How did you get into older, obscure films?

Discuss films and filmmakers of the 20th century (and even a little of the 19th century). Threads may contain spoilers.
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Re: How did you get into older, obscure films?

#126 Post by Costa » Tue Nov 08, 2016 4:22 pm

MichaelB wrote:1) Name the first film you ever saw at the theaters

The Belstone Fox (1973)

hadn't ever heard of this film!
it seems interesting, and by the director of Born Free which i love!
thanks, i'll check it out.

thank you also to everyone else that replied.
it's interesting to know about these first memories of films.
i'm a very nostalgic person and my favourite films are those that i watched as a kid-teen.
i have written the ones i saw at the theaters in a list and planning to buy all of them, as long as they have satisfying- for me - tranfers.
(the only ones i'm not interested in buying are the flintstones (1994), Ace ventura 2, 9 months & Trainspotting)

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Re: How did you get into older, obscure films?

#127 Post by chiendent » Tue Nov 08, 2016 5:19 pm

First time I was in a theater was for Aladdin but I started crying when the lights went down so we left. I'm not sure what the first movie I saw all the way through is, though.

I remember my dad taking me to see Keaton and Chaplin shorts at the Silent Movie Theater and my family going to 2001 and Lawrence of Arabia at the Egyptian so I definitely have my parents to thank for getting me started young.

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Re: How did you get into older, obscure films?

#128 Post by tenia » Tue Nov 08, 2016 5:21 pm

MichaelB wrote:
alacal2 wrote:I guess our parents will figure quite significantly, one way or another, in our introductions to 'arthouse' cinema.
Not for me.
Not for me either. Actually, I just learned gradually myself my way in older movies, mostly because I developed my love for movies right at the boom of DVDs and high-speed Internet. Suddenly, there were all these dedicated websites filtering out stuff for me, and independant labels putting them out on DVD when I started having a little pocket money (I remember paying 80€ for the Carlotta Douglas Sirk Vol. 1 DVD set and never once regretting it).

Meanwhile, my parents would take me to the movies watching pretty much popular stuff. Some of my earliest movie theaters memories are Independance Day, Men in Black, and Judge Dredd (which I saw in theaters when it was released and me being only 8 years old - and missing out the first 5 minutes or so because I was late), and I definitely remember seeing The Lion King and Aladdin in theaters too.

What's funny is that they saw lots of things I'm into now and they're not anymore. They watched in theaters some Chaplin, some Nightmare on Elm Street, some Marx Brothers, and even a Bergman (I don't recall which one, though). My father's side being Italian, he also saw many Fellini, Risi, a few Rosi and other great 60s-70s Italian movies. But now, they seem not to understand why I'm more into older / more obscure movies, while they're happy simply watching the latest popular French comedy. When my mom told me "Oh I saw Nightmare on Elm Street in theaters with my cousin when it was released", it felt so far away from her tastes.

I got into less studio movies and more arthouse movies when I got into prep school. There was an arthouse theater 5 min away from it, and I saw more movies there than in any other theaters. There were weeks I would go 4 times there (plus once in the weekend). In some ways, I lost that because I only have multiplexes nearby now. I'm watching most of my stuff on BD but it's not the same.

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Re: How did you get into older, obscure films?

#129 Post by Ribs » Tue Nov 08, 2016 5:27 pm

I was big into Chaplin & Marx Brothers DVDs from the local library, but the "bug" laid dormant for me until I took a film class in High School. Obviously, watching these great films of World Cinema teaches a lot, but what really made me a movie buff was what I think is the absolutely brilliant decision my instructor had to end the class with Dancer in the Dark - after spending months watching the more 'safe' classics of the art house, seeing something that is actively difficult in such a deliberate, careful fashion actively revolted most of the class but - quite rightly - just a small handful people in the class really understood why the film was doing what it did, and they (theoretically) gained a lifelong true appreciation of film.

I, frankly, have no idea how anybody can possibly recall the first film they saw in the theater.

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Re: How did you get into older, obscure films?

