Monday, July 2, 2012

Top 10 Great Movies I Never Want to Watch Again

We’ve all got them, that handful of films we love, but have never watched twice. Maybe it’s because they’re disturbing, maybe it’s because they’re long, or gory, or complicated – whatever the reason(s), there is something strange and unusually beautiful about a really good movie that you have virtually no interest in seeing more than once. Here are 10 from me, and please feel free to tell me yours in the comments!


Triumph of the Will (1935)
Often recalled as a technical masterpiece, Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will glorified Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party by imploring flawless camera work and game-changing editing techniques. For nearly two hours, we’re privy to the most gorgeous Nazi propaganda film ever captured. Hitler looks like a God as he screams from atop a pulpit in front of thousands of his men. For fans of filmmaking as a craft, Triumph of the Will is completely necessary. For everyone else? Probably not. Either way, once is enough.

Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)
Toward the middle of Henry, the titular character and his partner in crime break into a home and murder the innocent people inhabiting it. So… what’s the big deal? By this point, we’ve seen Henry kill a handful of people in increasingly gruesome ways, so what makes this home invasion so hard to stomach? Well, in an ingenious but of storytelling, director John McNaughton lets the scene play out via a home recording that Henry’s partner shot. One take. One long, grainy, horrific, brilliant take. I appreciate what Henry did (and how it did it) but once that scene was over, I told myself that Yeah, I’m only watching this thing once.

Man Bites Dog (1992)
Okay, you know that one scene in Henry? Imagine watching an entire film of that shit. In Man Bites Dog, two documentary filmmakers follow Ben, a candid, charismatic serial killer, around as he murders and maims people for no goddamn reason. The movie is dry, hilarious, gruesome, and bearable. That is, until the directors themselves begin to join Ben on the “fun.” You think it’s bad… until it gets worse. (Note: for those unaware, Man Bites Dog is NOT a real documentary, but one of the first, most ingenious uses of the now overused mockumentary technique).

Kids (1995)
I know people who idolize the hell out of Larry Clarke’s teenage angst nightmare, and fair enough. It’s a good movie that gets its point across effectively. Again, and again, and again. I saw this movie when I was quite young and have always positively acknowledged its audacity. And I have never once felt the need to revisit it.

The War Zone (1999)
When I profiled Ray Winstone, I was careful to not describe much of the horror that is depicted in Tim Roth’s The War Zone. Ten seconds of Googling will reveal its big reveal, but it’s still something I don’t want to divulge here. It’s a heartfelt, devastating family drama that has sent audience members screaming while running away from it. No, really

The Magdalene Sisters (2002)
Peter Mullan’s masterful Magdalene Sisters tells four fictional stories of a real life place where teenage girls were sent for behaving “badly.” After Margaret is raped by her cousin, and Bernadette grows to become too attractive, and Rose gives birth without being married, and Crispina is born mentally disabled, they are sent to the Magdalene Laundries, where they are victim to countless physical, sexual and emotional assaults. Believe me, this is a very good movie, but one that I’ve never been able to muster up the strength to take in twice.

The Passion of the Christ (2004)
Labeling Mel Gibson’s Jesus movie as “great” may be a stretch, but the point is, I appreciate what Gibson did with it. He pushed it far as far is it could go, made a shit load of money and has been entertaining us with his antics ever since. I saw Passion of the Christ when I was a senior in high school, and once poor Jim Caviezel was whipped for the 978th time, I knew I would never have a reason to sit through it again.

Antichrist (2009)
No list of this sort would be complete without the mention of Lars von Trier. And really, you can take your pick here. Whether it’s Dogville’s aggravating minimalism, Breaking the Waves’ increasing turmoil, or Dancer in the Dark’s utter dread, Lars von Trier simply doesn’t make easy films. And although I happen to love every single one of his movies, Antichrist is my pick for the von Trier flick I love to never rewatch. The block of wood, the scissors, the grindstone – and the blood. It’s all so perfectly von Trierian, and perfectly non repeatable.

Enter the Void (2009)
The notion of having Lars von Trier occupy a spot on this list is as obvious as Gaspar Noé occupying one. His first film, I Stand Alone, famously (and thankfully) warned audiences that they had 30 seconds to leave the theater before its final act began, while Irreversible is, well, Irreversible, but Enter the Void is one of the few movies that the second it was finished, I let out an audible exhale and silently told myself that I Did it. I sat through every one of its dizzying, puzzling, miraculous 154 minutes, and when the credits cued, I was proud of having watched it, but knew it was something I’d likely never see again.

