Pivotal pics

Brianna and her boyfriend, David, came for dinner Sunday and conversation turned, as it often does, to movies -- what we've seen, what we can't wait to see, movies we've loved, movies we were scared by. Because David is a relative newcomer to the family, our movie mania probably made it seem like we all do nothing but watch movies. We do other things ... occasionally ... but movies are a large part of who we are.

Since that dinner conversation, I've been thinking about how movies really are a big part of my life, have often helped form the person I am.

In that vein, I've come up with a list of movies that have had great impact on my life ... so far:

Lisa's 12 Pivotal Films

Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella (1965) -- Not a theatrical release but a made-for-television production that aired each Thanksgiving for many years so, to me, it signalled the beginning of the holiday season. It's the first show I remember being my escape from the turmoil we called family, especially as it reached fever pitch during the holidays. It also may be responsible for my obsession with chairs; I've collected lots and lots of chairs in my house in search of THE one to go with the lyrics "in my own little corner in my own little chair ...".

The Birds (1963) -- Scared the hell out of me as a child and set the bar for my lifelong taste in scary movies: lots of suspense with minimal gore.

Doctor Zhivago (1965) -- Omar Shariff ... need I say more? Except that this one set the bar for my taste in romance films: heartbreak, heartbreak and more heartbreak.

A Star is Born (1976) -- The first movie I wanted to see again and again and again. It also was the first movie to which I bought the soundtrack ... and was deeply disappointed upon learning that movie soundtracks didn't include the dialogue. I loved (loved!) the songs, but had hoped to relive the film again and again as if listening to a radio production.

The Elephant Man (1980) -- I saw this film as part of a psychology class field trip. The teacher, Mr. Marr, was the man I admired most in the whole entire world at that point. After the movie, Mr. Marr cried in front of the class as he lamented the horrors endured by John Merrick, most of which were inflicted by society. Mr. Marr's tears were my first lesson in what true empathy looks like.

Christianne F. [Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo] (1981) -- It was my turn to pick the movie for girls' night out and I picked a gloomy foreign flick about a teen drug addict living in Berlin. My first subtitled movie ... and the last time I got to pick the movie for girls' night out. I still enjoy offbeat foreign films.

The Big Chill (1983) -- I was recently married and scared and disillusioned about being a grown up. This film made it clear that everyone is scared and disillusioned about being a grown up ... and that it all works out okay if you've got the right soundtrack.

Terms of Endearment (1983) -- Shirley MacLaine begging for pain meds for Debra Winger ... Debra Winger saying goodbye to her sons ... . Oh. My. Gosh! Motherhood at its most heart wrenching.

The English Patient (1996) -- Affected me much like Doctor Zhivago, only this time I was an adult -- and still a fan of heartbreak, heartbreak, and more heartbreak. Plus, Ralph Fiennes ... need I say more?

Boys Don't Cry (1999) -- This absolutely broke my heart, so much so that I was impelled to make my girls watch it. They really probably weren't old enough for its graphic violence and theme but I wanted them to see what sheer hate can do in hopes of warning them against ever associating with anyone carrying -- and acting upon -- such hate.

Amelie (2001) -- Brought the realization that foreign films aren't just gloom and doom but can be light and lovely. Also, the first subtitled film I made the girls watch ... and they adored it (which redeemed me a bit for the forced viewing of "Boys Don't Cry").

Moulin Rouge (2001) -- The only movie that, as an adult, I watched again and again ... in a row ... in one weekend. Four times in one weekend, to be exact. I thought I was a much more seasoned film-goer than that. But with heartbreak, heartbreak, and more heartbreak plus song and dance, how could I possibly resist?

Today's question:

What are some of your pivotal films?