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The Films That Defined Me

August 13, 2010

So my man Marc over at Go, See, Talk! has put together this nifty little meme asking all us nerds to run down by genre all the movies that shaped our celluloid minds. Some of these might be repeats, but they’re all from the heart, and isn’t that what really matters?

Beautiful, Aiden. Just beautiful.

Well, here we go…

Child’s Play & Evil Dead II

Yeah, it’s pretty stupid, pretty dated and as un-freightening as you can get by today’s standards, but due to a series of unfortunate events involving a highly impressionable five-year-old Aiden walking into the last fifteen minutes of this movie and witnessing Chucky holding a butcher knife over a boy who looked an awful lot like yours truly, this sure did the trick. Not the best horror movie by any means, but the only one I’ve ever had a healthy fear of for an outrageously lengthy amount of time. It wasn’t until stumbling upon Evil Dead II (my personal fave) in High School that I gained a entirely newfound respect for the genre, but that ginger doll still creeps me out like no other.

The Matrix

Literally must have watched this 30+ times when I finally got it on VHS back in the day. Still mindblowing, still cool as hell, favorite fight scene is probably between Neo and Smith in the train station, I just couldn’t get enough of this thing. One of the all-time great action movies.

Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope

Hard to beat the day I discovered Star Wars, though I do have fond memories watching 2001 and Planet of the Apes with my dad during a Summer-long sci-fi fest in Junior High. All classics.

Bowling for Columbine

Yeah, it didn’t come out until I was in High School, but this was probably when I finally realized that “documentary” wasn’t the same thing as “boring way to spend two hours”. Not too keen on the whole Chuck Heston scene as I once was, and it took me a while to realize that this movie is about far more than just gun control, but Michael Moore sure did a bang-up job of breaking through my preconceived notions. Thanks, buddy.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail & Dumb and Dumber

The only two times I’ve ever watched a movie and had to hold my groin for two hours straight because I was that close to passing out from laughter and pissing myself in public. Actually ran into The Gas Man on the train the other day and somehow gathered up the cojones to tell him, “You were great in Dumb and Dumber. You just made my day.” The dude was beaming, we shook hands, he waved to me while leaving the train long after the moment had ended, it was beautiful. One of the many perks of living in NYC and having a Rain Man-like memory for C-list actors.

Ordinary People & Glengarry Glen Ross

Was tempted to say Braveheart for this one since that really threw me for a loop as a youngster – enough so that I had it at my #1 spot for a while – but Ordinary People really is in a league of its own. First movie I ever owned, still one of the greatest family dramas you’ll ever find, unbelievable acting and writing, shook me right to the core. And as for Glengarry, it’s the best script I’ve ever heard. Like a darker, meaner version of 12 Angry Men, it’s one of the greatest examples of what you can do with great writing and a room full of guys who know how to act and say the F-word like a pro.

Once Upon a Time in the West

The first Western I remember liking was Tombstone, but it wasn’t until I saw Once Upon a Time in High School that I truly fell in love with the genre. Leone at his best, amazing that he managed to outdo himself after Good, Bad, Ugly. That Charlie Bronson and Henry Fonda were no freakin’ joke. You know, Once Upon a Time in High School actually sounds like a pretty damn good idea. Just what The Breakfast Club was missing.

Jagged Edge

Man, I haven’t seen this in ages, no idea if it’s as good as I remember, but I was all about it back in the day. Seems to be one of those movies that time forgot, but a pretty wild mystery thriller worth checking out all the same.

Breaking Away

I wish I had actually paid more attention to Hoosiers as a kid, because I’m thinking that would have been a top contender for this spot, but after resently revisiting Breaking Away, this one’s hard to deny. REFUND?!?!

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

Still need to get around to this LotR marathon I keep pushing back, but this was a game-changer for me, far more so than the sequels. So much better than the book (at least those painfully boring first hundred pages in the Shire), must have seen it at least three times in theaters and was one of the few movies I was flat-out giddy to own on DVD. Just amazing on every front. Awesome.

Can’t think of any more genres to run through right now, so that’s a wrap until further notice. Hop on over to GST to check out the rest of the entries and join in the love, they will change your life.

33 Comments leave one →
  1. August 13, 2010 7:09 am

    I have only just watched ‘Ordinary People’ for the podcast – continuing the Best Picture Oscar Winners … put it this way, up against Raging Bull, it was a tough call…


    • August 13, 2010 7:50 am

      That is a tough call. Totally different movies, but I think I’d have to go with Ordinary People. Hard to say why, but it’s no surprise that Redford never outdid this.

