Monday, February 06, 2006

Multiple Viewings Part 1

Last night I rewatched Happy Endings. I am not big on multiple viewings, principally because there's always older films I need to catch up with and new movies coming out (well, right now not so much but you get my point). But when I do see a film twice or thrice it ends up falling into one of these four categories:

1) Those which confirm what I originally thought.
2) Those which grow more loveable, warts and all.
3) Those whose weaknesses become overpowering.
4) Oops, my bad. This film is great.

The majority of films -probably as much as 80-85% fall into the first category. The reaction might be tweaked or tilt slightly more positive or negative but it's the same reaction. In the smiling second category you'll find films like Happy Ending. I liked the film the first time. The second time, I noticed all the same things I wished were different --some shots need to be held longer, the experimental comic bits (text on screen) are hit and miss, one performance still bothers me . And like most multiple narratives, some storylines hold more interest than others (always a danger for anyone playing the Altman game). But this time I just didn't care.

Roos really loves all of the characters. The humanism of the film, the lack of judgment, the complex tones ["it's a comedy. Sort of."]. If you've never seen it it's worth a rental. And if you liked it but couldn't decide how much, try it again. One thing I loved so much more the second time? The film's ending. I am crazy about Maggie Gyllenhaal's singing voice. The song is "I Love You Just The Way You Are" and the film seals the deal visually with a great long held closeup of Lisa Kudrow. If you haven't seen the film try to picture her character, a mix of Phoebe Buffet's late Friends bitchy wisecracks, mixed with Sarah Jessica Parker's audience distancing behavior in The Family Stone and Grace Adler's neurosis and self-absorption from "Will & Grace" without the punchlines/laughtrack and you have something approximating the prickly and unhappy "Mamey" from Happy Endings. In the last shot of this uptight woman smiling I felt as if writer/director Don Roos was actually transferring his intense affection for her over onto the audience, me. It was a great feeling. Sentiment earned.

Later today we'll visit films falling into the third & fourth categories... But how about you? Which film asked you to love it more on a second viewing?

16 comments:

Ali said...

It's funny - as soon as I finished watching Happy Endings, I had the sudden urge to watch it again immediately, once more through (I couldn't though, because I bought it on PPV). It seems like the kind of film that could withstand several viewings.

I absolutely loved Lisa Kudrow in this, even more than Maggie. In fact, I was surprised to see that Kudrow didn't make your finalists in the Film Bitch Best Actress category.

Out of curiosity, which performance bothered you? I'm guessing Jesse Bradford or Bobby Cannavale.

NATHANIEL R said...

Jesse --though i find him wildly attractive, i'm beginning to not think much of him as an actor after the last few pictures.

OhMyTrill said...

I am a big multiple viewer...movies that always amaze me:

Fargo...Wild at Heart...Mulholland Drive...Dancer in the Dark...Being John Malkovich...Adaptation...

These movies always seem to offer something new on every viewing, so I watch them again and again!

JavierAG said...

I have watched "Mulholland Drive" like ten times (no kidding) and I am still utterly taken by it and the infinite range of emotions and possibilites that it plays with. Just breathtaking.

And I didn't like it all that much the first time I saw it. As of right now, it's easily among my Top 5 of the decade.

Ramification said...

I have to say I am one of the few people I know who didn't enjoy Brokeback Mountain the first time around, mainly because I expected many things to happen in the film (from reading too many reviews). I appreciated it, but it took a second viewing for me to love that film. One film I can watch over and over again is Memento, what a mind-fuck that film is.

Anonymous said...

One film which I was distinctly underwhelmed with at the time, and which I now consider to be a contemporary comic classic is "As Good As It Gets". I'm amazed I bothered with a second viewing, but I'm glad I did as I must have seen it 8 or 9 times by now, and each time I love it more.

Rob

John T. said...

For me, it is The English Patient-the first time I watched it, I adored it, but I didn't consider it the quintessential masterpiece that I call it today. I think it's a movie that needs multiple viewings to catch the rich complexities in the acting.

Anonymous said...

