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As an 80s kid and a 90s teen I grew up on movies. The VCR never had a chance to cool off and my account under my grandmas name at the local Mountain View Video Store down the street from my house was my library card. This would be the generation of films that made me fall in love with cinema as a kid and to this day.
Early on, action hits like Rambo II, and Commando, captured my imagination. Much like science-fiction epics such as The Empire Strikes Back. This was also the era of late-night cable and it was a magical time spending the weekends at my friends house watching comedies like National Lampoon’s Vacation, Boomerang, Revenge of the Nerds and countless others on HBO, Showtime, and Cinemax. But it wasn’t long until I realized I liked to watch a little bit of everything. Cinematic storytelling is what appealed to me. Performances, motion of the camera, the impact of the dialogue, the scoring. If it was well-crafted, I was interested really no matter the genre.
Born in Los Angeles I moved as a kid to the Pacific Northwest and the weather change had an impact. Instead of almost year around playing outside in sunny southern California. The bulk of the year in Washington state was damp, cold, and rainy. Much more time was spent inside, and without cable at my own house, movies on VHS were my escape. When the summer would hit the drive-in was the place to be watching summer classics like Speed, True Lies, and Jurassic Park. Friday nights would be movies at the vintage one-screen theater down the street from my small-town high school and it was a great time with all my random classmates and maybe seeing that special girl I had a crush on, watching movies like Arachnophobia and The Addams Family.
This was also the era of the second-run theater and there was one across the street from the mall in my town. This would be where my true cinema training would commence. Not all my friends liked films the way I did. Sure they enjoyed the comedies, action/adventures and all that, but none wanted to see dramas, nor did we have the money to spend on new release movie tickets for just any movie. The second run theater ticket price ranged from $2.25 when I first started going to around $6.50 when it finally closed down in the late 90s. The staff was also much more relaxed so it wasn’t extremely difficult to get into R-rated movies, or hopping from one theater to the next on one ticket without getting caught. (It was a simpler time and I am fortunate to say theater hopping didn’t end up being a gateway crime that developed into an unlawful lifestyle.)
These would be the trips to the cinema alone where the cinephile inside me was born. As a teenager watching films like Good Will Hunting, Philadelphia, Trainspotting and a slew of other films that often my teen brain was unable to fully grasp at the time. However, it was more than enough to experience the full-range of what motion pictures as an artform had to offer. Being a film critic was never really a thought growing up as much as being a starting Point Guard for the Seattle Supersonics.
Sadly, I wasn’t quite the high school basketball phenom I hoped I’d be so college was the route and this is where I stumbled into film criticism. Loving cinema may have had an influence, but in my late teens and early 20s I really wanted to be a writer. Part of me still does, given I know a great script is inside me somewhere. But journalism was the path in college and after a tedious and lengthy examination of the Iran Contra Affair our professor felt writing a few film critiques would be a nice pallet cleanser to close out the semester.
This is when I would write a review for the mediocre comedy Mr. Woodcock starring Billy Bob Thornton. It wasn’t a good film so I had (respectful) fun in my review and my professor was impressed. He asked if I ever thought about being a professional critic (which I hadn’t) because I had a knack for covering the film while also infusing my personality. That summer his feedback lingered in my mind. But with work and school it never panned out into anything.
A handful of years later on a lazy weekend and looking for something to pass the time I wrote up a review for a couple films I’d seen recently just to get the writing juices flowing and it would take off from there. A few weeks later I started a small blog (with an insanely creative title) called AJD Reviews. For a couple years I would just write up little 300-400 word reviews on my blog more for a personal log of what I watched and because I loved writing. Not for anyone to read.
In the summer of 2013 I would create the SilverScreen Analysis website. Then late in 2016 I would transition from written reviews to video when I launched the SilverScreen Analysis YouTube channel. That in 2022 was changed to Movies Never Say Die! with a focus covering the classics from the 70s/80s/90s. Leaving written covering of current new releases for this site. I’ve been a press accredited critic since 2017 and I am a member of the San Diego Film Critics Society and the Hollywood Creative Alliance.
Thank you for reading!
Anthony J. Digioia II
Editor in Chief
The SilverScreen Analysis & Movies Never Say Die!