years older than Sarah, at least! Very suspect casting. (Yes, he is just a figment of her imagination, but still...)

  • Comment number 73.

    There are films which I didn't really "get" the first time, but grew to love on re-watching, like The Big Lebowski; films which I thought were great the first time, but needed to see a second time to understand them better, like Lost Highway; and then there are films I really enjoyed the first time and just found mind-deadeningly boring, dull and pointless the second time, like Spider-Man...

  • Comment number 74.

    EstonianFilmFan, we are two peas in a lovely filmic pod.

  • Comment number 75.

    Interesting that Blade Runner has come up a lot on this thread. Could it be that repeat viewings are enhanced by seeing the "proper version" of a film (usually a director's cut) rather than the version put out in the cinema. That's been the case with Alien 3 and Scott's Kingdom of Heaven, but especially relevant for Blade Runner.

    In its original cinematic release, there's the horrible narration inserted by the producers because they thought American audiences wouldn't understand the plot(WTF?!). I've seen the original and it suffers from it, but the Final Cut version without the voiceover - the way the film was always meant to be - is my all-time favourite film.

  • Comment number 76.

    thedeconstructionist -

    Since its release I also considered Blade Runner a great film and for years put it in my all time top 10. I hadn't seen it for about 10 years and after recommending it to someone at work decided to give it another viewing. It still looked great and like Alien has stood up well stylistically.

    Unfortunately I found the plot pretty flimsy and pretentious. Dull 6th form philosophy. Shame. Like a lot of Ridley and Tony Scott's films, cool and shallow.

    As for films requiring a second'll be a while before I can sit once again through the overhyped (ahem,MK) rubbish that was There Will Be Blood.

  • Comment number 77.

    Hi Mark;

    My favourite movies are often about mis-direction, so films like "The Usual Suspects" and the under-rated "Nine Queens" reveal volumes during the second or third viewing.

    But what about comedy/cult classics like the Monty Python series and "Spinal Tap"? Regular repeat viewings of these are practically a staple requirement for genre fans.


  • Comment number 78.

    Roeg’s The man who fell to earth. Hell, I even took notes the 2nd time, then saw it a third time; but no, not as deep as it seemed the first time. Great visual sense though.

    Film I should probably watch again is the Exorcist. First time I giggled throughout – it is unintentionally funny; the puke scene in particular is really unconvincing. It has one good performance (Miller), otherwise it’s a routine spooky house build up and then a not terribly convincing ending. (The book on the other hand I thought very good and its writing did manage to scare me.)

    I have a theory that people respond to the Exorcist according to how they’ve been brought up, the more Catholic your beliefs, the more you buy into the plot. It really is about time the crucifix was banished from horror stories.

  • Comment number 79.

    KubrickandScott - 75

    For me it was never the case that subsequent viewings of Blade Runner were improved by their being a "director's cut". In fact it's the reverse - I'm of the heretical persuasion that the Studio Executive's Cut is the better one and Ridley Scott's subsequent faffing about has weakened the film. The voiceover works, the flyaway ending works, the random insertion of unicorns doesn't work. When I saw the so-called DC of Blade Runner, the absence of a voiceover didn't reveal previously hidden depths through the film: it just felt like something was missing.

    To me it's always been like a much loved friend who goes away and has cosmetic surgery and then returns without all the individual "flaws" that made her what she was, while trying to look more like what she thinks she's supposed to look like - but you loved her to start with.

  • Comment number 80.

    I've experienced this quite a few times in the past, though no examples spring instantly to mind (I have a feeling, Dr, that you may experience it with Philip Ridley's Heartless.)

    Isn't it mainly about having certain expectations of what the film should/will be on the first viewing then on second viewing being able to appreciate it for what it actually is?

  • Comment number 81.

    I think any movie that's serves up a giant dollop of stylistic visuals needs a second helping. some films are too much for both eyes and ears to comprehend in one sitting. I watched Brazil for the first time, and loved what i was seeing, but thought the plot had let the movie down, mainly because i wasnt paying too much attention to it. On second viewing i found the plot to be the most astonishing element! Sometimes the director's 'visions' can distract your first experience of a film. I was so blown away by Eternal Sunshine the first time, that i needed to train myself to follow the beautifully gentle plot.

    keep the faith in Gilliam, Dr Kermossus!


