Thursday, July 26, 2012

My 10 Most Memorable Movie Watching Experiences


When you’ve dedicated the majority of your life to watching films, you’re bound to walk away with some lasting memories. This list represents the most memorable movie watching experiences I’ve ever had, and to be honest, a list like this is, for me, completely boundless. There is simply no limit to the amount of fond memories I have from watching movies, but these 10 are the ones that stick out the most.

Some of these experiences are moments that happened privately, others are remembered because of the significance a film I love had over someone else. The films are presented in the chronological order in which I watched them. And please, do feel free to share some of your memorable movie watching experiences in the comments!

E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial
Date of Experience: 1988-present
When a film I loved as a kid comes up in discussion, I am very quick to label it as my favorite film from childhood. Well, to get record straight, E.T. IS my favorite film from childhood. No question. I’d have to fact check this with my parents, but I’m pretty sure I burned through three different VHS copies of this movie – that’s how many times I watched it. (The VHS was green… remember.)

Now, one of the chief reasons watching E.T. was so memorable is because it used to scare the living shit out of me. I was terrified of this film. I’d hide and cower under blankets through its duration, but the second it was done, I wanted to start it again.

For the rest of the films that follow, I’m highlighting one viewing in particular that stood out. But my love and fond memories for E.T. are and will remain infinite.

Pulp Fiction
Date of Experience: May 1996
Pulp Fiction changed movies for me. I was 10 when I first saw it, and up until that time, I had no idea movies could be (or dared to be) told out of order. On top of the non-linear narrative, I had never heard people talk this way. The ratatattat dialogue, the hysterically foul language – it was revelatory to my movie watching habits. (I also didn’t know, before watching this film, that two men could have sex. That made for an interesting post movie discussion with my mom.)

Pulp Fiction is my second favorite film of all time for many reasons. The most significant being that it altered my perception of what a movie could be.

Antwone Fisher
Date of Experience: January 2003
When I was 17 years old, one of my closest friends was killed in a car accident. On Christmas evening, the car he was riding in hit a patch of ice before slamming into a telephone pole. He laid in a coma for several days before passing away on New Years Day, 2003.

The news of my friend’s death was devastating. I’m not going to dive into the full extent of the pain in this post (you can read more about it here, if you’d like), but, in short, I did not know how to properly function as a person in the days (weeks, months) after his death.  That is until I sat in a movie theater and watched the brutal, horrifying, triumphant story of an abused young man coming to terms with who he is. When I watched Antwone Fisher for the first time, I sat in complete awe of the real man’s bravery and strength. The film forced to me reflect and grieve. It showed me that, no matter how bad you have it, there is a chance to regain.

The Pianist
Date of Experience: February 2006
My roommate through all of college (and a few years after) was a 5’1” Ethiopian named Bereda (you pronounce it like the gun – badass, right?). Bereda was a man amongst men – a wild sonofabitch with a heart full of gold who loved the hell out of movies.

He came to America in his teens and was immediately taken with the heightened romanticism of American romantic comedies. He loved them. All of them. Needless to say, soon after we met, I was very eager to open his eyes to the glories of heavy cinema. We watched, and we watched often. Some he liked, others he didn’t. But what was important was that he was willing to sit through anything, no matter what it was about.

Now, Bereda liked to talk. A lot. He had a very thick African accent that was immediately described as “cute” by any female he came into contact with. Cute? Maybe. But during a movie? Ungodly annoying. This dude asked more questions than a trial lawyer. He wanted to know every little thing about a movie as it was happening. After a year or so of this, I told him no more. I could not continue to watch flicks with him if he was going to talk the entire goddamn time. He dutifully agreed, and all was good.

But I’ll never forget the look on his face when Nazi’s threw a wheelchair bound man off a four-story balcony in Roman Polanski’s The Pianist. I studied Bereda’s confused, sadden face, and I did something I hate doing: I paused the movie.

“What?” I asked him.

He stared at the screen for a while, then looked and me.

“Why?" he said. "I don’t understand why."

It’s one of the most profound questions anyone has ever asked me. How do you explain the Holocaust to a man who never studied it?

“The day you can answer that question is the day you have the rest of us beat,” I told him.

