Movies are meant to do a lot of things: Shine light into a dark world, educate, enlighten and bring truth to the screen. They’re meant to tell a story that you’ve never been told before, or put a new spin on a tale you’ve heard before. A movie, when it is done well, can start a dialogue, between people after the credits roll and the lights come on. Like any artistic medium, film can take you places you never thought of before. They can make you fall in love, bring your blood to a boil, and above all, movies should entertain an audience.
I’ve been asked what it is I love about movies and what made me want to be a critic. Those are two short questions that require long answers.
During the long, hot El Cajon summers I spent growing up in, the El Cajon Theater was a place with air-conditioning, popcorn and escapism. At some point during the mid-to-late 70’s, I realized that most Sunday afternoons, as far back as I could remember, were spent inside the place with the huge neon sign and the smoking lounge and crying room in the back. I was hooked and I never realized I was until it was too late. I should have realized earlier that I was a total film geek; the late night horror films and early morning Abbott and Costello films that would help me deal with the massive insomnia I suffered from. Truth is, I still do. Some nights, I can stare at a ceiling and beg for sleep. It’s turned into a mixed blessing, not being able to doze off. I get plenty of time to write my articles, catch up on correspondence, read and do the one thing that brings calm to the swirling din of everyday life — watch movies.
There are the movies of my favorite directors — Capra, Hitchcock, Pabst, Kurosawa, Corman, Argento, Spielberg — that I can watch any time and get lost in. The majority of Monty Python films never get old either. The same is generally true of a film with a title that ends with… Of the Living Dead. It doesn’t matter if the film is high art or lowbrow violence, I’ll happily hang out with friends or family and enjoy a movie. Or, in the late night hours, curl up next to my terrier, Adie, and watch something new. Of all of the films I’ve seen, the one that distills my love of film into a package that I can revisit forever is Krull (1983).
From the opening wedding of destruction (that predates Game of Thrones’ “Red Wedding” by decades) to the epic finale, Krull is the best friggin’ fantasy/sci-fi/love story/movie about a guy that can turn himself into a basset hound. Ever. Krull scores points for entertainment, adventure and being the most krulltastic (yes, I made up a word, deal with it) movie ever made.
There are evil people in this world that don’t love Krull. These people are part of a communist plot to overthrow cinema and need to be rooted out like the vipers they are. I have seen Truffaut’s 400 Blows, and I have an unholy love of the Godfather and It’s A Wonderful Life. I’ve been a film critic for decades and I apologize to no one for my love of Krull.
Mix in a young Liam Neeson in a bit part with the uncommonly beautiful Lysette Anthony and our hero Ken Marshall and you have the ingredients of genius. To put it simply, if you don’t like Krull, you are using oxygen that other people can put to better use. Krull is why I love movies. I became a critic because I don’t sleep much and I enjoy typing.