Why Do I Love Sitting in a Darkened Hall?

un-chien-andalouMy earliest memory of seeing a film is seeing an image of a man whose face is blown off to reveal electronic circuitry underneath. As a kid, I didn’t know what the film was called. I just knew it was an exciting movie that I’d seen with some neighbourhood kids.

Today I know what that film is. The robot whose face was blown off was actor Yul Brynner, and the film was Westworld.

But the movie that really caught my attention came a few years after. The next few days or even weeks after I’d seen it with my father, our house was filled with pieces of paper with drawings of sharks on them. I’d become obsessed with the movie Jaws, and this obsession is still with me today.

When I was a boy, my father would take me into town every Sunday morning to have breakfast and then catch a movie. We saw all sorts of films, from blockbusters like Jaws to cheap morning matinees. I can still see the image of Ursula Andress jumping on a bed in her underwear, in a cheapie we saw called Loaded Gun, an Italian knock-off of something or other. We didn’t care what the hell the film was about; all we wanted was to sit in a darkened cinema and lose ourselves. My mother also often took me to see Taiwanese weepies, films where someone would surely die at the end.

It was much later in life, when I became a journalist, that IĀ discovered different kinds of cinema. I watched Persona on a lousy VHS copy. I saw Eraserhead, also on a bad VHS copy. I was exposed to Kurosawa, Godard, Truffaut, Peckinpah, Fuller, Mizoguchi, the Chinese Fifth Generation filmmakers with whom I was so enamoured for a long time.

I developed an eclectic taste, and would watch anything that came my way, especially horror films.

I can’t remember what my first movie review was anymore, but there have been many over the years (including interviews with directors and actors). The thing is, I’m still learning and discovering about cinema every single day, with every single film that I see.

And that’s why I’m still here doing this.


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