The Pianist is two and half hours long, but that night, Bereda and I spent six hours watching it. He questioned, I paused, we discussed.

I’m just now realizing that I described Bereda in the past tense. We lost touch a few years ago, and I think that’s my subconscious telling me I need to reconnect with him.  I’m sure we’d have a lot of movie talking to do.

Babel
Date of Experience: May 2007
I sold TVs at a department store throughout college as a means of keeping change in my pocket. It was a shit job, but I worked with some cool people. Chief among them was a gentle, kind, misunderstood Iranian named Ebrahim. Ebrahim was a cool dude. Despite our vastly different cultural upbringings, we had a hell of a lot in common, namely our shared love for film.

I own a lot of movies. Like… a lot. When Ebrahim got wind of this, he asked me if he could borrow some. So I lent him a few I thought he’d like, and the next day, he brought them back and wanted more. So we developed a system: I gave him 10 movies to watch, and when he returned those, I’d give him 10 more. Nearly every day at work was met with a movie swap, while ceaselessly discussing what he had watched the night before.

One Saturday, Ebrahim and I were working the morning shift and he walked up to me slowly as I prepped for the day. He stood behind me and when I turned around, he said (in his very thick Iranian accent):  “My friend, last night I watched Babel, and it was the best movie of my life.”

What developed was an hour-long conversation (in which many man tears were shed) about the human condition as depicted in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s masterpiece. It was the oddest thing – two guys from different parts of the world, having an absurdly intense and emotional conversation about a film. For as long as I am able to recall memories, I will never forget that conversation.

The Seventh Seal
Date of Experience: June 21, 2008
Confession: my first Bergman should’ve been Wild Strawberries in the spring of 2006. But I elected to blow off my film history class that day to, hell, I don’t know, sleep, buy beer, go to a party, woo a girl – it was college. Two years later, I purchased The Seventh Seal on DVD with the hopes that it would be as iconic as I had heard. I started the film around 8 p.m. the night of June 21, and finished it in the early hours of June 22. You see, when it was done the first time, I started it again. Then again.

Ingmar Bergman is my favorite filmmaker. His stamp on the cinematic medium has had as much of an impact over my life as any other person, place or thing (and I’m not exaggerating here).

Simply put, The Seventh Seal, not unlike Pulp Fiction, changed movies for me. It was my first Bergman, and my life has never been the same.

Precious
Date of Experience: January 23, 2009
My favorite part about attending a film festival is the complete lack of knowledge you have about the movies you’re going to see. You may recognize the name of a person who’s in it, and you may be intrigued by the tiny photo in the welcome guide, but for the most part, you don’t know shit about what you’re getting yourself into.

That was Sundance for me. Blindly attending dozens of films in a short period of time. Heaven, in other words. Sometimes this ignorance-is-bliss mentality produced dogshit results, but other times, as was the case for Lee Daniels’ Precious, it provided opportunities that floored me.

About 20 minutes into Precious, Mo’Nique’s character stands at the bottom of a set of stairs and berates her daughter standing above. Her tirade culminates with Mo’Nique telling Precious that she should have “aborted your dumb ass.” From that scene on, I was completely transfixed (and mortified) by what I was watching. I don’t think I’ve ever cried only 20 minutes into a movie before, but damn if the tears weren’t flowing. 

Now, I went to Sundance alone, and because every screening was packed to capacity, I was forced to sit next to people I didn’t know, which was completely fine with me. During this scene in Precious, the middle-aged woman sitting next to me grabbed my hand and didn’t let go for the rest of the movie. When it was done, she apologized to me, to which I replied, “No, really, I understand.”

Hunger
Date of Experience: February 2010
In hindsight, Steve McQueen’s Hunger had one of the most botched releases of any film I can recall (in America, anyway). It came out in New York and L.A. for a week or two in late 2009 then vanished. No wide release was hinted at, no DVD date was set. It was gone.

One night the following February, I got back to my apartment after a particularly festive night of drinking (okay, yeah, I was drunk – like… drunk) and I sat down in front of the TV looking for something to pass the time.

