Okay, so something a little more light-hearted from me this week; a look at some of my favourite films. Please note that I haven’t called it my top ten, because I couldn’t pick just ten, and they are in no particular order. Also, I am calling them ‘some good films’ because the list is by no means exhaustive and I am sure I am forgetting some.
War films: Full Metal Jacket (1987) and Apocalypse Now (1979)
“Is that you, John Wayne? Is this me?” [Private Joker]
Without a doubt my favourite war movie of all time. Packed full of catchy one-liners that I still use on a regular basis. “Now choke yourself.” [Gunnery Sergeant Hartman] [Pyle wraps his own hands around his throat]. “Goddamn it, with MY hand, numb-nuts!” [Gunnery Sergeant Hartman]. I laugh every time. What a scene. It must be one of the best movie scenes ever. Even more impressive when you realise that the role of Gunnery Sergeant Hartman was played by a technical advisor [R. Lee Ermey] bought in to advise Kubrick on the military elements of the film and that the scene was almost entirely Ermey and not a prescripted speech.
Love it for its wit, rawness and colourful dialogue.
Do I really have to tell you about Apocalypse Now? I sure hope not!
Norton films: American History X (1998) and Fight Club (1999)
I have put these together because they have Edward Norton in common and both performances are outstanding. American History X is a powerful, graphic and compelling drama that delves into neo-nazism, racism and ultimately, redemption. The superbly acted film also stars another well-known Edward, Edward Furlong. Best known for his captivating role as John Connor in Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991) – before he went off the rails. Or should I say on them? This jolting film is about change and definitely tugs on the heartstrings, so be prepared. And don’t say I didn’t warn you.
“I am Jack’s raging bile duct.” [Narrator]
Fight Club is one of those films that you learn something new about every time you watch it. Again, Edward Norton is captivating. He has shed the muscular physique that he had in American His, and swapped the skinhead look for something a little more… well, white-collar. I love Helena Bonham Carter in this. Actually, she’s always pretty awesome. And then there’s Brad. God, he’s hot in this. The shaved head and toned bod. Who else could pull off that fur coat? And I am not usually a Pitt fan. But I have no problem giving points where points are due.
“I am Jack’s inflamed sense of rejection.” [Narrator]
Tarantino at his best: Pulp Fiction (1995)
Okay when people ask what my favourite film is I normally say Pulp Fiction. Without over exaggerating, I have probably watched it 20 times. Tons of unforgettable one-liners and wit, hardcore yet likeable and well-developed characters, intense action and suspense, a perfect script, iconic soundtrack, some highly talented actors doing some pretty impressive acting, need I go on? Tarantino’s best work without a doubt.
Favourite character? My man Vincent. Of course.
Coen brother’s finest: No Country for Old Men (2007)
Jeez, this film. It had me right from the start and all the way up until the end. Totally absorbing and tense. It is definitely one on the Coen brother’s finest. It stars the super talented Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem (one of my favourite actors) and Josh Brolin, who’s also been in some other good films: American Gangster, Milk and Inherent Vice. This is one of those films that takes you on a bit of a roller coaster and probably the only film I can remember where [spoiler alert] the main character dies half way through the film. Bardem is so good in this and ultimately won an Oscar for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role, making him the first Spanish actor to win an Oscar. Go Javier!
Oh and Woody Harrelson! Totally forgot. Sorry Woody. Love you too.
The incredible Mr. Daniel Day-Lewis: There will be Blood (2007)
Hailed as a masterpiece, this usual and unique film is Daniel Day-Lewis at his best! If you haven’t seen it, it is an epic drama written and directed by the talented Mr Paul Thomas Anderson and set during the early days of oil prospecting in the US. It is a story of madness, religion, betrayal, loss, tragedy, ruthlessness, greed, family and of course, black gold. The film is often referred to as a ‘work of art’ and I totally understand why. I can even forgive that fact that the first 15 minutes have no actual discourse.
Gangster films: Casino (1995) and Goodfellas (1990) and Donnie Brasco (1997)
What can I say, I am a sucker for gangster films; The Untouchables (1987), Once Upon A Time In America (1984), Donnie Brasco (1997), Scarface (1983), Carlito’s Way (1993), Goodfellas (1990), Casino (1995) and the more recent, American Gangster (2007). And you know what one of the best things about gangster films is? It’s that you’re almost guaranteed that they will have at least one of the ‘Godfather’s’, Al Pacino or Robert De Niro, in them.
Casino, by Martin Scorsese stars Joe Pesci, De Niro and Sharon Stone. Yeah it’s super violet and ruthless, but then it’s a gangster film, what do you expect ponies and tea parties? It’s by no means a masterpiece or the best movie of all time but it’s a GOOD film.
Goodfellas is also by Scorsese and again stars De Niro and Pesci, but this time with Ray Liotta. Hard to say which is better but I think if I had to choose Goodfellas would win by a nose. Again, lots of violence, colourful language and scenes depicting drug use. Great film if you like The Sopranos.
Donnie Brasco stars Al Pacino and Johnny Depp. The film is based on a true story. Depp is both sensational and believable in his role as an undercover FBI agent who infiltrates the mob and finds himself identifying more with the mafia lifestyle than his regular one. This gangland, crime thriller is about friendship, loyalty and betrayal and both actors shine.
The Unnerving: Requiem for a Dream (2000)
Requiem for a Dream is an unforgettable film starring Jared Leto. His performance is so sensational that it makes you wonder why he isn’t more of a serious actor and less of a rubbish musician. The film delves deep into the world of addiction, delusion, desperation and disappointment. It has the most intense ending of any film in my opinion, and will leave you will sweaty palms and a reeling head. The film uses a lot of filters, short shots and even split screens which makes it quite unique. Not for the fainthearted or queasy.
Foreign Films: Head-on (2004) and Amores Perros (2000)
Head-on is an unusual love story set in Hamburg. The main character, a messed up, suicidal, alcoholic, and drug user meets a strange German-Turkish girl who wants to escape from her overprotective parents. They enter into an arrangement where they live as if they are married so that she can get away from her parents. Of course, he ends up falling in love for her, tragedy strikes, they are torn apart and she betrayals him. You can’t help feeling sorry for him. What I like about the film is there is no happy ending and the characters don’t end up concurring – it feels 100% real.
Amores Perros (Translation: Loves a Bitch) is a beautiful, raw and intense film by the same director as Babel, 21 Grams, Birdman and The Revenant. It is constructed from three distinct stories linked by a car accident that ultimately brings the characters together; the main themes being loyalty and disloyalty. The film stars the talent Gael García Bernal, the Mexican actor best known for his roles in Y tu mamá también (2001), Babel (2006) and Bad Education (2004). Smoking! If you haven’t seen this film, do yourself a favour.
In a way the movie Crash almost like an English version of Amores Perros. In Crash all the characters are also ultimately connected and their lives intertwined. And although Crash isn’t really considered an outstanding film, I thoroughly enjoyed it; it left me shaken to the core and I like it when a film does that. The acting is honest, compelling and convincing and the plot haunting, unsettling and frightening. The subject matter is highly controversial but completely ‘real-life’ and it’s well written and directed by Paul Haggis. It will make you think about how you live your life and make you wonder…