Tyrannosaur (2011)
Having Paddy Considine’s Tyrannosaur here may not be exactly fair, as it has been out for less than a year, but this is one hell of a ferocious character study that I thoroughly “enjoyed” and, at this point in time, have no interest in repeat viewings. The film chronicles the angry, vengeful, Joseph, (played by Peter Mullan, the director of The Magdalene Sisters) as he attempts to turn a corner and find some sort of value in life. Literally, from minute one, Tyrannosaur is a rough, rough ride, but one that I, by the end,  found oddly cathartic. But once, mind you. Just once.

Now the fun part: tell me what movies you love that you have no interest in watching again. ReadySetGo.

77 comments:

  1. God, anyone who watches Requiem for a Dream more than once is both brave and stupid. I myself probably won't watch it again until I forget a huge majority of it (mainly the final sequence), which is roughly ten to fifteen years.

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    1. I suspected that Requiem would receive a lot of votes for a list like this. Movie is mad crazy nuts. I really dig it, but yeah, definitely not one I can watch often.

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    2. Requiem for a Dream, for sure, although it's one I always feel like I want to watch again. Then I think about the last ten minutes and reconsider.

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    3. Ha, exactly. Shit just goes all in and doesn't dare let up. So devastating.

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  2. I don't think there's any great film I wouldn't ever watch again. Maybe Salo. I liked that film a lot but fuck is it unbearable to watch.

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    1. I agree with everything you said about Salo except for the liking it part. It's still the only movie to make me actually gag.

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    2. Yeah I can't really say I like Salo, but either way, I agree it was unbearable to sit through. Yeesh.

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  3. The Magdalene Sisters is a film I'm hoping to re-watch as it's been some time since I've seen the film in mostly scattered moments.

    Antichrist is a film I'll watch if I'm in a certain mood to see it.

    The Passion of the Christ is a film I'll never see again, only because it's overrated and overblown.

    Here's a few films that I love but will never see again: Irreversible, Romance, Boys Don't Cry, and Audition. The last of which scared the shit out of me.

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    1. Oh Romance... I forgot about that one. I mean... damn. Good, but yeah, too much. I've seen Boys Don't Cry twice and that is plenty. I love showing Audition to people who know nothing about it. Which is cruel, but kind of fun.

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  4. I don't get the fuss about Leni Riefenstahl as a filmmaker. Whatever their historical importance, I don't think that either Triumph or Olympia are particularly interesting films.

    As for Larry Clark, I've always thought there was something weird about a man of his age hanging out with teenagers the way he does. Not that I think he's actually doing anything inappropriate, but something about it strikes me as wrong even so.

    I don't ever want to see Antichrist again either, but that's because I think it's a piece of shit.

    Two other contenders: United 93 and Shoah.

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    1. I actually completely agree with you about Riefenstahl. I only admire Triumph for its technical proficiency; I really think it changed the game in terms of film editing. But that is one long goddamn film.

      I'm with you on Shoah... sat through all nine hours in two sittings, and that was plenty. I understand your not wanting to see United 93 again, that's a tough one to take. I love it though.

      Antichrist... that's just one you love or hate.

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    2. Wow! Nine hours of "Shoah"? A brainwashing extravaganza!

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  5. I don't think there are really any films that I love that I don't want to see again. I'm strange - I like to depress myself with movies. Mind you, Tyrannosaur would be a difficult rewatch!

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    1. Oh yeah don't get me wrong, I love "sad" movies, and I am virtually incapable of feeling depressed from a film. I really do thrive on watching the darkness of human nature unfold on screen. But those flicks on my list are just ones I see no point in giving a second go. Too much.


      Tyrannosaur... rough shit.

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  6. Antivhrist was traumatising for me. No chance in hell I will ever watch it again.
    Right now at the top of my list for such movies is A Separation, because I just cannot go through thinking about it so much again. It's exhausting. I also don't rewatch war movies a lot.

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    1. Hmm, A Separation is an interesting choice, and for interesting reasons. That was a tough flick to make it through, but great nonetheless. War movies have to be good in order for me to bother with them a second time. I've probably seen The Thin Red Line 30 times... love everything about it!