#130 Post by jorencain » Tue Nov 08, 2016 5:50 pm

I graduated high school in '94, and I remember a string of movies I saw around that time that really ignited my interest in film: Glengarry Glenross, Reservoir Dogs, Bob Roberts, 12 Monkeys. Typical teen-guy movies.

The Thin Red Line was the first film I saw in theaters where I realized the importance and beauty of cinematography. Heat was another one that spoke to me.

But, it was actually seeing "Mighty Aphrodite" on cable that completely changed me. While it's not my favorite Woody Allen film, I have a lot of nostalgia and love for it as my first WA film. It felt so different from everything else I had seen, and I began an obsessive search for every Allen movie I could find. His references to Fellini, Bergman, and Kurosawa led me to discover world cinema. Criterion films soon followed, and then I ended up living in Baltimore, where the Charles Theater and many trips down to the AFI Silver expanded my world. But, I still would claim Woody Allen is the source of my true love of film.

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Re: How did you get into older, obscure films?

#131 Post by Rsdio » Wed Nov 09, 2016 7:03 am

My parents didn't shape my tastes either really, though I was fortunate enough to be taken to the cinema quite a bit for the big films of the day and trips to the video shop were regular so perhaps they can take some credit for igniting a general love of film. I can thank their lax attitude towards age ratings for seeing things like Robocop and Aliens at a stupidly young age. I've absolutely no idea what the first film I saw in a cinema was though.

It reads like such a cliche, but it was taping Taxi Driver off the TV at about 15 that knocked my tastes down a different road. It was so unlike anything I'd ever seen up to that point but still had enough that was easy to latch on to while I was processing it (the quotes, the punk-ish aspect which felt like it tied in with the stuff I was largely listening to at the time - The Ramones, The Clash etc.) One thing I clearly remember having a big impact was the dolly shot away from De Niro on the phone and towards the empty hallway. That felt like a whole new world opening up to me.

From there I got a Film4 subscription and started taping, as well as buying commercial VHS releases in a fairly scattershot manner. I vividly remember lusting after the Tartan and Artificial Eye releases that were so expensive and seemingly never on sale. A friend of mine was lucky enough to have a father who was into some good stuff so I got exposed to new things from that direction too.

Then came the explosion of DVD and the internet (along with its dubious means of acquiring things that were otherwise difficult or borderline impossible to see) which I'm sure everyone here is more than familiar with!

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Re: How did you get into older, obscure films?

#132 Post by colinr0380 » Wed Nov 09, 2016 1:15 pm

It is always interesting to hear this same question posted on that Cinephiliacs podcast, and most of the guest's first film turns out to be a Disney one! I'm no different in that regard although I don't really remember the films themselves more than the circumstances around them. I remember my dad taking me to see The Black Cauldron (the darkest Disney film, where they even *spoiler*
kill off the wisecracking comic relief animal pal!
) and The Fox and The Hound. And I vividly recall my mum taking me to see Disney's Peter Pan when I must have been 5 or 6, though I don't exactly remember the film itself but standing in a mid-Summer afternoon queue of dozens of people going to the other films playing at the same time - A Nightmare On Elm Street and The Goonies! I particularly remember the poster for The Goonies - the one where the entire young cast are improbably hanging off of a stalagtite - making an enormous impression on me at the time as the height of adventure! Although even at that young age I remember wondering just exactly how the heck they'd gotten themselves into that situation in the first place!

Similarly as a very young kid my parents kept certain films off limits (I still remember the 'forbidden fruits' of rented tapes of Cocoon and the Ringo Starr film Caveman placed high up on the dresser, away from prying young fingers!), but I still ended up seeing great, but still quite strong, stuff like The Goonies and The Black Hole (the other darkest Disney film of the period!) Plus it was also the era of The Dark Crystal, The Neverending Story and Labyrinth. Lots of dark fantasy stuff to traumatise the kids with!

I don't think that I have ever picked up The Black Cauldron or The Black Hole on DVD or Blu-ray, but they are probably the Disney films I feel stronger about than many!

