Art forms are something people love in various ways. But we all love one. Could be drawing, music, sculpture, or even comedy. Mine has always been Movies. I often cannot tell you what I did yesterday, but there are moments at the cinema which have been forever burned into my brain. Everyone has that feeling, good or bad, in the lifelong journey of watching movies. I still have plenty to go at just 34, but this is my Top 10 Experiences at the Movies.
I was a four year old having recently moved from L.A. to Santa Fe, New Mexico so that my late father could open up a bookstore. I would spend time watching movies in the back of the store with an unstoppable smile on my face. One afternoon it was almost impossible to drag me from the screen while watching the original Arnie classic “The Terminator”. My mom was, let’s just say not happy, that a four-year-old was watching a killer robot murder people in search of Sarah Connor. She had to pull my butt out kicking and screaming, but the seed was planted.
9. Sitting in the aisle (“8 Mile”):
Way before theaters had assigned seating, tickets would sell and sell no matter capacity. Opening weekend would have friends and family sitting in different spots throughout the theater. The most difficult yet also unforgettable moment in this was when myself and fellow film-nerd/bestest of friends Scott Riddle went to see the Eminem driven movie “8 Mile”. Eminem was at the height of his stardom. His jam “Lose Yourself” became the first rap song to win an Oscar. In hindsight, the movie is mediocre at best. But at the time, every teenager in America had to be there on Friday night. Scott and I got tickets, but it was so packed that we had to sit on the steps in the aisle. That did not stop us from getting up with the audience while waving our hands to Eminem’s final battle rap. Seat or no seat, nothing would stop us from seeing the new hit movie.
8. Complete silence (“Come and See”):
I am in no ways cocky at heart day-to-day. Everyone deserves the right to do what makes them happy. When it comes to movies, yeah, I get a little cocky. When I went to film school in 2004 a legion of movie nerds came together debating what is the most important picture. The only time hundreds of film geeks walked out of a theater and literally said nothing was after seeing Elem Klimov’s horrific“Come and See”. For those that claim war movies are too much invested in entertainment, watch this S.O.B. Go to a college party with mainly film kids and you’ll be pulling your hair out as they debate Hitchcok vs. Kubrick. If you want to shut them up while also cry, put on “Come and See”.
7. Old people cracking up (“American Pie”):
I was just entering puberty when “American Pie”came out. Seeing boobs was still new to me, but I would give them two thumbs up! My buddy Scott and I could not get in without a parent. My mother had to buy the tickets and go in with us. Several other teenagers were at the Friday night showing while their parents sat in other places to not make things awkward. But as soon as Jim starts humping a pie Scott and I turned around and my mother and other parents were laughing harder than we were. What “American Pie” showed me at a very young age is that no matter how old you may be, nothing beats a good old-fashioned dick joke.
6. What the hell was that garbage!? (“Avatar”):
This one was instant. Our group of movie geeks and boyfriends/girlfriends were stoked to see James Cameron’s latest epic opening night. Then we all popped up and it was like we were all reading each other’s minds. Still in the stands, our entire crew was like “What the Hell was that garbage?”. Then “Avatar” went on to become the biggest movie ever. All of us were convinced it was going to be a 300 million dollar bust. Turns out we were wrong. The garbage smurfs in space protecting ‘Un-Obtanium’ was a must see around the world. There were several fun moments after “Avatar” came out in which I explained to people who lied about how bad it was and then they were like, “Good Point”. No matter how much you know about movies, sometimes shitty movies go insane in popularity.
5.” WHO WANTS TO COME WITH ME!” (“Street Fighter”):
Yes, being a child does not necessarily warrant good decisions. In the 90’s, action stars were hot stuff. My money was always on Jean-Claude Van Damme. Maybe it was his ability to do the splits on command. The campiest performance by far has got to be the popular video game adaptation “Street Fighter” in which he plays the heroic Colonel Guile. Walking out of the theater as an eight year old I remember telling my parents that might very well be the best movie ever. Hey, we all make mistakes. The highlight was Van Damme doing his version of a soldier inspiring speech shouting; “Now who wants to go home, AND WHO WANTS TO COME WITH ME!” That became my catchphrase until I was old enough to realize how stupid it was. Being a kid was so much simpler…
4. “O Captain My Captain” (“Dead Poets Society”):
To be honest, “Dead Poets Society”has not aged well. It is still a solid film, but the impact does not hold the same weight than upon the first viewing. But what a first viewing this picture is. As a confused teenager striving for inspiration and artistic outlets instead of having to take chemistry, the moment Robin Williams has his students rip out the first few pages of a rigid book about poetry was awesome. Teaching at a prep school for rich kids who’s parents want assembly line education, Williams’s Professor Keating refuses to let his students grow up as a carbon copy of their ancestors. The teacher is not perfect and he faces a pre-historic teaching structure set in their ways. He also makes his students feel alive. The moment he tells his class “Carpe Diem”, aka “Seize the Day”, is a feeling that every human being should have the chance to experience.
As I always argue, music is the most underrated aspect when it comes to films. There are so many amazing scores that could take up an entirely separate list. While not the best overall musical opus by any means, for a kid from the 80’s nothing beats that “Beverly Hills Cop” techno jam. No lyrics. No Problem. The “Beverly Hills Cop” series launched Eddie from SNL star to megastar status. From the first scene the tune is played as Murphy places a banana in a car tailpipe to the ending credits, trying not to get down and boogie when that beat comes on is virtually impossible.
2. D-Day Attack (“Saving Private Ryan”):
Say what you will about Steven Spielberg being too preachy as a filmmaker. You have a strong argument. However, I have never been hit in the gut so quickly as I did with the opening battle in “Saving Private Ryan”. Spielberg shows very quickly he ain’t messing around. As a twelve-year-old I was absolutely shell shocked seeing an opening that is war, something I would suck at. While you can pick apart the preachy-ness of the following two-hours, there is no denying the intensity from the beginning. Again, I was a child. But I do not remember hearing so many “HOLY SHIT!” screams in a theater at once.
1. Hallway Shootout (“The Matrix”):
A list such as this is all about personal experience and how one reacts. When I saw the original “The Matrix” my jaw literally dropped. I came out of the theater convinced movies will always be my passion. I brought my friend Scott as well as other best friends for viewing after viewing. I would guess it was 10 plus times in the theater before the DVD came out. At one point I had the dialogue memorized. We even had multiple full-day long marathons of the entire trilogy (Yes, the sequels suck, I know that now). Every true movie lover has that film that made them fall in love with the cinema. For me, at 13 years old, that movie was “The Matrix”.