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  7. Oh my goodness, I could never watch Triumph of the Will again. It's too disturbing to see Hitler glorified like that, and all those smiling children like Christmas has come early...
    Interestingly I haven't watched Schindler's List since I first saw it about about five years ago. I probably could (and should) but it was so harrowing at the time...

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    1. I've seen Schindler's List three times all the way through, and the viewings were all roughy five years apart. Definitely not an easy one to stomach.

      Triumph is just so damn horrifying, isn't it?

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    2. You bought Schindler's List as accurate historical fact?! The Glengarry guys will be right over...

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    3. Where did either of us say we "bought" the film as historical fact?

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  8. I'm embarrased to say that I haven't seen any of the films featured in this article.

    As for me, if a movie is great, I'll probably re-watch it someday. Seriously. And speaking of MovieNut14's comment, I must say that I've wanted to revisit Requiem for a Dream for sooo long now (and I will someday), but I usually decide in favor of movies that I haven't seen yet. But I'm not stupid or brave, ha.

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    1. Ha, fair enough about Requiem, I've sat through that one a number of times, but mostly because my friends were to scared to sit through it alone haha.

      Some of the movies on this list are really quite good, I think. The War Zone and The Magdalene Sisters in particular are very good films, but very damn brutal.

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  9. I have seen six of these. I own two. I never want to watch Triumph of the Will again. I watched it at university and it was a dreadful slog.

    Kids was seriously disturbing, too.

    Enter the Void I would like to give another go and I think I will come around to watching Antichrist again.

    Tyrannosaur is in my house but I have been waiting for the right time to watch it. I don't know when that will be really.

    Heard great things about The Magdalene Sisters and The War Zone has me intrigued.

    Awesome choices from my experience. One I will never watch again: Irreversible.

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    1. Irreversible is a completely understandable choice. That is one horrific film right there. I may watch Enter the Void again someday, but in a few sittings this time.

      I watched Triumph at college as well. Once was definitely enough.

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  10. I think Irreversible is more un-re-watchable (yes I just made-up a word) than Enter the Void. I really don't think I could watch Irreversible, which I think is an extraordinary film, again without skipping two scenes.

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    1. I've seen Irreversible a number of times, but I've sat through the rape scene once... so I'm with you there. And that damn intro, jesus.

      Great, now I can't get that buzzing noise out of my head. WHOOOOM WHOOOOM WHOOOOM WHOOOOM.

      Thanks Matt haha

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  11. Funny Games (does watching Funny Games U.S. count as repeated watching?). Not a film I loved but I respect it. I didn't even watched it until the end once. It is an experiment with the viewer and it works only once.

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    1. I almost put Funny Games here, but didn't because yeah, I've seen two pretty similar versions of it. That is such a gut wrenching flick. And I agree, the effectiveness of it only really works the first time around.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  12. Love this, been wanting to make a similar list for awhile! I have the 'never watching it again' issue more with heavy, bland dramas than films with disturbing elements. I can't see myself revisiting The Lives of Others or Up in the Air, for example, because while they were very good once, they don't have anything else to draw me in whereas I'll return to the aforementioned Requiem (many times) because the construction is absolutely fascinating.

    Disturbing-wise, though, off the top of my head: Happiness is one I absolutely never want to experience again. Aspects of that film bothered me in a way that made my skin crawl. Oddly, I don't have the same problem with Antichrist (love that film). :)

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    1. That's a really interesting notion that you don't feel the need to revisit heavy dramas like that. There are definitely a few in that category that I'd consider great, then never watch again. So basically... you should DEFINITELY do a list like this. I'd be really curious to see what you picked.

      Happiness, shit... I'd throw that on my initial list in a heartbeat. Once was fine with me.

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  13. You just listed like 5 of the movies I wanted to see(Antichrist, Enter the Void, Tyrannosaur, Triumph of the will even Irreversible) but for the reasons you listed - I want to see what's the fuss about ?? Most of these are in my Netflix queue.

    As far as the movies I can not watch again, Requiem mostly, even The Fly. I will also think at least than 10 times before re-watching Hunger and Grave of the Fireflies as well, for some reason they unsettled me more than the others.

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    1. It took me a LONG time to rewatch HUNGER - that movie really shook me up. Well, I'd definitely recommend all the movies on this list, but I can't promise that they'll be easy viewing! Good luck!!