  • Comment number 82.

    I dismissed the David Cronenberg film Existenz on first viewing, but after rewatching Videodrome I went back for another look. Whilst not as dark as Videodrome it stands up well as a companion to its notorious predecessor.

  • Comment number 83.

    Paul Verhoeven's Robocop for me was a totally different movie second time around. It could be that the first time I saw it I was 11 and the second time I was 18.
    What was a big budget action film with a robot shooting guys in the crotch turned into a very clever satire on American culture with sharp images of urban decay.

  • Comment number 84.

    Dear Dr. K!

    I found Tarkovsky's 'Mirror' a visually beautiful film with a few great scenes, the first time I saw it. However, I needed to watch it a second time to fully appreciate this masterpiece. The experience wasn't only a lot better, but I was also able to understand more this complex film, which at first seemed very confusing.

  • Comment number 85.

    I actually find it rare that 'director's cuts' are any better than the original and I include Blade Runner which Scott seems to be tinkering with until everyone knows Deckard is a replicant short of actually putting a great big flashing sign proclaiming such without realising that it would ruin the morality of Batty's sacrifice.

    Then Aliens. A brilliant, lean, action-horror originally but bogged down with un-necessary back story in the director's cut. And yes, I understand that Ripley is maternal with Newt if we know her own daughter has died but Newt is a scared little girl on an alien infested planet. If Ripley's daughter hadn't died, would she not care about Newt anyway?

    And T2. This is sort of a James Cameron rant since director's cuts have really overinflated his ego. It used to be an exhilerating action sci-fi movie. The added footage in the special and ultimate editions were interesting but didn't add much.

    These may be a money-making gimmick and an ego-stroke but a lot of the time, they ruin a perfectly good movie. There is a place for all that extra footage and it's the deleted scenes section of the dvd.

    Another example - one of my favourite films Battle Royale. The extra scenes in the director's cut were pretty pointless.

  • Comment number 86.

    Let the good Doctor correct me if I'm wrong, but:

    The new cuts of Blade Runner - the Director's Cut in the 1990s and The Final Cut in 2007 - were primarily designed to fix the errors of the original film, not pad it out with backstory or answer questions about the meaning. The original director's cut to my knowledge took the narration off and changed the dream sequence but did little else. With The Final Cut, they correctly some of the obvious special effects goofs - like the death of Zhora - but again very little changes which undermine the central ambiguity of the film. Just because Scott thinks Deckard is a replicant, doesn't mean that he is. Trust the film, not the person who made it.

  • Comment number 87.

    I binged on Woody Allen movies in my early teens and viewing them now that I'm in my early twenties, I understand more of the jokes and references and with some of his films there's an emotional resonance I couldn't have experienced as a teenager. There's definitely a case for re-evaluating films once you're older and (hopefully) wiser as long as the film, on some level, is a mature piece of work.

    I'd also second the mention of Tarkovsky's Mirror. His work and that of directors like Herzog, Cronenberg, Lynch, Gilliam and especially Nic Roeg and Pen-ek Ratanaruang can sometimes be like puzzles if that doesn't sound too pretentious.

    Finally, I'd recommend re-watching Wayne Wang's earlier movies as a reminder that he used to be brilliant and not just the guy responsible for Maid In Manhattan.


  • Comment number 88.

    KubrickandScott is right about the Blade Runner director's cut, in fact Ridley Scott is always pretty minimal with the changes he makes in movies (like the Alien director's cut, literally taking bits out of the movie).

    However, one director's cut I really did not like compared to the original was that of Donnie Darko. For me it completely ruined the film, served the story up to you on a plate and destroyed any sense of mystery and ambiguity about what was going on. It was much better when you were left baffled by it.

  • Comment number 89.

    The Coen Brother's 'Fargo'...the first time I saw it I thought it was one of the worst films I had ever seen, formless and flat and yet (after watching 'the Big Lebowski') I watched it again and loved it. I really can't explain it.

