If you are not me as you are reading this page, then I say "How the hell did you get here?"

Oct 5, 2009

My brief backstory...

RRA - My backstory

The only thing I can claim to truly be an expert about would be the history of my life. I would never claim to be an expert on anything else. I am a big fan of popular culture. In some respects my attraction to music and film and comedy and visual content has allowed me to inhabit a world which has offered me shelter and a place to exist happily. I feel like I have always learned from what I have observed and been entertained. The singers and the musicians, or the films and their filmmakers, or the actors and the writers have spoken to me in such a way that I have formed an emotional bonding with their art.

The web is allowing everyone to express themselves and my point of view and my insights about what I am seeing and trying to understand when I see a film are certainly valid to me.

Everybody reacts to what they see as they see it; I feel that my insights or opinions are just as valid or invalid as another person’s viewpoint. These viewpoints are based on my being a lifelong film fan, and although I am a layman is some sense, I have spent about 15 years of my life working in the film business in editorial and camera departments on commercials, music videos, a TV show, and some independent feature films. In my life I have seen a lot of movies and going forward I hope to see as many films as I can.

Just about everyone can agree that one of the greatest pleasures in life is going to the movies. There inevitably comes a time when there is a sense of loss because you want to see quality and content that really moves and excites you. It can become difficult to achieve that stride as an audience member when you grow older and as you see more films, you become more savvy.
The moment that you find yourself in a film and it is really incredible and surprising, that becomes the next level of experiencing one of the greatest pleasures in life which is going to the movies and getting knocked out.

That's the way I felt when I saw the film Funny Bones at the Charles Theatre in Baltimore back in 1995. As the film ended, it was one of those, “I can’t believe how nice a film that was” moments.

Some of the notable filmmakers whose work I have especially enjoyed over the years ( in alphabetical order) are Robert Altman, Michelangelo Antonioni, the Coen brothers, Francis Ford Coppola, De Palma, Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, David Lean, Sergio Leone, Sidney Lumet, Sam Peckinpah, Ken Russell, John Schlesinger, and Martin Scorsese.

Movies are about inclusiveness and sharing thoughts and ideas. How do you reinvent the wheel? How can everything old be new again? Put some old wine in new bottles.

Like other people in my generational peer group, from the time I was a young child, I was "watching entirely too much television." I had been watching and learning about stories and comedy and drama and action and fantasy and entertainment from watching television. Naturally as I grew older this carried over into my being a film fan and I started going to the movies all the time.

When I wasn't viewing episodic TV shows, I was watching movies on TV. Occasionally I would go to a theatre with my parents to watch movies, and I loved the fact that it was so big. I remember going with my father to see Carry On Constables at the Little Theatre, Dr. Zhivago and Stop The World, I Want To Get Off at the Mayfair, The War Wagon possibly at the Town, or the New Theatre or the Mayfair; all of them were in downtown Baltimore. He took me at my request to see A Hard Day's Night and Help! and 2001: A Space Odyssey.

I remember my Dad looking over during A Hard Day's Night and laughing as I was sinking down inside my seat with a bemused grin when the girls in the audience screamed as the Beatles would appear on screen.

Because the 1960's were about the space race and real life adventures into the beyond, I was really into
the space program and space toys and children's books about space exploration. I can remember listening to one of the radio broadcasts when a launch of one of the Mercury capsules occurred. I also loved and lost
a dark copper-colored oversized Mercury capsule piggy bank that I had at the time.

2001 was a visual wordless experience that I did not completely understand as an 11-year-old, but that did not detract from the magnificence upon the screen. What I did understand was that I knew that I really loved it. Feeling that experience of seeing the astronauts, the grace and motion of objects against a universal nighttime sky in a dance with the classical music that accompanied it, the color palette and the sense of being out in the universe was amazing. It was intuitive and tactile and wondrous.

Sometimes my mother would go with Dad and me to the movies. The one time I can remember when she and I went by ourselves, we went to one of the nicest most lavish theatres around at the time - the Hippodrome Theater, and we watched Billy Rose's Jumbo twice in a row because she was mad with my Dad and did not want us to go home on time. So the idea of my seeing something more than once could be an experience that was a choice that was not based upon arriving late to a showing, and staying into the beginning of the next showing to see what you missed. You could complete the "total picture" by seeing it again and not leave early. The next time we ventured out together was several years later so that I could see a film of my choosing to review for an English class in 7th or 8th grade. We ended up at the Towson Theatre to see Elaine May's A New Leaf and we both loved it.

At that time you had three local channels and no cable. You might tune in to a UHF station or two or PBS or possibly one of the DC channels if you could handle snow in the reception of the picture. The stations showed lots of movies and reruns but there would be repetition of film titles being shown.

There were more than a few films that I saw several times, and in their own way each made an impression upon me like The Robe, but I know I watched some more than others.

Among these films that were readily available and programmed constantly by local channels during the 1960's and 1970's were: Dr. Strangelove, The Birds, The Wizard of Oz, White Christmas and Psycho. When I was a child, films and TV made an impression upon me, but  these are a few of the films that I saw more often than the other films.

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