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  14. Great list! I think I actually may see Enter the Void again, I loved the entire experience and it was such a unique movie. From the films I'd never seen again...hm...Irreversible perhaps and Salo, definetly.

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    1. Thanks! Those are two worthy choices, for sure. I may give Enter the Void another go a few years from now. But goddamn, it was just a grueling experience. Very good, very unique, but very marathonesque.

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  15. I must confess I haven't seen any of these movies. I'd choose Breaking the Waves, which you mentioned -- Emily Watson was so magnificent in that movie, but I could never watch it again. Also on my "great, but I couldn't watch it again" list are Brokeback Mountain and In the Bedroom.

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    1. Yeah, Breaking the Waves is rough shit. Not an easy go. Brokeback and In the Bedroom are interesting choices. Do you not want to watch them again because they're too draining, or emotional, or devastating?

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    2. Good question. I found the grief and regret in In the Bedroom too raw and painful. Maybe I found it especially difficult because it dealt with the loss of a child, albeit one who had come of age, and I'm a mother. I just found Brokeback Mountain too sad, especially the metamorphosis of Heath Ledger's character. I thought it was a wonderful study of how a life circumscribed by prejudice and fear -- in this case his terror of being "outed" -- can warp and harden a personality. But for that reason, I found it too devastating.

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    3. All completely justified responses. Both films don't let you off easy (at all) and both are very subtly emotionally devastating. Like I said, I love 'em both, but I can definitely see why people wouldn't want to revisit them.

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  16. From your list, I've seen Antichrist, Enter the Void, Tyrannosaur, and The Passion of the Christ. I could see myself watching them all again, but I won't be re-watching Brokeback Mountain, The Passion of Joan of Arc, Fellini Satyricon, Reds, Contempt, or L'Avventura anytime soon.

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    1. Brokeback Mountain? Because of how devastating it is? I find it very hard not to cry at the very end.

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    2. Because it didn't devastate me. Of course, the film beautifully made, and the performances are great. But I was left cold at the end both times I watched it. For some reason, it didn't move me. While I consider it to be highly overrated, perhaps I need to revisit it sometime.

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    3. Man, I with Andy on this one, Brokeback kills me everytime I watch it. Just bloody devastating. I love revisiting that film, but not too often.

      Josh, of your choices, I think I'd most agree with Pasion of Joan of Arc, that is a damn lot to take in one sitting. Let alone many times over. Thanks for stopping by!

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  17. I don't think I could watch Battle Royal again, just the shot when the knife goes right into her forehead has scared me for like ever. And same with Dancer in the Dark I always seem to cry a ridiculous amount in that film.

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    1. Lars Von Trier, man... dude doesn't let viewers off easy. I've seen Dancer in the Dark three times, just drains everything out of me.

      I'm one of the few people who actually does not like Battle Royale at all, so I definitely won't be watching that one again, but for probably different reasons than you haha.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  18. As great as it was, I don't think I can bring myself to watch The Deer Hunter again.

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    1. That is my fourth favorite film of all time, but there is no way I can argue with you. The first time I saw it, I was devastated for months. I was 11 years old and had no idea a movie could effect me like that. Remarkable film, impossible to stomach.

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  19. I consider Schindler's List to be the best film of the entire 1990s, but I highly doubt I will ever watch it again.

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    1. It's just so real and painful and brutal. A masterpiece if there ever was one.

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    2. Schindler's List is one which is on my list of excellent films that I can't watch again. "The Passion of the Christ" as well. I could not contain my tears as Mary is on her knees, mopping up Jesus' blood! Too painful!

      I would also nominate "Martyrs" and "120 Days of Sodom," as difficult movies to watch and never need to see again.

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    3. So damn painful. I have no interest in watching Martyrs of Salo again either, but I also wouldn't consider them "great" films, you know?

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  20. Good question, Alex, I'm going with We Need To Talk About Kevin (2011), loved it, fascinating characters, but VERY tough to handle.

    Good call on The Passion of the Christ, way too graphic for me, but very powerful for a one time watch.

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    1. Yeah I'm right there with you on WNTTAK, movie was gut wrenching. I've seen it once and at this point don't feel the need to see it again anytime soon. Excellent but... whoa.

