So I'm dividing my 100th post into four. It counts, okay? Anyway, I've decided to make a list of 100 Films that have aided the continuation of my film adoration. This post will cover 25 films that mattered to me in my formative years from birth until the end of middle-school, when I first started walking my own ass up to the video store when my parents grew tired of driving me. This is not to say that all of the films (if any...) are still worth seeing, but they certainly shaped the way I look at cinema now. It's really going to show my age. I'll add the occasional anecdote here and there to spice things up. They're in no particular order.
1. Exotica - dir. Atom Egoyan - 1994 - Canada
This was one I had to wait to rent until mom and dad went out of town. I didn't want them asking to see what I had rented and then raising their Catholic eyebrows at a film called Exotica. And just think if they had seen the awful, lurid box-cover with a woman who's not even in the film in Catholic schoolgirl attire on her spread knees. Jesus. I knew it was an "art film," as my parents had bought me some big Roger Ebert book when I was in sixth grade, and I remember it being the first film to really "challenge" me. I didn't like it, but somehow couldn't take my eyes off of it. It introduced me to Egoyan and, best of all, Leonard Cohen (I really only learn about music through film or hipper friends). Throughout my life, I find myself revisiting Exotica and somehow taking something completely different out of it each time. That's the purpose of revisiting films, right? The purpose of home video?
2. True Romance - dir. Tony Scott - 1993 - USA
My aunt sure wasn't happy when I told her to tape this one of HBO. She's one of those cool aunts, and, as I came of age, wanted to prove to her that I was cool too. Unfortunately, I didn't then realize her sensitivity to extreme violence. Begin crush on Patricia Arquette.
3. Harold and Maude - dir. Hal Ashby - 1971 - USA
Begin crush on Ruth Gordon.
4. A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors - dir. Chuck Russell - 1987 - USA
To this day, I don't recall why the third installment of the Nightmare on Elm Street series is the best, but I trust my youthful instinct when it comes to horrortrash. Continue Patty Arquette crush.
5. The Crow - dir. Alex Proyas - 1994 - USA
I'd just be a snob if I didn't include some of the more truly embarrassing films that shaped me as a youth. The Crow, yes, was one of them. And while I may have recognized just a year or two later its hollowness, it did manage to be one of the catalysts in my own high school deflowering, but I'm not sharing that story either. And, to this day, the soundtrack is pretty amazing. Nine Inch Nails' cover of "Dead Souls" introduced me to my love of Joy Division.
6. The Pillow Book - dir. Peter Greenaway - 1996 - UK/France/Netherlands
Such eroticism! I could never finish this film in one sitting. Partially because it was so fucking sexy and partially because it was so fucking boring. I'm not really sure if I ever really finished the film until years later, but my late fees on it will surely prove that I started it quite a few times. This film would be the beginning of my several-year-long obsession with Greenaway and my rather naive declaration that he was the greatest filmmaker out there. I think I just liked all the penises and vaginas.
7. Desperate Living - dir. John Waters - 1977 - USA
It still has one of the most exuberantly funny opening scenes ever committed to film, but this was really my first underground Waters film. I found this at the local Blockbuster before I realized Hollywood Video had a cult classics section, where I got to prematurely enjoy such gems as Begotten and Schizopolis and, of course, Pink Flamingos! To be honest, I never really enjoyed Flamingos outside of its filthiness; Desperate Living had me crying laughing.
8. The Doom Generation - dir. Gregg Araki - 1995 - USA/France
I didn't get it then, but, boy, did I sure feel cool for seeing this when I was in middle-school.
9. Return to Oz - dir. Walter Murch - 1985 - USA/UK
I still don't think anyone at Disney knows what happened with this film, but I loved it so much that a friend of mine and I made up our own Return to Oz game. I don't remember what it consisted of other than someone being that witch who has glass-cases full of heads and chasing after Dorothy. Little did I know that young Fairuza Balk would become...
10. Gas Food Lodging - dir. Allison Anders - 1992 - USA
11. The Craft - dir. Andrew Flemming - 1996 - USA...my number 1 youthcrush. It must have been the eyes or her darkside or the fact that I liked The Crow. I'm not sure. But, 7th and 8th grade, Fairuza Balk could do no wrong in my book. I related to the loneliness of Shade in Gas Food Lodging and longed to be the crazy bitch Nancy in The Craft. I don't care if she was a bad girl; she was a fuck of a lot cooler than her slutty sister Ione Skye and her boring protege Robin Tunney. Here were two sides of me as portrayed by my then-screen goddess Fairuza Balk.
12. Sliver - dir. Phillip Noyce - 1993 - USA
Back to sex. What a toe-curler this was for a young boy. I hadn't seen Basic Instinct. I knew my parents had seen it, and they would have been pissed if they had found out that I too had seen it. So I felt safe with Sliver one night on HBO. It must be my Catholic upbringing, but most of the films I can remember pre-high school were sexy. Who better to introduce young boys of the 1990s to onscreen sex than Sharon Stone? Each generation has had their own screen siren. Stone was like Bardot for the 90s. And doesn't the opening credit music from Enigma make you just feel really hotdirty? I know I wasn't the only one.