I flipped through my cable providers’ infinite database of movies OnDemand, and there it was. Randomly, hidden, legally, for free. I clicked play and that was that. For 96 minutes, I was completely transported to that wondrous place where nothing else matters except the film before you. I was shocked, aghast, horrified – you name it. But I was also inspired in a way I hadn’t been in years. Watching Hunger is watching one hell of a unique vision being executed, and I felt blessed to have discovered it.

When the film was done, I fell asleep (err, passed out). And the minute I woke up (now with a slightly more aware state of mind), I watched the film again. I was sure that, watching it sober, I wouldn’t find it as impactful.

How wrong could I be?

Shame
Date of Experience: December 2, 2011
Dedicated readers of this blog know how infatuated I was (am) with Steve McQueen’s Shame. I called it the best film of 2011 and, a few years from now, will certainly place it among the top films of this decade. One of the reasons I love the film as much as I do is because it speaks to me.

I’ve discussed this before, but here it is again. I wrote the final draft of the script for my short film, Earrings in November of 2011. It was ready to be filmed. Period. When I saw Shame, I was dumbfounded, literally jaw-dropped by how certain aspects of the film perfectly mirrored what I was hoping to achieve with my movie. The content wasn’t similar, but the overall tone was identical. It was cold, remorseless and unforgiving.

And the downfall. Jesus Christ, that downfall. The first time I saw Michael Fassbender’s Brandon unravel on screen, I whispered (aloud or in my head, I’m not certain), that, “Oh, wow. Someone else gets it.”

I hope this makes more sense come Saturday, but the impact Shame has had over my life in the short time since I first watched it is, well, significant to say the least.

2001: A Space Odyssey
Date of Experience: February 2012
It’s kind of funny, but the same method I used with Bereda – that of understanding what films he liked, then showing him movies I thought he’d enjoy equally (if not more) – can be applied to every girl I’ve ever dated.

We meet, I court, and, sooner rather than later, I’m opening their world to films as best I can. I start with ones I think they’d like based solely off their tastes, and then I open the floodgates. 2001 often comes several months into the relationship (if it comes at all) and has always been met with negative results. Hey, fair enough. While it remains one of my favorite films of all time, it definitely isn’t for everyone.

A few months ago, after issuing a half hour’s worth of disclaimers about how different and unique and puzzling 2001 is, I put the movie on for my lady friend, who sat in complete awe from frame one. When she spoke, it was an occasional word of astonishment. A single word here or there about what the movie was actually doing. To be honest, I watched her face more then I watched the movie. Seeing her profound, continual expression of creative hope reaffirmed why I love the movie as much as I do. When it was finished, she told me she had a new favorite film. There are no finer words than that.

And now to you, I’d love to hear some of your most memorable movie watching experiences. Have at it! 

56 comments:

  1. Hard for me to recall much, but one stands out.

    The first time I watched 3 Iron, knowing absolutely nothing about it, I remember just being totally enthralled with it. When the credits started rolling I just kind of sat, and stared at the credits, not reading a single word.

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    1. I remember you texting me when it was finished. Your texts went something like this:

      "Dude, jesus, I just watched this movie. Fuck.
      (pause)
      "3 Iron. You have to see this movie. I got it from Netflix. You have to see it.
      (pause)
      "Nevermind, I just bought it from Amazon, I'll let you borrow it as soon as it comes."

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  2. I've always enjoyed our movie viewings together more than other people because they usually result in us riding home discussing it for an hour or so. So I'm throwing that in there too, big guy.
    I also want to throw in the several 1am, 2am showings of terrible movies I've sat through with friends just laughing hysterically at the awfulness of the movie. Some movies that stand out: piranha 3d, and most Nic Cage movies.

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    1. Remember when we saw Paranormal Activity at like midnight and drove home from DC, freaked as shit? That was a good one.

      The 1am romps are always a delight. Justin Bieber: Never Say Never as a highlight as well.

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    2. I totally forgot you were there for that. All I remember is Worl yelling LIONEL RICHIE! HE DIDN'T GET FIRST BILLING?

