Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Movies that Shaped My Obession

I figured if you are going to read my movie reviews, which I hope you do, you might want to know a little about me and the movies I like.
People always ask have I always wanted to be a film critic? The answer is no. My passion and obsession with movies grew gradually. I have always like movies. Even as a kid I would watch movies all the time. The Goonies and Stand by Me were some of my favorite movies as a kid. But it wasn’t until my college years that movies became an obsession.
I decided to make a list of movies that played an important part of shaping my passion. This is not a list of my favorite movies because it is a movie that I didn’t like that probably had the biggest impact. But I will start with the movie that had a big impact on me as a kid.
The Stuff- I am sure very few people have even heard of this movie, but it does play an important part in my movie history. While it is not the first movie I saw in the theatre (my parents took me to see E.T. at a drive in but I fell asleep) it is one of the first horror movies I saw. At a sleepover when I was in 4th grade my friend rented a bunch of horror movies and the first one we watched was The Stuff. For those that don’t know it is about this stuff that looks like marshmallow fluff that turns people to zombies. Stupid premise but to a nine year old it was great. That night we also watched A Nightmare on Elm Street and Halloween 2. While A Nightmare on Elm St. has become one of my favorite horror movies The Stuff still holds a special place as the first horror movie I saw. After that my and my friend would rent all the horror movies we could. I think this disturbed my mom a little because she would always say “Why don’t you get something nice like a Disney movie” Don’t worry mom I turned out ok even after watching all those horror movies.
Titanic- OK I know what you’re thinking “Titanic really?” Well yes. For a movie I didn’t like very much it had a big impact on my relationship with movies. This is when my obsession really started. The two main effects of the movie had little to do with the movie itself and more to do with the way it was received in the world. The first effect was the box office. The amount of money it made was amazing and the number of weeks it spent at number 1 unprecedented and has yet to be matched. It intrigued me to why a movie that I felt was mediocre at best (at the time I would have said it was awful) was doing so well. Because of that I started checking the box office results weekly. I found a website and would read it a couple of times a week. I was fascinated by why some movies made a lot of money and others didn’t and why movies that made a lot opening weekend weren’t the ones that were number 1 all time. For a while I had the top 10 grossing movies of all time and the top 10 opening weekends memorized. The second big effect Titanic had on me was my obsession with The Oscars. Which is still somewhat inexplicable why I am so obsessed to this day. I remember watching the Oscars with my mom as a kid and we would always try to guess who was going to win even though we hadn’t seen any of the movies. But when Titanic was getting all the Oscar talk about best picture I couldn’t believe it. So, I made it a point to watch every other movie that was nominated that year (I still think Good Will Hunting should have won). But after that it was all over. I have seen every movie nominated for best picture since then. I now follow the Oscar race closely and always have an idea of who the favorites are to be nominated. Every year I try to see all the nominees before the nominations are even announced so when the Academy gets it wrong I can authoritatively say who I think should have won. My obsession with the Oscars culminated with me watching every movie that won best picture and blogging about it. Check out that blog at
Men in Black- While Men in Black was a good movie the reason it is on here is because it was the first movie I ever saw by myself in the theatre. There was something always a little weird about going to see a movie by myself. One summer day in Boston it was hot and I was bored. Most of my friends went home for summer break so I decided to see a movie by myself. The first time it felt weird and like everyone was looking at me. And even after the first time it was a while before I did it a second time. Then I met someone who was also a big movie buff and he said he goes to movies by himself all the time. This made me feel a little better. When I moved to Wisconsin and didn’t have any friends in the area it became commonplace to see a movie by myself. While most of the movies I see now are by myself there are times when it does get depressing and I say I won’t go to another movie by myself. But that doesn’t usually last long.
Super Size Me- This is the movie that opened my eyes to how good documentaries could be. It was funny and informative. Before it I always thought that documentaries were boring educational movies. But after seeing Super Size Me I was hooked. Documentaries are now one of my favorite types of movies. I try to convince people to give them a chance that they are not all as boring as some people think they are.
Casablanca- You might be wondering why an old movie is on this list. Well this is the movie that made me realize that old B&W movies can be good. I am ashamed to admit that I use to think that old movies were just boring and if it wasn’t in color it wasn’t worth watching. In 1998 the American Film Institute (AFI) released their 100 Greatest Movies of all time. After I moved to Wisconsin I had a lot of free time and Blockbuster was still around and had this deal where you could rent one new movie and get an older movie for free. Well never one to pass up a deal I decided to watch all the movies on the 100 Greatest Movies of All Time list. Casablanca was listed a number 2 and I couldn’t believe how great that movie was. Bogart is amazing the dialogue was great. I loved it. And I went on to watch the rest of the movies on the list thanks to Blockbuster and TCM. After that was done I watched the 100 Greatest Thrills and started watching movies that were on IMDB Top 250. I now have a pretty good list of favorite older movies. Even though the AFI Lists are criticized for not having foreign film’s on it. I credit it and Casablanca with introducing me to great old movies.

Stephanie Daley- A movie I am pretty sure no one has ever heard of but it in 2006 it was the first movie I saw at Sundance. Going to Sundance in 2006 was a complete fluke. My dad invited me on a ski trip to Salt Lake City and while I was looking into the trip I discovered that Sundance was going to be going on the same time he was planning on going. I figured it would be impossible for me to get tickets but it turned out that it is not that hard. So, I flew in a few days before my dad and saw a couple of movies including Stephanie Daley, and I was hooked. I have been back 3 times since and now watch a larger variety of independent films. One year I got tickets to the documentary short program and that has become one of my must sees every year I go now. It also led me to being on the Short Film Selection Committee for the Milwaukee Film Festival. 

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