How often do you rewatch movies? How often do you rewatch movies that you wouldn’t consider to be a favorite? For most of us, I expect rewatching movies is reserved for those films that we love; we know their twists, turns, and tricks and watching them is like taking a walk down a familiar path. However, there’s a case to be made for rewatching movies that you didn’t love the first time or maybe even hated.
There’s no doubt that opinions are a form a currency, especially in a time when those opinions are shared openly and freely online. Our opinions are used as ideological divides or bridges and, as such, there’s a desire for opinions to remain unchanged over time. The way our opinions characterize and align us within any given community can contribute to a reluctance to change our opinions in the future.
Movies are a particular victim of this dynamic. Regardless of where you fall on the revolving discussion around Rotten Tomatoes, there’s no doubt that the site has encouraged the trend towards a duality of opinion – fresh or rotten, good or bad. We’ve created camps for our opinions, and ourselves. As such, there’s a tendency to rush to judgment since simply having an opinion is considered a valuable form of exchange. The reality, however, is far more complicated than this dynamic.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about myself as an avid movie watcher is that your first impression of a movie is rarely indicative of how I’m going to feel about it an hour, a day, a week, a month, or a year later. Because of that, I’ve drawn back from making broad, sweeping judgments about whether a movie is good or bad on a first viewing. There are bound to be obvious exceptions, but on the whole, I’ve found rewatching movies to be a very rewarding experience.
The first time I watch a movie, I’m still getting to know it. Much like meeting a new person or starting a new job, it takes time to really understand it. The first time I watch a movie, there is often a tension between what I expect it to be versus what it really is. Movies surrounded by a lot of hype or anticipation are especially effected by this. It’s so easy for opinions of a movie – and art in general - to be influenced by what we wanted it to be instead of what it is
Have you ever watched a movie that you were really excited about only to have it disappoint? I have! The first time I watched Todd Haynes’ 2015 film Carol, I was frustrated. I had been looking forward to it all year and my expectations for the film were so high that there was no way for it to realistically deliver. My disappointment was self-created. It was only several months later when I revisited it did it really hit me. It was only after I was able to push away my expectations that I could really get it.
By watching movies for a second time, we allow ourselves the opportunity to rediscover them and understand them in a more intimate and important way. Some of my favorite movies are those that I was cool on the first time I saw them.
Movies can be challenging things and those challenges can’t always be conquered in a single viewing. Movies are as much about our relationship with them as they are about the movie itself. Admitting that our opinions of films are founded flexible and fluid will make us smarter, and more bearable, judges of art.