Re-Viewing Films With Diminishing Returns


Since I’ve already seen every movie ever made, I have to watch them all over again or I’ll have chunks of unfilled time on my agenda. But in doing so, something very dispiriting happens sometimes. When I re-view movies that blew me away when I was younger, they don’t always hold up!

Yes, Nashville is still a kaleidoscopic masterpiece, and Annie Hall couldn’t be better in its neurotic strokes of urban hilarity. Citizen Kane casts a staggering spell every time and Rosemary’s Baby is picture perfect from the first frame to the cradle rocking.

But occasionally, disappointment sets in and I can’t recapture my initial cinematic orgasm. Chinatown, for example, seemed a far less riveting noir experience the second time around, except for Faye Dunaway‘s amazing cheekbones.

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre and Dodsworth–both starring the great Walter Huston–were less satisfying than when I first genuflected before their greatness.

Even Terms of Endearment now comes off more like a succession of clever bits than the riveting human tapestry I once thought it was.

Are some movies simply better for their time? Do they speak to us louder when we can approach them with youthful objectivity? Or should we just never do anything twice?

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