  2. August 13, 2010 7:35 am

    “Put me on the board! Put me on the Cadillac board!”

    Love your choices Aiden!

    • August 13, 2010 7:49 am


      “Put. That coffee. Down.”

      Unreal movie. Thanks, man!

    • August 14, 2010 3:21 pm

      We’re adding a little something to this month’s sales contest. As you all know, first prize is a Cadillac Eldorado. Anybody want to see second prize? Second prize is a set of steak knives. Third prize is you’re fired.

  3. August 13, 2010 9:19 am

    Ah, “Once Upon A Time In The West.” Nice call. That’s one of the greatest movies ever made, if you ask me. I recently got into a “fight” with someone about whether it was better than “Good, Bad, Ugly.” He said no, I said yes, so I’m using you as my proof.

    • August 13, 2010 9:26 am

      You are dead on, Nick. GBU is probably a 10, too, but Once Upon a Time really is The Ultimate Western. Thanks for visiting, loved your list, I got your back.

  4. August 13, 2010 9:20 am

    Glengarry Glen Ross! It doesn’t get much better than that to leave you with a long-lasting impression of cinema and acting. Also awesome story about the Gas Man!

    • August 13, 2010 9:25 am

      hahaha. thanks, man. really nice guy. usually when i see celebrities around NY, i don’t dare say a word (that’s what the tourists are for, so I hear), but i figured that he probably never gets stopped on the street and since he was in one of the funniest movies ever made, why not? glad i did.

  5. August 13, 2010 9:39 am

    Nice list

    Ordinary people is a good movie, although it may be a rip-off of EM Forster from his Collected short stories.
    I can watch that famous dialogue scene near the end between Tyler moore and sutherland again and again. I will be reviewing Lions for lambs soon, I feel Redford is an underrated director.

    If you’re interested in more nostalgic 80s movies, you could stop by my blog, where I have a list of them.

    • August 13, 2010 9:46 am

      Thanks! Yeah, I need to see more stuff by Redford, only other thing I can think of that I’ve seen is The Natural, and that was ages ago.

      Dig your blog, btw. Tried to leave a comment about The White Album and how I just discovered how great “I’m So Tired” is after years of skipping past it, but my work computer blows and wouldn’t let me do it for some reason. Anyway, keep on keepin’ on and thanks for visiting!

  6. August 13, 2010 10:15 am

    The Matrix is a great choice and I don’t think anyone could disagree with you, in that it was such a ground-breaking film and definitely stands out in its genre.

    • August 13, 2010 10:20 am

      Hell to the yeah. Man, I should watch this again. The memories are flooding back like whoa right now.

  7. Uncle Fran permalink
    August 13, 2010 11:05 am

    Aiden, Nice celebrity sighting, I’ve sat next to gas men on the train before (if you know what I mean) but I don’t know if I’d have recognized THE “Gas Man”. Speaking of running into celebrities on the train, on my ride into Boston today I happened to meet Chucky, we started talking and I let it slip that you weren’t a big fan. He got a little worked up and asked for your address, it seemed a little odd but I gave it to him, maybe he just wants to put you on his Christmas card list. Hope you don’t mind.

    • August 13, 2010 11:09 am

      Hahaha. Man, I just laid that one up for you, huh? Glad to hear Chucky’s back on his feet though and turned into a contributing member of society instead of going back to the whole child-murder/terrorize-Aiden thing.

  8. August 13, 2010 12:28 pm

    Wowsers…I have some catching up to do. Of the 13 films you list here that moulded you into the upstanding young moviegoer you are, I have only seen a paltry seven!!

    I like the mention of COLUMBINE and how it opened your eyes to what documentary could be. I say this because it was right around the same time that I myself started getting into documentaries. For both of us, this worked out well…since the beginning of this decade marked a slight turning point for the quality of nonfiction films.

    Of course in my case, much of it was spurred by a pretty girl I was trying to get the attention of asking me “So, do you like documentaries?”

    • August 13, 2010 12:32 pm

      Damn, as good a reason as any to get on the bandwagon. Did that end up being Lady Hatter by chance?

      Yeah, I owe Columbine big time, didn’t know what I was missing.

      And catch up, dude! These are some winners! Except for Child’s Play, you can probably skip that.

  9. August 13, 2010 3:17 pm

    So was Breaking Away’s recent review research for this list? I need to see it if you gave it a 9/10 and I have never seen Once Upon a Time…man these lists are helping me get my Netflix queue in better shape. Expected Star Wars but good call on the Matrix. Thanks for participating Aiden:)

    • August 13, 2010 3:50 pm

      Breaking Away was just a wonderful little coincidence. Def see it along with Once Upon a Time, you’re due and you never even knew it.

