…or I Should Have Kept My Mouth Shut
It was on a Monday in 7th grade that my science teacher asked our class if they saw any movies over the weekend. Several students responded with what film they saw and if they liked it or not. When it came to me, I got up and proceeded to review a film detailing such features as the script, acting, and cinematography (while I didn’t know what that was, I had read in Premiere Magazine that it was a “coffee table award” at the Oscars). That movie I reviewed Sneakers, with Robert Redford and Ben Kingsley. So out of all the movies on the list, this forgotten and profoundly outdated cyber-crime film from the early 90’s, is the one in which I have the biggest personal connection.
That chance encounter in the beginning of the school year started a trend in which every Monday, I would give a movie review. This meant that I had to watch at least one movie a week and then put some thought into a review. By the end of the year, it was the highlight of my week and I started to write up my reviews for other classes and the school newspaper. Interestingly, I was recently digging through relics of my middle school career and found my English journal from that year. I saw as the focus slowly shifted from mundane details of my life to reviews of movies giving the beginnings of my love affair with film a clear start date.
The oral, weekly movie reviews continued through 7th grade into 8th grade and a few months into 9th grade (when my English teacher put the kibosh on it when double entendres took over for actual content). Though by that point, I had already taken up a column in the school newspaper to complain about the poor quality of films and hail art house and independent cinema much to the ire of my blockbuster loving classmates. Slowly but surely, I learned that I loved being hated for my reviews and that having an unpopular opinion and flaunting it was fun. I was already an unpopular kid and with the reviews, I wasn’t invisible anymore and that I was getting attention for my reviews, albeit negative. My parents tried to correct my shameless elitism but my insecure high school self decided that if I wasn’t going to be loved by all, then I might as well be hated.
Thankfully, over the years, I have since matured and learned to respect other’s opinions and not like independent and foreign cinema just for the sake of liking it but because its well-made and interesting. I have a feeling that my 13 year old self would have loved films like “Rachel Getting Married” and “The Kids Are Alright,” when my twenty-something self cringes at the pompousity of them.
Still, along with the negativity, I was finding that a few people were hearing from I was writing and that I was getting some of my classmates to give indie films a chance. As I continued to write reviews through my teens and twenties, my passion went from irritating others to sharing my love of movies and this is what the Top 800 Project is all about. Not a “look at all the movies I’ve seen!” thing but a “these are some really good movies that I recommend you watch” blog.
This brings us back to Sneakers. To be perfectly honest, if I never reviewed this movie for my 7th grade class, I would have completely forgotten about it and it never would have ended up on here. But this is a list of my favorite movies and many of them have personal emotional ties and this is the magic of cinema. Like a good song, seeing a movie again can you bring back a stream of memories, positive, negative, or neutral. This is why I am not giving straight up reviews of these movies but rather, highlighting something about the film that really grabbed me and drew me into the film even if it wasn’t the film itself! That being said, Sneakers is still a pretty fun movie.
About the Top 800 Project:
Using the They Shoot Pictures Starting List of 8800 films (LINK) and my Netflix ratings, I sifted through the list and of the 4500 films I’d seen, I selected a random number of films I liked more than the others. The list was about 812 films. I kicked off 12 to get an even 800. The list chronologically goes up to 2009. Each blog entry will list ten films, one of which will be discussed in detail. The ten films will then be posted toThe Top 800 Master List, a Google docs file compiling them. When the countdown finishes in what will be probably be a really a long time, I will begin discussing random films that I didn’t get to before.