Final Cut

It’s time for a moment of honesty. When I signed up for this class, I didn’t read the course description or even the title of it that closely. I knew it was a film class, I knew I was taking it with two of my close friends, and I knew it would count as an easy elective credit. And while I did get to take it with two of my close friends, the class ended up being about film criticism and was NOT an “easy” elective. So to say the very least – yes, my perspective on film criticism has changed because I didn’t have one three months ago. Yes, I approach film viewing differently because I am now an active viewer. Yes, there are elements I am more in tune with now – where does that light come from? How about that weird background noise? And yes, I absolutely appreciate so many more things about film that I hadn’t ever thought about before.

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#TBT to that time I passive aggressively tweeted about the paper for this class and forgot Mr. Manning follows me on Twitter.

As ignorant as this is, I never realized how much thought and evaluation is required to produce a detailed film review. I guess I had this idea, shaped a little bit by the movie reviews in the Mountain Express (Asheville’s local indie newspaper), that ALL movie reviews were written by cranky old men named Hanke with a taste for black and white, arthouse films that nobody else likes. I’ll admit I wrote him off because he wrote a scathing review of Step Brothers with Will Ferrell, and I consider that the pinnacle of comedic genius. We all have our differences, I guess. (Side note – someone named Scott now writes most of the reviews, and he is a much kinder critic than old Hanke.)

When it was all said and done, I really did enjoy the writing that I got to do in this class. It’s one thing to write an extended paper on a dry, academic topic, but it’s entirely another to write about what worked (or didn’t) within a specific film. I went through a lot of emotions on this – in particular with the film Casablanca. I first watched it in my high school film history class and fell in love. But watching it with a critical eye really changed my perspective. Once you begin to pay attention to small things, like character development, dialogue, set design, and plot particulars, even your favorite movie can fall apart – Casablanca came crashing down around me. You start to realize what makes a film dated, what makes a character relatable, and what makes a studio lot set look “real.”

Probably my favorite film to review was Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, because that’s literally just a GOOD movie. I went into the review liking it, and posted it to my blog loving it. I was pleasantly surprised, because maybe I’d just been choosing bad movies, but none had held up under further inspection. Ferris was one of those rare films that was made carefully, with thought put into each and every element, and it was one of the reasons I chose to write about director John Hughes for my final paper.

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What stood out to me most from the class was how important dialogue and character development is to me. I never thought about why I liked the films that I do, but now that I’ve had to pay attention to that, I realize it’s because of good dialogue and good characters. There is nothing more annoying that a flat, undeveloped, two dimensional character that doesn’t even make you believe they exist in real time. Good characters are flawed, complex, and motivated by strange things. Good characters make me wish I existed in their world, and bad characters make me run out of the theatre.

I guess you could say that I was pleasantly surprised by this class. Movies will never be the same again, thanks to the countless Thursday nights I spent bouncing between the Time Warner Theatre, a random classroom in Tucker, and an occasional field trip to the Elliot House. I wouldn’t trade the time spent writing reviews, response posts, and even that single spaced paper for anything. Thank you, Mr. Manning, for showing me that movies aren’t just Hollywood magic – there is real work, real thought, and real passion put into these projects. Here’s to the rubrics, the word counts, and all the movies I watched this semester!

Get Ready for 88 Minutes of Nostalgia with Space Jam

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Space Jam is one of those weird, classic childhood movies that everyone and their brother watched on VHS and wore out. It was originally released in theatres in 1996 and made over $27 million its opening weekend. I found it in the $5 bin at Walmart and the woman at checkout told me it was her kid’s favorite movie. Her kid was eight in 1996. Maybe I missed out in the late nineties, but I managed to go twenty years before I watched this film starring Michael Jordan and the Looney Tunes.

The film has two storylines that collide halfway through. In the human world, we meet Michael Jordan just as he’s beginning his minor league baseball career with the Birmingham Barons, and just after he has retired from basketball. Simultaneously, on Moron Mountain, the amusement park owner Swackhammer has decided that he needs to drum up business at the park. Naturally, he cooks up a plot to kidnap the Looney Tunes and make them into slaves, who would perform at the park forever. Bugs Bunny and Co. are too smart for this; they challenge their kidnappers, the Nerdlucks, to a basketball game instead. If the TuneSquad wins, they walk free. Simple, right? Of course not. The Nerdlucks figure out a way to steal all the talent from popular basketball players like Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, and Larry Bird. This changes the game, so Bugs reaches out to Michael Jordan for his help.

