June 17, 2012

Why I love movies

There was an article put up over at BadassDigest a few months ago by the FilmCrit Hulk about why he loves movies. It's a pretty great list and there's even more positive greatness in the comments section (how many times can you say that about an internet article?) and you should totally read it. After seeing The Good, the Bad & the Ugly at a screening last week it got me thinking again about all of the things that make me love movies. I'd also love to hear from anyone who wants to comment as to why they love movies - what is it about them that fuels your passion; that makes you want to watch everything, or make movies or just talk about them.

So here, in incomplete form, is why I love movies:

Because of Eli Wallach's run through the graveyard in The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

Because of Eli Wallach's introduction in The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

Because of Eli Wallach in The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

Because of Grace Kelly

Because of Lauren Bacall

Because of Bogie

Because of Cary Grant

Because of Ed Wood

Because of Ed Wood

Because I have been lucky enough to see the following classic films, for the first time, on the big screen: 2001: A Space Odyssey, Once Upon a Time in America, An American Werewolf in London, Manhattan, Badlands, Lawrence of Arabia, Steamboat Bill Jr, The Lost World, Bambi, Metropolis, Touch of Evil, The Adventures of Robin Hood, It Happened One Night, The Asphalt Jungle, Rebel Without a Cause, In a Lonely Place, The Big Sleep, The African Queen, North by Northwest, The Freshman, Safety Last, M, Singin' in the Rain, Blue Velvet, A Streetcar Named Desire, Gone With the Wind and The Apartment

Because I've also been lucky enough to see these classics on the big screen: Alien, Die Hard, The General, Gojira, Taxi Driver, Blade Runner, The Sound of Music, Rocky, 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T, Jurassic Park, Enter the Dragon and Some Like it Hot

Because of the little kid who got freaked out in a screening of the silent horror classic The Cat & the Canary and the rest of the audience knowing exactly what that felt like

Because of live cinema events

Because of the Back to the Future triple feature at the Embassy Theatre earlier this year

Because of the New Zealand International Film Festival, every year

Because seeing a movie in the cinema is still the best way to experience it

Because I cry like a little child at the end of The Iron Giant every. damn. time.

Because of the
FilmCrit Hulk and how he has made me a better film watcher and writer

Because of those great soundtracks and themes that call to mind entire films with a few chords

Because of the work of Drew Struzan, Richard Amsel, Renato Casaro, Vic Fair and other amazing poster artists (check out the astounding Film on Paper)

Because of Mondo

Because of The American Astronaut, Rejected, Boy A, Donnie Darko, Winter's Bone, Cell 211, A Town Called Panic, Milocrorze: A Love Story and many more great, surprising and astounding films I've seen at film festivals

Because of Fantastic Fest

Because they combine visual, aural and chronal components in a way no other art-form can

Because of Terrence Malick

Because of Edgar Wright

Because of P.T. Anderson

Because of Paul Verhoeven

Because of David Lynch

Because of Martin Scorsese

Because of Steven Soderbergh

Because the Coen Brothers, Quentin Tarantino and Diablo Cody all continue to make dialogue better

Because Sigourney Weaver rising four feet above the covers in Ghostbusters made me hide behind the couch as a kid

Because I had a VHS with RoboCop and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom when I was a kid and it blew my mind

Because of the enthusiastic first night crowds I saw Spider-Man, X-Men 2 and The Avengers with

Because Rocky and First Blood are actually really, really good (also Conan The Barbarian)

Because of film noir

Because of Danger: Diabolik

Because of Jim Henson

Because of Buster Keaton

Because of Jackie Chan

Because of Arnie

Because of Marilyn Monroe

Because "Nobody's perfect!"

Because of Matthew McConaughy talking entirely in grunts in Reign of Fire

Because the first reveal of the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park is still awe-inspiring

Because of stop-motion

Because of musicals

Because of the musical numbers, car chases and massive pile up in The Blues Brothers

Because, back in 1999, The Matrix blew my freaking mind

Because I've subsequently had my mind blown by There Will be Blood, The Fountain, Badlands, Animal Kingdom

Because, even now, when I see a truly drop-dead phenomenal film I feel it as a very physical thing

Because High Fidelity has helped me through some rough times

Because movies can still utterly destroy me and leave me a quivering, emotional wreck

Because movies can still utterly destroy me and leave me a laughing, gasping mess

Because there's trash and masterpieces... and sometimes they're the same film

Because of movie days/nights with my friends

Because of movie marathons

Because they're my autobiography

Because every single year sees the release of more amazing and surprising films that get added to my absolute favourites list

Because I still have so many great films to see


Because Back to the Future is a perfect film in every aspect

Because of Christopher Reeve in Superman

Because The Princess Bride is still gloriously romantic and adventurous and hilarious and a little bizarre

Because of Bruno Lawrence in Utu

Because Gordon's alive!

