I like to consider myself something of a movie buff. A cinephile. Just a guy who watches way too many movies.
Now, I am dreadfully aware that there are a lot of people on this planet who are way more of a movie geek than I am. However, at the same time, I am way more of one than the average person.
When I was a kid, sure, I was the average moviegoer. As a teen, I’d hang out at the mall with my friends before taking in the 7 o’clock showing of whatever new movie was out. Or, we would hang out in the basement watching something we rented on VHS. Or, maybe if you were lucky, the family would pile around the television to watch a movie on Network Television. Yeah, that did that back in the day…
To be honest, I don’t remember what movies I saw … I am sure there were quite a few of them. I do remember sneaking into see Dirty Dancing (which was probably the first R-rated movie I ever saw). I remember seeing Beaches, it was a fun movie where Bette Midler sings about tits. And that’s really all I can think of off the top of my head.
That changed for me in the early 1990’s … for a couple of reasons. First, the newspaper (if you can call the small outfit that) had me occasionally fill in for the resident “movie critic” … which meant that I pretty much had to see any movie he didn’t want to see.
Secondly, and this is probably the bigger reason, I saw a couple of films that really made me think about things. For the first time, I realized movies were more than just a form of mindless entertainment … Something to talk about around the water cooler or dinner table … Or where Bette Midler sings about tits.
When that movie came out, (remember, the world was a much different place in 1992) it was one of those movies where all anyone wanted to talk about was the twist ending. (Don’t worry, I’ll try not to spoil the movie in case you haven’t seen it yet.) There was a particular thrill in knowing the secret, and for a lot of people it really was a big deal. There weren’t any characters like her on television or in the movies, And the film played it so well, somehow you just knew that this little film was somehow going make the world a little different.
For me, there was that. But there was something else, too.
Of all the characters in The Crying Game, none of them are what you’d really call The Good Guy (or gal). It starts with a guy who is a solider, turns out he deserted his post. (In all reality, he’s probably the closest in this film to a good guy.) Then, you have a group of people from the Irish Republican Army. Today, we’d probably call them terrorists. There is one, however, who has a change of heart, but that hardly excuses all the really bad stuff he’s done. I am not going to mention the soldier’s girlfriend … she wasn’t bad, exactly, but she was rather controversial.
Yet, somehow, most of these people you learned to love in some bizarre way. You felt bad for them at various points in the movie. You wanted them to succeed at times and it was hard not to root for them, even when they were doing things that were completely, totally wrong.
The movie was nominated for six academy awards, including some of the big ones (Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Director) but it only won one: Neil Jordan – Best Screenplay.
I think part of the reason the movie spoke to me was because in an odd way, I could almost relate with it. My whole life, I felt like the outcast, the misunderstood fella, that guy who was just a bit too different than the cool kids. And here’s a movie where you find yourself rooting for people like that. It’s a movie where you start to question what is right and what is wrong … or, maybe there’s a third option.
What Kind of Movies Do I Like to Watch?
I hate being asked what kind of movies I like because there really is no way for me to answer it, beyond saying I like all types of movies. I could say I like comedy … who doesn’t like a good laugh. Does that mean I like all comedies? No, I do not. I’m not even sure if I like most comedy movies. So that answer is out. I could say I love a good mystery or thriller, or a good dramatic tale – but there I run into pretty much the same problem.
Jokingly, I’ll comment that it is easier for me to say which kinds of movies I don’t like. War and Westerns come to mind. Then again … there’s a few movies I can watch over and over again and not get tired of, and that list would include a couple westerns and a war movie. So, there goes saying that.
Don’t worry … I can actually go one step further. You see, I used to joke that I liked “good movies”. But … all too often I would watch a movie that many would put on their “best movies of all time” list, only to be left feeling like I am missing something. Citizen Cane is one of those movies that often gets hailed as the best movie of all time. I watched it and I was like, “Meh. It was okay.” (Maybe I was just missing something.)
On the other hand, some of the movies I can watch over and over again aren’t even close to great movies. Were I to name those two Adams Family movies from the 1990’s, you might just look at me funny, but that’s not nearly as bad as if I were to mention Earth Girls Are Easy. That’s not a good movie by any stretch of the imagination. (Although you have to admit that it was fun to watch Jim Carey and The Wayens brothers before anyone actually knew who they were.)
The bottom line here is that I really do like all genres of movies. But that’s not to say that I like all movies. Many of the movies I really liked were ones my friends thought were awful … and many of the ones my friends highly recommended left me wishing for those two hours of my life back.