The return of our ‘Films Films and Me’ feature and Derek T from New Hampshire takes us through the films that have made up some key movie watching moments.
1. The First Film I Saw At The Cinema -
E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982). I was four when it came out. I was enthralled. My mom likes to tell the story about how, at the end of the movie, I was in tears and she sat me in her lap. I told her "I'm not crying, I'm just pouting". I don't remember too much about the experience aside from this, but I do remember owning a pile of E.T. merchandise. I still have my vinyl covered E.T. plush and E.T. bubble-bath. The other films I remember seeing when I was in my early movie-going phase were The Care Bears Movie (1985), The NeverEnding Story (1984), Return of the Jedi (1983) and Gremlins (1984), so I had a pretty decent movie experience as a child.
2. Funniest Film I’ve Seen -
This is a tough question. I've seen a bunch of comedies, some classic, some garbage, but nothing that makes me laugh out loud, or giggle for hours after seeing it. I remember seeing Naked Gun 2 ½: The Smell of Fear (1991) in the theatre with my mom and being sore from all of the laughing. But on watching it again I realise that it was more about the audience I was with and the shared laughter than the comedic aspects of the movie.
Pound for pound, based on the rewatchability and quote-ability of the movie, I would say it's most likely The Rutles (1978). Eric Idle is a comedy genius, as were all of the Pythons, and The Rutles is evidence of this. From the songs that could fit in on any Beatles rarity collection to the one-liners and delivery, this movie is perfect.
Funniest movie scene ever though, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), "No Ticket."
3. Scariest Film I’ve Seen -
This sounds macho, and I don't mean it to, but most movies don't really scare me. Mostly because I have seen or heard spoilers before seeing most movies. It's not often that I see a movie that is meant to scare, not just be gory or full of jump scares, but to be emotionally frightening, without having known the hype. There have been scenes that jarred me, the bus at the beginning of A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985) gave me nightmares for weeks. The beginning of Don't Look Now (1973) filled me with dread. Having seen it as an adult parent, my heart stopped at the same time as Donald Sutherland's daughter's.
The movie that had me frozen to my chair was The Conjuring (2013). I don't know if it's just that I was in the right frame of mind, but from the moment that the girl told her sister that there's something watching them from behind the door I got chills down my spine and dared not move until the credits rolled. Add this to the fact that I finished watching it at about 2 a.m. and as I went to bed I saw the silhouette of someone walking by my living room window (turned out it was my neighbour walking his dog through their backyard) and this was the scariest movie experience I have had.
4. Last Film To Make Me Cry -
The Mr Rogers documentary Won't You Be My Neighbour (2018). I was so moved by this film that I was on the verge of tears from the beginning. Mr. Rogers is my religion, something I learned while watching this. Seeing how he touched so many lives and remembering how he shaped mine just let the floodgates loose.
I'm sure that there are other movies that made me cry recently, or at least tear up. I just cannot recall them. The last non-documentary movie that I ugly cried at was, strangely enough, The Muppets. My life is so driven by what I guess would be called nostalgia, but it seems so much deeper than that. I know that we were all shaped by our past, but I have an almost unhealthy fixation on my past that I forget to exist in the now. That said, when the Muppets sing Rainbow Connection and I got to see it on the big screen for the first time in decades, I was a boy again, and I wept without shame.
5. The Film I Haven’t Seen That I Really Should Have By Now -
Six years ago I would've said Jaws (1975). I've finally seen that, now it's The Thing (1982). I own the movie and I’ve put it on three or four times in the last two years, but never manage to get through it. It's not that I don't enjoy it, I love what I have seen, it's just that I have a difficult time staying awake through movies now. Add that to the fact that I have to wait until the family has gone to bed before starting movies that only I want to watch, and it's not difficult to see why I can't get through this. I have heard so much good stuff about The Thing, and I hope to be able to experience it someday. That and Aliens (1986).
6. The Worst Film I’ve Sat Through -
I am famous in my family and circle of friends for this; it's probably not a popular opinion, but the worst film that I have sat through is Hannibal (2001). I hated this movie from the first scene. I saw it in the theatre with my wife, and my best friend and his wife, and they could almost see me seething through the entire thing. For years my review of every bad movie that I saw would be "At least it wasn't Hannibal". I can't even tell you what it was that I hated about this. I just hate it.
After seeing Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) I half-jokingly told my wife that we should've gone to Hannibal instead - but at least it had some redeeming qualities amidst the garbage.
The worst "film" I've ever seen but didn't sit through is Night of the Dribbler (1990). I heard that it was terrible, but a movie about a basketball headed killer that lines a basketball hoop with razors sounded at least worth watching just for the stupid enjoyment you get from silly stupid movies. It wasn't worth it. I had to turn it off partway through. It went nowhere and was so badly acted and written that I couldn't finish it.
7. The One Film I’ve Seen More Times Than Any Other -
My wife and I are rewatchers. I've seen The Rutles (1978), Spaceballs (1987), Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004), the A Nightmare on Elm Street movies, and Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988), among others, more times than I can count. But the movie that I have seen the most, by far, is Clerks (1994).
I rented Clerks every week when it came out. Finally, my mother paid the $50+ dollars to buy me my own copy. This was when VHS would be sold at higher prices for a while so that only rental stores were buying them, before finally being released at a retail price after rental stores had had a chance to make some money off of them. The fifty-something dollars that my mom paid was the rental store price, not consumer retail, and she still probably saved a good deal of money. Clerks is a movie that I used to watch every couple months or so, and not just one time;, over the course of a week, I'd watch the movie, the commentary, and the different cuts, and then repeat it two or three months later. After my son was born, I didn't watch it as frequently, but in the last 7 months I have watched it (including with and without the commentary track) six times.
8. My Favourite Film -
Obviously, it's Clerks, no contest. In addition to the above, my wife and I have also made the 1,000 mile round trip drive to the Quick Stop multiple times, partly because it gave us a road trip destination, but mostly because I love Clerks. Before Clerks, though, I told people my favourite movie was either The Empire Strikes Back (1980) or The Usual Suspects (1995); really it was Disney's Robin Hood (1973).
In a world without Clerks, my favourite movie would be Almost Famous (2000) (but would it, though? Would we have a Jason Lee without a Kevin Smith?). Barring that, either Argo (2012), Can't Hardly Wait (1998), or The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984).
9. My One Movie Wish -
May sound silly, but my one movie wish is that Suncoast Motion Picture Company was still able to exist as a viable business, and that I could make good money working there. I loved that job, and I loved that store. To broaden it out a little, I'll say that I wish video rental stores were still a thing. I know that they are outdated and peddled a lost medium, but there was something personal and communal at the same time about going to the video store. Yeah, I can browse online or on my TV for movies, but then I have found them. There's no chase. There's no joy like the joy when you find the cover that most intrigues you and then discover that the tape is available. Or even when you want to rent Hellraiser: Bloodline (1996) and it's all rented out so you have to continue looking for something and end up with a movie that you hadn't seen before that you instantly fall in love with, like Re-Animator (1985).