After 20 years, it’s safe to say that some of the magic is gone from Space Jam. For one, it just looks dated. From the clothes to the cast, it’s very 1996. The film includes parts from Bill Murray and Wayne Knight, who bring a lot of comedy to Jordan’s performance. I didn’t expect Oscar worthy acting from the basketball great, but I didn’t feel that his performance was cringe worthy. This is largely due to the fact that the director, wisely, kept a large majority of Jordan’s scenes on the court.

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The Looney Tunes characters create a cool, human-cartoon crossover, but then again – when was the last time that you talked to a ten-year-old about how great the Looney Tunes are? According to the Looney Tunes Wikipedia page, the show is still on the air, although it has been revived from what it was when it originally aired in 1930. The crossover concept is a weird one all around, and a weakness for me because I consider it to be gimmicky. However, for a young kid, it probably seems pretty cool. The cinematography isn’t stellar either. You can really tell what was filmed on a green screen, but since half of the cast is animated, I’ll let that slide.

Something that the film does really well is bring a sense of nostalgia back to audiences watching today. That’s a magical quality that not a lot of films have. Almost every review I read or person I talked to about Space Jam spoke to that. For all of its technical faults, this quality may be the film’s saving grace. I even decided to watch it based on the nostalgia factor when I was choosing a film to review! It doesn’t claim to be a masterpiece in any right, and I don’t think anyone has ever watched this film with that predisposition.

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And now, spoiler alert: The TuneSquad wins with the help of Michael Jordan. This is a family movie, for all your devil’s advocates out there, and Swackhammer’s evil plot could not prevail in the Looney Tunes world. The Tunes go free, the Nerdlucks run off to Tuneland because “Moron Mountain stinks!” and Michael Jordan realizes he’s leaps and bounds better at basketball than baseball. All is right in the world again as the credits roll. I’d give Space Jam a B+, because I wasn’t expecting to be amazed, moved, or impressed by the artistic quality of the film. It starred Bugs Bunny and Michael Jordan. I guess I just wanted to figure out what I’d been missing all these years, and while I can’t say that I found it, I can certainly appreciate it for the childhood classic it has become to thousands of viewers.

Surprise: Conformity central theme in The Conformist

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1970’s Oscar-nominated Italian film The Conformist, directed by Bernardo Bartolucci, does not disappoint. The cast is mainly Italian actors and actresses from the era. Jean-Louis Trintignant is Marcello Clerici, an Italian man who is determined to “prove himself” after taking a job inside Mussolini’s Fascist regime. Stefania Sandrelli is Clerici’s wife, Giulia, and Enzo Tarascio is Professor Quadri, Clerici’s college professor who has become a political target.

As the plot thickens, Clerici and his new wife travel to Paris on their honeymoon in part to celebrate their recent marriage, but also to satisfy a mission that Clerici has tasked himself with in order to undoubtedly solidify his loyalty to the Fascist party. The central question of the movie becomes, “will you do what it takes to completely conform to the majority?” even when they ask you to assassinate a college mentor?

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Such a cool use of light and dark colors to contrast Clerici, bottom right, with a member of the Fascist government.

The Conformist fits neatly into the political drama genre because it contains all the key elements: pressing political motives, romance, travel, and action. Of course, it helps that the cinematography creates a sense of suspense within the film and the spoken Italian with English subtitles only adds to that – you literally never know what’s going to happen next.

Historical context, at least a general basis, is important for understanding this film. If you don’t understand the basics of Fascism or know a little bit about the effect of Mussolini’s reign, then you may have a hard time understanding Clerici’s deep need to become a conformist within that society. He could not simply refuse a job and leave the country; he had to adapt and protect his new family at all costs.

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Long hallways, geometric lighting, and dramatic carpet create incredible visual depth.

The Conformist was a diamond in the rough, among all the political dramas out there. It helped that I have a soft spot for all things Italian, but if you have an extra two hours and want to watch a foreign film about a fascinating part of Italian politics, then I highly recommend The Conformist!

Letter grade: A.

Tweet: Italian political drama, The Conformist, delightfully conforms to expectations.

Cujo? More like Cu-joke.