13. Dazed and Confused - dir. Richard Linklater - 1993 - USA
I actually just rewatched this tonight with the Criterion re-release, so expect a longer dissection of it after I finish these four blogs. Dazed and Confused was one of those movies that was always annoyingly checked out of the video store, because A.) stoners don't remember due dates and B.) Dazed and Confused was the official litmus test of coolness in my middle school. You haven't seen it? Well, I guess you're not cool then. (Empire Records was a close second). I always wanted to make my own version of Dazed and Confused when I was younger until I saw someone do it with Can't Hardly Wait... and I realized they'd fucked up my idea forever.
14. Scream - dir. Wes Craven - 1996 - USA
You better believe I saw this baby three times in the theatre!
15. Hackers - dir. Iain Softley - 1995 - USA/UK
And you best believe that I saw this one three times in the theatre too! Hackers was exactly the world I wanted to live in. I wanted to go about my daily routine on rollerblades from this point on. I also wanted to be, look like, and name myself Dade (Jonny Lee Miller). Judging by the photo above, I may want to think again about that. Plus, I think I was the only one of my friends who caught the Angelina Jolie nip-slip.
16. Clueless - dir. Amy Heckerling - 1995 - USA
Fuck, Clueless is still endlessly quotable. When discussing my lousy lovelife once with Bradford, he responded, "finding love in Saint Louis is like finding meaning in a Pauly Shore movie." When my friend Beth and I went to a bar a few weeks ago, she stated, "let's make a lap before we commit to a location." Whenever I want to insult someone I know I usually say, "he/she's a virgin who can't drive," in my best New Jersey accent. See, Clueless is still relevant! Or perhaps only to my generation.
17. Welcome to the Dollhouse - dir. Todd Solondz - 1995 - USA
I knew some girls in middle school who had rented this film somehow and rewatched it about a million times, just because one of them thought that Brandon Sexton III was a hot kisser. I liked it, because I hated dorks. And I loved every morsel of shit that Solondz dropped on Dawn "Weinerdog" Weiner (Heather Matarazzo). Just as all of my friends thought it hilarious that a girl in our class looked like Anne Frank, I loved that another girl looked just like Weinerdog.
18. The Addiction - dir. Abel Ferrara - 1995 - USA
Youth Restricted Viewing sticker? I'm all over it! And talk about philosophy mixed with raw violence? I feel smarter now. I didn't really know how to appreciate it then, but I sure acted as if I did.
19. Paris, Texas - dir. Wim Wenders - 1984 - West Germany/France
Paris, Texas was one of a few examples (Chinatown was another) of my premature film-lovin'. Even in 8th grade, I thought, "hey, this is a well-respected film; of course I'll like it!" I was wrong. I had a certain cockiness at a young age when it came to film, a particular understanding that I had already reached the point of maturity in film appreciation as I'd well surpassed my peers. To this day, I'm not sure how I feel about Paris, Texas, but at least I have a better understanding now how to read it.
20. Kids - dir. Larry Clark - 1995 - USA
This, plus Catholic school sex ed can sure make a boy who hadn't even had his first kiss scared of getting AIDS.
21. The Good Son - dir. Joseph Ruben - 1993 - USA
22. My Girl - dir. Howard Zieff - 1991 - USA
I could never really figure out why, but for as long back as I can remember, I've hated Macaulay Culkin. I don't remember being too fond of the Home Alone movies, but I do remember liking both My Girl and The Good Son, probably because both films have Culkin meeting his maker. I also remember feeling weird the first time I heard Culkin use the word "fuck" and seeing him kiss Vada. I think I was jealous that he'd done everything before I had.
23. All Over Me - dir. Alex Sichel - 1997 - USA
I've been meaning to rewatch this ever since the DVD was released a few years ago, because I don't quite remember how this film affected me on the whole. I just remember moments. Coming-of-age, unacceptance, Patti Smith, punk rock, dyed hair, body issues. All up my alley. I'd like to say this was the film that got me out of my "dark, Brandon Lee-loving" phase, but as you'll see in Part 2, it isn't over yet.
24. Natural Born Killers - dir. Oliver Stone - 1994 - USA
Of course, right? I was totally an edgy 6th grader.
25. Breathless (À bout de souffle) - dir. Jean-Luc Godard - 1960 - France
Breathless was the first foreign-language film I can recall ever seeing. At least the only one I can remember the title of (I think the first one was either Italian or Russian, either way a total B movie). When I discovered foreign films had more nudity than American ones, I was all over it. And who's parents would suspect that? Their kid is just advanced. He doesn't mind reading subtitles. Naturally, Breathless put me to sleep.