Last week saw the release of Gimme the Loot, the SXSW Grand Jury Prize winner by Adam Leon, which sees two graffiti artists seek revenge after their replica of the…
It’s difficult to pinpoint the moment when my young self embraced movies with her whole heart. Always an arts and culture gal, I sang in my school choir, participated in high school theatrical productions, have always been a voracious reader, and had a more than passing interest in photography. Movies were simply my best-loved pastime, something I never thought seriously about until I began to peruse university course calendars.
There, in the University of Toronto guide, was listed Cinema Studies. Wait a minute. Hold everything. You could actually study movies?! Move over, English Lit. Step aside, Philosophy. Movies are what I’m signing up for. A Bachelor of Arts, Postgraduate Diploma, and a PhD later, I’ve spent most of my life watching, studying, thinking and writing about film. And it never gets old.
My earliest cinematic memories are of Disney movies at the drive-in. By the time I was 9 or 10, I was spending every weekend with my sister at a matinee screening of something at Skyway Plaza (now more tastefully known as Lakeside Shopping Village). The only time our weekly allowance went up was when the cost of theatre admission did.
I can’t even identify any one cinematic work that set me on my movie-obsessed path; it was just my favourite thing to do as far back as I can remember. I’m not even able to narrow it down to a favourite genre or national body of cinema. From early Soviet and German cinema, to contemporary French and Hollywood film; from documentaries and romantic comedies, to sci-fi, horror and action thrillers; I love them all. The sad fact is, I can’t possibly see all the movies that interest me in my lifetime. Not if I have to hold down a job and maintain familial and friendship ties.
What I really need is to figure out how to make someone pay me to watch movies. I write, but not screenplays. I don’t particularly want to be a professor. And with a healthy aversion for film sets (and a love of, but not a talent for, art), I’ll never be a filmmaker. So until I come up with a grand scheme, I’ll make my living elsewhere, continue to see a lot of movies, and make my small contribution to Toronto Film Scene.
Pam’s Must-See Films
I frequently get asked what my favourite film is. It’s painful. Like choosing between your children (see Sophie’s Choice). I simply can’t do it. I would need a list of a hundred, or a top 5 list by era and genre. But they’ll only let me have five, so here’s a list (in no particular order) of five movies I think y’all should see:
1. Sunset Boulevard (1950) – A work of cinematic irreverence from Billy Wilder, it’s a movie all about the movies. This Hollywood film noir murder mystery includes many of tinsel town’s aging early cinema icons – like Buster Keaton, Erich von Stroheim, and Gloria Swanson. “I am big. It’s the pictures that got small.”
2. Mr. Death (1999) – I’m a huge documentary fan, and this one goes down as one of the most fascinating and creepy around. Director Errol Morris looks at death penalty equipment expert and Holocaust denier, Fred Leuchter, as he fumbles through a “scientific investigation” and comes up with the wrong answer. A study in self delusion.
3. Constantine (2005) – Keanu Reeves’ good looks and somewhat wooden acting style are no barrier to greatness for this movie. He has help in the form of Rachel Weisz in this adaptation of the graphic novel Hellblazer. Part action film, part supernatural thriller, with a little bit of horror thrown in for good measure, it’s the story of a guy trying to buy his way into heaven. Tilda Swinton is outstanding as the Archangel Gabriel.
4. Tremors (1990) – I can watch this movie again and again. I believe I wrote an essay on it. It’s a fine example of comedy horror (or horror comedy). It’s exactly how I like my horror best.
5. The Fifth Element (1997) – Futuristic science fiction that was totally, awesomely over the top. French director Luc Besson (of The Big Blue, Nikita, and Subway fame) brought together actors Bruce Willis, Milla Jovovich, Chris Tucker and Gary Oldman, and added costumes by Jean-Paul Gaultier in a film that really shouldn’t have worked. It should have been a ludicrous waste of celluloid. But, funny and outrageous with great action scenes and sympathetic characters, The Fifth Element somehow works. Really well.
Latest posts by Pam Fossen (see all)
- The Year in Movies: 7 films I finally got around to in 2012 – December 19, 2012
- Today on the Scene: screenings and film fun for Friday, November 30, 2012 – November 30, 2012
- Today on the Scene: screenings and film fun for Thursday, November 29, 2012 – November 29, 2012