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Cujo, a horror adaption based on the book by Stephen King, is a story about what happens when man’s best friend gets rabies. Note: it’s not pretty. The film focuses on the family of the Trenton’s, who have been recently rocked by the husband’s discovery of his wife’s extramarital affair. The inciting incident for that story line occurs when Victor Trenton sees his wife and the “other man” arguing in the street, while the inciting incident for poor Cujo comes as soon as he contracts rabies.

This isn’t your typical family film. Cujo spends a considerable amount of screen time covered in blood and foaming at the mouth. Donna and her son Tad become trapped and terrorized by the St. Bernard, with little hope for escape. It’s not a typical horror movie either. The antagonist is a dog, so if you want to instill a fear in your children of house pets, then this is the movie for that.

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Friendly St. Bernard? Think again.

The film focuses a lot on the family’s dynamic, and ultimately asks “what will you do, how will you react, when your family is threatened?” Victor deals with this on occasions – not only does he have to confront the reality that his wife has cheated on him, but he discovers them at the site of their attack from Cujo.

Unfortunately, to a modern audience, Cujo may come off as pretty dated. From the cars that the Trenton’s drive (they are held hostage by the dog in a Pinto, for crying out loud) to the clothing they wear, everything has a look reminiscent of the mainstream 80’s. There is little neon and shoulder pads, but you can tell it’s from a different era. Not only that, but the pacing of the movie itself makes it dated. It’s slower, with a majority of focus not on Cujo attacking the different characters, but on Victor and Donna’s troubled marriage and the effect that’s having on the family.

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Tender moment at the beginning of the film.

Cujo is an atypical horror movie because it uses REAL things, like affairs and rabid dogs, to scare an audience rather than the make-believe. That is a definite strength of the film, and something that older viewers may appreciate more. However, if you’re looking for a “scary” film for your 13-year-old boy to watch, this may do the trick.  If I had to give it a grade, I’d give it a B-.

Tweet: Small family battles big dog that bites hard, foams at mouth, while father grapples with what to do when his family is threatened.

Ferris Bueller Makes An A

“Life moves pretty fast,” according to Ferris Bueller, and that couldn’t be more true. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is all about stopping to look around and appreciate the life you live, rather than staying wrapped up in your day-to-day responsibilities. Ferris, joined by his girlfriend Sloane and his best friend Cameron, take a “sick day” and reflect on the importance of living life to the fullest. Throughout the film, Ferris is pursued by his high school principal, Mr. Rooney, and his sister Jeanie, who are out to prove that he’s not actually ill. Meanwhile, the news of Ferris’ feigned illness has traveled throughout town and his local community rallies around him – even painting “Save Ferris” on the water tower. Through the movie, you see Ferris drag his friends out of their comfort zones and take them on an adventure through the Windy City.

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I watched this movie with one of my close friends who had never seen the movie before. Not ten minutes in, after Ferris has successfully convinced his parents to let him skip school, he calls his best friend who is legitimately in bed sick and convinces him to hang out. Hayden looked at me and said, “Okay, you’re Ferris and I’m Cameron.” This is such a good film because everyone knows a Ferris. There is someone in all of our lives that is the adventurer, the “let’s skip class and get milkshakes instead,” the one who is always willing to stop the monotony of daily life and do something for the hell of it. For those of us that aren’t quite that spontaneous, Cameron’s character serves as the relatable one. He reluctantly agrees to go along with Ferris’ antics, but ultimately ends up enjoying himself and realizing what he needs to change in order to live life to the fullest. Ferris’ parents, who so easily believe his illness, are everyone’s mom and dad – well-meaning and always willing to give the benefit of the doubt to their precious child. Of course Ferris didn’t have a fever or cohesive symptoms, but that didn’t matter. He said he was sick, so naturally he had to stay home. I can think of at least a dozen times where I feigned illness and played hooky in high school. It’s practically a rite of passage.

