Sometimes my memory frustrates me. I remember strange, weird and wonderful things and forget the most basic. I can remember plot details of Star Trek episodes, stories from books last read a decade ago, even snippets of music that I haven’t heard for years will ring a bell somewhere in my memory, but family birthdays will fall through the cracks. What I had for dinner a week ago? Gone. Hell, even when people give advance warning of a party I somehow manage to forget to turn up on time. So here I am, taking a quick lunch break before I go into what is sure to be a soul destroying staff meeting, berating myself for managing to forget the latest Blog Party. A great idea, too, with an excellent question: “What are your favorite films?”
As I sit and think about this, I’m simultaneously excited that I get to write about my favourite films and worried that when I do people will look at my list and think “He likes that? That’s it, I’m not going to his next party.” There is a scene in a Friends episode that runs with a similar theme: Joey is asked as part of a quiz what Rachel says is her favourite movie. “Dangerous Liaisons!” he replies, getting a point for a correct answer. He gets another point when he answers the next question, “And what is actually her favourite movie?” with “Weekend at Bernie’s.”
Well, I am going to be honest with this one. Much as I would love to load the list with such works as Citizen Kane, Cube, Pi and Amadeus in order that I might look intelligent, I’m not going to (though I will, in a last concession to my vanity, admit that I own the first three and quite like the fourth). I already do that with my bookcases at home, which hold all of my university books in the vain hope that someone looking along my shelves might think “Wow, got ourselves a smart one here.”and I always feel slightly fraudulent when I look at those books up there – I don’t think I’ve looked at any of them since I graduated.
So without further ado, here are some movies that rank up there as my favourites. It’s not meant to be a complete list of all my best movies, just some I particularly like.
First off there would have to be a tip of the hat to my Star Trek geek roots with Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Ever wondered why Star Trek has managed to last as long as it has? It’s all in here. Action. Adventure. Friendship. Humour. Terror. An exploration of very human emotions and situations (revenge, growing old, coming to know what friendship means) in a science fiction setting that serves, and is not served by, the plot. Excellent music, special effects that stand up better than most of the stuff being put out today, and the superlative “Khaaaaaaan!” moment. Everything that makes Star Trek endure in the hearts and minds of fans is to be found in this film.
Going from the sublime to the ridiculous, my next pick would be Carry On Up the Khyber. Never the most highbrow films, the “Carry On…” series were cheap and cheerful nonsense films that made their money making cheap sexual innuendoes and poor jokes. For all that they were, of their time, some of the most successful films made in Britain and made the men and women in them household names. This one is one of the best, with sharp jokes, excellent performances from Sid James and Kenneth Williams in particular, and a cheerfully non-politically correct attitude to most things. Of course I can look at it and see it’s awful aspects, but the whole thing is so much fun I can’t help but smile whenever I see it on the TV.
For my next one I think I am going to have to throw my lot in with MCF and pick out Transformers: The Movie for special mention. What’s not to like about this film? Giant robots. Death. Destruction. Cool rock music. Leonard Nimoy. It’s all good stuff, people.
Even though it scares the bejabbers out of me, I would have to put Alien in there too. Quite frankly, the film is a masterpiece of pacing. It builds up slowly, brutally, frame by frame, to a payoff that terrifies me enough that I can’t watch the damn film on DVD without someone else being in the room. When so many films these days go into a headlong rush to get where they want to be (oftentimes dragging the audience along like terrified passengers on a rollercoaster) it’s refreshing to watch a movie that knows where it’s going, knows it’s going to frighten all sorts of living crap out of you, knows it’s good at what it does and doesn’t care how long it’s going to take to get there. Besides, any film that inspired an entire generation of men to be frightened of childbirth has got to be worth a couple of pages on somebody’s blog.
Ice cold in Alex deserves a mention, because I am one of those viewers who always gets thirsty after watching it, and can’t wait for a cold pint of lager afterward. Special effects, animatronics, supermarionation and CGI are all well and good – but when one long, slow shot of a pint of lager can create an effect that lasts for years, that’s when you know you’ve got a good movie.
While I’m thinking about black and white classics, I have to plump for Some Like It Hot. I remember the day I told my friends I hadn’t seen it. I was promptly sat down, the movie was put on and I was to watch it then and there. To be quite honest I’m glad they took a hard line with me on this one, because it’s now one of my favourite movies. Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis are fantastic, and Junior’s very Cary Grant-esque accent always has me in stitches (mainly because it sounds so much like my own rather poor Cary Grant impression).
Where to wrap up this list? Do I mention the superlative Wicker Man? Yes, I think I must. Genuinely frightening movie that actually manages to not have a happy ending. That’s in too. What about Salem’s Lot? 2001? Dodgeball? They’re all worthy mentions.
Well there you have it – my movies for the blog party. I’m off now to read up on the other entries, and I fully expect to have a few more movies in my “must check that out” list when I’m done. If I’ve managed to do the same for you…well, I’d call that a good piece of work.