My time before Film Threat is easily summarized:
14 years old ’till the end of high school: Movie reviews for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel’s Teen Time section, featured every Friday in the Showtime entertainment supplement. Finished at the end of high school because once you graduate, you’re not a teen anymore.
Before the Sun-Sentinel, 11-14 years old, I had a passionate interest in aviation, mainly commercial aircraft and a brief desire to be a mechanic for Air Force One, before it dissolved because I didn’t want science or math saturating a future career, since I didn’t like much of either. I understand the value of science and math in many fields, but they weren’t the fields I’d want to be involved in, and that was sealed when I spent a final nearly-frustrating semester in Statistics, two semesters ago.
I am somewhat envious of those who know exactly when they fell for the movies. They know the movie that made them obsessed with the movies. Star Wars. Jaws. Xanadu. Citizen Kane. Whatever it was, they know. For me, it was different. I actually didn’t think much about the movies in my younger years. Oh sure, there’d be Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, which was the first movie I owned on VHS, Air Force One, Airport, and Airplane! (the latter three seen at the time of my interest in aviation), but I’d generally watch those over and over. I didn’t know who Orson Welles was, what a tracking shot was, how editing happens, or even what Ray Harryhausen was known for. There was a time also that when a movie came out in theaters, I naively thought the studio and the people involved had only finished making it the week before.
But I think I can pinpoint where movies first took a subconscious hold. I was 7 years old, in Casselberry, Florida, close enough to Orlando that my parents and I went to Walt Disney World every weekend, the benefit of annual passes. It was 1992, and the Friday that Bebe’s Kids had come out or the Saturday after. It was evening, I knew that much. And for some unknown reason, I had a sheet of posterboard, on which I was copying by hand, word-for-word, the Bebe’s Kids review from the Orlando Sentinel. Whether crayon or colored pencils, that’s fuzzy too, but there I was, trying to draw the star rating (3, I think) that accompanied the review, as well as the box with the cast and crew names in it. The byline too and the text.
Thinking back to that, I’m amazed that I sit here, reminiscing over this, and naturally, clichedly (hey, if an “ly” can be used in front of words like “twisted” in quotes for movie commercials and newspaper ads, then I’ll make this one a gimme for myself), I didn’t think I’d be here back then, writing reviews and watching movies, and reading about movies. But Bebe’s Kids was indirectly the cause of that and I’m glad it turned out this way. I didn’t think the review would remain in my mind, untouched, ready to go off like a time bomb. It must have accelerated when I discovered Andy Rooney right before aviation slid right on in, and realized that this was what I wanted to write. I wanted to write about my life in Florida that way. I wanted to be that insightful. I wanted to be a commentator like this.
Ironically, my brief fling with aviation stemmed from when I was a tyke being carried by my Mom, happily watching the airplanes taking off and landing at Orlando International Airport. And since aviation entered my life and fizzled within 3 years, I think I’ve found my niche with movies. There’s nothing else I remember that could trip any new interests. I never got into the sciences, never much into painting, so I think this is it.
And besides, any critic, be it food, music, book or movie, most of them anyway, have an undying love for what they do. And get many movie buffs together who’ve seen tons of movies and like the Film Threat boards, you’re liable to find many voices who know what the movies can do to human life. It’s a good life.
Another day, I’ll start telling you about my favorite screenings while writing for the Teen Time section when, indirectly through a wonderful editor, Oline Cogdill (who’s still at the Sun-Sentinel), I found out what screening lists were and that I could be on them. Pokemon: The First Movie (which led to The Straight Story on the same day). Dinosaur. Apocalypse Now Redux, and seeing American Pie twice before it was released (though the second time was paid for at an advertised sneak preview). Those were some of them and the stories shall come soon.