Happy birthday to me
Published: Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 20:11
Oct. 3, 1992 is my documented birthday. But I don’t consider it the day I was born.
The revamped Jake Knott was propelled into existence sometime around sixth or seventh grade, when my dad opened life’s curtains and exposed my mind to true cinema. Since then, life has unstructured before my eyes; it has evolved beyond its restricted boundaries, making even the most unfathomable idea fall within my mental grip.
But the younger Jake was a stingy snake; he quaked at the thought of blossoming into maturity. He unconsciously attended school, digested his brain cells in video games and marooned himself in his room daily, where he staged elaborate battles with his G. I. Joe action figures.
I was already heavily influenced by television and film at a young age. Toy Story was the movie that affected my mind the most, and led me to have thorough conversations with my toys. I would purposely convince myself, and my parents, that I could see one of my toys move by itself. My proposition did seem sound at the time. After all, the movie was all of the evidence I needed.
Dad changed everything. It took him a few relentless years to convince me to watch a non-kid movie – precisely 12. I was allergic to change, but I willfully watched this one movie to make him happy.
It was called Platoon – a 1986 Vietnam War film. I had previously seen films like Saving Private Ryan and Forrest Gump, so I had already been minimally exposed to screen violence and cursing. None of that was new to me.
What piqued my interest was the dialogue in Platoon – the ghastly suspense between the two U.S Army sergeants. Sgt. Elias (Willem Dafoe) catches Staff Sgt. Barnes (Tom Berenger) illegally slaughtering Vietnamese civilians.
“This ain’t a firing squad, you piece of s***,” Elias said.
Platoon involved me further with its undaunted, relentless portrayal of humane evil. I had already seen some botched horror films, such as The Ring, IT and The Grudge. Platoon redefined horror to me; it didn’t have any bloodthirsty clowns or satanic children.
The horror was held captive within the souls of the soldiers, something I had never seen before in film. I couldn’t calculate, at my young age, why two soldiers who fight for the same country would try to kill each other. That never occurred throughout any of my G.I. Joe battles.
Platoon gave birth to the current me. Pretty soon, I dug my way through the cinema underground, finding one golden treasure after another. Films like Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, Die Hard, The Rock, Full Metal Jacket, The Godfather and Goodfellas influenced me in ways Toy Story never could.
It was from that point I knew had to enter a career field that involved movies.
After a few empty swings at writing screenplays, I tested the boundaries of filmmaking. I never owned an artsy persona, but for some reason I have keen eyes behind a camera. I inexplicitly knew what to look for and where to film, sometimes just by luck.
After gaining hands-on experience in my high school’s media productions course, I searched for the best possible filmmaking program in the area, eventually boiling down between UB and Buff State. The latter presented a superior program, but my heart tugged me to UB, where I temporarily clarified myself as an undecided major.
Instead of focusing on finding a major, I delved into eliminating my general studies by the masses. My conscious suspiciously begged me not to pursue my original media studies path. I spent nearly an entire day in NSC Hall to figure out my immediate future.
And there it was – a simple formula.
I have a passion for writing, and I love everything about movies.
Writing + movies = movie reviews. Yes.
And that’s where I stand today. I’m currently in my third semester with The Spectrum, where I’ve written about 18 reviews, plus a handful of film columns. I possess my own review blog, which is steadily rising to success.
I don’t plan to be the next Roger Ebert. Nobody else could replace him and what he has done to change film criticism. The best I can hope for is to honor his lifelong work in my own words and pass on a similar – yet refreshing – view of films to the futures generations.
But if I don’t succeed in film criticism, at least I can say that I spent most of my collegiate career watching movies. That would fully satisfy me.