Tuesday, November 05, 2013

four movies that should be in every gen-x'rs dvd collection

not that i care so much to distinguish one generation from another after all we are all human and we all help create the world.  but there are some cultural touchstones that do mark a generation, i.e. woodstock for baby boomer; the great depression for what tom brokaw calls the greatest generation etc. etc.

so it goes with movies.  believe me if i saw star wars [1977] for the first time as a grown man that film would have had no impact on me whatsoever.  i didn't see it as a grown man.  the pic was released when i was 10 years old.  i remember that blistering hot summer day waiting in the parking lot of the the local cineplex for four hours to see luke skywalker against the evil empire.  the heat and the wait was worth it.  i can close my eyes and still see that star destroyer flying overhead in the opening moments of star wars.  hence that movie experience is one that has defined much of my movie-going life.

i know dvds are nearly passe, that they are on their way out.  we stream movies now, right.  except for me.  i love the physical thing of the disc and its container and that container's cover art.  i love looking at my shelves loaded with one splendid disc after another.  it is dvds i collect so my list will maintain a dvd collection.

now before i begin let me add that my list is my own tastes.  they may not be every gen-x'rs cuppa.  i do think these films define being a teen in the u.s. at a certain time.  ask anyone between the ages of say 35 to 50 to name a favorite movie and that person might probably name one of these flicks.

here goes.  and, oh, if you don't like my list make your own!

 valley girl [1983]
 great soundtrack, beautiful girl, and nicolas cage as a sweet love-struck punk.  director martha coolidge made magic.  the story is timeless, boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl.  even today i get weak-kneed every time i hear 'i melt with you' by modern english.

fast times at ridgemont high [1982]
this is a transitional film.  the styles were changing from 1970s to 1980s.  by 1983 the high deco fashions of the '80s were firmly present but in 1982 there was still a lot of shag carpeting and jackson browne on the soundtrack.  this movie was written by cameron crowe who based the script on a series of articles he wrote for rolling stone when he posed as a high school student.  director amy heckerling crafted a zesty year in the life story of a group of teens as they lived, loved and got high in an l.a. high school.  many of the actors later became huge stars.  funny, poignant and sad just like being a teen this pic was one of the first i recall to create a catch phrase for popular culture, stoner-surfer jeff spicoli's 'hey bud, let's party!' was soon heard on campuses all thru the land.

say anything [1989]
would i be too far gone to say that this film is a romantic comedy masterpiece?  writer-director cameron crowe's study of a charming underachiever who loves only two things in this world, kickboxing and his school's beautiful valedictorian is a marvelous telling of the boy meets girl boy loses girl boy gets girl paradigm.  who among is not moved by the iconic image of the boy holding the boombox over his head playing 'in your eyes' by peter gabriel to win back the love of the girl?  crowe's film is a whipsmart study of love and desire that refreshes our faith in our human frailties and nobility.

sixteen candles [1984]
what?  did you think there would be no john hughes' movies on my list?  pshaw!!!  this is one of hughes' best films with a great soundtrack, overdrawn comic characters and the sweetness of a girl who loves a boy out of her league.  the girl's sister is getting married and everyone forgets her birthday.  mayhem ensues in a way the master of teen movies, john hughes, knows how to orchestrate.  yes yes the girl who deserves love gets the boy and that final image of of the young lovers leaning in for their first kiss over a lighted birthday cake while 'if you were here' by the thompson twins is seared onto my brain like the ink tattooed on my arms.

there you have them.  four movies that punctuated my youth and the youth of my generation.  it's probably years since you've seen some of the films but i wouldn't be surprised as you are digging thru your own stacks that you have a disc or two of these movies.  and if you don't go rectify the situation and get thee hence to your local target where these films can be had on the cheap.  go now go!


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