For most of my childhood, I was a casual consumer of cinema. I didn’t take it too seriously. All that changed when I was 16 years old, and my father took me to a screening at Cinematheque Ontario of Alain Resnais’ Last Year at Marienbad.
As a kid, I loved goofball comedies like Police Academy (I still own the whole series on VHS) and kid-friendly fantasies like The NeverEnding Story. The other girls were in love with boy-warrior Atreyu. I had a crush on his pink pal, the Luck Dragon Falcor (seriously, he’s cute). I liked film, but I hadn’t fallen in love with it yet. It was still just a way to pass the time. Like hopscotch.
Back to Marienbad. It was one of countless films my parents took me to see during my teenage years, but it was the first one that really stretched my mental boundaries and made me think about film differently. After that screening, I started binging on arthouse films. I discovered Pasolini, Fassbinder, Godard, and more current directors like Hal Hartley. I started attending TIFF and discovered Gaspar NoÃ©, Claire Denis and Kyoshi Kurosawa. And that was it. The course of my life was irrevocably altered. I sure as hell wouldn’t have ended up a semiotics major in University otherwise.
A few months after that fateful Marienbad night, I snuck into a matinee screening of Pulp Fiction. The approach to dialogue and disjointed chronology felt like a revelation (perhaps because I’d had my horizons so recently broadened). I saw it in theatres five times and audio-recorded my favourite scenes on a boombox so that I could listen to them again and again. Ah, the pre-online-piracy days. If my desire to go into film as a career can be traced back to anything, it’s the effect of those two films on my teenage psyche. I actually think they have a lot in common, but that’s a topic for another essay.
For years, the only hole in my cinematic heart was horror. Until I was well into my 20s, I was too easily scared to get into scary movies. In a hilarious twist of fate, I fell in love with and married this guy, so I’ve mostly gotten over it. I’m still a bit of a baby sometimes, but I’ve learned to enjoy it.
These days, my life revolves around movies. I split my time between contributing to TFS and trying to get my own writing and producing projects off the ground. Watching, talking about, writing about, and making movies doesn’t always pay the bills, but it sure beats working.
Kat’s Must-See Films
It would be redundant to name Marienbad and Pulp Fiction here after talking about them so much, so I’ll cheat by sneaking in an additional five titles. If you want to really “get me”, these five films are a great start. In alphabetical order:
- Burden of Dreams ““ the documentary about the herculean feat of making Werner Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo really reminds me of what life is really about: the fearless and insane pursuit of our irrational compulsions and impossible dreams. Also, this scene. I can watch it an infinite number of times.
- Crash ““ it’s actually tied with Dead Ringers for my favourite David Cronenberg film, but Crash is one I return to more often. It must be for the creepy James Spader action.
- Crime Wave ““ this weird, quirky comedy by Canadian director John Paizs is the funniest feature film ever made in Canada. Hands down.
- Prince of Darkness ““ John Carpenter’s amazingly spooky tale of a swirling tub of evil goo in the basement of a church is one of the most effectively disturbing films I’ve ever seen. I came to Carpenter late in life (see above, re: scary movies) but I’m a full convert now.
- Trust ““ when I first discovered the films of Hal Hartley, I literally felt like I’d entered a parallel universe in which someone was making movies just for me. I’m still jealous of his writing, and still in love with Martin Donovan, 20 years later.
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