I think my interest goes back to both my family’s blatant disregard for censoring what movies I was allowed to watch at a young age and The Wizard of Oz. I think the former exposed me to a wide genre of films while the latter just blew my mind. Over the first 10 years of my life, I must have watched The Wizard of Oz a dozen times – it’s a classic road story, and it never gets old. It never really occurred to me that it was a musical until much later, and it’s kind of a cheap musical, at that – three of the main characters sing the same song, but the lyrics are replaced; that’s kind of lame, don’t you think? They just couldn’t be bothered to give The Scarecrow, The Tin Man and The Cowardly Lion their own unique songs. And what’s with Glenda, The Good Witch of the North? She puts Dorthy in harm’s way immediatly by putting the ruby slippers on her (without her consent), which puts her on a crash course with the Wicked Witch of the West. Then, not wanting to be exposed as a fraud, The Wizard of Oz sends Dorthy to the Wicked Witch’s castle, probably hoping she gets killed in her attempt to fulfill his request and bring back the Witch’s broom. Instead, she inadvertently commits her second homicide (Now she’s killed both Wicked Witch sisters! Imagine having that on your conscious! And what a tough week for their family!) and exposes the Wizard for a fraud anyway… Yeah, the Wizard and Glenda are assholes. As for eighties movies and other classics, I managed to cram in a ton of stuff at highly inappropriate ages. For example, I saw Poltergeist in the theater. I remembering renting Red Dawn with my cousin – we had our grandmother’s house to ourselves and blasted the battle cry of “Wolverines!” on that old but huge tube TV. My sister and I saw Masters of the Universe in the theater – by ourselves, which is too bad, because it was a pretty decent movie – and violent. The same thing happened when we saw Short Circuit 2. I remembering watching Aliens at my Dad’s house with my sister – that was a bit intense for me at that time… I was also lucky enough to have a neighbor loan me their beta max player and such movies as Jaws, Top Gun and Clue. How awesome is Clue?!? One of the best comedies ever! My mom was brilliant at finding cheap VHS copies of classic movies, like the old school monster movies including Dracula, starring Bela Lagosi or Frankenstien, starring Lon Chaney. Back then, network television was really good at rerunning old movies, so I’d get to see King Kong usually once a year, and the occasional Godzilla movie. Yep, the local networks were good to me… well, ‘good’ meaning that they provided lots of movies, like running Goonies into the ground or weird old beach party movies like Beach Blanket Bingo, starring Frankie Avalon and Annette Funacello, who I liked to refer to as ‘Funny-Jello.’ And who could forget my sister’s ultimate Alley Sheedy VHS tape, compiled with The Breakfast Club (which I watched so many times I have it memorized – try me), Short Circuit and St Elmos Fire? Just classic… although I never developed the affection for St Elmos Fire that she did.
Then there was Star Wars. My dad had taped them off HBO, but he only had The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, so when I got the VHS set in the early 1990s, it was nice to sit down and watch A New Hope again, which I had only seen once before. Anyway, when it came time to pick a movie to watch (and we did this a lot at night), my dad would suggest Star Wars and ask me to pick one – as time went on, I would pick Return of the Jedi more often than not because Luke used his lightsaber and the force a lot more in that one – and because Wicket (he’s the main Ewok, the first one we see that meets Leia) is bad ass. Of course, as an adult, I’ve come to recognize Empire as the best of the Star Wars movies, but I love those scenes in Jedi when Luke is trying to reform his father:
VADER: So, you’ve accepted the truth.
LUKE: I’ve accepted the fact that you were once Anakin Skywalker, my father.
VADER: That name no longer has any meaning for me!
LUKE: It’s the name of your true self; you’ve only forgotten. I know there is good in you. The Emperor hasn’t driven it from you fully. That was why you couldn’t destroy me. That’s why you won’t bring me to your Emperor now.
VADER: [ignites Luke's lightsaber] I see you have constructed a new lightsaber. Your skills are complete. Indeed you are powerful as the Emperor has foreseen.[turns off the lightsaber]
LUKE: Come with me.
VADER: Obi-Wan once thought as you do. You don’t know the power of the dark side! I must obey my master.
LUKE: I will not turn. And you’ll be forced to kill me.
VADER: If that is your destiny.
LUKE: Search your feelings, father. You can’t do this. I feel the conflict within you! Let go of your hate!
VADER: It is… too late for me, son. The Emperor will show you the true nature of the Force. He is your master now.
LUKE: [nods, resigned] Then my father is truly dead.
[Guards take Luke away. Vader wanders over to the window, looking out at nothing.]
Yeah, that’s like the best scene ever in any action movie – EVER. Everything is at stake – Luke’s life, Vader’s soul, the fate of freedom in the galaxy! That’s drama. Sure, Jedi has problems, but during those few minutes, they really got it right.
I love movies and reviewing movies is just a natural extension of watching them – to me, at least. Reviewing a movie is like continuing the movie into a conversation that can be without end and open to multiple view points – I love it. Movie reviewing makes watching a bad movie rewarding because you can deconstruct it… although I don’t see myself sitting down to watch Suburban Commando again – saw that in the movies in… fifth grade, I think. I went with two other guys and we asked three girls from class to come with us, and they actually did… it was like a fake group date or something. See, movies can do that – they can bring people together in a way that I never thought was possible, and I still see that every day… accept when I went to see the new Star Wars movies – those folks were all destined to be together, one way or another!