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Watching this film for the second time, I made a point to focus on how music was used throughout. I always found myself dancing and singing along, but I would have never considered Ferris Bueller’s Day Off a musical. Sure, it had music, but true musicals are annoying. There films where characters burst into song at inappropriate times, about trivial things in their lives. Case and point: High School Musical 1, 2 &, 3. What surprised me the most was how many orchestral pieces were used in the film. They are used, in particular, to illustrate the actions of certain characters and make the time where they’re on screen, not speaking, more interesting. A particular scene that comes to mind is when Mr. Rooney pulls up at Ferris’ house, intent on catching him skipping school. The music plays into Rooney’s characterization as a larger-than-life authority figure, the kind of guy who thinks he has more power than he does. Rooney essentially goes on a hunt for Ferris, to prove that he is skipping and therefore not as good of a kid as everyone seems to think he is. So, booming musical number fit for a cheesy, TV cop crime show circa 1980 works very well here. To the same tune, pop music is used excellently to accompany Ferris and his friends. Towards the end of the film, Ferris joins a parade going through downtown and jumps onto a float to sing “Twist and Shout,” which is a song about letting loose and dancing. Ferris’ whole day has been about letting loose; it’s only fitting that he leads the crowd in song and dance about doing that very thing. While it’s not a traditional musical in any sense, music certainly plays an important part in this film. It aids in character development, which can be difficult to do well. The film itself is full of youthful exuberance, and the soundtrack certainly plays a large part in creating that mood.

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There’s a reason why Ferris’ Bueller’s Day Off is highly regarded as one of the most popular movies by director John Hughes. At face value, it is the story of a teenager dealing with the trials and tribulation of high school. It’s a story about a kid wants to play videogames and hang out with his friends while everyone else is stuck learning European History. More than that, Ferris is dealing with the impending upset of going to college, separating from his friends and leaving behind the comfort of the life he’s always known. So, it makes perfect sense that he would want to skip school, pick up his best friend and his girlfriend, drive a Ferrari in downtown Chicago, go to an art museum, and dance in a parade.  The sounds in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off don’t simply fade into the background nor do they serve as ambiance within scenes. They contribute to the scenes as separate actors, by taking what we already know about a character we’ve been introduced to and building on it through music notes rather than dialogue or action. That’s a beautiful thing. If I had to give Ferris Bueller a grade, I’d give him an A+ for understanding what life is all about.

 

Forest Gump

Forest Gump is a classic because it reminds us that even the most unlikely individuals can be heroes in their own way. The adaptation boasts a cast including Tom Hanks, Robin Wright, and Sally Field – it’s no surprise that the story of an ordinary man who leads an extraordinary life has become a beloved film of countless individuals.

The film takes you through Forest’s life as he tells his story to different people waiting at a bus stop. The setting of the film shifts depending on what part of his life he’s talking about – everywhere from Vietnam to Washington, D.C., Bayou LeBatre, Louisiana, and Greenbow, Alabama. The film encapsulates periods of history such as integration, the Vietnam war, the Watergate Scandal, and JFK’s assassination. Throughout the film, Forest makes connections with many unforgettable characters, such as Lieutenant Dan Taylor and Benjamin Buford “Bubba” Blue. Of course, no good southern boy is complete without his momma, and Forest’s mother is responsible for ingraining in him that he is no different than anyone else.

The beautiful thing about Forest Gump is that it shows how our relationships are intertwined with other people, and the importance of keeping the promises we make. Forest doesn’t do the selfless actions that he does out of arrogance or because he expects something in return; his character is so “pure” in a way that we don’t see often. He even finds beauty in the chaos of Vietnam, remarking to his childhood sweetheart Jenny that it wasn’t so bad when the rain stopped and he could gaze upon the stars in the sky.

Of course, it would be remiss to neglect the fact that Forest’s life isn’t without hardship. He had a low IQ, which often made him seem more “different” than he really was. The love of his life was never able to fully commit to him until she needed to depend on him, and he loses a good friend during a devastating war. But what makes this all seem so human the fact that Forest, in his strange way, deals with his grief proactively. He doesn’t retreat home to Greenbow to lament – he instead travels to Louisiana to keep his promise to Bubba and ends up becoming a millionaire and changing lives along the way.

From the scenes on the water during his time as a shrimp boat captain, the long sweeping views of his homestead, to the different landscapes from his cross country marathon, the director did an excellent job of keeping everything visually engaging. This, along with the gradual appearance change of the main characters, led to a sense of time passing –you understand that each character has changed and aged. This makes the film feel all the more “real,” as if you’re looking into the life of an actual stranger, perhaps one sitting at a bus stop, telling you the story of his life. The soundtrack is an element of the film that deserves special mention. It was curated to capture the sounds of the different eras the film moves through. The soundtrack helps to transport you into the time period more fully. It became a bestseller after the movie was released, if that tells you anything about how excellent it was.

