Tuesday 23 November 2010

My most memorable movie viewing experiences #2...

Childhood Favourites:

Ghostbusters 1 & 2 (Ivan Reitman, 1984, 1989):
When – Late 1980s/1990/Early 2000s
Where – Television/Home Video
Why Ghostbusters was my entire world in my earliest years. The movies, particularly the first, the spin-off cartoon The Real Ghostbusters, and a whole array of toys (including the Proton Pack, which was a must-have kids toy for Christmas – my Dad successfully acquired one for me FYI) … suffice to say, bustin' ghosts was a big deal.

I just thought the Ghostbusters were the coolest guys on the planet, and I would repeatedly watch the show and the movies. Then when I moved into my teenage years I got wrapped up in a whole bunch of other movies and it wasn’t until my second or third year at university that I rediscovered the two flicks on DVD and it was a fantastic re-introduction to what was still a childhood favourite in my mind.

This time however, at the age of 20/21, I suddenly understood all the adult jokes and comedy, and it was like watching a whole new movie, but at the same time as watching one which I knew so well it was like it was in my bones. Sound effects, musical cues, lines of dialogue, the pacing of the editing etc – so ingrained in my memory from repeated childhood viewings. What’s more it was my first chance to see the flicks in their original aspect ratio – as a child I had no understanding of the horror that is Pan & Scan, and in the VHS era everything was Pan & Scanned.

Back to the Future trilogy (Robert Zemeckis, 1985, 1989, 1990):

When – Late 1980s/Early 1990s/Early 2000s/2010
Where – Television/Home Video/Cinema
Why – Like the Ghostbusters, I thought Marty McFly was one of the coolest guys on the planet – but throw in a time travelling DeLorean (I was, like most boys, fascinated with cars) and a tip-top script and they had my attention. I was only a year old when the first movie came out, so it wasn’t until it was shown on television/home video that I got to see it. Then the back-to-back sequels came out, but I can’t remember if I saw the second one on video or at the cinema. However, one of my earliest cinema-going memories was seeing the third film on the big screen.

Similar to Ghostbusters, a number of years went by without seeing any of them, and so I rediscovered them on the 3-disc DVD box set several years ago. Yet again it was like no time had passed, and thanks to multiple childhood viewings, the dialogue, sound effects, music, and everything in-between was as fresh in my memory as it had been a good fifteen years prior.

Finally, with the 25th anniversary of the first movie, I got to see the original flick on the big screen - and even though I'd seen it dozens of times, it was a superb experience, which I wrote about at-length here: http://deadshed.blogspot.com/2010/10/back-to-future-25th-anniversary.html

Short Circuit 1 & 2 (John Badham, Kenneth Johnson, 1986, 1988):

When – Late 1980s/Early 1990s/Early 2000s
Where – Television/Home Video
Why – As far as I was concerned as a kid, Johnny Five was alive, and being a small boy I was fascinated by robots. Looking back on the films today, as the Nostalgia Critic has done, there are some questionable elements to the films, but I guess it was a more innocent time - and as a kid, nothing about the flick was questionable.

Yet again, fast forward to my second or third year at university and I rediscovered both films on DVD, and once again my memory of them was so strong that I could anticipate the sound effects, music cues, pace of the editing and so on. My love of these two movies came flooding back, from the sense of wonder of the first film, to the final act of the second movie which packs two memorable punches - Five's attack, and Five's capturing of the bad guy. What's more I got to see them in their original aspect ratio at long last, which is particularly important for the first film, which has been dreadfully Pan & Scanned in the past (a recent showing on Channel 5 was quite possibly the most horrendous Pan & Scan job I've ever seen).

Jurassic Park (Steven Spielberg, 1993):

When – 1993/2010
Where – Multiplex Cinema
Why – In the summer of 1993 the movie to see was Jurassic Park. I went crazy for this movie, looking forward to the weekend matinee showing with such anticipation it was like an early Christmas. Then there we all were, in the darkened cinema, watching dinosaurs come to life – at the time the CGI was like nothing we’d seen before and was truly a marvel to behold – but aside from the fantastic effects (both CG and practical), it was Spielberg doing what he does best. The pacing is ideal and the action sequences are tense and impressive, but even more than that the characters were interesting.

That summer was all about Jurassic Park; it was without a doubt a phenomenon. I read the kid’s version of the book, the comic book run, got the making-of book, and went nuts for it on video. Then, yet again, I didn’t see it for many years until 2010 when I rediscovered it on Sky Movies. The movie was still fresh, still tense, still exciting, and the assured pacing remained impressive – more-so now that I’m of an age (and film education background) that I can seriously appreciate just how good the movie is and how it holds up so well. It’s amazing to think that come 2013 it’ll be twenty years old.

Batteries Not Included (Matthew Robbins, 1987):

When – Late 1980s
Where – Television/Home Video
Why – like with Short Circuit, I was fascinated by robots (in this case robot space aliens that recycle scrap metal and feed on electricity), but it was also the spectacle of this crumbling old apartment building that really captured my imagination. However, the sequence that truly fascinated me was, perhaps oddly, when the building burns down. It was a thrilling experience to see that, and – weirdly – it became a little bit of a obsession with me. I would draw versions of that sequence over and over in my drawing books as a kid, not that I was some kind of arsonist-in-waiting, but it was the spectacle of that sequence that really grabbed my attention.

Looking back I think that that sequence, among other favourite moments from the movies listed here, that helped plant the seed in my mind that filmmaking was what I wanted to do in life – something that I wouldn’t finally realise and figure out until I was 18.

The Money Pit (Richard Benjamin, 1986):

When – Late 1980s
Where – Television/Home Video
Why – I think the unrequited Architect in me was drawn most to this movie (the same part of me which is drawn to Channel 4’s Grand Designs), and I became fascinated with this crumbling old mansion (particularly the collapse of the staircase). It’s funny how certain things can grab you as a child, and this was one of those cases – I wasn’t fussed about the plot (I'd frequently fast forward to the point where they'd arrive at the house), I was just interested in Tom Hanks’ trials and tribulations with this unmitigated disaster of a fixer-upper.

It's still a fond favourite of mine, even if it was a bit of an 80's rip-off of Mr Blandings Builds His Dream House (H.C. Potter, 1948), and it always manages to transport me back to the TV room in the first house I lived at ... so more of a personal favourite than a critical favourite, but so what, eh?

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