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Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Seeking Redemption

Six years ago I bought the final edition of Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide while developing a course on the intersection of music & film. Soon after - film buff that I am - I discovered this 1,611 page doorstop was becoming an invaluable resource, helping me uncover movie treasures I'd missed and reminding me of films worth a second look. In my home library, only the World Atlas is now more marked up than Maltin's tome. Anyone reading my annotations in these two books might be tempted to prescribe medication. (And don't get me started on what my first (1993) edition of Maltin's reference book - at a meager 1,520 pages - looks like; really, don't.)  

Which film did you recently watch a second time? If you recall it, how did the re-watch compare with your initial reaction? For me, re-discovering a sleeper is often more fun than re-watching a widely-seen or award-winning film. 

For example, the first time I saw A Simple Plan, I was aligned with Maltin's rating of two and one-half stars, out of four. This second time? I upgraded Sam Raimi's 1998 film to a solid three stars (with due respect to you, Leonard), especially taking note of Bill Paxton's under-stated lead performance, Billy Bob Thornton's exceptional portrayal as Paxton's limited brother, and the strong element of genuine surprise in this under-seen movie. Put this one on your list.

Contrast this with my recent re-watch of The Shining - a wildly popular film - which left me colder than the first time around. Jack Nicholson is among the best actors of his generation but in this film he seems unhinged from nearly his first scene. Consequently - to me at least - there is no surprise when Nicholson unravels. The film held no suspense for me the first time. On this re-watch, other flaws - cue the Shelley Duval hysterics - jumped out at me, notwithstanding the bona fides of director/auteur Stanley Kubrick.

I know, I know. Stanley Kubrick is .. Stanley Kubrick. OK, so at least give A Simple Plan a shot and let me know if this nobody blogger has redeemed himself.    


  1. "A Simple Plan" is a movie that is a unique category for me: I think it is a really great movie but have a hard time rewatching it because it is so darn sad. Billy Bob Thornton's character breaks my heart in every scene. I can revisit other sad movies but Simple Plan for some reason cuts deep. Yes Bill Paxton (RIP) did a great job.

    1. Lori; Two comments in one day and both of them stuck; hooray! I agree A Simple Plan is profoundly sad but being the borderline masochist I can sometimes be, I withstood the catharsis this time and re-watched this under-seen gem. Thanks for the comment; hope to see you more on the bell curve.