by Scott Snyder

I'm not going to recap the movies of the year; I was too busy to see most of them. Read Entertainment Weekly's Year in Review; those guys have the luxury of getting paid to see all the movies -- which, by the count of the Internet Movie Database is more than 250 for 1995. I have, by my count, seen about 28 of them, not nearly enough to pretend authority.

So instead, I'm going to recap the movies of my year. How's that for egocentric?

But why not? After all, movies are our chronological mile markers. Everyone remembers where they were when the Challenger exploded and so forth, but how often does a news event happen that makes that kind of impact? And who wants to remember their entire lives by explosions and shootings?

Movies provide a less ominous set of landmarks. Everyone remembers hearing that Reagan had been shot -- but everyone also remembers seeing Pinocchio for the first time, or The Rocky Horror Picture Show, or Grease. Quicker than they can say "Jujubees are three bucks!?" Americans can tell you their first date-movie, their first R-rated movie, and the first movie they saw without Mom and Dad.

If they think about it, they can probably tell you their first Stallone flick. Mine was Rocky III, and I can remember shadowboxing with my friend on the way out of the theater, a little high on testosterone and camraderie. I haven't seen that friend in about 11 years, and Rocky III is one of the few things that still calls him to mind. I wouldn't care to do without it.

So here are the cinematic highlights of my year. E-mail me yours if you'd care to; I'd be interested to know.

Before Sunrise, February
It's as though the big screen invited me up to play along; I saw this three times, once in a theater that I had all to myself. This is the first movie I've ever wanted to own on video -- a movie whose outlook on romance was so relentlessly optimistic as to be almost quaint. Or it would've been, if writers Richard Linklater (also the director) and Kim Krizan and principals Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy hadn't gone so far out of their way to keep it from being. This is a fairytale love story, but it's a real fairytale love story. Dammit.

This is the only movie I've ever seen that actually improved my love life. "If he can get up the nerve to talk to Julie Delpy on a train," my reasoning went, "then I can surely manage a simple phone call..." I was so taken with Julie Delpy that I misspelled her name in my original skew review of the film.

Mallrats, October
The eminently disappointing second outing of Clerks writer and director Kevin Smith, Mallrats turned out to be sophomoric and ludicrous. Not even (ahem) Shannen Doherty could save it from being just ... well, really bad.

But y'know, I felt pretty crappy going into the theater on this particular Saturday afternoon. And I walked out feeling less crappy. If it wasn't good for squat besides this, it at least sucked down an hour and a half of my time during a bleak October weekend. Sometimes I go to the movies to be think; sometimes I go to be entertained. Sometimes, as in the case of Mallrats, I just go to the movies.

Dangerous Minds, August
Two months out of a reasonably well-paying teaching career, and still not particularly employed, I was happy to have Michelle Pfeiffer's classroom combat to remind me that quitting the education business was a good idea anyway. Coolio's theme song for the film, along with its video, were much better than the film itself.

Truth told, Dangerous Minds was a conventional, meandering remake of To Sir With Love, except more self-righteous. But as an object lesson in reasons not to be a teacher, it served quite nicely. I'm still not sure what I want to do when I grow up, but I know I don't want to be a high school teacher, and for that I have this film, in part, to thank.

The Brady Bunch Movie, February
There's nothing like a really awful movie to make you examine your childhood. I had a number of friends who liked this movie pretty much -- which, when you look at the movie for its own sake, is just ridiculous. It's not funny. I watched it when I was in an okay mood, and I didn't laugh once.

But here are my friends, liking this terrible movie. And the difference is, I didn't really give a damn about the Brady Bunch when I was growing up. The gulf that suddenly sprang up between me and my peers at this realization -- well, it's overwhelming. Here was a whole chapter in the pop-culture vocabulary textbook of my generation, and I didn't know it...

On the other hand, I was free to recognize what a terrible movie this was.

In retrospect, I liked precious few of the movies I saw this year. Considering the money I spent in theaters, I could be bitter about that, but I'm not. It's money well-spent, in fact -- membership fees to a generation.

But no matter how many times you hear someone say "Alrighty, then," resist the temptation to see Ace Ventura 2. No pop-culture savvy is worth it.

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