Tuesday, February 11, 2014

How My Love for the Movies Really Began...

I love the movies. 

Over my lifetime, I've seen thousands of films, and while I can't claim to have the encyclopedic knowledge of some cineastes, I can still make like a mini-Maltin from time to time. And of course, one can flip through my high school yearbook to find many classmate comments forecasting a future for me either in film criticism or screenwriting.

I attribute the beginnings of my cinematic adoration to two things: First, I have to credit my mother, who encouraged me to watch films from all eras and genres. Whether it was silently attending movies like THE STING or LIVE AND LET DIE with her as a toddler (I was an exceptionally quiet & well-behaved kid in such circumstances) or staying up countless nights huddled near a small black & white TV watching the Late Show, the Late Late Show and the Why Are You Still Awake Show. This was how I discovered the likes of Powell and Loy, Bogart and Bacall, Tracy and Hepburn, Astaire and Rogers... 

Even today, I still maintain that most modern films can't lay a finger on the classics from the 30's through the 50's. I'll take a well constructed and beautifully written story over advances in makeup and mastering an accent any day of the week and twice on Sunday. 

Of course, there are fantastic films from the last fifty-five years as well,  and I can embrace hundreds from PSYCHO to MEMENTO and beyond. Hell, a year & a half ago, I even cobbled together a pre-blogging days list of over 300 film recommendations covering an 80 year time span and popped it on Facebook. 

But there it was something as simple as a book that fed my desire to watch, read and write about films. My mother (her again, go figure) had bookcases lining the walls of our crumbling little Boro Park apartment, and outside of covering every meaningful mystery author over the past century, she also had several tomes devoted to the cinema. 

One always stood out to me: THE GREAT MOVIES. Perhaps it was the oversized coffee table book nature of the format, or maybe it was the movie stills splashed across the shiny pages within ranging from Buster Keaton to Kubrick's Star Child. Whatever it was, it entranced and enthralled me. I wanted to see more, I wanted to know more.

I was thinking about that book late last night as I was mentioning a highly regarded Robert Altman film I've long neglected to see (NASHVILLE, for the Netflix disc has been collecting dust in my living room for well over a week). I had a memory that I first heard of it as an eight year old flipping once again through those dazzling pages.

One Google search later, and not only did I find images of THE GREAT MOVIES, someone had written a wonderful blog about it years ago. As I read Joel Bocko's words, I realized it mirrored my own experience. Concise but eloquent, here's what he had to say, replete with over twenty images from the book: http://thedancingimage.blogspot.com/2009/05/great-movies_28.html

Many know that I'm angling for a future connected to the movies, and this led me to think back on how it all began. Perusing Mr. Bocko's blog made me want to write up a short one myself. Sadly, I'm still one entry short of my four part TV character series. Real life and annoying neighbors have proven to be too much of a distraction over the past few weeks, but I do hope to fulfill my promise and get to the Comedy Lead Character List-Blog sooner than later. But each part of that series took several hours and days to pull together, while I only started typing this less than fifteen minutes ago!

I have tattoos on one arm depicting what first inspired me to write (based on classic Tenniel art from ALICE IN WONDERLAND/THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS). The ink adorning my other arm gives insight into my introduction of music (an image from THE BEATLES ILLUSTRATED SONGBOOK as well as a recent stencil of the Fab Four). But if I ever decide to have a trio of tattoo topics that impacted my life, it would need to be something related to the movies. 

Who knows, it may even be something from that book...