04 June 2011


My Life in Movies

Before I let Shredded Cheddar go back to looking like a book blog, I thought I'd make another stab at movie blog status. And it seemed like a good idea to start with a movie meme (Yes, those do exist!) that's been going viral around the movie-verse.

The rule is simple. For every year you've been alive, pick a movie.

So of course I'm going to complicate it.

You see, while I was making this list and picking my obvious favourites from each year, I found myself reminded of movies I haven't thought of in the longest time, but which would have easily made this list, had I tried this twenty, ten or even five years ago. That's because I keep discovering "old" movies that I didn't see when they were still "new"--usually because I was too young for them when they first came out. And that's kind of interesting, in this light of this exercise, which remembers when old movies were new--no matter how long ago they came out.

That's why I thought I'd make a series of My Life in Movies lists and start with those films that I wasn't too young for. Although I might not have seen all of these in their year of release, I saw them close enough to the date to have been young with them, too.

The Last Unicorn
No other movie could make me so happy to reveal my real age to all of cyberspace. So much of what I understand of loneliness and longing was shaped into something bittersweet and beautiful by this movie. (And now you know why, despite my great love for Zombies, I will always choose Unicorns.)

Mickey's Christmas Carol
Disney does Dickens--and it's delightful. The idea of casting characters to play other characters was simply inspired. This is still the first thing I "see" when I discuss the novel in academic settings.

The Karate Kid
This beat out a very different childhood favourite for the coveted 1984 slot--another movie which inspired its own cartoon series. But running around pretending to have a proton pack on my back is trumped by my actually getting some martial arts lessons . . . even if they were for Taekwondo. (Sigh.)

The Goonies
This might be one of my favourite movies of all time, but it's one of the hardest to explain. However flawed the execution (and for the record, I still refuse to see that), nothing takes away from the magic of the original premise of seven safely suburban children discovering adventure, danger, and pirate gold lurking under the veneer of their modern community.

An American Tail
Oh, look! A mouse. =D No, I didn't understand anything about immigrants when I first saw this and doubt I at all registered the historical commentary . . . but I can still sing all of the songs!

Masters of the Universe
My liking of the cartoon didn't prepare me to be blown away by the movie. Although both had been liberally spiked with the same "Deep 80s" elixir, the film was created especially for the teen market, and my younger self found it a heady brew.

The Land Before Time
And now the list "comes of age" as I introduce the first movie I got to see on the big screen the very year it came out. It was, perhaps, an overly sentimental look at dinosaurs (which had already started making me geek out); but it was a great story about orphans who band together and find their happy ending, and I wouldn't kick it out of my DVD library.

Honey, I Shrunk the Kids
I was a tiny kid growing up in a house with a big, scary backyard. And adults tended to tune out my annoying, high-pitched voice. This movie just got all that and then made it cool.

Treasure Island
I almost went with a blockbuster Family movie that had me making my own booby traps for burglars bandits who never came to my home. (Yeah, I actually wanted them to come--as if they were the anti-Santa or something.) But the mere impishness that it inspired is nothing next to the sense of adventure and possibility that this humbler release was able to give me. Based on a book which was written when boys could still run off to sea, but made at a time when the world had run out of unexplored frontier, it had both the courage of youth and the regrets of old age.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II
Well, this is embarrassing. =P But what can I say? I was young, I had all the toys, I dragged my hapless mother to the movie, and I picked a favourite Turtle. Sometimes I'm no more than a sorry child of my own times.

A League of Their Own
If all Chick Flicks were like this, I'd watch more of them. Something about the unique window of history that was open to the women of the America for eleven years--and then never again--always makes me tear up. Of the many who were called, they were the few who were ever chosen.

Jurassic Park
Dinosaurs again! =D Count me among the millions who thought this was amazing when it first came out. I caught it again recently and was both pleased to see how well it holds up over time and surprised to realise it nonetheless lacks a certain timeless magic I look for in Adventure stories. On the one hand, that's quite a flaw; on the other, I think it's just the science. (Go, Michael Crichton!)

The Next Karate Kid
How do I not have a black belt in karate? =P Now, I'm not crazy about this choice, which made me miss both Daniel-San and the 1980s . . . but 1994 was probably the worst the second worst year in film for me. (Yes, that strikeout was an update! Scroll down for the real worst year!)

Now and Then
And now for a movie which merited its own Twelve Things post. I discovered it with my three closest cousins, when we were around the same age as the four best friends, and it's kind of like the movie of our relationship. Super close as children; we grew apart as adults. I used to love watching this, and guess I still do; these days, however, it's more painful than pleasurable.

