Sometimes we outgrow films and filmmakers, even those we adore.
At least, I did - and still do. As a working critic, this often put me at odds with some of my colleagues who, from my perspective, harbored a blind loyalty to their favorites. This may sound harsh, but there's really no place for loyalty in film criticism. Only hardcore honesty.
Case in point: Robert Altman. As a young pup, I lapped up, devoured, memorized and repeatedly viewed his films. I couldn't get enough of "Brewster McCloud" (1970). But as I aged, we grew apart. I became less titillated by Altman's penchant for overlapping dialogue, cluttered mise-en-scène and trendy contempt for his characters - a cinematic style that reached its nadir (for me, at least) with 1978's nasty "A Wedding," which has become something of a staple on the Fox Movie Channel.
But there are contemporaries who still swoon at the mention of his name and, when I'm in their company, I know to keep my mouth shut about Altman and about my own sacrilegious flipflopping tendencies.
Even guilty pleasures can become less, well, pleasurable.
Taking inventory recently of my home entertainment collection and purging, I finally tossed out my DVD copy of Randall Kleiser's "Grease," a loud, rather unwholesome movie musical - also from '78 (if that means anything) - that, for some unaccountable reason, I once thought of as engaging and fun but that I now find mirthless and unwatchable.
As I placed it in a giveaway bin, I remembered the enthusiastic review I wrote in 1978 and also realized that, almost unconsciously, I had slowly evolved - or should that be "devolved"? - into an avowed flipflopper.
Throwing away "Grease" felt cathartic, liberating and healthy.
There were no regrets or rancor.