Because of the school holidays I spent watching Hot Shots Part Deux! At least 15 times in 2 weeks

Because of Jimmy Stewart

Because of the cult of Bruce Campbell

Because I've seen Dirty Dancing a few times and I still don't get it. But I see why others do


  1. That's quite an impressive list and in keeping with your style, I'll add a few of my own:

    Because my 4th Form German teacher, Mr Holt took our class to see a film with subtitles, Akropolis Now. Forgettable film but it opened me up to the idea of film as an international language and that I didn't need to be restricted because a film wasn't in English

    Because I gave up on the thought of becoming a priest after seeing Pat Troughton being impaled by a lightning rod in The Omen - and that movie still freaks me out.

    Because I fell in love with Catherine Deneuve when I was at university after seeing her in La Reine Blanche and have been faithful to her ever since (I'm not going to count flings with Binoche, Beart, Karina, Tatou, Cotillard, Birken and perhaps Loren and Cardinale for good measure).

    Because of an umbrella shop in Cherbourg and the Michel Legrand's soaring music.

    Because nobody did it better than a ship that devoured a submarine, a trap door leading to a shark tank and a henchman named Jaws.

    Because we're going to need a bigger boat

    Because of Death on the Nile's long silent scene in the Temple of Karnak (though Angela Lansbury's tango with David Niven in the same film always brings a smile to my face)

    Because a beautiful woman sings a Spanish version of Roy Orbison's Crying, dies during the performance and the song keeps going.

    Because of the devastation of Paul Schofield's heart breaking when he finds out his son, played by Ralph Fiennes, is a cheat.

    Because I laughed so much during Shaun of the Dead but I can't bear the pathos of Shaun having to kill his Mum (made worse that it's Penelope Wilton for goodness sake!)

    Because Phillip Seymour Hoffman is so fucking brilliant in any role, but his stand-off scene with Matt Damon in The Talented Mr Ripley knocks it out of the park.

    Because of Lars von Trier and how he can infuriate me (Dogville), make me sob out loud (Dancer in the Dark) and allow me appreciate the pure beauty of cinema (the opening scenes of both Antichrist and Melancholia)

    Because of the effortless cool of Alain Delon and Jean-Paul Belmondo

    Because I was Head Over Heels for Donnie Darko.

    Because of the acting master class from Jack Lemmon, Kevin Spacey, Al Pacino, Alec Baldwin, Alan Arkin and Ed Harris in Glengarry Glen Ross.

    Because of Boogie Nights, Nashville, Once Upon A Time in the West, Casablanca, Brazil, The White Ribbon, Alien, The Usual Suspects, Taxi Driver, Brief Encounter, Manhattan, M.Hulot's Holiday, Still Walking, Shame, Diabolique and White Material.

    Because of Albatross playing over the end credits of World on a Wire.

    Because of the completely bonkers yet iconoclastic world of Luis Buñuel, especially in The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie and The Exterminating Angel.

    And because of the annual all you can see buffet that is the NZ International Film Festival and the monthly addition to my film education from the Criterion Collection.

    1. Fantastic list sir. And what I really love about it? The fact that it is entirely different from mine (or, indeed, anyone else's). I will agree to Shaun of the Dead though - and the fact that Wright & Pegg managed to make a fart gag a touching moment.

      I've mentioned this on twitter, but I may as well add it here too:

      Because RoboCop is Verhoeven's vision of a modern American Jesus

  2. I suppose the biggest thing for me is that a really, really good movie usually requires everyone involved to also be really, really good for that whole period of a few months working together. It's probably why we sit through so many "oh, it was great working with so-and-so" special features on DVDs; we want the people working on a film to be universally brilliant. So when you watch The Empire Strikes Back, you're not just marvelling at one person's awesome job: you're revelling in some of the best music ever written, you're laughing at Frank Oz's comic timing, you're admiring the matte paintings, you're thinking "a lightsaber without that particular sound effect would not be nearly as cool as it is"... etc, etc. In a film like that, every department brought their A-game, and the pleasure for the viewer goes through the roof as a result.

