11 Films We Love But Won’t Watch Again

By @waytooindie
11 Films We Love But Won’t Watch Again

We all have those movies that we really enjoy, but for one reason or another aren’t in any hurry to revisit. Sometimes it’s because the material is full of gruesome violence or hard to watch moments, which can ruin our desire to sit through the torture ever again. Other times it’s hard to justify repeating another three and a half hours on a well-made, but painfully slow movie (we’re looking at you Jeanne Dielman!).  It’s easy to be torn on these films. We’re quick to sing their praises—but not as quick to recommend them.

Here’s a list of some of our favorite films we loved watching the first time, but don’t see ourselves returning to anytime soon. Enjoy watching them, but please don’t ask us over for the viewing.

#1. Irreversible

Irreversible movie

If you’re not aware of Irreversible, consider your lifespan lengthened by at least a few months, and know that the film tells the story of Alex (Monica Bellucci, in career-defining mode) and her boyfriend Marcel (Vincent Cassel, brilliantly unhinged) over the course of a single night, in reverse chronological order. In terms of raw emotion, it makes Memento look like a Cheerios commercial. Considering it’s been over 10 years since it came out, it’s no spoiler to say that Irreversible contains the most realistic rape scene I’ve ever seen in any film, and once that scene was over, I knew that Gaspar Noé had created something equal parts impactful and degenerate, and that one viewing was more than enough. Technically speaking, the film is genius (for the time it came out, its camera trickery was fresh and exciting). I may have been more affected than I would’ve otherwise had anyone but Bellucci been cast (full disclosure, guys: she’s my eternal crush), but I’m pretty sure that it’s Noé’s unflinching depiction of humanity at its most depraved, the scarily realistic performances, and that emotional sledgehammer of an ending/beginning, that makes me never want to see Irreversible again while simultaneously admiring its undeniable artistry. [Nik]

#2. The Act of Killing

The Act of Killing movie

It’s hard for me to think of any other film in the last several years with the same impact as The Act of Killing (review). Joshua Oppenheimer’s investigation into the deaths of millions during a military coup in 1960s Indonesia is like diving head first into the worst of humanity. What Oppenheimer observes (and participates in) is a world where evil prevails. Military leaders responsible for massacring entire villages are hailed as heroes, corruption runs rampant, and families of the survivors have to stay quiet if they want to live. What’s so bothersome about Oppenheimer’s film isn’t just seeing the casual disregard for human lives; it’s the way he implicates the viewer and their complicity in the on-screen horrors. The Act of Killing is a monumental piece of filmmaking, but it’s also one that forces viewers to confront the severe costs of their inaction and ignorance. It’s an ugly film, one that made me feel physically ill watching it, and one of the best documentaries I’ve ever seen. I just know that it’ll be a long time before I see it again. [CJ]

#3. Shame

Shame movie

It’s always hard to delve so deeply into the life of someone that is in many ways broken, and a second time might just prove too much for many. In the case of Steve McQueen’s Shame (review), Brandon’s life is certainly one that I don’t feel capable of entering again, even as a witness. Ultimately, this is a testament to the quality of the film—the raw emotion that we are confronted with is exactly what makes it so hard to watch. Fassbender is disconcertingly convincing as a man whose day-to-day life is an endless search for another orgasm, with each one simply acting as a step towards finding the next. The concept of dissatisfaction at every moment is portrayed so precisely it would be beautiful if it wasn’t thoroughly depressing. Both Fassbender and McQueen inject Brandon’s character with so much apathy that we can’t help but feel for him – it’s almost as though we are doing the feeling for him. And while that’s involving and highly compelling, it is also far too emotionally draining to go through again. [Pavi]

#4. Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire

Precious movie

There are films I describe as “essential” viewing while almost always following up with the word “once.” I don’t think there is any shame in admiring a film greatly and recognizing that being in the mood to watch it repeatedly in one’s lifetime is highly unlikely. I’d even go so far as to say that Precious (review) was one of those films I might never had seen if I’d truly known what I was getting into. Does it have amazing performances? Yes. Does it have moving emotional transformations? Yes. Does it have an unnecessarily long title due to someone’s ill-placed concern that there’d be any confusion whatsoever in confusing this film for a superhero action film released in the same year? Weirdly so. Additionally, it has the abuse of a pregnant teen by her welfare-addicted mother, repeated rape from her father, and a cast of characters who finally give this young woman the support she needs to take control of her life. But for every heart melting scene are about 10 scenes of a mother throwing pots and TVs at a girl living a hell that most of us couldn’t even dream up. The ratio is a tough balance. But I still say see it. Once. [Ananda]

#5. Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father

Dear Zachary movie

Easily one of the most shocking and disturbing documentaries I have ever witnessed (and not simply because one of the subjects shares my name), Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father illustrates one man’s journey to memorialize his murdered friend, when that friend’s ex-girlfriend announces she’s expecting a son. The tone indicates early on that the only way this story will end is in disaster. Documentarian Kurt Kuenne tracks the life of Dr. Andrew Bagby from his childhood when he and Kurt made films together as friends, through Bagby’s adulthood, marriage, and ultimate murder. In speaking with Bagby’s family, Kuenne paints a picture not only of a good man killed in cold blood, but the frightening fallout from his murder. Throughout the film, you’re left angered that so little was done to prevent what ultimately occurred; however, it’s also easy to understand the inevitability of this tragedy. That doesn’t make watching events unfold within Dear Zachary any less devastating. The documentary may not be an intricately constructed masterpiece but the story it portrays is among the saddest realities an audience will have to face, just not one you’ll want to watch twice. [Zach]