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  3. Two of the films on this list are the best two experiences I've ever had in a cinema; Shame and 2001: A Space Odyssey, both of which I managed to catch in my local cinema earlier this year. I actually forked out double the cost for Shame and in return got the best seats in the cinema, comfy leather sofas at the back, and it was definitely the best movie watching experience experience I've had.

    With 2001 when I found out they were screening it I knew that I couldn't miss it since it's the most visually spectacular film ever, and I'd only seen it on a 20" TV, so not really done it justice.

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    1. Nice man, sounds like two exceptional viewing experiences right there. I would kill to see 2001 on the big screen; I can't image the power that would be had by that.

      Also, what better flick to fork out double for than Shame? I dig it man. I dig it.

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    2. Yeah I love my local (although no more since I'm moving away) cinema, every couple of weeks it plays a cult classic. This week's is Raiders of the Lost Ark, a film I know you love...

      And they've played stuff like Blade Runner, The Warriors and Dark City. I'm going to miss it, really great cinema with a nice old-fashioned aesthetic and just two screens.
      http://www.theelectric.co.uk/home.php

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    3. Ha, nice Raiders dig ;)

      It's so cool to find theaters that still take the time to show those great films. I have one really close to me, but they only show those movies at midnight on Fri/Sat, or 9am on Sat/Sun. Gotta start making it to some of those.

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  4. Let's see... there's some but I can definitely remember the first time I saw Lost in Translation on 9/21/03, Bill Murray's birthday. I wasn't expecting much other than something that was liked by the critics and the fact that it was going to feature new music by Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine. There wasn't a lot of people at the screening. Probably 20 at best and at the end of it. I clapped and then stopped because I noticed no one was clapping. It was embarrassing but I was also very emotional because I had just seen something I had never seen before in my life. Little did I know, it would become my all-time favorite film as I ended up seeing it 2 more times. Again in the same theater later in October and at a different (now defunct) theater on Xmas Eve. I'll probably explain more about it when I do the LIT 10 project next year.

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    1. Nice man, great story. I love having a reaction like that to a film. Just knowing, "Wow, I've witnessed greatness."

      The story of you clapping is hysterical, because I've had that exact same thing happen to me. I stop clapping, look around, and I am like, "Really... nothing now?"

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  5. Sounds like you have had some good viewing experiences! The Pulp Fiction teaching sexual lessons thing was hilarious. I was raised in a very religious home. I have never been allowed to watch R rated films. So I used to download films onto my 6 inch iPod. I remember how changed I felt the first time I watched American Beauty. I watched the film every day for a month and just fell more and more in love with it. But there is so many great experiences with films, just discussing them and finding a connection with another human being.

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    1. Dude, I LOVE the thought of you secretly watching R rated films in hiding. That is priceless. Two of my best friends growing up were raised in very strict Mormon homes. No R rated movies whatsoever. So, naturally, everytime they came to my house, we'd crushed out at least 5 Rs. Their parents weren't too happy about it when they found out, but oh well!

      American Beauty. I first saw that when I was... 14 and it floored me. Truly stunning film right there.

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  6. I think for me my most memorable movie watching experience was watching Selena when I was 5 or 6. It is incidentally tied with Matilda as my favorite childhood movie. I remember when Selena ended, I turned to my mom, transfixed by what I had just seen (the ending with the rose petals was extremely confusing). She looked at me and simply replied that she'd died. That was the same night that I learned what death was and that Jennifer Lopez played Selena and that she actually was not Selena. Before that, I did not know that movies were, how to say, fake. I don't know how to explain it (though it is clear in my head) but I thought movies were real as in the characters existed irl and their lives were taped in real time then released to the public. That night changed how I viewed movies and life/death. Nothing will ever beat it.

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    1. What you are describing - how you thought movies were actually real - was exactly how I felt about films as a kid. I remember thinking that everytime I watched a movie, the people were physically acting it out for me. So I tried to not watch the same films all the time, as to not make the poor people have to do the same things over and over. My mom too was the one that explained how they are "fake."

      So funny that you felt the same way about them.

      And what a touching story about your post Selena conversation. Thanks for sharing it here.