"Mulholland Drive" definitely warrants multiple viewings, if for nothing else than to fully absorb Naomi Watts' stunning performance. (I'm still impressed by how she completely gets her character, its arc and dichotomy.) The first time I saw it in the theater, I was like, WTF?! (I think this is because the first hour and half or so was orginally shot as a TV pilot -- David Lynch later tacked on a final half hour with the twist ending to make it feature length.) The fact though that it stays with you for so long afterwards is a really good sign, and IMO the mark of a great film and filmmaker.

Now this one is pretty obscure, but "Series 7: The Contenders" had a similar effect on me. I love black comedies and satires like "Network," but tonally they can be very hard to pull off and even harder to stay ahead of the curve and stay relevant long after their initial release. Even though this is not a truly great film, I can't be too dismissive since it seems to understand the insipidness and to a certain extent depravity of the reality TV genre as a whole. Seriously, watch it again and tell me, with all of the crazy things going on in the world today, if such a show really seems that farfetched now. I say no.

Marco

Arkaan said...

Wonder Boys A second and third viewing pushed this film up quite a bit in my estimation. It's similar to what was said about Happy Endings. Curtis Hanson's affection for his characters is palpable and the entire thing has a real chaotic energy, like he showed up with a camera and shouted "action" without giving them a script.

Ghost World also took a couple viewings.

adam k. said...

Yeah, Brokeback Mountain was a definite #4 for me.

And actually... Moulin Rouge was also a #4... I think it's because the first time I saw it, I was so tired that I was physically incapable of taking it all in. But I was also very young.

One film I totally knew was great the first time out was Thelma & Louise. And that doesn't happen often. But it grabbed me right from the start.

dusty said...

hmm...Funny you should mention The English Patient. I loved the movie the first two times I saw it, but by the third time I saw it, I really felt like I'd reached the end of its "emotional complexity." Like I'd been tricked into thinking it was a masterpiece, when, really, it was no better and no worse than the second best picture of 1996, for whatever that's worth...

Anyway, into category number 2 go the majority of the comedies I see. About A Boy and Me and You and Everyone We Know are good examples.

Ramification said...

Actually Moulin Rouge is a #3 for me, it was on tv the other night and that first half hour irritates more and more upon further viewing. Although Nicole Kidmans entrance in that film is spectacular.

Kamikaze Camel said...

I saw Moulin Rouge! in the cinema 6 times, and it kept being #1. Most movies I see A LOT are #1 because i wouldn't watch them if I didn't already know I loved them.

However, some movies I do see a second time and it confirms by love for it. Birth is a prime example. Saw it, and loved it. Bought it on DVD and watched it and realised it is actually one of the great films of the last few years. I have watched it several times since.

And, basically, any David Lynch movie requires mutliple viewings.

Crash is one movie that I saw a second time and realised I didn't care about it's flaws.

The movie I've seen the most? That would be Scream, which I believe I have seen over 70 times. Is that wrong?

adam k. said...

I've seen both Thelma & Louise and Tootsie so many times that I think I'm developing a southern accent.

Anonymous said...

Ooh, I love Tootsie. Dustin Hoffman has never been a fan fav chez moi, but he was great in it. I also thought Teri Garr was phenom, much better than Jessica Lange for what it's worth. (Why did the latter win the Oscar? Hmm...)

Anyway, right there with you, Kamikaze Camel. I love, LOVE, love Birth. Criminally underrated. Nicole Kidman has never been better, IMO. (I also *heart* Anne Heche, is that wrong?) Go see it, folks, and laissez-vous vous envouter.

Marco

Anonymous said...

P.S. Back to the multiple viewing part of the exercise, "One True Thing" definitely falls into the second category. I pegged it for a loser at first, but subsequent viewings (like last night, courtesy of Lifetime or WE or Oxygen, thank you very much) have convinced me it doesn't suck nearly as much as originally thought. In fact, I'm quite fond of it now, even Zelly who usually rubs me raw with her theatrics (minus Bridget Jones, of course).

Marco

P.P.S. Lo and behold, "One True Thing" is IMDB's movie of the day. Hooray for synergy!