#6. The Hunt

The Hunt movie

At about the 15-minute mark, The Hunt (review) takes a turn so unsettling that the film becomes uncomfortable to watch, and it remains uncomfortable to watch for its duration. The film tells the tale of a man—a kindergarten employee, no less—who is wrongly accused of being a pedophile. A young, confused child points the wrong finger at the wrong guy for the wrong reason and that guy’s life is over as quickly as word of his alleged actions can spread through the small, close-knit community and its micro-mob mentality. Pedophilia is like no other crime. When kids have potentially been exposed to a pedophile, there is no “innocent until proven guilty” in the court of public opinion. The film maximizes this wonderfully, especially in its depiction of the townspeople’s actions. What ultimately sells the tension, though, is that the viewer knows he’s innocent. This is no whodunit. There is no playing around with “did he or didn’t he?” and waiting for that “twist” to drive the final opinion on the film. His innocence is a fact, which raises the stakes on his pathos, which ratchets the unease of the viewer. Tack on a last shot for the ages and this unforgettable film is best left preserved in the memory. [Michael]

#7. Hard to be a God

Hard to be a God movie

It’s hard for me to add any other superlatives that CJ hasn’t already used in his fantastic write-up of the downright depraved Russian film Hard to be a God. Alesky German directed this brutal and savage film about a group of scientists who travel from Earth to another planet going through their own Medieval Age. Told not to interfere with the going-ons on the planet, they must sit back and watch as people are viciously murdered and treated like scum. German’s film is 3 hours of straight unholy debauchery where people trudge through mud, carcuses (human and animals) and mounds and mounds of excrement. If the setting isn’t disgusting enough, German constantly has objects (animate and not) directly in front of the action to add an immediacy to the ongoings, putting you right in the middle of all the action. About an hour in, I started to get queasy and almost had to stop watching. There has never been a film like Hard to be a God and there will probably never will be. [Blake]

#8. The Master

The Master movie

Initially my thoughts leaned to movies that evoked a positive memory such as Master and Commander or The Last Samurai–movies I only ever saw once but loved so much that I purchased them–and then never got around to watching them again. Their length and tendency towards tediousness always at the forefront when passing over them come movie night. The possibility for a future viewing is still there, however. On the other hand, it’s hard for me to say that I loved The Master (review). In fact, for a very long time I was determined to vocalize my absolute dislike for it. I don’t remember a second of that movie that I wasn’t cringing. But in thinking about where the roots of my aversion were, I couldn’t admit that it was the performances. Philip Seymour Hoffman, Joaquin Phoenix, and Amy Adams were outstanding. Ultimately I came to the realization that, in fact, this movie was really well done. Centered around self-worshiping, semi-psychotic, narcissistic con-men who prey on the weak and vulnerable, one has no choice but to respond with vitriol. So…kudos to everyone involved in the making of such a great movie, but I will never watch it again. [Scarlet]

#9. Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer

Henry Portrait of a Serial Killer movie

Honestly, the concept of loving a film despite never wanting to watch it again really doesn’t register with me. If there is something in a movie that works for me, no matter how violent, draining or depressing it might be, it’s going to be something I will consider revisiting. That said, John McNaughton’s troubling Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer is a film I’m not itching to see again for a long time. Known primarily as a horror film—I remember seeing the VHS in the same vicinity of the video store as other 1980’s gems Chopping Mall and Brain Damage, but Henry is far, far from these silly blood-splatter flicks. It’s darkly honest and straight-ahead script and documentary shooting style is a fascinating approach to the genre, but also a bit icky. Truthfully, there aren’t a lot of scares, but the intense commitment of everyone involved (from the screenwriters, to the director, to star Michael Rooker) get us inside this character, eventually taking us places we really don’t want to be. Personally, the film is made all too real in part by the Chicago street cinematography—though Wicker Park and its surrounding areas have dramatically changed over the last 30 years, it’s still recognizable enough to make me a little more aware of my own environment. [Aaron]

#10. Enter the Void

Enter the Void movie

Yes, another Gaspar Noé film on this list. Adding to his collection of challenging films, Noé trades the excessive violence and brutality of Irreversible for excessive visuals and runtime in Enter the Void. The film (review) is packed with intoxicating visuals from pulsating neon lights to ghost-like camera movements that pass through walls and buildings, completely disorienting the senses like an acid trip. And because it clocks in at over two and a half hours—it’s one long trip. There’s a lot to admire from artistic and technical standpoints as some moments in the film are unlike anything seen before in film. However, the sensory overload eventually becomes exhausting to the point you’d wish it would just end already. Not helping matters is a meandering script which stretches about 30 minutes worth of material into 161 minutes. If you ever wanted to experience DMT without actually doing it, one time through Enter the Void should do the trick. But unlike the drug, you won’t be itching to go back to it. [Dustin]

#11. Mr. Nanny

Mr Nanny movie

I’m pretty sure Mr. Nanny is legitimately considered one of the worst movies of all time. Hulk Hogan plays a former professional wrestler who becomes a nanny to make ends meet…so yeah. It’s ridiculous. But you know what? When I watched it as a kid in the early ‘90s, I had the time of my f*cking life! I’ve been a huge Hulkamaniac since birth (I had a plush toy and action figures and video games), so to see my red-and-yellow hero star in his own movie was the coolest thing ever! I remember laughing my little ass off at every single dumb gag and thinking the Hulkster was going to be a HUGE movie star (my taste in actors is better now, I promise). I saw the movie on a VHS tape rented from Blockbuster (those were the days) and never saw it again, probably because it sucked so much no network wanted to run it. But man, did I have a blast watching it that day. Sure, I could probably find it again online and replace my old memories with new, sh*tty ones, but what’s the use in that? [Bernard]

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