The Craft
Seeing this didn't kick start my "occult years" (which had already begun); but many years later, when I interviewed some practicing Wiccans for a feature article, they were unanimous about the "great service" this movie had done for Wicca--and I understood completely.

Finally, a Dystopia! You know I just love these hopeless future worlds. Every time I come across a past vision of the future, I look for the present. This one hasn't proven to be a classic: I no longer look at it and see us. But when it first came out, wasn't it so slick?

And at long last, a Horror movie as well! I think my love of Horror was born after this movie scared the freaking piss out of me during the viewing and made me sleep with the lights on for a week. The evil it portrayed just seemed so real.

The Matrix
Some people are still waiting for their Hogwarts letters; I'm still waiting for my red pill. The sequels might have left me completely indifferent, but I will carry the impact of this movie for the rest of my life.

Almost half the reading I did in my younger years was comic books, and of course, my favourites usually had "X" somewhere in the name. This movie--with all its awful flaws--was like the fulfillment of some long-standing promise.

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
I might as well admit it: I didn't start reading J.R.R. Tolkien until right before this movie came out. And now I want to thank the filmmakers for introducing me to one of my favourite authors of all time.

The Hours
How can something so nihilistic be so watchable? Three different women from three different periods of time, connected by nothing but a story of suicide: the morality repelled me even as the artistry drew me in. And now you know what my worst year for film really was. =P

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
Don't mess with the classics. There is nothing like an old school adventure on the high seas. Pirate lore will never be among my greatest passions, but the French teachers I had this year, who had to read all my compositions about running off to sea, will never believe it!

The Passion of the Christ
Now I wonder whether anyone, myself included, really saw this movie the year it came out? Half the story was the hype--and at least a quarter of that was the controversy. But I'll give the filmmakers the highest tribute of Catholic art right now and say that this movie changed my prayer life forever.

Star Wars, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
The first prequel is ridiculous and the second is insupportable, but this third one lets the franchise hold its collective head up once more. Its ending truly was the original trilogy's beginning. (And, oh, the music!)

Watching this was totally a friend's idea: I walked into the cinema completely blind . . . and reemerged feeling as if I had just had a religious experience. This movie mixes an allegorical approach to history and a realistic portrayal of human nature (Look, Mom! No noble savages!) in a cocktail of gore and suffering. I respect that.

This is probably the closest we will ever get to an adaptation of one of my favourite poems of all time, The Ballad of the White Horse by G.K. Chesterton. It was he who taught me the romance of being one of the few against the many and the nightmare of witnessing the ends of the earth closing in.

Mamma Mia!
With its music and beautifully shot setting, it warmed something in me I hadn't known had gone cold, fed something I hadn't known was hungry, and beat out the Sylvester Stallone bloodfest that would have otherwise made this list. Thank you for the music, ABBA! (Now if I could only get over one character sleeping with three men in one month, I'd be perfectly happy . . .)

District 9
Another movie which has its own Eleven/Twelve Things post! I'd rank this alongside our great classic satires Nineteen Eighty-Four, Brave New World, and War of the Worlds.

The Expendables
I can't believe it took this long to get a Stallone movie on the list! (If you really want a scandal, look for the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie. Gasp!) It's a throwback to 80s Action movies (80s Action stars and all), with a contemporary twist.

Scream 4
One more Twelve Things post to plug! Scream was always "my" Horror franchise. Being just the right age to see this on the big screen was half the magic. Equal parts scares and smarts, it has already totally made my year.

And finally my list is done!

My first list, that is. =P

For the second list, I'm going to go all out and pick a movie that I discovered too late for it to have made its release year for me, but which still rules that year in my time traveler's heart.

I'll probably have an All Horror list someday, too. So much to look forward to . . .

Image Sources: a) The Last Unicorn poster, b) Mickey's Christmas Carol VHS, c) The Karate Kid poster, d) Goonies poster, e) An American Tail poster, f) Masters of the Universe poster, g) The Land before Time poster, h) Honey, I Shrunk the Kids poster, i) Treasure Island VHS, j) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze poster, k) A League of Their Own poster, l) Jurassic Park poster, m) The Next Karate Kid poster, n) Now and Then poster, o) The Craft poster, p) Gattaca poster, q) Ringu poster, r) The Matrix poster, s) X-men poster, t) The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring poster, u) The Hours poster, v) Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl poster, w) The Passion of the Christ poster, x) Star Wars, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith poster, y) Apocalypto poster, z) 300 poster, aa) Mamma Mia poster, ab) District 9 poster, ac) The Expendables poster, ac) Scream 4 poster


CHE said...

