I’m so in love with the movies that it borders on obsession. My world has been like this as long as I can remember; my first memory is sitting in the balcony of an old, ornate theater in Marysville, California watching “Star Wars”. I was two. It wasn’t until the age of seven that I made the declaration that I would be a movie director once I grew up. It was after watching “E.T” that I had come to this decision. That film made me feel unparalleled excitement and I wanted to be a part of that surge of hot emotion I felt in my guts watching Elliot pedal his bike through the sky. I’m pretty sure I wanted to be a director merely because their name was the last one shown during the opening credits. Regardless, I never became a one. I’m a critic of them, which is much easier.
Over the years there have been many movie-going experiences that have shaped my tastes and preferences. These are the special times spent in the dark: my cinematic epiphanies. This is not really a list of my favorite films per se, but a list of my favorite moments shared with the movies.
Rocky Horror Picture Show: I was a sophomore in high school; a perfect age to see men in lingerie prance about in front of a movie screen, lip-synching to “Sweet Transvestite”. This was at the Ken Theater in San Diego and the production wasn’t full bore (there was no toast or squirt guns) but to me it was inspiring. This wasn’t just going to the movies; this was a happening.
Grindhouse: At the drive in! Nothing better. The wife and I drove forty miles one way to see this. The scratched images and popping soundtrack of the “bad print” played perfectly on the outdoor screen. This was how Tarantino/Rodriguez meant for this flick to be seen and it made me long for the time of the B movie double feature. I never got to live those days but that night I came very close.
Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World: At Comic Con 2010! This was like attending a rock concert with nothing but chubby nerds in attendance. I can say that because I am a chubby nerd. Edgar Wright screened the movie for free in the Balboa Theater and the walls shook from the opening frame. “Pilgrim,” with its video game sensibilities and power-Kung Fu sequences, was the perfect film to see with those people. I love the film but every viewing has paled in comparison to that day.
Ironweed: This 1987 drama featuring Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep is rarely ever talked about but it was the first serious film I can remember flooring me. I was twelve at the time and was very proud that I was so affected by the sad tale of vagrants struggling during the Great Depression. This wasn’t “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure” by any stretch, this stuff hurt to watch. My reaction to “Ironweed” made me feel like an adult for the first time.
Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace: Believe me, I know. I hate this movie too. The hatred grows as time passes in fact. But when it was released- when I got to see a new “Star Wars” film on the big screen as an adult- I was blinded by the excitement. Lucas could have given me two hours of humping sock puppets and I wouldn’t have known any different. As long as you start out with those titles with John Williams’s music, I was happy. I watched this film five (!) times in the theater before I started to realize that it was crap. But that first time was a twisted sort of magic.
What are your favorite movie going experiences? Go on, share with the rest of us….