So, I didn't want to skip A Fistful of Thoughts today, but considering that it's my birthday I thought I'd do this a little differently. Instead of celebrity news, I thought I'd do this a little differently. Let's talk about me. LOL, sort of. I have a lot of thoughts, and while I covered some of them in my previous post (thank you guys so much for your love and comments), I wanted to elaborate on a few things and just, well, get it all out there.
So let's talk about me!
Alright, so I was thinking about my life in terms of films because, well, being a cinephile is such a large part of who I am at this point. It's so funny to think that there was a time that I didn't watch movies with thoughts flooding my mind as to where they would fit on a ballot, but there was, when I was very little. The funny thing is that I became somewhat obsessed with ballots at a young age though. I still remember being in my pre-teens and catching the MTV Movie Awards and coming up with my own ballots for Best Kiss and whatnot.
LOL, it was then that I realized movies could be judged and graded.
So, for the first part of my 'thoughts' today, I wanted to talk about film experiences I had that stick out from my younger years, before I was so obsessed with putting them on a list. I have so many memories of watching films with my family, so I wanted to just talk about a few of them, the ones that I can associate with specific memories.
My first theater memory comes in the form of 1991's Oscar nominated Disney masterpiece, Beauty and the Beast. I was 6 when this film was released, and it was a family affair. We went to the theater with another family (including my childhood 'girlfriend') and I distinctly remember having my arm around her the entire time. We also got our picture together by this giant cardboard poster in front of the theater, and we got a coloring sheet inspired by the movie. It's a very warm memory for me, and the film itself has rested so well with me (it's not just one of my favorite animated films, but it's one of my favorite films, period), and the fact that I can now share this film with my own children (and have them ADORE IT) is something so special to my movie loving soul.
Moving on from the theater to some memorable 'home viewing', I still remember the night the entire family sat down to watch Star Wars. I was pretty young, and my father was very skeptical about allowing me to watch something like this. He's always been really cautious about entertainment, and he was really worried that I would become violent. LOL. Anyways, my half-sister had just moved in with us after living with her mother, and she brought with her Star Wars (on VHS mind you) and convinced my father to give it a try. The best part of this whole thing, in retrospect, is that my father had never even seen these movies. My mother, who was always telling him to lighten up, had seen them all and so she was backing my sister up. I always found it strange that my father decided we should start with Return of the Jedi. I don't see the logic in starting with the finale, but apparently my sister told him it was the least violent. Maybe she thought those Ewok creatures would make up for the fact that THAT LAST SCENE WITH THE EMPEROR IS LIKE THE SCARIEST THING I'VE EVER SEEN! Like, for real.
So, as I grew up, I made it a habit of sneaking movies. As I mentioned, my dad was super strict, and that never really let up much. So, when I was a kid (as young as 6), I was sneaking stuff. Whether it be sneaking Saved by the Bell episodes in our basement (yes, he didn't like sitcoms AT ALL) to sneaking downstairs in the middle of the night to see what was playing, I was always taking in stuff he wouldn't allow. This became a problem with I'd catch something like Child's Play and have to hide the reason I was having horrific nightmares. I still remember the day I saw this movie. It was one of those rare afternoons when my parents were so preoccupied I was able to watch something in broad daylight that would have resulted in lots of yelling had they noticed. We were actually preparing to leave for church, believe it or not, and I was standing inches from the TV with remote in hand while Chucky lashed out at helpless children with a knife.
There are lots of movies that bring me to a special, nostalgic moment, but there are some films fill me with a nostalgic feeling that is associated with so many different memories it's kind of a nostalgic blur, if you will. I spent many nights watching movie with my father, and my father's favorite films were classic musicals. Fiddler on the Roof was one of his favorites. We watched this film together countless times, and watching my father mouth the words to every song is a moment(s) I'll never forget. Despite the fact that my father was very strict, I have to credit him with my young love of film. He didn't watch everything, but what he watched he watched with passion, and I love that he instilled in me a love for classic film, which is something I try to instill in my children. Staying up late to watch an old movie is something my kids also look forward to, and I thank my father for giving me the same memories I'm giving my kids.