But I wasn't really too much into films until my teens. There were significant moments though - I'll always treasure the memory of my dad triumphantly bringing home the much-in-demand rental tape of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Or birthday rentals of Gremlins 2 on my 11h birthday and Terminator 2 on my 12th! (My parents were always aware of age ratings but did not mind breaking the rules occasionally! I remember a key Christmas present being given the Aliens trilogy, at that point, on VHS when I was 14 or so! The first film in widescreen too, which was a big deal for the mid-90s! I remember watching the film as much to enjoy the black bars framing the action interestingly as for the film itself at times! Little did my parents know that I had previously furtively watched a friend's borrowed copy of Aliens and Predator during some school holidays in the middle of the day, to minimise the scary factor!).

Or sleepily half-watching the Moviedrome screening of Solaris, which is perhaps the best way to be introduced to that film (falling asleep to the beautiful landscapes and Russian language, getting woken up a little by the noisy City of the Future sequence, before later on waking to see the characters on some sort of space station!). The other half-asleep film series I remember from my childhood is when a series of Godzilla films screened in late night Friday double bills. I barely remembered the contents of them, but the various 'conversational' growls and roars going on between Godzilla and the other monsters were perhaps too weird to inflict on a semi-conscious brain! I may have been left with the impression that the roar sound effects were how everybody in Japan spoke for a couple of years afterwards!

I don't think my parents shaped my tastes too much after that (though I remember the Whoopi Goldberg film Jumpin' Jack Flash was a big family favourite! And we all sat down to watch the TV premiere of (TV censored) RoboCop!) but they gave me the space and provided the resources to build on, which was the best way to be encouraged to go off exploring into horror, subtitles and then just general arthouse films, I think!

As to MichaelB's comment earlier, I remember seeing a TV broadcast of 2001 at around age 13 and that worked quite well as a touchstone film at that age! I guess the strangely complimentary 2001 and The Black Hole aren't bad, if bleak, films to anchor a childhood around!

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Re: How did you get into older, obscure films?

#133 Post by feihong » Wed Nov 09, 2016 2:13 pm

I suppose what got me into more obscure films was a book I encountered in my first, rather disastrous quarter of college: Stefan Hammond and Mike Wilkins' Sex and Zen & A Bullet to the Head: The Quintessential Guide to Hong Kong's Mind-Bending Films. I bought the book at the campus bookstore and read it cover to cover, again and again when I was supposed to be in class. UCLA had a larger, more overflowing freshman class than ever before, and as a result I was dropped straight into 300-level courses and I felt very lost at sea. As an alternative, I managed to barter to borrow a small television and a VCR in the dorm, and I was able to find a Westwood video store which had some of the eye-opening films the book described. So I would watch these long marathons of Hong Kong films--my first night including The Bride With White Hair, Ashes of Time, Full Contact and A Bullet in the Head.

I discovered the book had a nationwide list of video stores that stocked Hong Kong films, and I found one in relatively near-by Alhambra, and, moving back home for 2 years of Junior college, I started renting Hong Kong films from the Alhambra store, which I think was called ES (Entertainment Station? I don't remember what the letters stood for anymore). The guy who ran the store shared my name and UCLA was his alma mater, and he seemed very excited to help me find Hong Kong movies. He revealed to me wall-to-wall shelves of videocassettes, each shelf two rows of tapes thick, with no organization system. I went rental-crazy. Over the next 2 years I watched an average of 5 movies a day, most of them Hong Kong films, but soon with a lot of Japanese and French films filtering in. My parents had shown me Shoot the Piano Player, Breathless, Sundays & Cybelle, Jules et Jim, 8 1/2, Blue Velvet, and a few other art films by that point, and I'd been an Altman fan from when I was about 14, but that Hong Kong New Wave film encounter was a watershed for me. After that I got into the Korean New Wave as those films filtered into repertory theaters and onto dvd.

