Thursday, August 30, 2012

Developing Cinephilia: My Essential Films

In anticipation of my personal Top 50 movies list (check for it on Saturday evening), I thought I would share some special thoughts on a few films that were important in making me into the film geek I am today. These are not my top 4 films, but you can definitely expect to see them on my top list. You can therefore see this as a preview of some of the films you can expect to find. I'm not sure if I am sophisticated enough to be called a true "cinephile", but I sure do love movies. Looking back on my life, here are the films that inspired the blogger you read now:


The Lion King (1994)

From a young age, I've always enjoyed watching movies. At the time, my choices were mostly made by my parents and I am grateful for the solid foundation they provided through the world of Disney. The magic of the studio's animated films really got my addiction started, with films like "101 Dalmations", "The Little Mermaid", "Beauty and the Beast" among my favourites. Looking through my old vhs tapes, you would even find some more obscure titles like "The Hunchback of Notre Dame", "Oliver & Company" and "The Aristocrats". I loved them all. My absolute favourite though was "The Lion King". From the glorious opening scene, I fell in love. The film would always stay with me for its memorable songs and stunning animation. The plot elements were also an important introduction to dark thematic elements and the values of love, family, loyalty and responsibility. Disney paved the way for years of highly-anticipated Friday night trips to the video rental store.


Titanic (1997)

Funny enough, I never got the chance to get the full theatrical experience of this epic film. I would have been only 9 when this was released, so was too young to catch in theatres. As you know, this film was a cultural phenomenon and as they say "everyone and their mother" eventually saw this film. In my case, it was my grandmother who owned the 2-tape box set and introduced me to the spectacle of "Titanic". Even on that tiny screen, I was blown away by the grand scale of the movie. This was when I really learned the emotional power of films (yes, it was probably the first time I openly cried in a film). Of course, I must also thank Titanic for giving me my 2 favourite actors (Leo and Kate). Finally, this was one of my first experiences of seeing nudity on film. I'm sure others from my generation also have awkward stories of watching that famous portrait scene with their older relatives.


Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003) and Vol. 2 (2004)

I don't know about you, but this was THE cool film in high school. Everyone wanted to get their hands on those dvds and if you owned them, you gained instant popularity and cool points. Especially for young boys, this film gave us everything we wanted. Extreme gore (I was convinced that blood gushes out like that in real life) and violence, hip music, memorable quotes and even a little bit of anime(shows like Dragon Ball Z were immensely popular). The most important thing about this film though, is that it introduced me to the crazy world of Quentin Tarantino.


City of God (2002)

This was a crucial turning point in my movie-watching life. I had just signed up for Netflix, and after watching this, my tastes changed drastically. Like the previously mentioned films, I only met "City of God" upon its home video release. For the first time, I watched a film and really noticed it as art. I was blown away by the cinematography, editing and other technical aspects. From then, I have abandoned any prejudices against subtitled foreign films and I've never looked back.


  1. Great post!
    It's interesting to see how you and your movie taste have changed over time, probably in a similar way to most other bloggers (myself included). I agree on The Lion King (and Disney in general), as for Titanic, I watched that one when I was 13 - with my danish guest family. Yep, the portrait scene felt really awkward.
    I also discovered Kill Bill this year, and I'm still in high school. I'm not a boy, but I love it for the same reasons as you - plus the female power.

    Anyway, I haven't seen City of God yet, but I had the experience you described when I was 14 or 15, watching The Dreamers. That's when it all began.

    1. Thanks for the comment and sharing your own movie experiences. I am sure Disney was the starting point for many of us. Such an important studio. I haven't seen The Dreamers, but it sounds interesting.

  2. Excellent post! I always enjoy hearing about which films represent milestones in people's development as movie buffs. Interesting that City of God made you aware of films as art. I should watch it sometime.

    1. Thanks. You should definitely watch City of God, I can't recommend it enough.

  3. These are the essentials for any film buff. I don't care how cheesy or romantic Titanic is - I love it.

  4. Great List.

    I love how you go from Titanic to Kill Bill. I agree with Alley. Both movies are essentials

  5. This is a pretty perfect trajectory that is pretty close to my experiences as well. I might not pick those specific titles but they're certainly in the ballpark. The Royal Tenenbaums might have been my important film for adolescence and was the movie that really changed how I looked at films and made me revisit older films that I'd seen at a younger age with new eyes.

    1. It really is interesting to see how our tastes change. I only just watched Tenenbaums this year and I loved it. I can totally understand how that could influential for you.

      It's interesting how we can now look back on these kids' movies and realize how brilliant some of them really are.

      When I watch The Lion King now, I am much more able to appreciate the skill of the animation and wit of the script. I'm sure the joke about the stars would have been lost on me when I was young. (Oh, gee. I always thought they were balls of gas burning billions of miles away.)

  6. I'd rather they get quality movies from streaming channels instead of splurging on brand new ones, there are lots of great movies they don't have and a lot of terrible ones they do have.

  7. I love this Shane! True story, when I was conceiving my Birthday post last month, my original idea was to post a film experience from each of my decades that impacted me the most, so seeing this post made me smile!

    I love what you say about Titanic. I also was too young to see it when it was released, but everyone I knew had seen it and I was so upset about it. I distinctly remember standing in the theater, my parents ushering us in to see The Prince of Egypt and I was just staring at the theater right next to ours, listening to the sounds of the ship sinking seeping through the doors and thinking "if only"...

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