Six Movies That Actually Changed My Life

  1. "The Love Bug"
    I know I had seen many other films before this, but it's the first one where I clearly remember feeling exhilarated as I left the theater. I recall my brothers and I running home (only a block away) as if we were cars in the climactic race where Herbie split in two, taking first and third places. The movie bug had bitten me. On the rare occasions when a movie now revs me up or thoroughly immerses me in another reality, I still think of it as that old "Love Bug" feeling.
  2. "Network" and "Star Wars"
    I saw both films within the same week. Somehow I convinced Mom to take me to the R-rated "Network". We were both uneasy during the scene where Diana Prince talks and talks in bed, although I was pretty clueless about what else was going on in that scene. "Star Wars" was easier for 15-year-old me to grasp. I'd never seen a movie that felt so BIG. Ultimately, my tastes veered more toward smart, talky comedy/dramas than special-effects epics, but both indelibly impacted my growing love of film.
  3. "Annie Hall"
    I started college at the University of Wisconsin -Oshkosh, but I would frequently visit friends in Madison on weekends and loved its vibrant music scene and film societies. We went to see "Annie Hall" on campus one weekend and, when Alvy Singer did his stand-up gig in Madison, it dawned on me that I belonged in Madison too. I transferred the following semester into their excellent film program -- possibly the best decision of any sort that I've ever made.
  4. "Mad City"
    By far the worst film on this list, but it was my first writing credit on a feature film and gave me the misleading impression that I might actually be able to make my living as a screenwriter. When I picked up a free bag of popcorn at the concession stand, the cute gal behind the counter chirped, "Enjoy your movie!" -- not realizing the profundity of her innocent remark. For the first time, I actually was entering a theater to see MY movie.
  5. "Spellbound"
    I was curious about Jeff Blitz's documentary on the national spelling bee for purely personal reasons: I had attended the national bee in 1969 when my brother Brad was a contestant. I had no idea it would be so spectacular or that it would spark a desire to make my own documentary someday. All I lacked was a topic. A few years later, a topic fell into my lap when doctors began to study my brother Brad's astonishingly detailed memory. The end result was "Unforgettable".