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  7. This is a superb list. I may have to write my own post!
    My own version of E.T when I was a kid was a film called The Brave Little Toaster. I watched it over and over and over, but in the same part each time, I'd hide behind the couch (air conditioner death scene. It's on youtube).
    Ugh...I have to have a really good think, actually! I don't think I can answer my most memorable movie experiences here! Oh, but Black Swan maybe...I saw that in the cinema, and it was the first time in a movie theatre I'd ever sat there with such a sense of dread pressing on me. That film did not let up.

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    1. Thanks Ruth! You should definitely write your own post.

      Holy shit, this is too funny. The second I posted this list, a person I work with saw it and texted me: "Your E.T. was my Brave Little Toaster."

      I haven't thought about that movie in decades, and now it's mentioned twice in one day. Love it.

      Black Swan certainly did NOT let up. It just kept building and building until... "Perfect."

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    2. Oh my goodness, Brave Little Toaster...how is this not slightly horrifying! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-UfsEj7AOGI

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  8. Man, I love this list. When I get back for my break I might do this. My favourite movie-watching experience is definitely when I saw Inception for the first time, but also the second and third times after it. Shame was a very memorable experience, considering how weird I sounded when I was crying. And I must admit, I loved seeing the first Transformers on the big screen. Don't judge me, but I think that movie is pretty cool.

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    1. Ha, no judgements, I promise! We like what we like.

      Okay, did you cry during the threesome in Shame? Because I would take solace in the fact that I'm not the only twisted human being who cried during that scene. I just thought it was so moving and desperate and sad. It is in no way sexual or romantic. It is pure desperation. Ah, just kills me.

      Can't wait to see your list!

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    2. Yeah, I cried during the threesome scene. Basically from the time he goes into the club onwards. But it wasn't crying. I literally could not breathe so it turned into shrill screaming. It was so weird!

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    3. Oh wow, whatta reaction! I definitely cried during the threesome scene. I've never seen anything remotely close to that before. It continues to floor me.

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  9. Amazing post man. Now I need to see Antwone Fischer and rewatch The Pianist, Babel, and 2001: A Space Odyssey.

    When I was a kid, the original Star Wars trilogy opened my world to just what could be done in film. Lightsabers, space travel, ray guns, and the force? It was a whole new experience from the Disney movies that I was accustomed to.

    The Seventh Seal was the turning point though. I saw it in the fall semester of my junior year in college, and it just took what Star Wars did up to a whole other level. Watching it I kept thinking "You can do this?" and "This is awesome. Why aren't there more movies like this?". Until then, I had watched a lot of movies, but not a lot of foreign/art-house ones. I owe Bergman's masterpiece greatly because it gave me another branch of cinema to discover.

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    1. Okay, your final paragraph... that, right there. That is me. I've been into film since forever, and I've always loved art house/foreign flicks, but Seventh Seal seriously opened the floodgates for me.

      "You can do this?"

      Yep. I see why we get along so well now.

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  10. Shame was one my best experiences, too. I watched it with a friend I made recently, but somehow I knew that only with her I would be completely comfortable watching it. Not just because of all the sex, but because I knew she would take it as seriously as I would. We went for a coffee afterwards, and talked for hours about it. It's one the best feelings there is, to just talk so eagerly about something with another person.

    But my first great film experience would probably be Jurassic Park. My older brother got me watching it, it was not for my age at all. As a result I developed a weird fascination with dinosaurs.

    By the way, what a great post - you're a natural storyteller, honestly. The part of Ebrahim and Bereda? Really good.

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    1. Another impactful Shame story. Love it. Ooohhh Jurassic Park is a good one! That movie scared the shit out of me as a kid, in all the best ways. Great memories there.

      Thanks so much for your compliments. I'm glad you dug the stories!

      And thanks for stopping by, I'm going to check out your site ASAP.

      (checks out Film Flare)

      Whoa, holy shit. This site rocks.

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  11. Alex you've achieved greatness with this post. After Dan posted about appreciation vs obsessive compulsion over at Public Transportation Snob this displays the other side of the coin beautifully. Hey, we might consume film like gluttons but every now and then something amazing happens between a person in a dark room and the play of shadow and lights on the screen, lives will be changed.