      Thanks for having me on board, dude. A most awesome meme if I do say so myself.

  10. August 14, 2010 1:26 am

    Dude, your list could kick my lists ass. You’ve got the Sweathogs of life-defining lists. The Sweathogs and The Outsiders, in fact. And 4 flicks I’ve never seen before? Unheard of! Time to add Jagged Edge, Breaking Away, Once Upon a Time in the West and Child’s Play II to my list… well, maybe not Child’s Play 2.

  11. August 14, 2010 3:18 am

    2 thoughts pop out in my mind:
    1) Child’s Play is like a Toy Story nightmare.
    2) I want to hump part of your list and just make out with the rest!

  12. August 14, 2010 11:39 am

    I’m not sure I’ll ever again have a cinema experience like I did when I saw The Matrix at the on the big screen…I hope I do. I remember leaving it feeling bowled over by the screenplay…..and also feeling paranoid – When you’re fourteen-ish, a Matrix or Truman Show-like conspiracy seems like a very real possibility!

    I love the fact that you have Monty Python here – I remember watching Life of Brian when I was about 5 or 6 years old and being both fascinated and slightly confused – It was only some years later, in my teens, that I was quite able to grasp the comedy. My childhood consisted of a series of “It’s just a flesh wound!” and coconut quotes…probably like many other of you film buffs 🙂 An amazing group of comedians and actors, with their Ministry of Silly Walks! Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition! I wish I could write comedy like that.

    Upon first seeing Bowling for Columbine, I was impressed by its entertainment value – I still watch it nowadays, if it happens to be on the TV etc, but I can’t quite respect it as much, due to that fact that it’s littered with a selection of manipulated scenes and inaccuracies, apart from the George W. Bush parts, which are accurate in the respect that, yes, he is quite the tool. Still a good piece of work in terms of film and impact though!

    I hope we see more and more of Glenn Close. That’s cool that you got to talk to Starr…AKA – BFG.

  13. August 14, 2010 3:19 pm

    Hey, wanna hear the most annoying sound in the world?

    I didn’t know that scene was improv on Carrey’s part, but you can tell when you see Daniels flinching behind the wheel.

  14. August 15, 2010 8:27 pm

    You’ve got some great stuff here. I love that you added Dumb and Dumber, and of course the Holy Grail (I didn’t discover it until I was sixteen or so-can you imagine all the extra years of laughter I lost out on?). The Matrix, LOTR, and very much so Ordinary People are all movies I adore.

    I think it’s cool you added BFC. I think as much as I loathe Michael Moore, he did a really great thing opening at least Americans to the idea of watching a documentary way more. It’s opened the doors for many other directors since. So for me that is an extremely thoughtful addition to this list.

    As usual, you are awesome Aiden.

    • August 16, 2010 8:44 am

      Oh, Heather.

      Damn, lost your HG virginity at 16? Think I was 12 or so, but better late than never of course. And love him or hate him, BFC really was a game-changer that, like you said, opened a whole lot of doors for documentarians everywhere. Big fan of Roger & Me and The Big One too, but those didn’t quite have the same impact on my impressionable self at the time.

  15. moriarty permalink
    August 16, 2010 6:43 am

    Ook, I’m gonna be Mr.Smarty here: in “Once Upon a time in the west” part, is HENRY FONDA, not peter fonda.-Yeap..

    Loved the list, by the way. How many memories…hehe.


    • August 16, 2010 8:29 am

      Man, take away my “critic” card and never give it back. Glad you caught it before any more harm was dealt, I feel shame. But Henry Fonda was the man all the same.

  16. August 16, 2010 4:31 pm

    Great job on this Aiden. Very impressive. I am a huge Mamet fan and Glengarry is phenomenal – one of the very best jobs of stage-to-screen ever. “Put that coffee down!!!”
    Breaking Away is a very nice choice here.
    However, you give props to Michael Moore here so I am afraid I can no longer converse with you. Ha!!! 😉

    • September 1, 2010 3:29 pm

      hahaha. i knew i was running a risk putting that up, but what can i say, for all his flaws, he made one damn good movie.

  17. Rodion T. permalink
    October 3, 2010 9:05 pm

    Can’t agree more about Lord of the Rings! Awesome,, awesome, awesome! Simply amazing! =]

    • October 4, 2010 10:13 am

      Hahaha. Glad you agree. Thanks for visiting!

      • Rodion T. permalink
        October 6, 2010 2:47 pm

        Thanks for the post! =]


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