Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Birth of a Movie Obsession

I wanted to take a brief moment to commemorate the 15th anniversary of my weird movie obsession.  

My dad wanted to always spend time with me and my brother, Anthony.  The trouble was that Anthony and I are into completely different things.  He was into sports, and he would talk endlessly about the latest baseball stats.  I, on the other hand, was into theater and movies.  In an effort to spend time with both of his sons, my dad devoted both of his days off to us.  He would take Anthony to Pirates games, and we would go see movies together.

On Friday July 16, 1999, my dad and I went to Carmike Cinemas in Cranberry Township.  At that time, at the age of 15, we would just go to the theater and see what was playing.  I wasn't up on the weekly release schedule yet, and the only thing playing at the time of our arrival was Lake Placid.  Yes, Lake Placid, the man-eating alligator thriller starring Bridget Fonda and Bill Pullman.  It was silly, and my dad relished hearing Betty White's potty mouth.  After Placid, my father suggested something we've never done before: see a second movie.  

The only other new movie at Carmike Cinemas was Stanley Kubrick's controversial final film, Eyes Wide Shut.  Eyes had garnered a lot of publicity for numerous reasons.  Kubrick died in March of that year before the film was released.  The shooting schedule went on for a record 46 weeks.  The sexual nature of the film was perhaps the main focus.  Eyes centers on the sexual odyssey Tom Cruise's Manhattan doctor takes.  Eventually, near the end of the film, he finds himself in a masked orgy.  Needless to say, it was not the most...comfortable I've ever been sitting with my dad while watching a movie.  I remember my dad introducing me to some married friends between our features.  When we told them that we too would be going to see Eyes Wide Shut, they were rather shocked.  

My first double feature with my dad would lead to countless more.  Instead of seeing one movie a week, we began seeing at least two.  Sometimes it would spread over the entire weekend (we once saw The Sixth Sense, Dick, and The Thomas Crown Affair remake over three days), and sometimes we'd see three in one day (The Lord of the Rings--The Two Towers, Gangs of New York, and Two Weeks Notice was a particularly long triple feature).  That's when everything started.

My weekly trips to see movies with my dad opened an entirely new world for me.  We started venturing into Pittsburgh to find smaller theaters (our favorites were in Squirrel Hill).  He encouraged me to see foreign films and documentaries, but we would still see big tent-pole blockbusters.  We didn't shy away from anything.  My dad's main criteria was that he was entertained.  When we would get back into the car, he would ask me to talk about the movies we saw--what it made us think of, what were our favorite performances, etc.  After I got to college, my dad would still drive to Pittsburgh on Saturdays and pick me up to go to the movies.  We would go see some, but sadly the amount of times we went has dwindled over the years.  

I guess this date holds a bit of a special place in my heart.  It was when I found something I truly loved.  Maybe there are movies I don't like, but I can almost always find something redeemable in everything.  It was the oddest pairing when it comes to a double feature, but I definitely know what I'm going to watch tonight.  

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