Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Second Chances is on summer break!

Sorry, those of you who were hoping I'd spend today reassessing my thoughts on the John Candy classic Summer Rental. It's just poster art to accompany the following announcement ...

I'm taking a summer break from the Second Chances series that has been running in this space on Tuesdays for the last ten weeks. Ten seemed like a nice round number, after which I needed to pause my DVD player for a little while.

I've actually enjoyed doing this series immensely, and it's gotten some of the best feedback I've had since I started writing my blog. In fact, I probably have it to thank for catching the attention of some new readers who seem to have come back for more. I thank you very much for reading.

But a couple weeks ago, when I found myself planning out my viewing schedule for another week, and trying to work in re-watching yet another movie that I hadn't liked that much in the first place, it occurred to me: It's exhausting when you have to watch one movie per week that you're not very excited about. Actually, it's more than that for me, since I'm reviewing a lot of really bad movies that I'm seeing for the first time, as well. So between reconsidering those movies I was down on, and watching my ordinary complement of bad movies, the stuff I really wanted to see was getting squeezed out, and the whole thing felt a little too much like work. (Plus, almost every movie I've reconsidered in Second Chances seems to run between two and two-and-a-half hours.)

So I thought, what better time than summer to take a little break from all this "work"?

I should pause to acknowledge what a success the project has been so far. Of the ten movies I re-watched -- Gangs of New York, Hoosiers, A History of Violence, The Others, No Country for Old Men, Brick, The Hurt Locker, Thank You for Smoking, The Thin Red Line and American Gangster -- only the first on that list was a movie I ended up liking about the same or worse. Every other film improved with a second viewing, in some cases significantly.

Which is actually both good news and bad news. On the one hand, the point of watching movies is to like them. The more you like, the better you will enjoy the time you spend watching them. It's especially nice when you can move toward the majority opinion on movies, so when you're discussing them with people, they don't think you're crazy.

On the other hand, I cherish not liking certain films -- it's part of my identity as a film fan. Before this project, I cherished the fact that I didn't like Brick, the fact that I didn't like American Gangster. I had a rant ready to go on both films, and would bust it out whenever the opportunity was right. So now that I like both films better, it feels like some part of me has died -- some little part, to be sure, but something that has a tangible quality to me. Even if I'm now "right" whereas I was once "wrong." And that's another concern this project has brought to light: What does it say about your critical faculties, if you find yourself revising your initial assessment on 90% of a random sample of films you re-watch? Okay, they aren't really random -- they're films that were generally considered good, which means there was a greater likelihood I'd feel better about them, divorced from whatever specific circumstances may have caused me not to like them in the first place. Still, I can't say that this project hasn't made me doubt and question myself a little bit.

But that's the brilliance of being a film fan. Our relationships with these films are living entities, which grow and evolve over time. It would be quite boring if you were too stubborn to ever revisit the judgments you make about films. There's nothing worse than being entrenched in an opinion, just because you think you'll look weak if you reverse yourself.

So that's what I'm going to keep doing, except I'm going to switch it up. Next Tuesday and for the rest of the summer, I'm introducing a new series called Double Jeopardy. That's right, it'll be just the opposite -- I'm going to re-watch films where my affection for them was what went against the grain. I'm going to see if I was crazy for liking Film X or Film Y, when the rest of the world thought they were absolute crap. It'll be "double jeopardy" for those films -- they were found innocent during their first trial, but I'm going to retry them in The Court of Vancetastic, and see if they still look as innocent on the second time through. I figure, at the very least, I'm spending the carefree summer hours re-watching movies that I actually liked. Then again, I guess you could argue that expecting to like something better is a nicer way to spend your summer than expecting to like something worse.

Here's hoping Double Jeopardy yields as interesting results, and prompts as interesting discussions as Second Chances has. Most of all, I hope you the reader find it interesting.

And when it's time to go "back to school," as it were, in September, Second Chances will be back with a whole new batch of films.

See you next Tuesday for the premiere of Double Jeopardy. Or before then, if you care about reading my other stuff. :-)


Mike Lippert said...

Sounds exciting. I did this once with Donnie Darko (which I think is my sole film re-visiting post) and found that, some ten or so years later, the film did next to nothing for me. It was an interesting insight into how I changed both as a person and as a film viewer. I think that's the ultime value in posts like these.

Vancetastic said...

I could see Darko being a movie that might speak to a younger person more than it would speak to an older one. But I'm still young enough, I guess, that DD speaks to me almost as much as when I first saw it back in 2003. (My most recent viewing in January confirmed that.) Since I've watched it 5-6 times now, I feel like my opinion of it isn't going to move too much one way or another. But I'd be remiss if I didn't say that I felt myself liking it *slightly* less -- and was horrified at having anything less than 100% undying loyalty toward it.