The other night I watched The Lake House. Not unusual for a new movie, this one made me think, "I've got to see this one a second time."
In my youth when I wanted to see a movie a second time, it was because I loved it and simply couldn't part with it. Today, it's because the film left me with questions that could only be answered by at least one more viewing. This is by design, the trick of the filmmaker to keep the audience from understanding the movie, even if it takes putting deliberate holes in the plot or withholding the information that would carry the story forward.
Some of the confusion movies are better than others. I happen to think The Lake House was a pleasure to watch, a kind of flashy soap opera chick-flick, with attractive actors and one I always love to see (Christopher Plummer), beautiful locales, and an intriguing story line that keeps the viewer in awe of what is or might be going on. I loved Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, a confusion flick of a few years back in which Jim Carrey is having such difficulty moving forward after a painful experience that he has his mind cleaned and his memory erased and the audience is charged with figuring out the time line.
There was a trend of movies moving back-to-front, begun by something called Mulholland Drive, which I never saw. It's on my list of possibles, but not high on it because I already understand the premise -- and watching a movie run from the end to the beginning seems a bit counterproductive to me. But it launched the confusion genre (and don't you love how often people use the word genre today? It bores me to distraction. This may be a first for me, using the word genre. I shall try to avoid it in the future.)
I wish I weren't becoming one of those people who brought the "old days" into every discussion. But when a movie or book had a straightforward concept, a linear story, good actors doing their job, and satisfied the audience with a neat beginning, middle and end, I was in my comfort zone. On the other hand, I like being on the edge of my seat and don't mind what stunts the filmmaker tries to get me there. Maybe I just like movies.