I've nominated you and your lovely blog for the versatile Blogger Award. I hope you will visit me at http://kafkatokindergarten.blogspot.com/ and pick up the award.

Syrin said...

I actually plan to take a very similar approach to this meme, choosing mostly movies I liked that particular year rather than my favorite now. Great minds think alike? :)

Enbrethiliel said...


I wouldn't dispute your theory. ;-)

What I'm trying to do with this list is find my favourite movie from each year that I discovered closest to the year in question. That's why The Terminator, which would otherwise have been the undisputed choice for 1984, didn't make it: I didn't see it until I was in my twenties! (*shame*) It has been an interesting exercise, so far.

I can't wait to see your list! =)

The Mike said...

Very cool stuff! I saw Next Karate Kid a ton too when it was new. (SHAMEFUL ADMISSION: I'm not really that big a fan of the original Karate Kid. To me it's Rocky without Rocky.)

And, regarding TMNT 2 - I have a feeling you were a Donatello fan. If I'm right it's a good choice, though the correct answer is clearly Mikey. :)

Jenny said...

Cool idea! I'm ashamed to say I never saw the Karate kid and I still giggle at The Last Unicorn. I loved and still love Gattaca.

Enbrethiliel said...


The Mike -- Ah, no shame in it! =) There is something very "Second Rate Rocky" about The Karate Kid, for all its good points. Some fans argue that Hilary Swank's character is the more believable fighter, and I can see what they mean . . . but I think Daniel's "loser" qualities help to sell more than sink the first movie.

Good guess about Donatello. (Is it that obvious???) I did learn to appreciate Mikey more as the years went by. ;-)

Jenny -- No worries. =) The great thing about this meme is that it lets us see what movies we have in common with others and what movies we are still very alone in loving.

Syrin said...

Hey hey hey! Clearly the best turtle is Raphael! LOL! Poor Leo, no one ever seems to pick him, do they?

The Mike said...

I must admit, half of my logic was "Man, nobody likes Leonardo!" :)

Donatello is the smart one (AND he was once voiced by Corey Feldman!), E is a smart one....it makes sense!

antiaphrodite said...

OMG The Last Unicorn! OMG The Last Unicorn! OMG THE LAST UNICORN!!!



Enbrethiliel said...


Syrin -- Raphael was my second favourite!

And one of the cousins alluded to in the Now and Then description picked Leonardo as her favourite Turtle--so he does have his own fans! =)

I think Leo's problem was a lot like Cyclops' problem: he was a good leader but he didn't have much personality. Perhaps that's why the 2007 movie spent so much time trying to sell him as a character?

The Mike -- ROFLMAO!!! Poor Leo . . . =P

Antiaphrodite -- You, too, aye? ;-)

antiaphrodite said...

It's nowhere near entirely true, but yes :-)

Lesa said...

I've seen all but three of your picks and liked them all-- don't remember what else came out those years so not sure what my picks would be. interesting meme-- and of course, there are movie memes! There are memes for everything under the sun!!

Dang, I need to check out the Last Unicorn asap if it is freak plumb out pass out cold on the floor good. hahha

Go for movie and book blog status-- who was it that said: 'both-and' not 'either-or' hmmm? ;o)

besides I want to list you in my extra spicey category when I update my blogroll. heehee

Lesa said...

forgot to click the email follow up thingy...

Laurie said...

Hey there, E! What happened to the poetry hop? And what's your email so I can send you a place and a question?
Laurie @ What She Read

Enbrethiliel said...


Lesa -- I used Wikipedia and other online resources to jog my memory. There are movie lists for each year. =)

The Last Unicorn is great High Fantasy done anime style. It doesn't have the expected happy ending, but it's just so rich. The voice actors do their own singing here, too, and it's kind of rough--but I never minded that!

(It's based on a novel of the same title by Peter S. Beagle. You might want to read it first. I can vouch for both the book and the film.)

Extra spicy, aye? =P Let me try to live up to it right now!

Laurie -- Hi! I decided to unplug for a while and so moved the start of W&Q 13 to this coming Wednesday. My e-mail address is on my profile. It will be great to have you on board!

antiaphrodite said...

Nyahaha! Well, I must say I pass out cold for personal reasons :-D

Enbrethiliel said...


