Here we are at the halfway mark in the month long A to Z Challenge. On the one hand, I am like “Wow, it’s half way done!” and on the other hand, I am like “What do you mean we’re only half way done!”.
For the letter M I thought I would take a moment to talk about Movies. I grew up watching a lot of movies on television. Where I lived we received feed from a Detroit station WKBD that featured Bill Kennedy at the Movies. Bill had been a radio announcer and actor, but made the transition to television announcer. Sharing his love of movies he would host an afternoon screening of older movies tossing out the occasional trivia between commercial breaks. While the movies were never kid friendly I somehow would get sucked into some 1950s war movie or obscure Hollywood musical just because it was on. I think it may have been the Detroit station as well that would show a Saturday afternoon horror movie. This is where I saw Steve McQueen fight The Blob, and Boris Karloff as The Mummy among other frightful fare that caused no end of nightmares.
Sure I got out the occasional movie in the theatre as a kid, but for my mother to haul three kids out to matinee showing of some family friend show was a rare occasion. The two that stand out in my mind were The Fox and the Hound and On Golden Pond, both from 1981 coincidentally enough. I would have been around 13 at the time, my one sister would have been 11, and my youngest sister would have been maybe 8. I remember seeing The Fox and the Hound and being terribly sad at one of the pivotal emotional points in the movie and not wanting to cry because I was too old. The memorable moment for me in On Golden Pond, was not anything specific that happened on screen, even though it was a dramatic movie that made a big impression on me, but rather the fact that we almost go thrown out of the theatre before the movie even started. I am sure my mother was having troubles getting us settled and likely raised her voice. An usher (remember those!) came by and asked us ‘kids’ what we were doing in the theatre by ourselves and my mother had to pipe up and explain that she was indeed the mother of this unruly mob.
My movie going habits during my teen years were indiscriminate. My friends and I would go and see whatever was new in theatres that week. While we saw some great films we watched more than our fair share of bad 80s movies. It was around this time I began to develop my own taste for what I liked in films and while it ran the gamut from action to drama, story and characters trumped everything.
During my teenage years, my cousin and fellow movie fan, Don, was in a big influence on shaping my taste in cinema. I can’t point to a specific movie that we saw during that mid-80s period that I would say defined our movie going relationship as teens, but later in life when we were living in Toronto as adults, the rep and art house cinemas of that city became the temples we worshipped at. I got a real education in story telling in those years discovering the greats of the previous generations (Akira Kurosawa, John Ford, Howard Hawks, Stanley Kubrick, John Huston, to name a few) as well as discovering the up and comers of the next generation (Quentin Tarantino, Sam Raimi, Peter Jackson, Darren Aronofsky, David Fincher, and Wes Anderson).
After graduation from University when I had the time and money I joined Don in making an annual pilgrimage of the the Toronto International Film Festival. Taking a week off work we would cram as many movies into one week’s viewing as humanly possible averaging between 3 and 5 films a day. By the end of the week I would be burnt out and happy. Not everything I saw struck a chord with me but a lot did resonate. What I enjoyed the most in the 10 years that I attended the festival was listening to the directors talk about their passion about their art form. From the first time directors to the seasoned veterans, it was plain to see that they loved what they did sharing their vision with audiences and making a story come to life.
I still love movies and while I don’t have as much time as I would like to see all the movies that interest me, I try to savour each and every movie going experience. Thanks to Don, my parents, and all my friends who ever dragged me to a movie for making me the film lover that I am.