There is an early moment in the 2006 film, Casino Royale, that I always remember. It is a tiny bit in the first action set piece. James Bond, played by Daniel Craig, is chasing a bombmaker through the streets and then, the skies of an unspecified city in Madagascar. The entire scene is a spectacular introduction to this new portrayal of an iconic character as Craig pushes his physical limits as an actor. He crashes through walls and sprints through buildings. He jumps from cranes and drives a bulldozer. But the moment I always remember is a small one within this sequence. After falling from the roof of a building, Bond spies his adversary sprinting away. All Bond does is doggedly shake his head and continue the chase. It acknowledges Bond’s humanity while celebrating his inhuman determination. It is an acting choice that epitomizes an entire character. All that we come to know about this James Bond is fleetingly presented here. It is these split-second instances that elude first time viewers and make multiple examinations so rewarding.
Not all movies are rewatchable. Some movies simply require too much investment. They concern themselves with heavy topics that push characters to their limits and break them. The audience member is left with an introspective, quiet drive home. Then, there are movies like Casino Royale, that seem to have just enough of everything: a generous pinch of action, a sprinkle of romance, and a few memorable one-liners. There are certainly a few genres that lend themselves best to these standards. Comedies are an easy choice on tired Friday evenings, as well as superhero films. Action movies too, work well, because their plots are easily skipped over while completing some chores. Here, the question of quality must be raised. The fact that some movies can be watched repeatedly does not make them instantly superior. Others would use the word, ‘rewatchable’ as a demotion, an indication of a shallow movie that does not require much attention or intelligence to enjoy. I have never quite reconciled these two feelings, splitting my time between ‘prestige’ offerings and their more enjoyable counterparts. On one hand, I truly believe that Casino Royale is a complex, intricate movie that studies a man whose identity is torn between his job and his personal desires. Yet, I inevitably categorize it differently than a film like Her which I have watched as many times. One of these films got nominated for an Oscar and the other did not. This suggests that there is also a large amount of public opinion that influences over our personal perceptions of a film or any form of art. We can’t simply judge it by our personal enjoyment of the film or by the majority assessment because often they too often conflict with one another. Neither can be completely conflated with quality either. After all, those small details are missed if something is too difficult to watch again. Perhaps it is most important to keep both qualities in mind no matter what kind of movie you believe yourself to be watching. It can make however many viewings you choose to indulge in richer and more pleasurable.