So . . . have you recovered sufficiently to read the rest of the list?


I'll admit, however, that everything else is anti-climatic to someone who feels so strongly about The Last Unicorn. =P

Sullivan McPig said...

I love the Craft, except for the last scene and always turn it off before that scene starts. The main character binds Nancy from doing harm to other people and to herself! That last scene does look a lot to me like she's doing harm to herself. *grumbles*

Hilde said...

Oh! Mickey's A Christmas Carol is possibly my favourite movie of all time; it is simply wonderful. Or perhaps Pirates of the Caribbean is my favourite movie of all time... And I love The Last Unicorn the book, but I'm afraid to see the movie even though everyone assures me it is good. You know, I might just have to do this meme myself soemtime!

Enbrethiliel said...


Sully -- I originally took the climax to mean that Sarah's spell doesn't work. Now I think that her spell plays out differently: instead of working immediately, it is fulfilled only at the end.

When we see Nancy in a straightjacket, very literally bound, we're supposed to recall Sarah binding the photo of Nancy with the tape. The spell comes to pass--just not in the way Sarah might have hoped. I think Nancy was too powerful for Sarah to take away her powers or her volition in a way that prevents the climax from playing out. And Sarah has been unable to see how at least one other big spell would run its course. To me, it's not a big jump from, "Surprise! Skeet Ulrich turns out to be a stalker!" to "Surprise! Nancy gets committed for life!"

Now you make me want to watch the movie again, Sully. It's not half as fun arguing from memory. ;-)

Hilde -- Peter S. Beagle wrote the screenplay of The Last Unicorn himself, so it is very faithful to the book. The characters might not be what you've imagined, but I think they're a great interpretation of the material. =)

I'm pleased to see that a couple of my picks are such great favourites of yours. If you do make your own list, please let me know about it. I'd love to go over it as well!

And do come back for the last four movies. I hope to have them up in a few more hours. =)

lisa :) said...

Awesome, awesome choices! I haven't seen Apocalypto, but the others are all ones I've loved - and everything pre-1990 I've seen more times that I can count.

I went to college with a vintage Goonies poster on my wall and it always sparked some interesting conversations. Those who claimed it was the best movie ever made were instantly welcomed as friends. Those who had never seen it (after the initial gasps of shock subsided) were welcomed to a group viewing. Those who didn't like it earned my silent simmering wrath forever.

Paul Stilwell said...

"There is something very "Second Rate Rocky" about The Karate Kid, for all its good points."

That's it - I'm outta here. So long and farewell. Have a nice life.

In case you were wondering, if I were to do this list, so far there would precisely ten of the same as you have here. If you can guess which ones then I might forgive you.

Paul Stilwell said...

Sorry, there should be a "be" between "would and "precisely".

antiaphrodite said...

LOL Recover? Sufficiently? Well, I...oh look, shiny!

Enbrethiliel said...


Lisa -- We would have been great friends, had we met in your college days!

Apocalypto is truly extreme--as if Mel Gibson wanted to go where The Passion didn't dare to tread. But it's also amazing. There's this one guy I know of whom lots of people consider a heartthrob, but who once said that he thought the ending of Apocalypto was "lame": he's not even good enough for the "simmering wrath" you reserve for those anti-Goonies people.

Stilwell -- All right, all right, I'm guessing . . .

The Last Unicorn (I'll just bet you secretly love this!)
The Karate Kid (Because it brings out the best and the worst in you . . . =P)
The Goonies (Obviously!)
Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (Because you have a big, scary backyard, too! OMG--can you imagine coming across a giant you-know-what?!?!?!)
Jurassic Park (And I'm sure you thought that T-Rex was real!)
The Matrix (A gloriously wild guess!)
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (Despite everything wrong with it, I'll bet it made your year.)
Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl (Arrrr!)
The Passion of the Christ (It just has that "vibe." =P)
300 (Despite all your artistic pretensions, you're just a Spartan at heart, aren't you?)

The Mike said...

My goodness, what a finish! My heart skipped a beat at The Expendables. <3

Though, now that you mention Arnie..... :(

Enbrethiliel said...


I know!!! =( So many of his movies were "finalists" but not "winners" for their years . . . Total Recall, Last Action Hero, Kindergarten Cop, and of course, The Terminator!

That's why I want to do a second list, picking a movie from each year, whether or not it has anything to do with what was actually going on in my life that year. Come back next month! ;-)

Paul Stilwell said...

