I was tagged into this game on a certain social media network and thought it would be edifying to the public to redo it (with some bells and whistles) on my blog.
The rules were: Don’t take too long to think about it. Fifteen films you’ve seen that will always stick with you- not necessarily the best films. List the first fifteen you can recall in no more than fifteen minutes.
I obviously took more time than that on this post, but the list itself came to me in a few minutes. It’s uncanny how the ones you just think of turn out to be influential in other ways, especially to someone whose upbringing was as odd as mine.
Here Are My Fifteen, Roughly In The Order I Saw Them:
1. Night Of The Iguana: Stayed up to see it on TV when I was five because the voice over made me think it was about giant lizards attacking people. Or something with scary monsters. Here is a longer version of the trailer they showed that grabbed my attention:
Turned out to be much scarier of a premise to a five year old but I was riveted through the whole thing.
2. Ring Of Bright Water: Not very memorable except it was the first movie I ever saw in the theater. In fact, I had to Google for the title because all I could remember was that it was about a guy who has an otter named Mij.
3. 3 Days Of The Condor: Robert Redford’s character in this movie became a lifelong role model. He’s able to thwart the entire CIA because of things he learned reading books. I was already on that path but I wanted even more to be that guy whose depth and breadth of knowledge struck fear into The Man. Best exchange between CIA wonks: “He Reads!” “So what?” “No, you don’t get it. HE READS EVERYTHING!!!”
4. Jaws: Saw it in the theater and was scared when swimming in my boyhood Wisconsin lake for the next two years.
5- Love And Death– Saw it in the theater with my parents at age thirteen and was so proud that I got all the jokes.
6- The Godfather: What can you say?
7- Blue Velvet: Saw it by myself in an empty theater in the middle of the afternoon and was almost traumatized by it. It was so raw and so far beyond anything I had ever seen.
8- Stop Making Sense: Cried after seeing it because it seemed so beautiful and perfect and I felt like I could never create anything (film, music, novel, etc) so powerful and moving. Then that evening I did a standup comedy set with my parents in the audience (seeing me for the first time) and I killed. I felt like it was the power of the Talking Heads that gave me strength to fight the butterflies and also that perhaps someday I could contribute something worthwhile to the World Of Ideas.
9- Wings Of Desire: In 1987 I was crashing on some friends’ couch in Chicago every weekend and auditioning/performing at comedy clubs with an eye to moving down here. One of the friends was a film major and we watched this one afternoon. It introduced me to the films of Wim Wenders and the music of Nick Cave- and gave me a HUGE crush on Solveig Dommartin.
10- Matewan: One of my favorite dramatic films. The sequence that cuts between the boy preacher and Chris Cooper & James Earl Jones talking is one of the best in all of Filmdom. And this scene here isn’t so bad either.
11. Shakes The Clown: Bob Goldthwait’s saga of a misanthropic alcoholic birthday party clown is still one of the craziest and most twisted films ever. Where else you going to see Aunt Esther from Sanford & Son talk about her punani? And Tim Kazurinsky is hilarious in his cameo, too bad the clip cuts off before his brilliant response.
12. Rikky And Pete: A delightfully quirky Aussie Indie comedy with a score by Crowded House.
13. Pow Wow Highway: Great Native American road comedy. Just see it!
14- Sans Soleil: Chris Marker’s video essay totally changed my ideas of what a documentary film could be.
15- You Me And Everyone We Know: Miranda July created one of the most bizarre yet most strangely realistic indie films ever. It’s a meditation on how amazing it is that (considering how insane and damaged we are) humans are able to connect with each other in way at all. I couldn’t stop crying for 20 solid minutes after watching this, for reasons I still can’t quite understand. Then I wrote a heartfelt email to Miranda July at 3AM. She never responded, but from her end it probably seemed much more crazy and stalker-ish than heartfelt.
So there you have it. Hope you enjoyed this long trip through the underpinnings of my psyche!