Some of my favorite movies, in no particular order...
Vanishing (aka Spoorloos)
One of the most disturbing movies that I have ever
seen; the images stayed with me for quite a time after seeing it.
The movie is a brilliant portrayal of the madness that flows just
underneath the crust of everday life. It keeps up the tension
from the start, building up to an extremely disturbing climax.
The situations presented are believable, and you are made starkly
aware that you could easily be the star of the story in your own
If you hate subtitles (it's in French), do not think that the
1993 Hollywood remake will make for easy access to the movie. It
may have been directed by the same person, but it is in no way
the same story, especially with the Hollywood happy ending and
the addition of some major actors (Jeff Bridges, Kiefer
Sutherland and Sandra Bullock). It is a cliché, but it does lose
so much in the translation.
Only one word can describe this movie, quirky. From
the soundtrack (now imitated by advertisements for Yahoo!), to
the script, featuring some of the Coen Brothers staples - John
Goodman and Frances McDormand. It is a simple story which is
wonderfully told, and can take repeated viewings. A childless
couple - a police woman and an an ex-con (though not quite ex-
enough), desparate for a baby kidnap one of a set of quintuplets,
and the mayhem ensues.
Yet another Coen brothers movie, this was the one
that opened them up to a wider audience. The story of a faked
kidnapping gone wrong, snowballing into a murder case. Frances
McDormand portrays a pregnant police woman (pregnancy, police
women, kidnapping; is this becoming a common thread or what?)
woken from her slumbering small-town job to investigate the
The movie deftfully takes the piss out of Minnesota, and the
many characters living there, but does so in a kind way, stopping
short at being brutal.
Incredibly lavish cinematography make this one of
the most rewarding sch-fi movies to watch. The craft flying over
the city, the crowd scenes, and the ever present rain; all are
beautifully portrayed. It is not just stunnig visually, but also
aurally. The Vangelis soundtrack, fo so many years unavailable,
mirrors the images perfectly.
The movie is deliberately left open, although the directors
cut leaves a different feeling afterwards. I would suggest that
new viewers become familiar with the original, and when you get
the chance to see the directors cut on the big screen, revel in
Wings of Desire
As a sprightly 7-year old, this movie had a profound effect on me
- just the thought of the X-wing diving down into the death star
trench brings out the goose pimples even now. The sound and the images
were more real than anything I had ever seen (with the exception
of 2001 which I hadn't seen anyway). The plot is simple; good vs.
evil, but it is a film that for me, was just so memorable.
The follow-up episodes (Empire strikes back, and Return of the
Jedi) didn't quite match the first, but for a complete
generation, Carrie Fisher would always be dancing in the bikini!
You don't want to get me started on the Phantom Menace.
Set in Berlin, filmed in black & white and subtitled in
German, this was once described as the ultimate date movie. The
cinematography is exquisite, showing the city, and those that
dwell there in vivid detail. The film is richly textured. German
is not the most beautiful language, but the words spoken in the
film have an almost poetic quality.
Yet again, Hollywood decided to remake the film as City of
Angels; all of the depth and complexity was stripped out,
although this time they did keep closer to the plot than some
other movies. It does, however have a pretty cracking soundtrack.
See the original - you will see the everyday with fresh eyes.
Very bizarre, but extremely funny. Stylish black comedy set in a
post-apocalypse France, where food is in such short supply that the local
butcher kills his employees. It is truly an original, and shows that at
least some french people have a sense of humor.
Three friends come into a case full of money. What do you do? Saying
anything more would give the plot away. An excellent movie, see it.
Deeply surreal tale of Edinburgh drug addicts. Based on the excellent
book by Irvine Welsh (IMO, the best thing he has ever done), coupled with
a suitably excellent soundtrack, woven together into a very tight, sassy
film. Certainly, because of the subject matter, and the graphicness of
it all, this is a film that isn't for everyone, but if you can take it,
the trip is worth it.
Some of the others... The Sleeper, Usual Suspects, Leon,
Clerks, Spinal Tap, Alien & Aliens, Twelve Monkeys,
Cinema Paradiso, Killing Fields, Life is sweet,
Life is beautiful