1. THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (1980)
Being dropped off at 9 years old at a public theater on opening night of a new Star Wars film release may seem over the top in todays social landscape, but that was one of the big benefits of living in small town USA in the summer of 1980. The Empire Strikes Back roared into my hometown and I had to see it! My family had other plans, but not me, I was going to see this film some how some way on opening night! It was my very first movie to be seen all on my own, front row center, with popcorn and drink by my side.
From beginning to end, it was fantastic in the eyes of this former 9 year old, and the formation of my creative imagination. This film made the impossible seem possible. If you can dream it, you can do it. It meant that my imagination had no ceiling. Spaces were wide-open now. I bet I wrote over a hundred short stories, collected Star Wars comics and drew just about everyday afterward. The film's morality played a big role in my life as well growing up. In elementary terms, “Don’t be a bad guy, be a good guy with a good group of buds that help people.”
2. CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND (1977)
I never saw this film in theaters, but I bet I watched this everyday after school for a solid year. My family got our first VCR in the Fall of 1983. Of course you could watch movies on rented VHS tapes from the only video store in town at the time, but I recorded Close Encounters of the Third Kind off a local broadcast TV station (commercials and all). The VCR had a wired-remote, and I use to pause the film to study the effects. I was really interested in effects as a kid.
There were no real behind the scenes documentaries or specials broadcast on regular TV back then. We didn’t have cable, so I was at the mercy of the 2 channels we did have from our antenna, ABC and NBC. When Close Encounters was advertised to premiere on ABC Saturday Night movies, I made it a point to be there in front of our 13 inch color TV, with VCR remote in hand and VHS tape ready to record. The cinematography and camera work in this film is really fantastic. It highly influenced my wanting to get into video production. I still get ideas off the film some 30 years later.
3. STAR WARS: A NEW HOPE (1977)
My Mom had remarried just before summer of 1979. My step-Dad took me and my younger brother to see a re-release of Star Wars: A New Hope at our local theater, and it was my very first PG movie ever. We all sat on the front row, and as soon as the title sequence popped on screen, we were all blown back into our seats. My step-Dad had already seen the film a few years prior, but this was my and my younger brothers' first time. I remember actually leaning forward when the giant Imperial Star Destroyer roared overhead. The music was captivating. The sound effects was amazing. The effects were hypnotizing and the picture on screen was just overwhelming. Every Star Wars fan can tell you what Star Wars means to them personally. But no Star Wars fan can describe what they felt like when seeing Star Wars on the big screen for the first time. It truly is indescribable. To me, I can only best describe it as “One of a kind experience!”
4. OCEANS ELEVEN (2001)
If the word “cool” ever had a film, it would be Oceans Eleven. This film to me, is spot-on when it comes to a great buddy “heist” movie. From the films cinematography, to its music, the wardrobe, cast and storyline, what a great film to watch over and over again. The camera angles and editing in this movie just captivates the senses. And the story even pays off at the end. I remember watching this film for the first time think “How in the world are these guys going to knock over 3 casinos in one night and get away with it?” The end of this picture is so great and so “dude-perfect” it made my top 5 movies of all time. Most people have Shawshank as most being a “must-see” movie every time it’s on cable TV. Mine is Danny Ocean and the boys, and always will be!
5. THE BEST OF TIME (1986)
Probably the funnest movie I’ve ever seen. It’s not the big laugh moments, but the little ones that make the most impact. The sweet story of a hometown boy who dropped the game winning pass as a high school senior that cost the town a state championship, is the main storyline. But the best storyline of the film is that of friendship. Old friends pushing each other to get out of the negative state of mind they have lived with for over 20 years, and do something special to correct it all by playing the game again. A do over! Robin Williams and Kurt Russell will make you laugh and tear up over and over again in this film. It’s a sports movie with a great message, but man it will make you laugh throughout. Robin Williams at his best! It really taught me how to not settle. And "can’t" is all in the mind.
6. THE GOONIES (1985)
This film I know is corny, but it did hit me at the same age as the cast were at the time. Again, it was a great shot to my imagination. Even though the film has its moments, it was funny and fun when watching it with a few of my junior high friends. After we all left the theater, a few of us began writing short stories. My friends would do the creative writing and I would illustrate out the ideas. Today, as a creative professional, we call that storyboarding. The Goonies taught me how to work with a group of creative people - how to share ideas. That’s the truth!
7. THE BREAKFAST CLUB (1986)
The social movie event of 9th grade. A group of friends and I watched this film on HBO. This film was one that taught me to be friends with everyone. Not to judge a book by its cover. I was friends with everyone in my school years. My family and I moved a lot. When I was in junior high, as well as senior high, we moved 5 times. I had a VHS of The Breakfast Club that a friend recorded from HBO. Man, I wore that film out. I would watch that movie every time I switched schools. Besides listening to my mixed-tape cassette collection my friends made me, this film was the only familiar daily routine I would use to calm myself down and be less stressed switching to a new school. This film will always be my most familiar friend. MTV was a real close second! And really, if you were a teen in the late 80’s, who can forget that soundtrack?