Nine Personal Movie Firsts

First movie I saw alone: The Money Pit

Usually I use the snobbish term "film" to describe a motion picture, but here "movie" is appropriate. This isn't high art I'm talking about, just little cinematic milestones in the life of a budding young filmmaker.

  1. First movie I went to without my mother driving me: VICTORY (1981). A World War II prisoner of war soccer(!) movie starring Sylvester Stallone, Michael Caine, and Pelé. I was eleven. It was summer, nobody with a car was available, so I walked for three miles with my friend Robbie to the Century 25 in San Jose to see this forgettable flop. I guess it seemed pretty good at the time.
  2. First movie I went to see alone: THE MONEY PIT (1986). I still know a lot of people who refuse to go to the movies alone. For them it's a social occasion. For me it was too, until that fateful day when I, as a 15-year-old sophomore, decided to see an after-school matinee of this clumsy Tom Hanks/Shelly Long vehicle. I tried to invite a couple of people, but they weren't interested. So I bussed down to the theater by myself.
  3. First R-rated movie I was taken to: LAW AND DISORDER (1974). I was only four, so I barely recall anything about this inane comedy other than a trenchcoated flasher revealing his naked backside to the camera. "Ah," I thought. "So this is what you get to see in R-rated films." I fell asleep soon after that.
  4. First R-rated movie I saw legally without parent or guardian: RIVER'S EDGE (1986). This movie actually opened in the US in May 1987, a couple of weeks after I turned 17. Before that, I did see a couple of other R-rated films with older friends who acted as my "guardian", including The Breakfast Club and the B-movie The Stuff. But I was a man for this, the film that made Keanu Reeves a star and Crispin Glover a cult figure.
  5. First movie I fell in love with: RETURN OF THE PINK PANTHER (1974). After seeing this - at the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood, no less, when I was four - I was inspired to draw endless cartoons of Peter Sellers as the bumbling Inspector Clouseau. I spent even more time inventing movie posters for it, crudely drawn with a ballpoint pen on typewriter paper.
  6. First movie I organized a group to go to: GREMLINS (1984). A big thing for me in 1984 was to gather as many friends as I could to go see the "event" movies on opening weekend. Ah, the good old days, when we got so excited about a new release that we'd show up several hours early to wait in line. Gremlins wasn't my only "social movie event" that year: there were also Ghostbusters, Night of the Comet, and Dune. Old friends will remember our massive Dune event fondly, even if the film was terrible.
  7. First short film I made: VULNERABLE (1991). A CalArts project, shot on video, which I completed shortly before my 21st birthday, Vulnerable ran 38 minutes and was about three people locked in a room who don't know why they are there. For a student film, it wasn't that bad - after all, the characters included a woman who spoke only Finnish and a man whose hand never stopped shaking - but it was terribly pretentious and I can't watch it now without cringing.
  8. First feature screenplay I wrote: "EARTHBOUND" (1992). I was 22, fresh out of college, and I thought I had an Important Story to tell. So I wrote one about a 20-year-old who lives with his mother, is killed within the first 3 minutes, then comes back as a ghost that only his mother - and a mysterious young woman - can see. Looking back, it really wasn't a very good script. I'm sorry I gave it to my then-boss Rick Yorn to read, because it scared him away and I never heard from him again. A few years later, he became Leonardo DiCaprio's agent.
  9. FIRST PORNO I WATCHED: This is what you really wanted to know, isn't it? Okay, it was called Sweet Lips. No kidding. Sweet Lips. I have no idea when it was made. I watched it in 1991 with my roommate. Neither of us was turned on: Two minutes into an extreme close-up of a woman fellating a man, we fast-forwarded for a while, then just ejected the videotape. Very boring. I haven't watched a porno since.