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  21. I agree with a lot of your choices on here: Henry, Man Bites Dog, Kids, Antichrist, Tyrannosaur (lots of one word titles, heh). As for Gaspar Noe, I would pick Irreversible over Enter the Void. ETV became a sprawling mess, I thought, but could have been truly great with a bit more editing. Still a pretty wild experiment though. Great list, Alex.

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    1. Thanks man. There are a lot of one word titles there, weird. Yeah I think it is fair to call ETV a mess. I really dig it, but just once.

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  22. Irreversible tops my list here, just remembering it makes me cringe.

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  23. Just watched Magdalene Sisters. Maybe 20 years of journalism have made me a bit jaded, but I didn't have that much of a problem with it. Yeah, it depicts some of the worst traits of humanity, but I've seen a lot worse on the screen and in real life. Having said that, the ending was pretty gut-wrenching. The actor that played Crispina was brilliant and seeing her inevitable fate was difficult to watch. It was a great movie, though. Thanks for the heads-up.

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    1. Hey Eddie, thanks so much for stopping by and leaving such an insightful comment!

      You know, if I watched that movie now, having seen all the mad ass crazy shit I've seen since, it probably wouldn't be that bad. In fact, after writing this, I've kind of been wanting to give it another go. Maybe soon..

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  24. Yeah, Irreversible, Man Bites Dog and most definitely Henry......these films are quite brilliant, but you can count me out next time around!
    How about: anything by Catherine Breillat! Loved The Devil's Reject's and have no idea why! Monster's Ball......just a brilliant study of truly tragic people.......so good! I own the Monster's Ball DVD, but just cannot put it back in the machine!
    All of the above have seen me once.......they will never see me again!

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    1. Ah great picks there. Catherine Breillat is such a challenging filmmaker. Romance and Fat Girl are just... wow.

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  25. I could stand the block of wood and the grindstone, but the scissors. I can not watch that.

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    1. I've seen Enter the Void and I've never seen something so bold, complex and beautiful. There was bad acting from the little girl when she's getting carried away, but other then that I think it's perfect. It felt like I was with the character, I died and I was born again. Such an unique experience. You can never want to watch it again, I understand that, but it would be a shame for me if I wouldn't watch it again. Have you seen the Love poster? I really want to watch that film. Are Irreversible and I Stand Alone half as good as this film is?
      Also, I watch every Easter holiday The Passion of the Christ, just so you know.

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    2. I actually have seen Enter the Void again, and I couldn't agree more with you. "It felt like I was with the character, I died and I was born again." That was so well said.

      Irreversible is one of my favorite films of the 2000s but it is very, very hard to stomach. But I really appreciate its audacity. I've seen I Stand Alone once and that was enough. Again, I respect it, but it's very tough. Watch I Stand Alone before Irreversible. You'll understand why once you watch Irreversible second.

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    3. Still, when the car crashed I was so horrified.

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  26. As for "Henry, Portrait of" I recommend Dave McGowan's "Programmed to Kill: The Politics of Serial Murder." Just the tip of the iceberg! And isn't it strange how you hardly ever hear of serial killers anymore? It was all the rage a couple of decades ago and then pffft...silence. Where'd they all go?

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    1. Interesting, I'll give the book a look, thanks for the recco! Yeah, don't hear much about serial killers anymore. Guess they were replaced by terrorists.

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  27. I know you posted this years ago, and I totally agree with your list. I will have to add Blue Valentine though. Great film, but so devastating. Definitely not one I can stomach again.

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    1. It's such a tough one, but it is one of my favorite films. Wonder what that says about me haha.

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  28. Blue Valentine shattered my soul. Great list, I agree with everything. Although I haven't seen a couple.

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    1. A very soul shattering film indeed. Thanks so much for the comment!

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  29. Really took to Henry today- definitely a DVD I'll watch a lot more- though I also did Irreversible a sixth time and I could frankly watch that on repeat.

    ...Sounds a little strange out loud.

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    1. Haha, well, since posting this list, I've rewatched Kids, Antichrist (though not the mutilation scene), and Enter the Void (quite a few times). I've watched Irreversible plenty of times as well. There's a lot to learn in that one. A goddamn fuck tough of a film, but an important one.

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  30. The boy in ths striped pyamas. The end made me feel so sick! And still get that feeling back when I just read the tittle somewhere! And they show it on TV every year around the anniversary of WW 2! Ina

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    1. Yes, fully agree. Once was enough with that one.

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