Engross yourself in conversation with a director or writer-type for long enough and talk will invariably turn to motion picture faves, hates and Holy Grails. Finding out what someone slots into these cinematic pigeonholes can serve as a useful window into the creative soul of the listee.
Or it can red-flag the guy dressed like Brandon Lee in ‘The Crow’ touting his “whimsical” rom-com next to a stack of low-budget X-rated European slashers and Dario Argento DVDs.
Rich takes time out from drafting another short to indulge his passion for drafting lists. Then re-ordering them. Then changing the font. Then re-ordering them again. Then agonising over that second font choice…
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- BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF – 2001
A film seemingly comprised from randomly generated elements: werewolves, psychopathic gypsies, a religious conspiracy, an incestuous longing, 18th Century France, and a heavily-tattooed, somersaulting native American kung-fu ninja! Strangely, it works. Even in French.
- THE LORD OF THE RINGS – [all 3 films. I can have that as one choice, right?] – 2001, 2002, 2003
Firstly, for massive geeks like me, this is the equivalent of a pilgrimage. Fantasy taken seriously after all the “Muscles & Mullets” of 80s fantasy flicks. Peter Jackson treats them as alternative history and wrangles magic from a seamless blend of CGI, models and mattes, sets and stunts, and cast and costumes – ‘epic’ done right, in painstaking detail. Not a mullet in sight. Chris Waddle missed his chance.
- THE USUAL SUSPECTS – 1995
An underworld urban myth of the devil in disguise played out across action set-pieces, intense interviews, and narrative sleight-of-hand. The whole cast plays a blinder, especially an Asian-Welsh Pete Postlethwaite. Features the greatest name in the whole of film history. “I am Keyser Soze. And so’s my wife.”
- ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST – 1975
Fantastic story of a bunch mentally unwell vs. the medical establishment (read: misfits vs. conformity – the story was penned by ‘merry prankster’ Ken Kesey who pretty much wrote the book on misfitting) with a tour de force in unbridled mania from Jack Nicholson and a punch-the-air moment with a removable wash-stand. Nice shirt Chezzeroo!
- MEMENTO – 2000
Back-to-fronty, twisty-turny and upside-downy… above all just an engrossing story from whichever direction you look at it and so clever with its chronology it has a Ph.D in timey-wimeyness. Watch the DVD – it includes a version of the movie edited to show the story ‘in the right order.’ Whoever thought Mike from ‘Neighbours’ would ever get so far?
Martial arts has worked wonders for Steven Seagal: watch your lame ‘ex-Special Forces chef with wolf spirit guide’ pitch fall flat on its arse then chin-kick a studio exec through a window and – hey presto! – there’s $50million wired to your off-shore account for Under Siege 3…
- DANGEROUS LIAISONS – 1988
Conniving, witty and waspish tale of decaying morals, reputations and social one-upmanship, with a ‘none more Malkovich’ performance from the rakish and razor-sharp Mr. M. Words used as weapons, love used as a landmine, all set in period splendour and dressed in French finery. Keanu Reeves gets a look-in too, just not a very big one:
“Tell us what we should think of the opera, Chevalier?”
“Woooah… it’s sublime, don’t you find… dude?”
- MULHOLLAND DRIVE – 2001
Baffling, bonkers but brilliant. Does any of it make sense? Does that really matter? Possibly pretentious, possibly piffle but compelling viewing. A film to watch with your friends and play ‘Create Your Own Theory.’ A film with more questions than answers…or is it? Either you revel in the style or you’re holding the noose at the head of the David Lynch-mob.
- GLADIATOR – 2000
A great film. A film with Russell Crowe in it. There’s not a large overlap in that particular Venn diagram but Crowe delivers here, in a blood ‘n’ guts tale of righteous revenge against a proper pantomime baddie. Not sure it will ‘echo through eternity’ but it will hold up well for a long time. A duck’s quack probably won’t echo through eternity either.
- GROUNDHOG DAY – 1993
No-one does hangdog like Bill Murray. Or multiple suicide. (No, I can’t listen to ‘I Got You Babe’ without wanting to top myself either). A perfectly structured comedy with gags galore. Even the presence of Andi MacDowall doesn’t put me off this one. I can watch it again… and again… and again… and again…
- LAWRENCE OF ARABIA – 1962
Peter O’Toole being all English and Arabian and conflicted in his loyalties all at the same time. Deserts, dust and received pronunciation. And a man on a camel who takes a really, really long time to arrive – but then it is Omar Sharif and the casino’s at least 3 days ride…
Silence of the Lambs; 2001: A Space Odyssey; Apocalypse Now; The Exorcist; The French Connection.
Citizen Kane? Never seen it. Probably shouldn’t admit that.