This was not the first R-Rated film I had seen, but it was the first I saw in the theater, and it kind of marks the end of my pre-Oscar film life. My eldest sister was the one who snuck me in, feeding my parents some BS about me spending the night at her place to play games and stuff and instead she surprised me by taking me to see that one sci-fi movie I had been talking about for months because it looked so awesome, and at that point in my life watching aliens eat people was pretty much the coolest thing ever. Pitch Black isn't a great film, but it spawned the (short lived) cultural obsession that was Vin Diesel and so I guess we should thank it for that (or should we?). This was released in 2000. I was 15. Later that year, I was introduced to a little film called Gladiator, but we'll get to that in a sec.
So, now I ask you; what cinematic memories clutter your nostalgic happy places? What memories do you have of growing into an appreciation for movies?
So, moving on from that 'thought', we'll talk about the movies that really started or anchored my passion for the art of film and my current obsession with all things Oscar and, well, my personal awards. These are films and experiences that have changed the way I look at film and have, in many ways, changed me as a person.
Gladiator was a huge deal for me. I was 15 and my friend snuck this into my house and we sat up in the dead of night, with eyes glued to my 13" television as we took in the greatness that was Russell Crowe. I became OBSESSED, but more than that, it opened my eyes to the world of Oscar because it was in that moment that I had seen and recognized a film that Oscar embraced. Because of this I visited IMDB for the first time, found out that Crowe was filming A Beautiful Mind, saw it opening night and tuned into my very first Oscar telecast. I also threw a bitch-fit when Crowe lost, turned off the TV and skipped the next Oscars in protest, returning to regular viewing in 2003.
I guess I had a diva moment.
When Paul Newman died in 2008, I was well into my love of Oscar and all things film, but at that point I was still in this "see everything new, follow the race, love modern cinema" stage and had yet to really embrace classic cinema as a whole, unless it was the classic I grew up with. Then Newman died and it was the first time that a celebrity died and I noticed the impact it had on everyone around me. The media covered it with a heavy hand, and a lot of people I knew who were obvious older than I was were mourning the loss of one of their favorite actors. I, feeling somewhat ashamed of that fact that I watched the Oscar every year and had yet to see a single Newman movie, did a quick search on TCM to see if I could catch one. I wound up catching a marathon, and in a single day I saw Cool Hand Luke, Sweet Bird of Youth, The Hustler and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. It was that final film that made my heart skip a beat. I was just completely enthralled in every moment, and it spawned my absolute LOVE of Paul Newman and Elizabeth Taylor. From that moment onward, TCM became practically the only channel that mattered to me.
Jules et Jim was the first time that I felt like my life was being projected on screen. It was the first time where I made that personal connection to a film, to the themes, to the story. I felt it in my heart. It pressed down on me with this weight of absolute honesty and truth and it made me realize that film can be a medium for release, for expression of repression and a way to escape through uncanny relation. I saw myself, my own plights, my own worries and concerns and in that moment, I felt understood. I remember the day I saw it. I remember my wife was out with friends and I was using the day to catch up on my DVR recordings and I remember sitting on the floor in our bedroom unable to move because the finale felt so brutal and so honest and so EVERYTHING I WAS FEELING that I crumbled inside.
I will forever credit this film with helping me fully understand that animated films should never be regarded as mere children's movies. Grave of the Fireflies is such an emotionally devastating film, and such a brilliantly constructed one. Until seeing this film, not only did I consider animated films beneath me (despite liking some of them), but I thought of Asian animated films as laughable, calling to mind Pokemon and Dragonball Z and thinking about my brother and his pre-teen obsession with them and how dumb I thought they all were. Still, I was told I was wrong about my feelings towards animated films and I was told that THIS film would change my mind. It did. It also came to me at the worst time (I was a new parent) and it made me sob so uncontrollably that my wife woke up and thought I was dying. This is one of the best films that I will never, ever recommend to anyone.