What surprised me the most about Forest Gump (the film, not the man) was that it included controversial themes and events, but dealt with them gracefully. On one hand, Forest Gump makes an excellent kitschy themed restaurant, but it also goes to show that we, as individuals, are in charge of the kinds of life we lead.  I would give this film an A+.

 

Aged like Fine Wine: Thoughts on Film with Gary Byrd

For this assignment, I immediately thought to interview my dad. He happens to have a very unique relationship with a video rental store, Rosebud Video, in our neighborhood in Asheville – so I wanted to talk with him about his experience with films. What follows are his answers to some of the questions that were provided as a guide to conversation.

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My Dad and I, this past Father’s Day, at his favorite German restaurant in Asheville.

What was one of the first films you remember watching in a theatre?

“Gotta think about this one. I don’t know. I grew up in Johnson City, Tennessee, and the theatre we had was the Majestic Theatre. My first memory is going to the skyline drive in with my mom and one of her friends, and four other kids in the car. We watched Elvis movies. I don’t remember the names, but that was my first experience. All I cared about was the concession stand, the candy. We put the speaker inside the car and it was like Elvis was performing live. I remember seeing Viva Las Vegas because I sung it for about a week afterwards. And I remember around the time of Woodstock, the movie Woodstock came out and all the teenagers wanted to go to the Majestic on Main Street and see that. It was all that “hippie shit” and “getting back to the land” nonsense. I started getting into movies in the seventies and eighties. Really, around 1984, when I moved to Burnsville after college, I really started getting into movies. I started to develop a sense of style and interest for particular actors. I’m more about the actors than I am the directors. Sometime in the late seventies, I got really into Hitchcock and Woody Allen.”

What do you remember about those early film experiences (food, type of theatre, friends, family, how you felt, etc.)?

“Going to the Drive In was a HUGE treat. That was monumental. You’d go there in the summer, and it didn’t get dark until nine. It was all about the experience, the event. As soon as it got started, the image would come up on the screen and we got really into it, as kids, because it was like nothing we’d seen before. The screens were so big compared to the 29inch TV that we had.”

Did you watch many films growing up? If so, what films were you drawn to?

“I primarily watched TV. That was easier. Somewhere in the mid-eighties we had VHS which was a precursor to the DVD. Films weren’t available like they are today. You’d go to the theatre on dates, and I took a lot of girls to see movies. You went to see because you wanted to see something, but you also went to be seen with this good looking girl. I remember being drawn to movies like Scorsese’s Godfather epic, Blue Velvet, Hitchcock. The Cohen Brothers as I grew older. But we really watched a lot of TV.”

 Do you remember when the event films like “Jaws” and “Star Wars” when they were in theatres?

“Yeah, I remember seeing Jaws for the first time when it came out. Star Wars too. I’d never seen anything like that before in my life; the visual effects of Star Wars were mind blowing. Jaws freaked me out, I didn’t want to go to the beach after seeing that. We actually took a vacation to the beach sometime after that and I wouldn’t get in the water.”

When HBO, Showtime & VCRs were readily available, did that change how you went to see movies? Or which ones you went to see in a theatre?

“I never had much of HBO and that sort of stuff because I couldn’t afford cable as an art student in college. Sometimes I had a VCR but sometimes I didn’t, depending on who my roomates were. I didn’t watch movies on VHS or DVD until your mom and I got married, really. I just didn’t have the means for the technology. We just had movies for a long time when you were growing up, going to rent movies became a family ritual for us I think. Blockbuster was really close and that was our video store for a long time. Because we didn’t have cable, we had to watch movies as entertainment. That makes you appreciate it a little more I think.”

Did you ever go rent movies from a video store? If so, how did you approach deciding what to choose to watch? With all those choices?

I love the whole concept of a video store. This goes back to Kevin Smith, the director, and his movie Clerks – the whole concept of hanging out at the video store and talking about movies. Just so happened that we had a video store within walking distance of the house. I went through a term of unemployment for two years, and I watched a lot of movies to pass the time. Rosebud Video became my second home. They did a customer appreciation day, and some dude figured out how to see who rented the most videos. It was me, and I had rented somewhere close to a thousand. I’d watched close to a thousand movies. So they gave me my own shelf for recommendations. It’s called Gary’s Shelf. They also gave me two months of unlimited free rentals, and I watched close to two hundred movies during that period.

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Outside of Rosebud Video, on Charlotte St. in Asheville, N.C.

