Movies You'd Erase Your Memory to See Again for the First Time

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Earlier this month we had a nice discussion of books you can't put down -- the comments led me to buy several new books, the first of which I've already failed to put down (thanks for the Shadow Divers tip, Capt Grayson!). But a comment left by septer leads us to a related discussion about movies. Here it is:

You should blog about such movies too, ones that you wish you could erase from your mind, just so you can relive the experience of watching it for the first time!

This is a particularly interesting point, because we're talking about something other than movies you love and like to watch over and over. There are lots of movies I love that I don't wish I could relive watching for the first time. For example, I feel like Rushmore is a touchstone -- I can watch it again every year or so and experience both nostalgia for the first viewing, as well as a new perspective on the movie provided by later viewings. But there are definitely some movies I'd zap my brain and watch again for the first time. Here are two favorites:

The Village - I'm not usually a big fan of twists, period pieces, or horror, but boy did I love watching this movie for the first time. In this M. Night Shyamalan picture, I actually figured out several of the twists long before they were revealed -- but I loved that feeling of figuring them out, putting together the pieces. Knowing that a twist was coming (based on seeing The Sixth Sense), I kept an eye out for clues, and became a very active viewer, questioning everything I saw and trying to fit bits of evidence into various theories...all while watching and enjoying the movie. When the twist (and subtwists) were finally revealed, it was deliciously gratifying, and I remember feeling physically tired and happy after the movie ended. Wow. Subsequent viewings have been okay, but I'll never get back that feeling of fresh engagement from the first time.

AdaptationAdaptation - Again, this movie had a lot going on structurally that wasn't clear to me at first. On the first viewing, I was utterly unaware of anything fishy going on until maybe a half hour in. At some point (perhaps during the scene -- no spoiler here -- when Kaufman describes movie-opener scenes going back to the dawn of time), aspects of the movie's plot and narrative perspective start to fray around the edges, and I started to wonder what was actually going on. Watching it come apart was a revelation for me, as I enjoyed the movie on at least two levels. On the surface it's a funny, touching, weird movie. Beneath that, there's a meta-narrative about writing and identity that floored me. Anyway, I do enjoy watching this one over again, but I feel like now it's more like studying a work of art -- trying to figure out how the writer put it together -- than the pure joy of experiencing the reveal for the first time.

So, what movies would you like to see again for the first time? (Please avoid posting plot- or twist-related spoilers in the comments!)

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April 23, 2008 - 11:22am
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