More than a film, Mommy is an experience that transcends everything that came before it. I've spoken a lot about my love for Dolan and this film, and I will for a long time to come because, for me, this is perfect cinema. A story that hits my soul, but it's not just the story but the way you tell it, and Dolan tells this story with such brilliant visual and emotional composition. From the music to the cinematography to the dialog to the edits to the lasting notes of something more, Mommy transcends cinema, and isn't that what experiencing film, truly EXPERIENCING film is all about?
So, let me ask you; what are some films that have changed the way you look at film as a whole? What films stand out as representative of how you feel about film, how you feel about Oscar, maybe even spawned your current obsessions?
So, moving on, my next 'thought' has to do with age, since, you know, I'm getting old now. LOL. Not really, but it's my birthday so I'm supposed to think about aging. Thinking about age in terms of film, it had me wondering, what films do you think will stand out as classics from our generation as we get into the future. Which films from the aughts are we going to see mentioned alongside the likes of Citizen Kane or The Godfather or Casablanca? I've thought about this, and have come up with the one film that I personally think will live on and be considered a masterpiece, a 'classic' film, a film that will 'age' in a way that cements it as one of the all time greatest...
I've loved this movie since I saw it, but for me there is something special about Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind that sets it apart from most every other movie to receive the critical acclaim this one has...it defies genre. There really isn't another film out there like this one, at all, and that quality alone, I believe, will keep it continually in the conversation. Whenever you talk with someone about this film, there is clear passion in the air. It is a film that evokes a real reaction and a film that is dissected and debated and interpreted in so many different ways. It's funny, it's charming, it's romantic, it's devastating, it's alarming; it's so many things and yet it never feels like too much. In 20 years from now, I wouldn't be surprised if this was considered the Citizen Kane of our times; a film that changed the way stories could be told.
So, how about you? What's the one film you think will leave this decade a classic?
So, now let's talk about blogging. We had to come around to this, right? When I started blogging, it was merely to keep track of my own thoughts. I wanted a place to construct my personal awards and a place to store my reviews and babble about films as I saw them and as my opinions changed, grew, formed; whatever. It was never something that I thought would become, to me, what it is now. You see, I don't talk about film much with other people. I have a few friends who have discussed certain films with me, who have debated certain films with me and who have watched the Oscars and talked to me about it, but no one that I know 'in the flesh' has the same cinematic passions as I do. As I started to blog and become consumed with it, those passions grew, which made the desire to talk to others about it all the more strong, and yet all the more painful because I really didn't have anyone to talk to.
Now I do.
Now I have an entire community of friends who share my passion, who share their opinions with me, who love to talk film and talk aspects of film that maybe I don't always gravitate towards and so, because of all of you, my passion and my appreciation for film has grown. Because of fellow bloggers, I have delved into cinema and paid attention to aspects of cinema that I would never have thought to on my own, and so I thank you all for this!
So, what about you? Why do you blog? Why did you start blogging? What blessing has blogging given you?
And, lastly, let's just talk about films we love! It's been 30 years that I've been on this earth, so why not close this discussion out with 30 films! So, here are my favorite films from each year I've been alive (obviously subject to change):
So, how about you? What are your favorite films for each year of your life?
Here's What I'll Be Reading Today:
Jenna & Allie review Wild
Josh predicts his own CinSpec Awards for 2015
John reflects on the Motion Picture Production Code
Kyle talks Holy Motors
Mark looks at 16 films Oscar snubbed for Cinematography
Wendell reviews Coming to America
Candice reviews Kumiko
Chis takes a look at the books high on his reading list
Birgit remembers her father
And, in case you missed it, let's fawn all over these videos of Mommy's wins from the Canadian Screen Awards!