    I don't think I've ever engaged with my viewings in such a powerful way, I'd like to think that film has changed me as a person but I think mostly about film in ways it has shaped the artist in me. Pulp Fiction, American Beauty, Annie Hall showing me how cinema doesn't have to be homogenous and how it can be beautiful and different and challenging. My first forays in to independant cinema with Buffalo 66 or world cinema with Dogme95 changed everything for me, the way I saw the world could never return to the innocent teenager I was.

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    1. Wow, thanks Toby, that's so kind of you. Pulp, American Beauty and Annie Hall are three excellent examples of how films can challenge what a film can be.

      Thanks again for such kind words, really glad you enjoyed this post.

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  12. This is a really great post. I've been trying something similar with my Theater of Memory posts. It's something to see a great movie, but it's something more to have a great experience watching a movie, regardless of how good the movie actually is. When a movie affects you in a way beyond "Wow, I saw a great movie," it's impressive, and worth remembering, and chronicling. I'm glad you did.

    Out of these, Shame and 2001 stand as memorable for me, as well. Shame for being my first NC-17 experience (getting carded at multiple checkpoints was so odd) and 2001, seeing it on the big screen for the first time in a Kubrick class I took a couple years ago, and it being one of the best things I've ever seen. Such ambition, such beauty. Unforgettable.

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    1. Thanks buddy, and I couldn't agree more - chronicling the event and impact of seeing a great film is really important. Sometimes they change things, and it's good to remember those moments.

      Really glad you enjoyed Shame and 2001. The getting carded (multiple times) bit was really funny, and, yeah, 2001... such ambition indeed.

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  13. Great post, Alex.
    The Pianist is just such an incredible movie. I can never be completely ready for that wheelchair scene, though I have watched it quite a few times.

    My most memorable movie watches will be- Titanic because that was my earliest and most properly formed memory of visiting the cinema hall, the first time I saw the first Harry Potter film because my world just changed, the first time I saw the last Harry Potter film because I knew nothing will ever affect me like these movies again, The Purple Rose of Cairo because that's when I realised how much I love movies, Fight Club because holy shit that film is too awesome to exist, The Social Network because that was such a brilliant cinematic experience and I knew for sure I had just watched a modern classic that will be remembered for years, and of course Casablanca because that's the first time an old movie looked perfect to me, and *that* perfect too.

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    1. I'm with you, that scene in The Pianist is just... well, I'll be desensitized from it. It's so cold and accurate.

      Great picks for memorable experiences. Loved your reasoning behind Purple Rose and Fight Club. I need to scope out Fight Club again soon. So awesome and badass.

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  14. Amazing read. Just breathes with love to films.
    As for my film experiences, I'd better think of it and maybe write a post as well.

    Watching The Seventh Seal again and again on one day. Wow.

    I agree with you on Shame. The best of 2011.

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    1. Thanks Lesya! I can't wait to read your experiences.

      Yep, Seventh Seal three times in one sitting. I can't fully explain it. It transported me.

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  15. Interesting films to choose Alex. The Antwone Fisher choice concerns a sad, tragic story but highlights the very reasons we all love the cinema. You've inspired me to think of my own top 10 most memorable film experiences.

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    1. Thanks Dan, your comment really meant a lot. Very kind of you.

      Given how much I love your lists, I'm sure your Top Viewing Experiences list will be killer.

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  16. This is just wonderful. Superbly written and you can clearly see how much you love movies just from this post. Loved the story about Babel.

    Though I love watching movies alone my most memorable experiences probably come from brining dvds and watching them with my friends - it's such a great feeling when someone you love loves the movie you adore. I love watching Snatch and The Big Lebowski with people who never seen it before because their laughter always brings me so much joy.

    From the cinema viewings it must be the Artyist because it was completely silent despite the theatre filled with people. Even teenagers with popcorn didn't say anything and sobbed a little.

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    1. Thanks Sati! I couldn't agree with you more about finding immense satisfaction when friends love the movies you show them. Showing Lebowski newbies that flick is always hysterical.

      Sounds like your Artist screening was a lot better than mine. I saw it in a packed house of 40+ year olds, and many never shut the hell up. I guess they thought because the film was silent, they were allowed to talk. Real bummer. Had to see it again at a time when I knew no one would be there!

