First off, it pains me that I cannot bring to you the 18 or so stills from The Dark Knight that hit the net overnight. Pains me! While you can still find them on the smaller movie blog ... s, Warner Bros. has requested that the pics come down from larger sites. And since I'm going on vacation in 24 hours (coupled with the fact that it's Friday), I don't feel like dealing with any lawyers at the moment. But they're around ... you just gotta look.

That being said, my impending two-week voyage overseas has got me thinking a lot about road trip movies lately. Plus, it's summertime, and if you haven't taken in a screening of National Lampoon's Vacation at some point within the last two months, then you should be ashamed of yourself. So last night, as I was casing my DVD collection for something to take on the trip with me, I came across Cameron Crowe's Elizabethtown. I have no problem saying how much of a Crowe fan I am -- the guy has a way of turning me to mush with his dialogue, and I've openly wept on occasions (the scene in Almost Famous when William bursts out of the restaurant in search of Penny Lane, while Elton John tells us "The New York Times said God was dead," is one example).

So why Elizabethtown? Well, this was a strange film for me because, when I first saw it, I was at a preview screening with my father. This was the first and only preview screening I've ever attended with my dad (who's love for movies turned me on to writing about them in the first place), and when we walked out of the theater, I was convinced Elizabethtown was my favorite film of the year. I've since watched the film three more times, with each viewing depressing me more and more. The problem with Elizabethtown (a road movie about a guy coming to terms with his father's passing) is that, as with most Crowe films, it's based on his own experiences. Thus, him being too close to the subject matter caused Crowe to make a "Cameron Crowe Movie," instead of another enjoyable, original piece of work. So what we get in Elizabethtown are pieces of Maguire and Famous smashed together, with the shell of a real-life story somehow trying to pop out from time to time.

Why did I like it so much after that first screening? I've come to the realization that it wasn't so much the movie as it was experiencing it with my father. Knowing that some day he'll pass on, and I'll most likely be on the road somewhere attempting to come to terms with our own relationship. Which brings me to this question for you: Have you ever let a movie experience taint your feelings on the movie itself?