My first memory of going to a movie is Bambi. It was 1982 and the film was being re-released for its 50th anniversary – a detail I only now know. The only thing I remember is that we never actually made it in to the movie theater. The line snaked around the block of the one-screen neighborhood theater as rain poured down. I have very scant memories of the day, but I do remember the line, and driving around it, seeing people holding umbrellas around the Tivoli Theater. My parents said something to the effect of forget it and we went and saw something else.
In my memory, that “something else” was E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial. It’s entirely possible since that was the year of E.T. – though I don’t have a memory of actually being in that theater, either. I was young enough and that haze of early youth makes it plausible that I was there then, mixed with my memories of seeing the film dozens of times over the years.
But the event of going to see the movies that first time stands out in my mind as a momentous occasion. It remained that way – going to the movies were a special treat for my family growing up. We didn’t go that often, but when we did it was exhilarating for me.
That exhilaration never ended. I love movies then. I love them now. And as a filmmaker, I live for them.
In recent months, life as a filmmaker has been a crawl over the rocky lows that are the inevitable downside of the incredibly rewarding highs. I found myself in need of a way to express my love for this stuff and help keep me going. So here, on this little page, I’m going to write about movies. Specifically, about my favorite movies. It’s going to be part homage, part narrative analysis, and part cultural commentary.
This blog will be, simply, about one of my primary reasons for living.
Let me start this endeavor by adding that I frequently find blogs to be odious, self-serving, and almost impossible to get through. Certainly not all of them, but a good many of them. So I’m someone who generally does not participate in the blogosphere (nor cares for the word “blogosphere”) all that much. So I completely understand if fewer than two people read this.
Selfishly, this space will be a therapeutic, good ol’ fashioned writing exercise so I keep the pen moving. But as a side effect, perhaps you’ll find a different angle on some old favorites, maybe add a film or two to your Netflix queue, and maybe even think about how cinema intersects with your own life or of society. And, despite my best efforts, you’ll probably learn something about me. I apologize in advance.
Gentle reader(s), you will almost certainly not agree with me. But that’s part of what makes movies so great – they are singularly personal, and each viewer has a very unique experience and relationship with that film.
Before I go any further, let me share my credentials:
- I’m an American human male with a discernible pulse and a set of fingers for typing.
- I make movies – in as far as any one person can make movies. I make them with other (mostly) wonderful people when someone (or something) gives me the means (money) to do so. In between, I make aspirational movies, or “screenplays” as they are known in the film industry. In that, some day they will become movies, or else remain movies in my brain and/or on 100 sheets of three-hole-punched paper with brad fasteners.
- I’m a film nerd. I have a Masters degree in it. I have deconstructed films, had my own scenes deconstructed, and have reverse engineered sequences and shots to understand how other filmmakers made what they made and how they made it. It is the work of film nerds. (It only barely qualifies as work.)
But way before all this, before I knew that movies were actually made by people and before I knew how to analyze a movie scene or what that even meant – I went to movies to simply watch movies. This space will give me a chance to reconnect with that primal desire to be whisked away into a story for a couple of hours.
I’m not ashamed to admit this (okay a little bit ashamed), but The Internet Movie Database is my browser homepage. I discovered it in 1998 when a college friend told me about a website that has every movie ever made listed in a massive database. This then eliminated any remaining free time I had.
Also… you can rank movies on IMDb. Which is dangerous. I have ranked more than 1200 films on a scale of 1-10, which is, as far as I know, all the films I have ever seen. Therefore, the first and really only criteria is that I’m going to write about films that received either a 10 or a 9 on my personal IMDb ranking. That leaves a scant 200 or so (and counting, of course) for me to write about.
My tastes are generally “Top 40,” to put it in the words of a producer friend of mine. I’m a product of 1980s and 90s suburbia, raised on mainstream American studio films. But my tastes are broad, and I have a fondness for a wide range of cinema, including independents, foreign films and the occasional obscure title. So it will be a good mix with only a hint of film snobbery. This will not be true film criticism because (1) I’m not a critic nor trained in formal film criticism and (2) these are cherry-picked favorites so it’ll be really more fawning than anything critical in that sense.
I’m going to start each post with a film and recount when I saw it and my memories about that first viewing. And then I’ll explain why I think it’s a great film and why I personally love it. Hopefully this will allow me to explore film aesthetics – composition, editing, cinematography, performance, music, sequences, and overall execution as it relates to emotion and the narrative. I will keep it accessible and as un-film snooty (snotty?) as possible. There will be spoilers, be warned.
Gentle reader, are you still with me? If you’re still reading this, then that suggests you are in fact still with me. I thank you. And I think your eyeballs have exceeded the usual time spent on a blog page. (And don’t you hate the word “blog” too? Just curious.)
My next entry will be our Feature Presentation – an actual film will be discussed as per the above criteria. Coming soon.
I hope you enjoy the show.