OPINION: My #FilmStruck4, Four Films That Define Me
We all have a favorite film, the one that we went to the theater twelve times to see, the one that we know all the lines to, and the one that we never get tired of watching. But what about the "why" behind it all? What specific films have had such an impact on us that we would devote the time and money that we do to the ones we love now?
In a hashtag posted by the FilmStruck Twitter page, (@FilmStruck), way back when in April, Twitter users around the world were challenged to post the four “films that define you.” I may be a little late to the game, but here I am to tell you the four films that define me-- and why they do.
I’ll start with my earliest memory of a true love for a film. When my dad introduced me to one of the most important movies of my life . . .
Star Wars: A New Hope (1977)
I only have good memories of watching A New Hope. I remember my twin sister and I coming home every day from school and running up to our game room to watch it. We have the trilogy in a VHS box set so our dad had to turn it on for us every day. When I say I was obsessed with this movie, I mean I was obsessed with this movie.
It opened my eyes to the Star Wars universe in the most glorious way, and it wasn’t long until we were watching the prequels with glee. My twin and I used to raid our mom’s closet, one of us finding a tan sweater and the other a leather jacket, rivaling the tunics of Obi-Wan and Anakin respectively, and we would proceed to recreate the Duel on Mustafar. We still have twelve-year-old toy lightsabers and action figures lying around in my house that have been passed down from kid to kid.
Another impactful film I watched as a kid, also thanks to my dad, opened my eyes to a damn good comedy.
I love this film. I don’t think you understand the severity of that sentence. I watched it as I wrote this article because I miss it so much. Seeing the classic Parker Brothers’ characters come to life on the screen makes me so happy, and the scene when they all open their presents to get their weapons always gives me chills. I had seen many comedies before watching Clue, but there is something about the unique slapstick comedy that the film presents that always got me, even when I was thirteen and didn’t understand half of the jokes.
Besides the comedy, it’s the small things like the awkward meeting of the characters, the claps of thunder that are so ironically-yet-unironically timed, and the cryptic ringing of the bell every time a new character is introduced that make me love the film so much. It is a timeless movie that will never get old. There is no doubt that I will show this to my kids, and their kids after. “To make a long story short, ("TOO LATE!"), I love this movie.
The Usual Suspects (1995)
Oh boy, do not get me started on this film. It is my single favorite film of all time. No Avengers film, no murder mystery comedy, and no childhood adventure flick will ever top this film for me. I would say I want a sequel or a remake for this film but I fear it would lose its charm and shock value. I first saw this film about three years ago and there has literally not been a day where I haven’t thought about it. This is the only movie that I know literally every line too. Bryan Singer created a masterpiece just twenty-two years ago, and you can’t just watch it once, either.
After you see the mind-blowing ending you have to go back and watch it again, because at that point, everything you’ve heard is a lie. One of my favorite photos is of that character holding up a sign that reads “I am Keyser Soze."
Everything from the dialogue to the unusual visual style just absolutely rocks my world. With an (at the time) all-star cast of Gabriel Byrne, and Kevin Spacey, (who had just been in the also amazing film Swimming With Sharks), along with great performances from Benicio Del Toro, (who is actually my husband), Stephen Baldwin, and Kevin Pollack, this film was bound to be great. I shouldn’t have to mention it, but go ahead and watch the lineup scene, it's one of the greatest improvised scenes ever put to screen.
The Godfather (1972)
Goodness gracious, I love this movie. I only watched it about a month ago, and it was my first Al Pacino movie, (I watched Jack and Jill when it came out, but I don’t count that at all). It’s a shame how much the younger generations like mine and the millennials before me “avoid” movies like The Godfather, claiming that “old movies are boring,” or “ugh it’s too long,” (and these are real excuses I’ve heard for reasons why not to watch The Godfather). If they would
actually sit down and want to enjoy the film and keep their attention span focused for the allotted time, they would have such a good time, because there is something about The Godfather that makes it so exciting to watch.
Maybe it’s siding with the evil Corleones that is so much fun, or maybe it’s the reputation behind the film and the little nuances like noticing whenever oranges show up in the film that makes it so interesting. The Godfather is a movie that has a certain "je ne sais quoi." It is a reputable film with an all-star cast and a solid storyline from the Mario Puzo novel. Before, I would rarely watch a movie as slow as The Godfather, and I don’t mean slow in a bad way, but sitting down and putting my phone away and solely paying attention to the film opened my eyes to how much I can take in.
There is so much character throughout and weaving storylines that flow through that film that you will never be able to follow if you don’t give one hundred and ten percent to the movie, and that’s what Coppola wanted. It is a drama about the family more than anything, and that is what has drawn people in for years.
These four films have shaped my love for cinema, all adding a different trait like patience and devotion from The Godfather, or bringing me into a culture by watching A New Hope, or to expect the unexpected and never trust your narrator thanks to The Usual Suspects and Clue. I can honestly say that I don’t know if I would be writing articles like this, for a site like this if some of these movies hadn’t crept their way into my life. So from me to the directors, writers, and actors of these fantastic films, I thank you, for you have honestly changed me.