I've always had a complicated relationship with the screen. As a kid, I mostly hated television: that chatty box that was on in the background, getting on my nerves and making it hard to read. In later years, I came to appreciate the medium -- but that wasn't until late in college, when I could stream critically-acclaimed shows like Mad Men and The Wire, with minimal to no interference from noisy commercials and the more freedom to choose what I wanted to watch and when.
But back when I was a teenager and there was no such thing as an on-demand streaming service, I preferred movies. The stuff I ended up watching was a bit haphazard: I remember that my mom got a giant box of VHS tapes from somewhere, not the ones you might buy in a store but stuff that had been recorded by someone off television, with maybe two or three movies to a tape. I'd scan through those, looking for an interesting title. Or we'd go to Blockbuster (which is now mostly a thing of the past, though apparently a few Dish-owned franchises live on) and I'd scan the shelves for movies featuring my favorite actors, which is how I came to enjoy films as different as Die Hard (RIP Alan Rickman), Doubt (which I originally watched for PSH (also RIP), but Streep is great too), and A Fish Called Wanda (John Cleese can always make me laugh).
But I didn't really go through a period of watching the classics before I moved on to that on-demand TV series binging, and, as many of my friends can attest, I'm seriously lacking in pop culture knowledge. This is particularly concerning now that I'm living in L.A., the capital of the film industry (though L.A. Confidential was among the movies I enjoyed from that giant box of recorded videos!).
So I'm hoping to remedy this in 2018: I'll be watching the 100 Greatest American Movies of All Time, according to AFI's 10th anniversary list compiled in 2007. Or rewatching, as the case may be, though I've only seen 27 of the movies on the list ... and my memory of some of those is shaky.
I'm starting Wednesday with number 100, the 212-minute epic Ben-Hur, which I know next to nothing about.