Re-watching is much like growing up.
When you're a child, everything is bare emotion - hatred and passion, coldness and warmth. But as you grow up, your emotions start to become more refined and varied; you sense the layers of things and you're able to understand the relations between them.
Did you know that one of my favourite films as a child was Barbie in Swan Lake? Anyhow, it's a pinkish film with a pinkish story. As a child, I loved this film, and the reason was "Well, because it's awesome!". Now to a confession; I still like this film, and I still own the DVD. But the reason I like it, is because I adore indulging in the thoroughly kitschy and pink story along with some of the greatest classical music I know. I see myself, the child, watching the film - and I see myself, the teenager, watching the film. I'm somewhere in between, and I enjoy this.
A different and more recent example, is that of Sean Penn's extraordinary drama Into the Wild, which I borrowed from the library last winter. I watched the film one lazy Sunday afternoon with my mother, and we were both awe-struck by the drowsiness and enlightenment the film caused us to feel. Into the Wild is currently on rank 20 of my favourite films list, and I know that this is just the right place for it; nevertheless, I was utterly surprised by its greatness when we watched it in class the other week.
The feeling of greatness was always in my mind when I thought of Into the Wild, but there was no way for me to pinpoint the exact reasons for this. And now that I could see the reasons, I just couldn't believe that I had been so right about the movie - because normally, most movies turn out to be not as great as I thought when I re-watch them.
Having said that, the best and most favourite movies I know are the ones that have held up for many, many re-watches. Especially the ones I watched before I was old enough to have a real side job, the time when I didn't know how to get movies for free (I'm talking about the library) and when the price of a DVD was that of three months' pocket money. We re-watched a lot back then. And that's for example why I like movies as Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham, or Mohabbatein. My re-watching wasn't the same as it is now, and the more I watched these movies, the better they became. They couldn't get worse, because I didn't even know they could.
Of course, there are also always those movies that don't change status after re-watching. Take Adam's Apples. It's a very fun dark comedy that just doesn't get better than "good". It's not great. It's cool and something else (in comparison to American comedies), but just good. And I can live with that.
Then, there are also the movies that change just slightly after re-watching, as Happythankyoumoreplease. I don't know if I want to call it "great" but it's one of my favourite films, and remains one of my favourite films. Only, when I re-watched it a week ago, I saw several sides of it, or several points-of-view of looking at it. There was the common point-of-view: fun but nothing more, a sweet idea but not daring enough. The haters point-of-view: hipster, doesn't tell us anything. And there was my point-of-view: a beautiful collection of snapshots that add up to an enchanting and thought-provoking collage. Furthermore, a film that reminds me to be happy and thankful sometimes. Examining the other points-of-view helped my realize how confident I felt with my own, which I hadn't been so sure of after reading a couple of not-so-enthusiastic reviews.
What one must remember concerning re-watching, however, is that no matter how insightful and revealing re-watching may be, it's also a question of the right dose. In this case, we can compare it to Coca Cola. I don't like drinking that sweet sugary stuff too often, but at the right moment, when my body is screaming for it, it's like an explosion of happiness that flows down my throat.
The magic of re-watching may not be overexcited, for then it will not work.
... And you wouldn't have time to watch new films that will put your re-watchings into context.