Recently my good friend and film critic Alan challenged me on Facebook to list my top 10 most personally influential films and to pass the challenge onto 10 others.
Alan and I share so many friends who’d actually do this that it would be a race to challenge. Plus, I hate chain emails/posts, so I’m doing this a bit different. Without further delay, here are 10 films (in no specific order) that have had a significant impact on me, and why.
1: The Star Wars Trilogy. C’mon, this goes without saying. This dominated my childhood and made me the nerd I am today.
2: LA Confidential: This is where I learned how perfectly executed a film can be. The puzzle pieces of writing, acting, directing, set, pace, wardrobe….all of it came together here. I simply love every aspect of this film.
3: Aliens: I think this was the first R-rated film I saw, and led to many great summer nights catching a late movie with my dad. This still goes on today, but the showtimes are earlier.
4: Jaws: I have no particular love for this film, but it showed me how film can speak to people. I have met many people from the hardcore geek to the exceptionally casual moviegoer who adore Jaws, know the theme, know the jokes and think twice before going in the water.
5: The Lion King: God in Heaven I loathe this film. I appreciate the craft, just hate the songs, the characters, the story….all of it. This taught me that it’s ok to go against public opinion and there’s not something wrong with me for not liking what everyone else does.
6: Tangled: (Spoiler Alert) Sitting in the theater with my barely 4 year old daughter, seeing her sit up straight as Flynn was dying, then cover her mouth and gasp when he cut Rapunzel’s hair…wow. That’s what loving film is all about. Fun movie, better experience that I’ll keep with me forever.
7: Superman: I didn’t believe a man could fly but I learned who we could strive to emulate. Als o, I can’t hear those first few notes from a french horn and NOT be 6 years old again.
8: The Karate Kid: I think I watched this 100 times on grainy 3rd generation VHS and rented it many more when that wore out. As a kid, this pressed my buttons of wanting to be cool and belong. As an adult, I can’t get over how John Avildsen directed the crap out of this! This is another film I was excited the share with the girl and overjoyed that they loved it too.
9: Poltergeist: This is a very different film that you remember. The goldfish is the only death, the really creepy stuff doesn’t happen till the last 30 minutes when you think everyone is safe, and according to the rules stated by a main character, it’s not even a Poltergeist! Of course, looking back on it now, it’s not the nightmare fuel of my childhood and didn’t scare my kids at all. You can see the influence it had on Stranger Things (and that’s good) and can play “Who directed this scene? Spielberg or Hooper?” The first film to terrify me, then make me wonder what was wrong with me, and still make me want to analyze.
10: Mulholland Drive: This is a puzzle. This demands analysis, discussion and spirited debate. This is not for a casual viewer, make no mistake here. Knowing the backstory and why the film is structured the way it is and the fact they pulled it off still shocks me. The answers are onscreen but you will not be spoonfed. You have to work at it. Other films have taken this puzzle route, but few (in my opinion) are worth the effort this is.