Wednesday, May 25, 2011

30 Day Movie Challenge: Day 1 - Day 1: Favorite film

Because I apparently have a few more daily minutes to waste, I started the official 30 Day Movie Challenge over on Facebook. I almost didn’t take part until I realized that what the list was asking was not for your gut reactions, but for film addicts to really think about their choices.

At least, that’s how I choose to interpret it, anyway.

So yesterday, the questions began with: Day 1: Favorite Film.

Which is silly. How can you choose one favorite film out of over 100 years of movies. I need to list at least three.

Tied For First Place In My All-Time Favorites:

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981, Stephen Spielberg)

Raiders of the Lost Ark, of course, was the highlight of the Summer of 1980. I already hero-worshiped Harrison Ford and Han Solo—what five-year-old didn’t, when Star Wars hit the screens in 1977? When Raiders was released, I saw it eight and a half times (that half-time was when my father stayed for the next show so we could watch the beginning again) in ten weeks. I lived and breathed Indiana Jones, dressed like him for Halloween, and experienced the first “uh oh” shudder of innocence lost when Temple of Doom followed it in 1984. Still, it’s a movie I cannot and will not turn off, when it pops up on television, commercials and all. It was the first Laserdisk I ever bought. So where the hell is our Blu-Ray? 

The Magnificent Seven (1960, John Sturges)

The Magnificent Seven was a staple in our house, in the years before cable. We’d gather as a family to watch it whenever it came on television, cut up, panned and scanned, didn’t matter. The first time I saw it letterboxed, many years later, on Laserdisk, I was happy to report that I finally understood why those four villagers were so afraid of Calvera and his six men, and why the Magnificent Never-On-Screen-All-At-The-Same-Time were hired for defense. I knew at a young age that I was watching something special. Not just a western, which I loved. Sure, it took me many, many years to appreciate Brad Dexter (or even pick him out of a line-up), but it turned me on as a kid to The Seven Samurai and the rest of Kurosawa’s oeuvre (I may have been the only second grader to have ever seen this landmark film, as a matter of fact!). 
Just for fun, here's the beautifully awful second trailer:

Miller’s Crossing (1990, Joel and Ethan Coen)

 Miller’s Crossing was my turning point, from film fan to film addict, first catching it at the Pittsburgh Playhouse during their repertory summer season, the year between my junior and senior year of high school. I lived in that cruddy theater, with its two carbon-stick projectors linked by an alarm to alert the projectionist. I had met up with my buddy John Bulevich to catch either Europa, Europa or Fantasia—regardless of memory-loss, I do know that whichever one it was had ended its run the day before. And Miller’s Crossing came as an unexpected delight. And while I had liked the Coen Brothers movies in the past (Blood Simple and Raising Arizona, so far), Miller’s Crossing came as a breakthrough because I understood it. I saw the Dashiell Hammet and Howard Hawks and John Huston influences. It was as if film history had revealed itself to me, through snappy dialogue and rich characters and, for the first time, I noticed direction. As well as editing, thanks to the wonderful tommy-gun scene with Albert Finney defending his life from would-be hit men. I knew I always wanted to write. With this movie alone, I understood that my life would be involved with movies, without question. 

There are a variety of reasons these three are in my top, my “Desert Island” movies, if you will. The first two I saw early enough in my life for them to make an indelible impact on my psyche, infusing my childhood, molding me into the man I am today.

No comments :

Post a Comment