Some mark their lives by a diary or the cars or pets they owned. Others use the good ol’ calendar. I mark mine by movies. Yeah, it’s a little pathetic. But, I’m a movie guy. That’s my lens for life. What do you expect? So I can’t help but find symbolism in my life through cinema. Or maybe not so much spotting out emblematic patterns (which as humans we are always attempting to create from nothing), but rather taking notice of the films that coincidentally find themselves tethered to landmark moments in my life.
Next week my wife and I are buying our first house. People keep telling me that’s a big step along the path of adulthood. They repeat those words often, usually while I’m standing in my SpongeBob SquarePants undies and slurping milk from the carton (I recommend not doing this while applying for a mortgage). The last film I’ll see before signing the papers will be Transformers 2: Revenge of Super Turturro. It’s fitting. The last movie I saw before my wedding (another one of those adulthood stepping stones along with learning not to jam pennies into electrical outlets) was Transformers: Weekend at the Witwicky’s. And I wouldn’t be shocked if the movie I watch before a kid hits the scene will be Transformers 3: This is Megan Fox’s Entire Career (well, maybe Transformers 5: Jazz Lives — after all, I’m in no hurry to burden Earth with my spawn).
“Transformers” was an integral part of my childhood pop-culture — although, unlike some, I didn’t spend my teens and ’20s fetishizing on a silly toy commercial. I find it funny (in the heh-heh coincidence sense, not the so-funny-it’ll-make-your-nose-bleed sense) that right before marrying and buying a house — you know, adult stuff — that something so strongly connected to my baby-teeth days shows up, forging a bridge of sorts between those two parts of my life (the same could be said of Revenge of the Sith hitting screens days before college graduation).
I realize this pattern is akin to reading tea leaves. Unlike Richard Dreyfuss sculpting mash potatoes in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, this means nothing. There is no grand scheme when it comes to movies and where they fall in one’s life. Yet, it’s how I choose to mark my time.
I watched Ghostbusters II on my eighth birthday. It was the first movie my mother took me to after moving to the city I’d eventually adopt as my hometown. It was also the first film I saw with neighborhood kids who became lifelong friends and fellow cinema lovers. When I moved a hundred miles from home for college, my roommates and I caught The Cell after we finished unpacking.
A day after the dentist cut out my wisdom teeth I drove some pals to a matinee of The Waterboy. (I don’t remember the movie at all since I was high on codeine.) I drag raced a friend after seeing The Matrix. My car boomed past the 45 mph speed limit of Edgewood Road, topping 80 mph along the road’s busy, windy hills. I mark that as the climax of my adolescent stupidity and arrogance of invincibility.
My first date was during Ace Venture: When Nature Calls. My date held my hand to her upper thigh. I barely watched the movie. Years later, my friend Amanda joined me for The Insider because she felt sorry for a sad sack like me who was planning to see it alone. The Talented Mr. Ripley was the first movie Amanda and I saw as a romantic couple. And yes, Transformers was the movie I saw the day before I married her.
And that’s not even the highlight reel. Just a random assortment of memories and associated movies that came to mind in the last few minutes. Through happy and sad times, births and deaths, and everything interesting in-between, I carry movies as the souvenirs of my life.
Now… It’s your turn. This is just one of those ways movies manage to stay with us forever. What are some of the landmark films you remember life by?