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  17. Amazing list with really unforgettable choices. The 2001 one reminds me of the time I showed my girlfriend The Double Life of Veronique, which is now her favourite movie. She watched that one over and over and I had to smile and agree it was something very special. Because it definitely is.

    I also love that you've got HUNGER and SHAME on here. Viewing those movies for me I was completely blown away. I think HUNGER affected me more deeply than SHAME but holy fuck both of them packed a hell of a punch.

    I think I did a post similar to this a while ago, but I'll highlight some of the absolute defining moments of cinematic viewing in my lifetime:

    1: Seeing Werckmeister Harmonies for the first time and crying once, at the end. Then watching it again the very next day and weeping in near hysterics on at least three different occasions.
    2: Watching a shitty quality video of Edward Yang's A Brighter Summer Day on Google Video (the film is insanely rare and almost impossible to find anywhere else) but still realizing what a work of genius it was, and how I was constantly riveted for the entire four hour runtime.
    3: Seeing Satantango in one sitting from 6pm to 1am and absolutely falling apart afterwards.
    4: Seeing Tarkovsky's Andrei Rublev for the third time recently and applauding through my tears when it was finished.
    5: Expecting Gus van Sant's Gerry to be bad, discovering it was an amazing and perfect film, and thinking: "This is the kind of movie I want to make."
    6: Werner Herzog's Stroszek. Best movie ending of all time. You should've seen the look on my face during those final ten minutes.

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    1. I remember you telling me that Veronique story... we got some amazing gals, I'd say.

      LOVED all of your stories. Our reactions to Gerry (and our anticipations) were very similar. That's too cool.

      And Stroszek... whoa. Just... whoa.

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  18. Wow ... what a great post! Much of it was either laugh-out-loud funny or heart-wrenching. You are a magnificent writer, and I don't say that lightly. A few random reactions, in no particular order:

    1. I can't even tell you how disturbing I find it that your first introduction to the concept of male homosexuality was through the "gimp" scene. :-D And -- oh my God -- I don't envy your mother the conversation she got to have with you afterwards. ;-)

    2. Antwone Fisher was a moving film, and the way you described your emotional connection to it is amazing. I bet most of us, at one time or another, have been through something absolutely unbearable, something we hadn't thought we could ever survive, and had to keep going.

    3. My daughter and I really liked Precious -- it was both painful and hopeful. The scene where the protagonist's mother throws a television at her and her newborn baby is burned into both our brains.

    4. Hunger is an amazing movie. I want to watch it again soon.

    5. Love what you said about Shame! As you know, I didn't love it and relate to it as you did, but you articulated something I feel deeply about my experiences with movies and books: “Oh, wow. Someone else gets it.” Exactly!!!

    I can't answer the question about my most memorable movie watching experiences ... I'd have to give it a lot more thought.

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    1. Thanks Stephanie!

      1. (siiiiigh), well, what can I say. After that, I, like The Gimp, was no longer sleepin'. But seriously, I have really cool parents who didn't make a fuss about telling me what I asked. Very open and honest. (I failed to mention that that movie also informed me what rape was, so, yeah, my mom had her hands full that day haha).

      2. Thank you for saying that. Couldn't agree more. You have to keep going.

      3. Haunting scene.

      4. SO GOOD!

      5. Thanks! I was just, ah, I was stunned when I saw that film.

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  19. I'm kind of surprised to hear such praise for Shame. I went into it knowing it would be a shocking and challenging film, but honestly.. I was let down.

    The entire movie is Michael Fassbender being miserable. I understand that the point is to show how entirely his life is consumed by his addiction, but I couldn't feel any empathy towards him because he didn't even seem like a real human being. He was a caricature. Completely 1-dimensional.

    And the "we had a tough life" non-backstory was NOT fulfilling in that regard. Give me SOMETHING to show me that he's a person I should care about (not in the sense of being a good person, but in the sense of being a fully-formed individual).

    - Tippi

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    1. I get and appreciate everything you are saying, because everyone is truly entitled to their own opinion, but I simply could not disagree with you more. Granted, Shame definitely isn't a film for everyone (nor is Fassbender's work in it), but I think both the film and his performance are beyond flawless.

