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Remembering my biggest movie influencer on his birthday

A still from David Gordon Green's movie 'George Washington'

Today is my cousin Nathan’s 43rd birthday. Or, well, it would have been—Nathan died very unexpectedly 19 years ago while he was living in Portland. I talked a little while back about how important two of my uncles were in helping to form my tastes, but really, my biggest influence, by far, was Nathan.

We grew up together, fighting over who got to be Princess Leia when we played Star Wars, falling over in our recliners laughing when the sentry gets hit in the head with a rock in Three Amigos, reciting Bobcat Goldthwait lines way, way before we should have even known who he was. In fact, that’s what Nathan really did—he knew about stuff way too early, and he forced it on me. When other pre-teens were staying up in the middle of the night hoping to catch a glimpse of too much skin on Cinemax, we were watching edgy standup comedians, Penn and Teller, and David Cronenberg’s Dead Ringers at 3:00 in the morning. I have no idea how he found some of this stuff, and I certainly didn’t understand it, but he did, and so I had to pretend I did, too.

I’ve told this story plenty of times, so you may have heard it, but what the heck, it’s his birthday. No one ever knew about anything, ever, before Nathan did, and so I was overjoyed when I was in college and I discovered David Gordon Green’s first movie, George Washington, still one of the movies I feel the deepest personal connection to. I was sure Nathan had never heard of it, and so I resolved never to tell him about it. It was going to be the one thing I had that he didn’t.

When he died, we were in his house cleaning out his things, and as I was packing away his hundreds of DVDs, I of course came across his copy of George Washington. Which he’d never told me about either. And actually, that made me feel pretty good.

Happy birthday, bud. I still miss you.

Fletcher Powell has worked at KMUW since 2009 as a producer, reporter, and host. He's been the host of All Things Considered since 2012 and KMUW's movie critic since 2016. Fletcher is a member of the Critics Choice Association.