Saturday, July 19, 2008

"Memories, All Alone In The Moonlight..."

“The things which the child loves remain in the domain of the heart until old age. The most beautiful thing in life is that our souls remaining over the places where we once enjoyed ourselves.”

-Kahlil Gibran

There are a few films that we see in our childhood that can change our lives forever. For me as a kid I loved to laugh. I loved to have fun. So as far back as I can remember( I was born in 1987) I have had one film that has stuck with me. This film isn't on any one's top list of any type, and if pressed to give a list it wouldn't be on mine either.

The film in question is the hilarious Spaceballs(1987). I can remember being a young boy and watching it with my dad on TV and trying to laugh when he laughed, while not exactly sure what was going on. I also have the fondest memory of staying up late with a friend and building a tent in our room with chairs and blankets. This tent was elaborate with secret rooms and the best part is, the only way to fit in it was to be as small as a kid. We were around 10 or 11 at the time. Anyways, we would drape one of the blankets over the TV and play Nintendo or Sega, but for this time we decided to watch TV. What did we see? We saw a huge helmeted Rick Moranis making a fool of himself at every turn. We were in stitches!

At some point during this cinematic experience I realized, "This is Spaceballs!" I told my friend. He only replied with the logical response, a giggle at the fact that I said balls and then a perplexed look. I responded to his look of confusion with, " I watched this movie with my dad before, he loves it!" We fell asleep watching Spaceballs that night, but it's impact would forever mark my future sense of humor and everyday conversations.

Years passed and my friends and I would constantly gather together and watch/re watch comedies. I for one fell in love with comedy. I was 13 and I didn't care about John McClane or The Terminator, I wanted to watch The Jerk(1979) or Ghostbusters(1984). My other friends also loved comedy, but were still attracted to action films like most normal teenage boys are. Regardless we would always watch comedies together. At this point we didn't have a critical gauge, so most things we saw we found to be hilarious and would watch over and over again.

It was September of 2001, two friends and I were headed to the movies with one of my friends sister and her boyfriend. They were older, maybe 20, while we were 13-14 years old. We had no idea what we were going to see on the way, we were just happy to go to the movies. When we arrived the adults decided they were in a comedic mood and the only comedy on the menu was a little film called Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. As soon as the name was mentioned all three of us lit up. Was it because we were familiar with Kevin Smith and his View Askewniverse? Not at all, we had seen these hilarious TV Spots and were always game for some comedy.

Needless to say, we had no idea what was going on. The film is chocked full of elements of Smith's past films, but we still found it to be hilarious. So hilarious in fact that it inspired a friend and I to try and write a script/comic. The script/comic was titled That Man and it was more in the vein of Mel Brooks than Kevin Smith, but it was directly after seeing JASBSB that we decided we wanted to do this. That Man was a play on words with Batman, except literally no one knew him, and when he would solve crimes or save the day, people would simply say, "who is that man?" Ridiculous? Yes. Dumb? Yes. But we didn't care.

Right afterwards I went and rented Mallrats(1995), Clerks(1994), Chasing Amy(1997) and Dogma(1999). We loved them all, but didn't entirely understand some of the complexities and underlying themes that we may now understand. I think somehow, seeing such mature films at such a young age changed me in some ways. At that age, and sometimes now, I tend to try and one up people with saying the dirtiest thing(in a nice way, tehe) but now I have learned restraint. At the same time, it led me to love independent films. I would watch interviews with Kevin Smith and saw who he looked up to and would dive into other films that had an independent quality to them, that I still love today.

Fight Club(1999). What can I say about Fight Club. Although it came out before Jay and Silent Bob, I saw it afterwards. This was my first real favorite film that wasn't a comedy. I am 15 now and a friend has heard that Fight Club is a must see film. We go to the local video store and search it out in the action section, to no avail. We are confused, so we ask the employees and they point us to the drama section. I wasn't really sure how a film called Fight Club could be a drama, so I was worried to say the least.

We get back to my place and head to my room and put the DVD into my Playstation 2. I had bunk beds and they took up a lot of space in my tiny room, so we pushed the beds out ate pizza and sat behind the beds, using the mattress as a table.

I was totally and completely riveted by this film. Somehow, for once, I was able to feel some kind of an emotion towards these talking pictures that didn't involve happy feelings. I didn't really understand all that was going on, but I knew it was deeper than a group of guys beating each other up. I took the words to heart and really began trying to think for myself. Not that I hadn't tried before, I have always been a little weird. I listened to punk rock and loved dirty comedies while attending a Baptist school. I wasn't aware of the characters deep spiritual longing, at least not knowingly aware of it, but I think deep down I felt the same way. I needed something to feel anything. I was in a state of mediocrity. This film made me want to become a creator. A creator of anything, stories, songs, reviews of other stories or songs. Through this yearning, I realized how much I loved to write. So I wrote songs, stories, etc.

I didn't pick the first 3 movies that affected me. I didn't know I would love Fight Club or a movie about stoners or a film about mogs and druidians. They seemed to have sought me out. It seems the movies I am most excited for and search my hardest for, while generally I am not disappointed, they are rarely ever life changing. Through these young years of film watching I wasn't very critical, but still to this day, even with a critical eye I can enjoy these films. Maybe because of their nostalgic value, or maybe just because they are good. Either they have helped shape who I am, which is more than I can say for most things in my life.

What are some rare, or odd things that may have helped shape who you are?


Society's Elite said...

Hey what's up. Nice blog. It's cool to meet another person who is familiar with the brilliant ViewAskew universe. Kevin Smith is a genius. I had an obsession with Clerks after the first time I watched it. I thought it had some of the most brilliant dialogue ever on film. There wasn't a day that went by where a quote from the film wasn't in my head...

"Olaf, Metal!"

If you're ever in NJ, be sure to visit Kevin Smith's comic shop, "Jay and Silent Bob's Secret Stash"...


Fletch said...

"I knew it was deeper than a group of guys beating each other up"

You'd be amazed how many people twice your age or more (at the time) didn't pick up on that. Fight Club is probably my favorite film, though I was 23 (almost to the day) when I saw it in the theater. I went back the next day.

Great post, really. I wish that I had a proclivity for films that "before my time" the way you do.

Dead Pan said...

Fletch---Thanks man. I know, even critics were posting saying it was a nihilistic film and such, which it totally isn't.

I don't know if I was clear in the blog, but I was 15 when I first saw Fight Club..I am now 21. =)

When you are saying about the proclivity of films before my time, I am not exactly sure what you're getting at though. I am actually a little confused about proclivity,haha, I am not sure if it means what I think it means.

It's very un-blogger of me I guess to not know what a word means.

Thanks for the kind words though. =)

Fletch said...

Yea, I got that you were 15. That's why I said "at the time."

Dictionary definition of proclivity = "an inclination or predisposition toward something." Basically, I'm saying that you have (and had) really good taste considering your age at the time of viewing these movies. :)