      Just a difference of opinion is all! Thanks for stopping by!

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  20. This post is so personal and really tells us a lot about your love for film!
    I love how this list ties in with your banner-which is even more meaningful to you than I imagined :) and yes, you are right, Earrings and Shame have a similar tone.

    A memorable or profound movie experience for me? I’m going with 28th of July 2012, when I saw Earrings, which was unique in that I know the filmmaker, and the credits even featured my name at the end, that moved me deeply. Its nice to be thought of in that way as a small piece in your life's jigsaw puzzle.

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    1. Wow Chris. Just... wow. What a kind, creative comment you've left here! First off, I'm really glad you dug this post - movies are my world, so the fact that you enjoyed me attempting to translate that here really makes it worth it.

      Your movie experience made my day. That was such a cool thing for you to say. And the credit in the end was the very least I could do to offer my thanks to you for your continued support. Having this movie come together was most definitely like trying to make the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle fit into place. Excellent analogy there, my friend!

      Keep on keepin' on, and thanks again.

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    2. @Alex Withrow: You're welcome! That analogy seemed correct. If I ever make a movie, study the end credits ( :

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  21. Two films...........Taxi Driver and The Deer Hunter.............just slayed me completely! I needed to drink after both those films.
    The slaughter at the end of Taxi Driver was just so astonishing and powerful......I didn't actually think he was going to go through with it. But go through with it, he did........and so calmly. That powerful music......that banging drum......superb, blistering film making! Scorsese was God!
    Chris Walken........finally realizing it was Michael sitting in front of him playing Russian Roulette.....but alas.....it was too late! Then they all sit around singing 'God Bless America'! So fucking moving!
    Whatever the hell happened to Michael Cimino?
    Two.......um.........movie experiences I will never forget!

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    1. You just listed two of my Top 5 movies, so props to you man! I love both of those movies for many reasons, including the scenes you mentioned. They will live with me forever.

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  22. Sorry that it took so long for me to get back to you. This is really awesome, man. I love that you went with movie watching in general and not just theatrical screenings. Makes it even more personal, and those are some great stories. Really enjoyable read, and I'm glad that we both share 2001 as a top experience. So far I am 1-for-2 on introducing that film to new people, in terms of them enjoying it. Not a bad percentage, I guess. :)

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    1. Hey man, don't apologize to me! I'm honored that you'd even read it. I thought it was cool how 2001 made both of our lists as well. That one is hit or miss for most people. Hell, I wasn't the biggest fan of it when I first saw it either. Now? Easily my Top 5 of all time. Love the hell out of it.

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  23. I can't really remember the date or time I watched THE EXORCIST, I was around 8 or 9 years old I think but it had a powerful-horror impact to me after having experience that classic, I just I know this because this was not a day to forget to me; after seeing it, I go to bed, I close my eyes, and there she is walking weird stuff doing that spider-walk in my fucking head. And there it goes; a fucking nightmare to me. It's great that I remember watching this for the first time than recalling where am I or what old am I the first time I saw the movie that made me wanna be a filmmaker for the rest of my life: JURASSIC PARK, but oh well both grew on me, stayed with me, for the rest of my life.

    SCHINDLER'S LIST; I saw this 4 years ago and it literally changed my whole personality, my whole view on cinema, it was September 27th of 2011. I popped it, no idea what 'm about to get and yeah, it absolutely, completely changed me. I just know, that I feel, like, I just the greatest movie ever made. And it made me convinced that I've got, got to see alot of great pictures from the past; m talking about from the 70s, 60s, 50s, 40s, 30s and on and on. This the film that made me realized too, that classic is important.

    Well, that's one of those two movies. But yeah, I gotta do one like this soon on Facebook and shared my Top 10 Memorable Movie Watching. And as always, I really, really having a great time bouncing through incredible stories, ideas and all that stuff in this site! Thanks!

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    1. Love this comment. That connection you had to Schindler's List... that's what loving movies is all about. Loving any artistic medium is tough, because we go through so much of that thing, always in search of greatness. I see a shitload of movies, but it's so rare to have such a lasting, personal connection to one. Great, great stories in your comment there.

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