  • Comment number 90.

    It took a second viewing for me to really appreciate the majesty of The Big Country; it's now one of my favourite westerns. Countless films have benefited from a second viewing by being unburdened by expectations (Clockwork Orange springs to mind). Orthogonal to the question, but I don't think I'll be able to watch Downfall until the various internet memes have faded from memory.

  • Comment number 91.

    Over the years I have grown to like The Cohen Brothers films more but came out of the cinema after seeing "No Country for Old Men" feeling very disappointed. I thought it wasn't the film it had been hyped up to be. Months later, watching it again on DVD, everything clicked second time round. Thinking about it, the brothers films like "Fargo" and "Miller's Crossing" have a lot going on and requires more than one viewing to absorb. Still yet to see "Burn after Reading" a second time and see if l was wrong about it being messy and chaotic.

    Saw "The Village" at the cinema, thought it was OK. Saw it second time, thought it was very very dull.

  • Comment number 92.

    On the subject of Director's cut the one that stands out for me is Daredevil. The theatrical cut was a dreadfully flat empty mess whereas the director cut actually introduced a plot.
    A subplot involving the framing of a character played by Coolio helps to give the villain the kingpin a real menace and sense of power which was completely lacking in the original cut.
    The removal of the love scene also makes Daredevil/Matt Murdock more of the selfless hero that he needed to be.
    The Original cut seemed to be designed around building up the Elektra character for an even worse spin off movie rather than making the best Daredevil movie they could make.
    Money drives the cut not plot

  • Comment number 93.

    The Big Lebowski. The first time I watched it, I absolutely hated it, thought it was boring, senseless drivel. My sister loved it and encouraged me to give it another go, which I did about a month ago. This time it was much better, I just let the strangeness wash over me without worrying about whether I was enjoying it or not.

    I find that I tend to enjoy critically acclaimed films less than films I've heard nothing about. All the hype and praise that these films get builds them up so much that they can't possibly live up to the expectations, and often leave the viewer feeling disappointed with the final product. Trailers also annoy me, they tend to reveal the entire plot of the film as well as the best scenes/lines in it. A good trailer should leave the audience wanting more, not make them feel like they've just seen the whole movie.

  • Comment number 94.

    the first film that came to mind was a bout de souffle, which i remember watching at school and feeling like it was boring and everything took too long and the music was repetitive etc. etc., and then when i went back to it i loved it, and thinking about it has made me want to dig out the dvd and watch it again.

    what i find is that i tend to overhype the negatives of a film that i didn't like, and so when i revisit it, they're not so bad, and that allows me to pay closer attention to what's actually happening.

    i also felt the same about diary of the dead, where the first time round i was so distracted by the american youths and the guy with a bow and arrow, that i totally missed out on all the wit and bleakness of it.

  • Comment number 95.

    Capote. I also thought it was a different film the second time.

    Unforgiven is a movie that made a lot more sense the second time I saw it.

  • Comment number 96.

    For me it' s Linklater's Waking Life.
    A visually stunning film, but one so packed with ideas that I think it's impossible to digest them all in one sitting.
    Upon repeated viewings, I always manage to take away something new, which makes it one of my favourite films.

  • Comment number 97.

    Van Sant's Gerry. It's not really about how many viewings it's taken to warm me up to the film. Honestly, it's all about what mood I'm in.

    Sometimes I'm in the mood for breathtaking vista shots and a comatose inducing pace. Sometimes I want breathless pacing with the latest and greatest gadgets cinema has to offer.

  • Comment number 98.

    This is the typical movie you want to love, but you fail to. This is just a new - and beautiful - dream of a director with a great imagination. But not a good story.

  • Comment number 99.

    I found that another one of Gilliam's films, 12 Monkeys, seemed to be better after rewatching. If not better after rewatching, more understandable. Even though it was only directed by him(instead of being both written and directed by), it still had his distinct style.

  • Comment number 100.

    I've always found it preferable to watch Dawn of the Dead maybe 50 or 60 times...


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