Some people might say I’m late to the party when it comes to catching the disease that creates a true cinephile. I can’t tell you the most traditional of stories, but I can tell you my story.
Growing up, my home was littered with VHS tapes of all kinds. While we owned everything from Beauty and the Beast to Toy Story to Alice in Wonderland, I became fixated on a very unexpected film in particular. Under the TV in my basement sat a copy of The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland, and I watched it constantly—almost as if my life depended on it. The story of Elmo retrieving his blanket and learning to forgive a friend for a simple act of malice became a huge part of my childhood. This film just grasped me in a way I couldn’t describe, and it wasn’t just because of Elmo or even the presence Mandy Patinkin. It wasn’t until years later that I learned the reason for this near obsession. But that’s not the film that forever changed how I see movies.
When I was a junior in high school, I was sitting in my room doing what most 17-year-olds do, procrastinating on an essay about a book I barely read. As usual, I had Netflix ready to go on the right side of my desktop to keep me from falling asleep. During my search, I came across something called Trainspotting. Curious, I decided to give it a watch. After only five minutes, the film captured my attention and I couldn’t look away. I was so engrossed in the film that I forgot I had a paper to finish writing. The characters, the script, the soundtrack, everything was so amazingly put together—I was taken aback. Ever since that day, my eyes were opened to the power film can have.
Cinema has never been about spectacle for me, but all about creating intriguing and interesting characters within a great story. From Mark Romanek’s take on the true definition of humanity in Never Let Me Go to Mary Harron’s look at the effect of trying to be someone you aren’t in American Psycho, film can change your outlook on a variety of elements in your life or even help you through a difficult time. My teen years are not defined by things like senior prom or going on my first date, but going to see The Social Network in theaters and seeing Guardians of the Galaxy at midnight with some of my closest friends.