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.
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.)
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
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.)
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
I almost went with a blockbuster Family movie that had me making my own booby traps for
burglarsbandits 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.
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.
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.
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!)
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 worstthe second worst year in film for me. (Yes, that strikeout was an update! Scroll down for the real worst year!)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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!
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.
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.
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 . . .)
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.
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.
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