Close and accurate, but three are wrong. The rights ones are The Land Before Time (you don't remember our conversation about that one?), Revenge of the Sith and Apocalypto. I feel almost wounded that you wouldn't have guessed Acocalypto, but I forgive you anyways.

And yes TLOtR/The Fellowship did make my year.

Nice guessing especially with Honey I Shrunk the Kids, Jurassic Park (T-Rex was certainlty real enough for me!) and The Matrix. I hated Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl when it came out.

And now it might be time for you forgive me as I say this: I think District 9 was the worst thing I had seen for a long while.


Paul Stilwell said...

Oh yeah, the wrong ones are: The Last Unicorn (I'm pretty sure I haven't even seen this...can't remember), Pirates of The Caribbean and 300.

Enbrethiliel said...


You know, I almost picked The Land before Time, but then thought, "If it's wrong, Stilwell will crane kick me into next week."

(Please forgive me for forgetting that conversation!)

I also almost went with Revenge of the Sith, before telling myself it was "too easy" a guess.

And aren't you lucky you commented before I put Mamma Mia! in there? *points and laughs* I would have wasted that guess just to be funny.

Paul Stilwell said...

"I would have wasted that guess just to be funny."

Yes, as you did with The Last Unicorn. lol. At least that's what I hope.

Bah, nothing to forgive...I forget all kinds of things. :)

Michael said...

As usual I'm late to the party, but this is a fun post. We definitely have some overlap (though I doubt you could guess which ones) and my childhood was spent reading and collecting tons of comic books (several thousand), which were later stolen by a roommate. So we share a childhood love of comics as well. :P

Enbrethiliel said...


Stilwell -- The Last Unicorn was completely random. It's the kind I wouldn't seriously guess but which would be HYSTERICAL if it turned out to be true. So it's too bad it wasn't . . . =P

Michael -- Since the comics I read with X in the title were second only to the comics I read with Archie in the title, you're definitely way ahead of me when it comes to comics reading! =P

You've mentioned that roommate from hell before. I was livid for your sake before and I'm still livid now. What an unspeakable *bleep*!

And because I don't want to end on a "bleep" . . . Did you ever see the episode of The Big Bang Theory in which Sheldon and Leonard's apartment is broken into? The first thing they notice is that their laptops and the TV are gone, and a panicked Sheldon runs into his room to check whether they've taken something that is clearly more valuable . . .

And then: "It's all right! They didn't take my comic books!"


ham1299 said...

Awesome list – so many of my own old favorites on this list! I might have to try to do this!

How, may I ask, did you go about finding movies by year?

Enbrethiliel said...


There are lots of movie indices by year of release available online. =) I look forward to your list!

Darwin said...

So with your penchant for distopias, I gotta as: Have you seen Terry Gilliam's Brazil?

Enbrethiliel said...


No, I haven't! =P How much of my "Dystopia Cred" does that admission take away???

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

I love your list and this idea! I was born in 1984 and I grew up loving so many of these movies.

Darwin said...

Not necessarily a whole lot -- it's more a cult classic than a standard at this point. But you might want to give it a try. I'd rate it as one of my all time faves (though if you don't like it, you're in good company as MrsD doesn't like it.)

ham1299 said...

OK, it took all day, but I did it! :-) Here's the link:

Michael said...

Since the comics I read with X in the title were second only to the comics I read with Archie in the title, you're definitely way ahead of me when it comes to comics reading! =P

That is funny. I avoided the Archies and similar comics like the plaque until I realized years later...hmmm...these may be worth something one day.

You've mentioned that roommate from hell before. I was livid for your sake before and I'm still livid now. What an unspeakable *bleep*!


And because I don't want to end on a "bleep" . . . Did you ever see the episode of The Big Bang Theory in which Sheldon and Leonard's apartment is broken into? The first thing they notice is that their laptops and the TV are gone, and a panicked Sheldon runs into his room to check whether they've taken something that is clearly more valuable . . .

And then: "It's all right! They didn't take my comic books!"

Ah, two folks after my own heart =P

Enbrethiliel said...


Avid Reader -- If you decide to make your own list, please let me know! Oooh, 1984 was a great year for movies. It gave me the most trouble out of all the years of my life.

Darwin -- The next time I get a chance to see Brazil, I'll definitely do so! =)

Ham1299 -- Great! I'm off to check your list out now. =D

Michael -- Now you make me wish I had saved my Archie comics. LOL! I wouldn't read them again today, though, because they never offered much in terms of story.