Does having your own recommendation shelf make a difference in what you watch or recommend, since you put films out for anyone to choose?

 Having a shelf doesn’t change what I watch or what I recommend. I put out strange stuff that people ought to give a try. I did, and it worked for whatever reason. I hope that the films I put on my shelf will encourage folks to take a different look at what Rosebud Videos offers. They have thousands of movies. I encourage people to go deep and look at what they have in the collection. That’s what a video store is: a collection of videos that’s growing over time. It gets deeper based on customer recommendation, and it gets that much more interesting based on that participation. The LAST thing we need is the elimination of a place to go to rent films. The dialogue in video stores about films is so important. You only find that in the store. It’s not the same in a theatre, on amazon, on Hulu, anywhere else. Those online platforms are so impersonal. You can’t tell if someone really hated a movie or if they really liked it. A star isn’t a substitute for a facial expression or an honest discussion about a movie.”

How and where do you watch most of your movies now (theatres, DVD rentals, streaming, etc)?

“Lots of DVD rentals. That’s primarily the only way. I have my man cave set up pretty comfortably, and I have my big screen TV and my slippers and a beer. It’s how I relax. Netflix is like the song, “Video killed the Radio Star.” Netflix isn’t hurting Rosebud because it’s a neighborhood niche, supported by the neighborhood. But we’re unique in that fact. I probably wouldn’t be on Netflix if I didn’t have Rosebud though, because I like the personal connection of going to the store to check out a movie. I’m all about the personal connection and dialogue. If Rosebud closed, I’d watch less videos. That’s just part of my daily routine to stop by the video store. I like being about to talk with other people about films. I like people who are excited about movies and want to talk about the experiences we’ve had with other people, whether that was talking about movies we watched with other people or recommending movies to them. Movies are all about the experience you had while watching it, and then sharing that with other people.”

What kinds of films do you watch now? Do you feel those tastes have changed much in the past 20 years?

“I watch just about anything. I engage in a couple of series, like House of Cards and recently watched that series in entirety.  I’m drawn to almost every genre equally, because I’m an actor oriented viewer. I don’t particularly like war films, because those tend to be buzzkills. TV Shows are good because they can have these long, involved, convoluted plots with twists and turns. But I love it when a movie can do that, and do it well. I love Will Ferrell and those funny guys, but I love foreign films and dramas and those classic films too. My tastes have changed in the fact that they’ve matured. I think I’m more open to watching all types of movies now than I was when I was younger, for sure.”

How often do you go to theatres now to see films? How different is that from how you experienced films 25 years ago? What do you attribute the change to (if there is one)?

“I’m not a huge fan of theatres because I don’t like sitting in a place that isn’t my house, is probably too cold, and probably doesn’t serve beer. No, but seriously, movies are the way that I relax and unwind and going to a theatre isn’t relaxing for me. For some movies, like the ones you just HAVE to see on the silver screen, then yeah, I’ll go to the theatre. I think the last one I saw was the latest Star Wars, but I left when they killed Hans Solo. I’ve been told I look like Harrison Ford, so I took that personally. 25 years ago I wouldn’t have thought that I’d watched nearly as many movies as I have, mostly because 25 years ago I thought I’d be a world famous artist. But I’m still working on that, probably because I got distracted and started watching movies instead of painting every day.”

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My dog and I in Rosebud circa 2013. If you bring in your pup, the clerks will give them a free treat.

For me, the most interesting part of this was thinking about my Dad’s relationship with films and how that’s formed mine. Like he said, going to Blockbuster on the weekends and picking out movies to watch as a family (we only had one TV in my parent’s room, so it really was a family experience) was just what we did. I never missed having cable, and I never thought that other people religiously watched TV like we religiously watched our movies. But what I loved the most from the interview was hearing about Rosebud Video and his relationship with the clerks and other customers. He will seriously spend an hour or longer in there if he gets to talking or changing movies out on his shelf. This used to be an annoyance, because I didn’t understand why we couldn’t just leave and go enjoy our movies for ourselves, without anyone else’s opinion. I can’t count how many times one of the clerks has recommended me a movie and I have taken them up on it MONTHS later – only to realize they were totally right and I loved the film. Those interactions are what is special about a traditional video store, and exactly why my Dad has watched well over 1,000 movies – there is nothing better than talking about films with people who are passionate about films.