It is my pleasure to introduce a new staff writer at Film Misery – Aaron King. Aaron was responsible for the highly entertaining interview with The Hunger Games cast earlier this year. In order to introduce everybody to Aaron proper, I thought it was time for another Q & A with a get-to-know-you style question. Take a look at our answers and be sure to share yours in the comments!
QUESTION: What was the movie that made you love movies?
When I was a kid, the function of movies was to serve primarily as a babysitting and entertainment tool. As a result, I was raised on a healthy diet of Disney and Rankin-Bass videos, Batman movies (yes, even the Joel Schumacher atrocities) and endless cycles through the original Star Wars trilogy. Then, during my Freshman year in high school, a martial arts movie called Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon made its way to my local multiplex. Having heard good things about it, I sat down in a theater with curious anticipation. I expected to be entertained. What I did not expect was an experience that would completely alter my perception of cinema.
Sure, the movie boasted enough terrifically-staged action to sate the appetite of a kid whose mind was recently blown away by The Phantom Menace’s lightsaber 2.0 duel and the general awesomeness of The Matrix. But there was so much more depth to the movie than my teenage brain could have anticipated. The parallel romances complemented each other in a way that painted a searingly tragic portrait of unrequited love. The movie’s representation of social tensions – class, gender, marriage, vocation – was just close enough to the surface to make me want to explore the nuances of the characters more deeply on my own. And that beautiful, bittersweet paradox of an ending haunts me to this very day. The movie provoked me to think about emotions and ideas in a way no movie had ever accomplished before. I scoured papers, magazines and the internet to read as much writing on the movie as I could.
I learned a lot of lessons about cinema after my Crouching Tiger screening. I learned, for example, that not everybody could share my jubilation for a movie. My friends – to whom I (unwisely) touted the movie as being “better than The Matrix and Gladiator combined,” merely snickered at the unrealistic wire-work and the melodrama. I also learned that there are thousands of other, more challenging examples of film (and film writing) for me to discover. I credit Crouching Tiger to having facilitated my discovery of the truly countless great films at my disposal. The most important lesson Ang Lee’s movie taught me was that, while films can indeed entertain, they have the capacity to offer so much more.
It’s so hard to pinpoint what exact movie has led to my obsession with film. I remember when I was young, my parents used to rent laser discs of Disney movies to placate me and my siblings. I guess I can start there — everytime those laser discs would play, we would all just shut up and start watching it. I fondly remember Pinocchio and Peter Pan in particular.
When I was a bit older I had a horror movie phase, where I couldn’t stop watching classic films like The Exorcist and The Omen even though they led to sleepless nights. This was one of the first memories I can remember of movies altering my emotions and affecting me in ways that I did not expect. The experience clung to me and that influenced why I love films, especially those that unexpectedly touch or move me.
I’m having a hard time answering this question. Sorry! In order to make an answer exist, whether or not it’s truthful, I will say that any recognition of film as a medium and a process and a Thing That Affects People started with a Sunday afternoon viewing of The Jerk on TV.
My mom made me watch when she caught on some network channel. “This is the funniest movie ever,” she said. “We have to watch it.”
As I was held hostage to the rise and fall of Navin R. Johnson, my mom would quote lines and point out important upcoming bits. When Navin christens his dog Lifesaver, an angry old man responds, “Don’t call that dog Lifesaver. Call him Stupid.”
“What?” my mom said. “That’s idiotic. That dog’s supposed to be named Shithead.” The network had edited the movie for television. I won’t say it happened all at once, but that afternoon spent with my mom unlocked the idea that movies were things that people worked on, and it showed how film can lodge itself in someone’s craw so hard that, years after a movie comes out, a woman can sit her impressionable young son in front of the TV and explain why she prances around the house yelling every time a new phone book arrives.
I do, for better or for worse, have one specific film that caught my attention and drew me into cinema beyond what was already a burgeoning passion and into a full fledged love affair. And that film was… Spider-Man 2? Indeed. That film was Spider-Man 2. Sam Raimi’s 2004 sequel to the film that I would argue sparked this new wave of superhero madness, is a great film to be sure. For my money, in the realm of superheroes, it remains topped only by Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight. However, I do feel it is less artistically inclined than an answer that I would have deemed more reflective of my taste and the nature of my aforementioned love affair with cinema.
That said, Raimi’s film was a point in my life where I had begun not just to watch film with a keener eye as to the quality of a film and what brought it there, but also a point at which I begin to look distinctly farther into the future to read about films I would want to see. I read a frame by frame description of the first Spider-Man 2 teaser online prior to the teaser premiering before any film or being posted anywhere on the interwebs. That’s how obsessed I became. When the film itself did not so much live up to my expectations as reaffirm that I had an understanding (or senseless devotion) that most people didn’t about what makes a film good and where said films come from, all I wanted to do was explore this deeper. I’m still trying to explore this deeper… film misery, indeed.
My answer to this question is in two parts because there was a certain movie that made me love movies and another that made me appreciate movies. Let me elaborate. The movie, or movie series, that made me love the movies was Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings. As a sophomore in high school, some friends invited me to see the midnight release of The Fellowship of the Ring. Having enjoyed the books, I thought it would be fun to attend, not knowing the obsession it would inspire. Soon after that first viewing I was back in the theatre to see it again. I went online and bought a closet full of Lord of the Rings merchandise. I bookmarked every website that had any Lord of the Rings news and started an official countdown until the release of the second film. I was obsessed.
However, the adoration for that first Lord of the Rings movie was pure fanboy-ism, and did not lead me to film appreciation. It was one year later when I stumbled across an article about Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest. Curious to see what all the fuss was about, I picked up the DVD from the library and sat down for what would be the experience that lead me to appreciate the movies. For the first time I noticed that there was editing happening and that the camera positions actually had significance. This lead me to seek out books and websites about filmmaking and for the first time I began watching a movie for more than just the “awesome” experience.
What is the movie that made you love movies?
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