I’ve never seen The Godfather. Or Clockwork Orange. Or Driving Miss Daisy, or Gone with the Wind, or The Hurt Locker. I’ve seen Citizen Kane, but only because I saw it in a class once. Actually, that’s probably the only reason I’ve seen any classic films. My house growing up was about action movies, blockbusters, and comedies that centered around fart jokes (classy stuff). Indiana Jones, The Master of Disguise, Top Gun – just to name some examples. TV was pretty limited too. For a good chunk of my life it was just PBS. When we finally did get cable, we could only watch it after 5PM. My parents were on a crusade to make my brother and I industrious, productive citizens that didn’t need to rely on the TV for entertainment.
And it worked. Kind of. Maybe not for my brother, who can quote favorite movies in their entirety. As for me, I enjoyed TV as a nice distraction every once in a while. A little SNL here, a little True Blood there.
And then came film school. The first day of every class started with the students introducing themselves, and their favorite movie or TV show. While I feebly put forth Forrest Gump, people were nonchalantly listing No Country for Old Men, Casablanca, and Metropolis. I was cowed by their discussions of different films’ mise-en-scène, the way they argued over whether Woody Allen was truly an auteur.
Over time, I learned these terms and the theories behind them. But as my knowledge grew, the number of classic and current films I saw…didn’t. In fact, I became a little obstinate, loving the look on a film junkie’s face when I confessed I’d never seen A Streetcar Named Desire.
Now, however, I’ve started to rethink my stance. Sure, I can blame upbringing or my inherent suspicion of anything that looks boring, but when it comes down to it, not seeing these films isn’t making me better at what I do. Which is write for film and TV.
Think about it. We learn history to know what came before us, so we can build off of it and learn from past mistakes. I think this idea can be applied to my film dilemma. How can I be the best writer I aspire to be when I’m not all that familiar with what has already been written? Truth is, I can’t.
Better behind five seasons of Breaking Bad than never! In order to get started on my research, I’ve started to compile a list of all the films and TV shows I’ve been recommended to see by various sources. Like most things in my life, this new movie-watching venture will have to be penciled into my calendar. The plan? Two movies a week (sorry, I don’t have the stamina for more than that) for the month of September. If all goes well, this could be a continuing trend!
Stay tuned to see if I can keep up, what my current favorites are, and how I rate these (so-called) masterpieces on the new Aub’O’Meter here at our new Let’s Get Reel page.
Please feel free to list some movies or shows you think should definitely be added to my list down below in the comments!