Driving through the country with my grandfather the other day, I got to thinking about the ways that movies have changed over the course of my life. I’m only twenty-six but it is remarkable to look back at the way the work of great directors has grown up with me.
Take for instance, Alfred Hitchcock. Perhaps the first director I ever paid close attention to. As a child, I was amazed by North by Northwest. What a wonderful adventure that film is, a boy’s movie. It is sensational, cinema at its most fun.
As a teenager, I paid more attention to Rear Window. I began to see the master behind the camera and this brilliant experiment enthralled me. Years later, breaching adulthood, I found affection and respect for the film that had alluded me: Vertigo. Now this movie was at the forefront of my mind. The mood, the themes suddenly made sense. The darkness was so alluring and had surpassed the lighter Hitchcock films.
It was less than a year ago that I revisited Notorious. This movie had also escaped my affection upon first (and second viewing). But at twenty-five years of age, I was ready for it. I never knew Hitchcock could be so romantic. Cary Grant’s character was the kind of hero I could now relate to: bitter, mean, daring, brave. Notorious now means Hitchcock to me.
I have grown up with other directors too. John Ford struck me first at the age of thirteen with How Green was my Valley. Still to this day, I attest to the wonder of this film and it’s place (regardless of its reputation for stealing the oscar from Citizen Kane) as one of the great masterpieces of cinema. But the Ford film that lingers with me at present is My Darling Clementine. When I first saw it, I shrugged at the simplicity that I now admire so much. There is so much in so little and I’m old enough to see it.
Woody Allen: from Love and Death to Crimes and Misdemeanors to The Purple Rose of Cairo.
Martin Scorsese: from Goodfellas to Raging Bull to After Hours
Stanley Kubrick: 2001 to Paths of Glory to Barry Lyndon
Even the child filmmaker Steven Spielberg, who once owned most of my affection, has retained at least one ultimate place in my cinema-loving heart: the one adventure to outlast all his others, Jaws.
It is fun to look back on the way that these film change with me over the years, one fading away and another coming into its place. This is one reason why I could never make a definitive list of favorite films. Once I had written it, the list already be different.
To the ever-evolving love of cinema,