I've Been Looking So Long At These Pictures Of You, That I Almost Believe That They're Real
One genre of music I've come to appreciate in my life is the new wave classics that formed the background music of my growing up. Bands like The Cure, Depeche Mode, Psychedelic Furs, &c... for me never go out of style. I can hear one of their songs and still maintain that it holds up just as well as it did fifteen, even twenty, years ago.
On that very compelling reason alone I probably would have gone to see the new Tom Hanks produced British film, Starter for Ten. I probably would have gladly paid my eleven dollars, gone to the Arclight, and sat for close to two hours listening to their amazing soundtrack. With tracks from The Cure, The Smiths, Psychedelic Furs, Tears for Fears, Echo & The Bunnymen--it's a veritable who's who of the music that was very much part of the landscape of 80s. As I sat watching the movie, I kept on commenting to myself how well the soundtrack blended into the story. I also kept agreeing with the choices made. Each song, just from my own life, was like a audio shorthand to what type of emotion the characters were experiencing. As soon as the first few notes played, I remembered what kind of scenes played out for me while that song was playing and, damn it all, if I didn't see that same type of scene playing out before my eyes.
Aside from the music, though, I had a skulking suspicion that this movie was right up my alley for another reason.
I'm a sucker for coming-of-age movies and this movie had coming-of-age stinking off of it from a mile away.
From the official site:
Starter for Ten is a romantic comedy set in the mid-eighties about a working-class kid (James McAvoy) as he navigates through the turbulent first year at University. On his way to achieving his long-held ambition to appear on University Challenge, he falls in love with his beautiful teammate and forms a plan to win her heart through his advanced general knowledge skills. Starter for Ten is a charming coming of age comedy about loyalty, class, falling in love and the difference between knowledge and wisdom. Based on David Nicholls best selling novel and directed by newcomer Tom Vaughan.
there was nothing in the world
that I ever wanted more
than to feel you deep in my heart
As I was driving home from the film last night, I was trying to figure out where this obsession with coming-of-age stories stemmed from. It's been so long that everyone who knows me knows I like coming-of-age stories, that I had forgotten myself what was the inciting incident, to use the business parlance. I couldn't remember what pushed me down this path to this adolescent melodrama addiction. I sorted through my memories and came to the conclusion that I wasn't born this way. Sure, I liked shows like The Wonder Years and movies like Stand By Me, but early on I never made a conscious effort to soak up as much of the genre as I could like I do now. Back then, quality work was just quality work and I never made distinctions about what I was seeing. It wasn't until later on that I started to sort out the kinds of stories I immediately gravitated towards.
Where it started I believe is in the idea that I never really had a good coming-of-age tale to tell people. I got older, definitely, but I didn't have tales of big romantic troubles and processes of growth I had to battle through. Back in my teens and earlier than that, I had some hiccups along the way, but nothing that made any sense if told in isolated incidents. The closest I came to a good heartbreaking story of learning to grow up was the story of my being too shy to come out at the bathroom my first school dance. Even that, though, was not as traumatic as I'd like to believe it to be. It doesn't scar for life. If anything, I employ in the same way I use any other anecdote, for purposes of amusement and not confession.
That absence of anything concrete I could point to as a story of growth and change is the foundation for a lot of my character. I think it's the reason why i gravitate towards people younger than me as acquaintances and friends. I live vicariously through them whenever they regale me with tales of how they coped with adversity in matters of the heart and soul. The first of these friends was Jina, who is five years younger than me. I think that's where it started. Yes, she was intelligent and, yes, we communicated easily. However, a lot of my initial interest in her was the fact she was going through experiences I never really felt I had gone through. I came to fall in love with hearing about this other life that everyone else seemed to lead that I never got a chance to. Everyone who came after her, followed the same pattern, even to this day. Breanne fascinated me to tears with her stories of struggling against her parents for a semblance of independence, whereas my own struggles for the same rights with my parents were relatively painless. Tara confessed to me all her insecurities about starting college and losing friends from high school, of trying to forge her own identity, whereas I made up my mind rather quickly about going to USC (maybe too quickly) and never really felt any huge swell of sadness at leaving most of my high school buddies behind. DeAnn spun tales of getting into trouble that I never would have dreamed of even attempting. And, Carly, who is some fourteen years younger than me, I've admitted that one of the biggest reasons I think we're friends is the fact she doesn't mind sharing some of what her life entails. Looking back, I seem to make friends pretty quickly with people who have lead interesting lives I can mine for stories.
In a sense, watching and writing coming-of-age stories are my feeble attempts to fill a hole in my character. I guess I've always felt a lack of doing terribly impressive or exciting. Somewhere along the way I figured that it was probably too late for me to have my coming-of-age and that the best I could do was try to understand everyone else's experiences. I'm like a sponge when it comes to people telling stories of this nature to me. That reason too is why I got involved so heavily in reading blogs; I crave the intimacy and the raw emotions that other people seemed to have felt that I never got to feel.
I'm not saying I didn't have moments where I felt confused or lost and had to puzzle my way through. But my times always came later than everyone else and when I was in a state of mind more conducive to piece my way through it. I had very few troubling moments in my teens, a little more in college, and even more recently. But I've always felt some or all of those times should have come earlier.
That's the only reason I can give why I'm still drawn to movies like Starter for Ten , because it's almost like Sam Beckett in Quantum Leap. These movies with their characters in turmoil undergoing a transformation is my little way of putting right what once went wrong with my life. For those few hours, I get to feel what it's like to do, say, and feel those things when it could've happened instead of when it actually did.