This is another one of those “pick ten” impossibilities. I’ve been watching movies constantly since I was four years old. I have over a thousand DVDs in my collection. But once you add the rider “changed your life” I think I can cut it down a bit. I still don’t think I’m going to be able to keep it to ten.
OK, here goes.
When Harry Met Sally / The Truth about Cats and Dogs / My Best Friend’s Wedding
I’ve always been a bit of a romantic. When Harry Met Sally was the first DVD I bought. I also had it on VHS and I can pretty much quote it from start to finish. I have a soft spot for Rob Reiner, Nora and Deiiah Ephron. They write brilliant characters. The other two just caught me. I would watch them almost weekly. Watching them again, they were some pretty dysfunctional people, but maybe that’s what I identified with.
Casablanca / Breakfast at Tiffanys / The Philadelphia Story
Some of the classics. Casablanca came out of watching When Harry Met Sally. But these old movies have always been close to my heart.
Heathers / Hudson Hawk / True Romance
The movies to quote. I was ecstatic when Heathers was turned into a TV show. The first episode was incredibly referential and quite reverential as well. Everything was turned on its head but it kept that basic style of conversation and surrealism that made Heathers so cool.
Hudson Hawk just tickled me. I quoted Hudson Hawk constantly. I’m sure I drove everyone crazy.
True Romance was recommended to me by Bruce Carboon. He also got me going on a few different arthouse movies. But he would quote Christopher Walken all through our rehearsals for Pirates of Penzance. I thought he was amazing. So I had to watch True Romance. And watch it again. The movie outlasted any contact I had with Bruce.
Kevin Smith is another one who knows characters. There are Smith-ish dialogue pieces in a number of my short stories. He was so cool and philosophical. For a twenty-something just getting into film. Looking back at the movies I still love them but I can start to see what Smith was trying to get out into the world as well. He had demons, that man.
This was the first time I thought that a new Superman movie could be done and done properly. Apart from that, it was just a life changing movie that was let down by the sequels. Not to say the sequels weren’t great movies, just that they weren’t worthy of the movie that had come before them. What an amazing thing to come into the world, and all of the advanced it brought to cinema.
When Night was Falling / Naked Lunch
I got right into arthouse. Spent lots of time at the Valhalla being wanky and conceited about the discoveries I had made. Naked Lunch was an incredibly freaky movie that spoke to the confusion and turmoil that I was feeling at university, as this greater world was dumped on me and all of the choices I could make were laid out. I just chose everything and it came back and bit me on the ass. So movies like the Naked Lunch resonated nicely with a world that made no sense.
When Night was Falling was a gorgeous Canadian movie. All of my friends were gay or bi or experimenting and this film again fitted in nicely with those experiences. It works as a movie even when you’re not in a state of inner turmoil. Give it a look.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail / life of Brian / Meaning of Life.
I got into Python in Year 9 and have never looked back. They insinuate themselves into all areas of my life. They have influenced my reading habits, the philosophers I studied, my writing and film studies. Changed my life? Bloody oath!
BrainDead/Meet the Feebles
Peter Jackson before he decided to ruin the Hobbit for me. He was cool and edgy and disgusting and almost local. I used to wag school and watch movies with my friends at home. Now I’m a Media teacher. It all worked out ok.
Color of Night
Bruce Willis keeps popping up. He made some great choices. Apparently he’s a bit of a dick, but at the time, he was the coolest man on the planet. Color of Night was an incredible story, crafted to perfection with a twist I never saw coming. And no, I don’t want to hear if you saw it coming. Let me have my enjoyment of the movie.
Changed my life by giving me arachnophobia. It scared the crap out of me. It was rated PG. I didn’t sleep for a week after watching it. I was a paper boy and my job consisted of riding through spider webs to deliver newspapers. I’ve had night terrors ever since about the bed being covered with spiders. This is not an ok movie. I haven’t seen it again since it came out.
Another one that was just awesome for cinema in general. It still holds up, but at the time, it was just spectacular. Movies changed completely. I got into CGI with this in the back of my mind.
I was working at the Kyabram Plaza cinema when this came out and I saw it twelve times and loved it eleven times and then got over it. My over it hasn’t lasted. I love it and like watching it on regular occasions. Again, Baz before he got too big for his boots.
Rocky Horror Picture Show
We used to act this out on stage. It was part of our subculture. It allowed us to explore our sexualities under the guise of having fun on stage. It was a musical and a movie! And it was Tim Curry. What’s not to like?
Ferris Bueller’s Day off
I don’t think I know anyone my age who wouldn’t put this on their top ten list, although I’m sure they are out there. I saw it in Year 9 and watch it at least twice a year. Matthew Broderick was my hero and Mia Sara was my greatest crush.
Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure/Bogus Journey / Encino Man
More movies to quote. Stupid stoner buddy movies have always had a place in my movie collection. It’s interesting to see who went on to big things and who got left behind in comedy limbo.
This one was another world changer. It had a larger scope than Alien, and I’m pretty sure I saw this one first, when I was in Year 9 or 10. And of course it has Captain Hollister in the extended version, which helps. Game over Man!
I saw this in grade 5 or 6, and my brother and I hid behind the couch for this and American Werewolf in London, peeking over the edge to see what would happen next. I’m glad I saw it. I’m not so glad I saw it then. I got into a huge argument with my parents because they wouldn’t let me see Jaws 4 because I wasn’t sixteen yet.
Again, people my age had their worlds changed by this. I had hundreds of figurines and treated them all badly enough that I wouldn’t be able to sell them even if I still had them. It fired my imagination like nothing that came before it.
The first movie I saw on the big screen, although I think I saw Superman II at the drive in before I saw this one. I remember the experience. It led to my love of movies in the cinema. Another one I haven’t seen in twenty years or so.
Watched this too young and stayed in a caravan that night with friends. Dad crept around the caravan scraping on the windows and scaring us half to death with little gremlin cackles. It scarred me. But I love it and it is a regular Christmas choice.
Akira / Lupin III / Cowboy Bebop
My foray into anime. I watched everything I could get from the Kyabram video store, which wasn’t much. It was part of the reason I was keen to go to Japan.
Story telling done well. There are few movies out there that really get you. This and the Sixth Sense (and Color of Night) stand out as being “oh wow. Oh wow!”
Nightmare on Elm Street
I’ve seen every one of these movies a hundred times over. We used to have marathons in Year 11 and 12 watching all the ones that were out. Being a bad sleeper, I was fascinated with dreams and nightmares. You can find my dream journal entry further back here on Finding Damo.
Well there you go. There are hundreds more movies I could mention. There are probably many more that have had a far more significant impact on me. But these are my stream-of-consciousness ones and that is what Finding Damo has always been about. Not too deep, not too reflective.