I was always looking for outrage, I think, and for really differentiated viewing experiences. Before the HK stuff, I had already seen a lot of foreign films on my own. I would generally rent any video that looked foreign to me. I recall hunting down Tran Ahn Hung's Cyclo, after a friend told me that viewers coming to see Cold Comfort Farm at the Rialto theater were on their feet screaming in terror when the Cyclo trailer played before the film. In retrospect, that seems like a very specific incidence of going to see one thing and getting something remarkably other before that, but the film did have enough stunning outrage for me. I remember liking Almodovar films from rentals as a teen. I had also accidentally seen a lot of indie fare by that point. Standouts from that era which I recall are Ildiko Enyedi's Magic Hunter, the Sandra Oh vehicle Double Happiness, and a weird little indie called Living on Tokyo Time. At that time I somehow saw Mod Fuck Explosion, which I've always adored, and Goyokin, which has always been my favorite Jidai-Geki. So I guess the "a whole lot of obscure VHS tapes" is really the answer to how I got into older, obscure films. Of course, a lot of those films weren't "older" at the time. But they were all pretty obscure.

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Re: How did you get into older, obscure films?

#134 Post by movielocke » Wed Nov 09, 2016 8:16 pm

1) Name the first film you ever saw at the theaters

Either the reissue of Cinderella, The Land Before Time, The reissue of Snow White, or the Little Mermaid, I have clear memories of seeing all of these films in theatres. I remember being extremely mad at not being allowed to see Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and this was well after I'd seen the above. the first live action film I remember seeing in theatres is also the first film I went to without an adult accompanying me, as my older brother and a group of neighborhood kids all saw Kindergarten Cop in a group.

2) Has it been released on Bluray?
I believe all of the above have been.

3) Have you bought it? If yes, are you content with its quality?
I have some of the disney on DVD some on bluray, not land before time, but I'm fine with the quality on all of them.

4) if no, why haven't you bought it yet?
never got land before time on dvd because I think it was full screen only and it never occurred to me to look for it on bluray. and kindergarten cop is terrible, so I see no reason to get it.

I became moderately interested in older films when we watched Bridge on the River Kwai, My fair Lady, Sound of Music and Amadeus in various middle school classes. I became passionately interested in film when I realized there was no reason I shouldn't be making my favorite books into movies as a career, that led to a few summer classes that exposed me to some older films, mostly the canonical AFI 100 best type of classics. then while at film school I instituted my own programs crossing off lists like AFI, sight and sound etc in order to try to develop a decent breadth of knowledge about cinema.

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Re: How did you get into older, obscure films?

#135 Post by scubadonc » Wed Nov 09, 2016 11:59 pm

1) Name the first film you ever saw at the theaters
I don't remember it, but it was a re-release of Disney's The Jungle Book.
2) Has it been released on Bluray?
3) Have you bought it? If yes, are you content with its quality?
Yes. The quality is good, if a little too clean. The Jungle Book is from an era of Disney animation that was pretty loose (lots of pencil marks, etc.). The clean up that was done on it is very clear but reduces the character of the animation a bit.

As for getting into older films:
My mother ran the video rental sections in a couple of local grocery stores starting in the early 90s (I was 11 or 12 when she started). I would watch whatever I could and films that particularly caught my attention would send me looking for similar fare which, at the time, usually meant digging through a handful of film books at the public library. That same library and thrift stores helped me find some classic films, but it's hard to get your hands on obscure film in Wyoming (especially when you only had dial-up internet). In the late 90s, a pair of Blockbuster Videos came to town and my mom converted her video rental areas to coffee stands (she had to go Denver to learn to make Italian coffee since she was one of the first baristas in our town). I cherry picked her videos before she sold them off and got myself a job at Blockbuster. I burned through their inventory and that caught the eye of one of my managers. He and his friends were into the bootleg VHS scene. They brought me into their circle and seemed to relish the opportunity to show me everything they could. Over time, we've all gone separate ways and I now use internet forums such as this for recommendations and intelligent discourse, but it was never just one thing that got me into film. It was a steady stream of supportive people and environments.

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