    I suppose the other thing I love is the concept of an auteur then being able to wrangle those components together. I mean, when I was 7 I lost my mind watching Batman Returns because it was all of the above cast & crew geniuses, but also filtered through Tim Burton's crazy mind... and even at that young age I recognised that it was him who was key to the film's absurdity. He couldn't have made the film by himself, but by golly could he leave his mark on it. Likewise with the way you name-dropped Jurassic Park's first dino-reveal: we've seen in the past 20 years since that hundreds of other directors are incapable of imbuing such wonderment and awe as Spielberg was in those few shots. Film is a special medium in that way.

    Anyway, great list there, I love you and Chris H's lists.

    1. Oh man, the fact that something of greatness, and with a very particular vision attached to it, can come out of such a hugely collaborative process is nothing short of a marvel. I love that, especially on the best films, the entire cast & crew are all working towards the same vision.

  3. Can't comment in depth, but for me it's because people can fall in love in a moment and burst into song when they need to, and one look to camera can say more than a thousand words.


    1. Absolutely! Those moments that stay with you and just resonate for whatever reason - it makes all so personal but shared at the same time.

  4. Because of two brothers who go by the names of Joel and Ethan Coen.

    Because of my obsession with background actors

    Because of the opening 5 mins of Billy Wilder's 1960 romantic comedy The Apartment.

    Because of A.O Scott, Roger Ebert, my Dad and anyone else who loves film and can articulate why

    Because all of my friends either make them, watch them or rate them.

    Because of Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau

    Because of Walter Matthau's "Mornin' Dickhead" line in Grumpy Old Men, it gets me every single time.

    Because of Shirley Maclaine

    Because of Tom Hanks performance in Philadelphia and his acceptance speech at the Oscars

    Because of Marilyn Munroe

    Because of back lighting

    Because of Melanie Lynskey and Kate Winslet in Jackson's Heavenly Creatures and the realisation for the first time you could be from NZ and make world class cinema.

    Because of Thomas Edison, August & Thomas Lumere, Edwin S. Porter & George Méliès the pioneers of yester year.

    Because of Gus Van Sant, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Robin Williams and Minnie Driver their beautiful film Good Will Hunting

    Because of Alfred Hitchcocks unadulterated examination of human behaviour in Rear Window

    Because of the twisted mind of Stanley Krubrick.

    Because of Jeff Bridges portrayal of 'The Dude' in The Big Lebowski

    Because unlike most people i feel safer in the dark.

    Because of Woody Allen and the fact he knows what i want better than i do.

    Because of Jason and Ivan Reitman, two generations of comedic genius.

    Because of Pixar's heartwarming animations.

    Because of David Fincher & Steven Soderberg

    Because of Joe Pesci's 'I amuse you' speech in GoodFellas

    Because of the 80's comedy's such as Naked Gun, Beverley Hills Cop, Weird Science, Risky Business, Big, This is Spinal Tap, Coming To America, Back to the Future, Ferris Bullers Day off

    Because of Tim Burton and his insistent need to play with my emotions as a fan.

    Because of Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate

    Because of French cinema like Delicatessen, La haine, The Dinner Game & Amélie

    Because i love foreshadowing

    Because there are literally 1000's of films i have never seen.

    Because of the library scene in Ghostbusters

    Because of Robert Rodriquez and his book Rebel Without a Crew

    Because of Cinematographer Roger Deakins and his breath taking photography in Fargo, The Assassination of Jessie James by the coward Robert Ford and The Shawshank Redemption

    Because of documentaries that challenge my perception of reality.

    Because of special effects in the 70's and how they seemed so real until the mid 90's

    Because as a kid i could watch VHS tapes over and over again with my mates on the weekends.

    Because i don't care when others judge my love of crappy 90's blockbusters.

    Because i at least have the memories of Clerks, Mallrats and Chasing Amy

    Because i watched 147 films in 147 days.