I’ve got a couple of posts lined up talking about more things like figuring my way through character work and other serious matters which are, in reality are me procrastinating over a new outline that is WAY overdue.
So, in that frame of mind, here’s the result of some procrastinating I’ve been doing when I should be finishing an outline that is now ridiculously overdue … (shut up).
This one is a variation on the 15 albums in 15 minutes that has been doing the rounds on Facebook lately. The rules are as pretty simple – You have 15 minutes in which to come up with 15 films that have left an indelible impression on you in one way or another.
1. Return of the Jedi
It’s not about the Ewoks! Honest! It’s all about the Vader vs. Luke swordfight in front of the Emperor … and you know, the whole battling the idea you will one day be like your parents, dead fathers thing too … ok, no, lightsabers battling in and out of the shadows is pretty fricken cool!
2. Infernal Affairs
This completely and utterly displaced the above as my favourite film in the world, ever.
Forget that I can’t speak Cantonese and am reliant upon sometimes inaccurate subtitling, I find this film entrancing. It’s story is elegant – two men, two undercover lives, both trying to expose the other; it’s pacing is a hundred miles per second – this is one film that isn’t going to wait for the audience to catch up; it’s characters are complex – with enough back story to satisfy a very good prequel (the sequel, not so much).
I so very much wish I could write this well.
3. The Muppet Movie
I’m still surprised that the video cassette of this (recorded off the telly, of course) still works. I played it so often, I can still sing most of the songs.
The Muppets television show had a bigger impact (another list for another time), but the film is notable for beginning my love of Steve Martin and Mel Brookes.
4. Time Cop
Don’t think that this isn’t a stupid film. Time travel that defies the laws of physics, JVCD doing the splits as many times as possible. It’s also the film that was playing on the telly the night I decided to hang out with my friend Helen and her, then flatmate, Sam. Beloved (as he was soon to be known) and I had met on several occasions and had started a “take the piss” antipodean banter with each other (he’s Australian).
That particular evening Helen and I were in town trying to find a farewell party, piked when we found the place packed and returned home to watch movies. Flu ridden future Beloved was already on the sofa trying to kill germs with whisky, we watched films, Time Cop was on TV after the DVD was finished, I should’ve gone home before it started but Helen insisted I crash on the couch instead. I did and watched the appalling badness that is Time Cop, while drinking whisky. Banter turned to flirting. And flirting turned into nothing. Dude, he had the flu!
Anyway, mid way through the week, he has a spare ticket to Dylan Moran and invites me. I possibly mistake it as a date … and here we all are, battles with immigration policy, an MA, a new career in film and awesomeness that makes up for the hard times later.
It’s a rubbish film, though.
5. Close Encounters of the Third Kind
This film scared the bejebus out of me. My father would play the little chords on a casiotone and point to the sky to tell me that aliens were coming. I would scream and hide under the bed for a couple of hours.
He thought it was hilarious. Dick.
This is the first film I actually remember seeing in cinema. My brother took me and I cried the whole way home because E.T. left his friend behind. He consoled me by buying fish and chips.
This could be where my abandonment issues stem from. Also, fish and chips as a comfort food.
I haven’t been able to watch the film without being a wet mop of tears afterwards. It was playing in the background of an eatery a couple of weeks back and I saw that final hug goodbye and got all choked up (I can’t even bring myself to find a you tube clip – I’d need a cuddle afterwards).
Damn you, Spielberg!
Possibly the best break up film ever. In fact one of the films I hired the day after I was unceremoniously dumped out of a four year relationship (the rest included Shaun of the Dead and Stepford Wives). What does it prove? The world is filled with manipulative, cowardly arseholes and good people get crushed, no matter how nice they are.
8. Lost in Translation
And this would be the film that I sat through and realised my, then 2 year, relationship was over … stuck with it another two years after that – see above.
9. The Birds
I love Hitchcock and I’m currently working through his interviews with François Truffaut – watching the films first and then reading what he says. It’s a brilliant way to study a filmmaker.
I saw this as a kid, well I have images of it and even though Rear Window was the film I obsessed over in my early 20s, this one seems to have had the biggest impact on me as a writer.
Brooding, foreboding and guaranteed to make you a mite nervous when a flock of birds congregate at dusk.
Most kids get taken to animated films by their parents or ones about the young boy or girl overcoming some obstacle to become a hero.
My father and I tried. We went to the Carebear’s Movie and almost died of embarrassment when it came to the audience participation bit (everyone stood on their feet and said “we care”). After that fateful day, we agreed over a Fillet O’Fish to NEVER DO THAT AGAIN.
Cue: Ghostbusters! This film is aces. FACT.
It also causes me to type in block capitals.
11. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Possibly one of the first films I could quote end to end. And a bigger influence on my writing than first I realised.
There are muppets, Escher’s stairs and David Bowie. Tight pants, spectacular mullet, I don’t care. It’s David freakin’ Bowie!
Oh and this:
I have a soft spot for Terry Gilliam’s films. They are magical, strange and fantastic in the truest sense of the word. Every inch of the screen has meaning, every shot is important and the story layered like the most delicious cake imaginable.
When I daydream, Gilliam is at the helm.
I will work for him some day. Some how.
14. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead
Oddly enough my in to Stoppard, Beckett and Pinter was through this film. I had no idea who Stoppard was before it came out, but my friend Erica recommended it on the back of what a Shakespeare geek I was.
Tim Roth and Gary Oldman will always be the best Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to me forever more, however as I’ve developed as a writer, I’ve moved further and further away from Stoppard. It’s all part of the learning process sometimes we understand that our gods are merely men who aren’t always perfect. That’s a whole other blog post – one sitting in the drafts folder for the last month …
15. Hamlet (Branagh’s full length)
This is by no means the best Shakespeare on film (that would be Longcraine’s Richard III with Ian McKellen or Vishal Bhardwaj’s Omkara); nor is it the best Hamlet (a tie between Derek Jacobi and David Tennant); nor is it Branagh’s best filmed Shakespeare (Henry V would be, by far, the winner and I’d put his Much Ado before it too) … But, it takes some cojones to do a virtually uncut film of Hamlet and then film it on 70mm stock.
Branagh over enunciates, Patrick Doyle’s score is irritating (“ooh, this is important” or “you will find this poignant, now!”), some of the casting is a horrible mess and yet again, Ophelia is just a bit loony (the best Ophelia is still Julia Stiles in Michael Almereyda’s film). And yet, I protested on seeing the cut version on a school trip and held out to see it in full for four glorious hours. Four times.
It also has the best poster for any Shakespeare film or stage performance.
Obviously the time limit means that this will never be a definitive list (The Godfather, A Clockwork Orange and The Searchers are some of the more notable omissions off the list), but interesting none the less. Anyone else care for a little procrastination?