As the pumpkins begin to decompose, the sound of fireworks fill the air and thought, inevitably, turns to Christmas – wait! Back the sled up, its a little too early for that kind of talk (even for me!). No, we have at least one more edition of My Life In Film… to take care of before the lights go up at Greenscreen Towers. This time around, and I know I say this quite a lot, there are some absolute gems of movies to savour including two massive Oscar winners, a ground-breaking Disney classic and a couple of legendary comedies. Grab yourself a blanket and warm yourself up by the glowing fire of Part 34…
LOCAL HERO (1983)
I hate to admit that I was very late to the Local Hero party. I’d heard so many great things about it but never got around to watching it. Thankfully, I’ve rectified that and can honestly say it is one of the best British films. It is a beautiful story about a man shedding his hi-tech skin in favour of the cool, serene surroundings of Scotland. Writer/Director Bill Forsyth has created a truly memorable modern fable about finding peace in nature. With a stunning cast including Peter Riegert, Denis Lawson, Peter Capaldi and Burt Lancaster, Local Hero is a must for any true movie fan. It will warm your heart and calm your soul.
WATCH IT FOR: Trailer
SMALL SOLDIERS (1998)
A toy company uses the latest military technology to ‘improve’ their product which enables these two sets of action figures (the Gorgonites and Commando Elite) to talk and think for themselves. With the help of two kids – Gregory Smith and Kirsten Dunst – the Gorgonites must protect their home from the enemy. Director Joe Dante brings his unique style to this wonderful family adventure which features some of the remaining cast of The Dirty Dozen adding their voices to the toys. Its packed full of action, comedy and dazzling special effects and is a must watch!
WATCH IT FOR: “I’m pretty messed up”
MY FAIR LADY (1964)
Already a smash-hit Broadway play, My Fair Lady was a cinema sensation. Keeping original theatre lead Rex Harrison as Professor Henry Higgins who makes a wager that he can take a Cockney flower girl, Eliza Dolittle (the mesmerising Audrey Hepburn) and transform her into a cultured member of high society. Its a truly magnificent spectacle with some outstanding song and dance numbers matched with the sheer scale and look of the film that saw it scoop eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor for Harrison. It is one of the most beloved Hollywood musicals and rightly so, for everything about it just shines and its a film that you’ll never forget.
WATCH IT FOR: Classic trailer
In this comedy, Chevy Chase plays Irwin M. Fletcher, a newspaper reporter who is offered a large stash of money to help bump off a supposedly dying millionaire. Fletch’s nose for a story gets him into trouble, though as he’s also working undercover to help expose a drug ring that may or may not have ties to this case. Chase is perfectly cast as the reporter with the gift of the gab who has the ability to talk his way in and out of trouble while using a series of elaborate disguises. Chase reprised his role a few years later in a less impressive sequel.
WATCH IT FOR: Autopsy Assistant!
A PERFECT WORLD (1993)
Clint Eastwood directs and co-stars as a gruff Texas Ranger in pursuit of two recently escaped convicts, Butch (Kevin Costner) and Terry (Keith Szarabajka). During their escape, the pair kidnap a young boy, Philip (TJ Lowther) and flee across country. Eastwood’s Ranger is joined by criminologist Sally Gerber (Laura Dern) in the race to bring back their bounty. Its a beautifully shot, engaging movie with a solid performance from young Lowther who manages to hold his own along with a very impressive Costner. This is a film that sometimes gets overlooked by some of Eastwood’s other, more popular, movies but it really is worth seeking out.
WATCH IT FOR: Trick or Treat
MARS ATTACKS! (1996)
This is one of those films that, on first viewing, I really didn’t enjoy at all. At the time I thought it was a mess and I was confused by what it was supposed to be. Its only on repeat viewings that I’ve come to appreciate the majesty of Tim Burton‘s manic alien invasion movie. Its a huge movie, not just in scale but in the sheer size of cast. You watch this film and forget just how many people are actually in it. Jack Nicholson, Glenn Close, Michael J. Fox, Tom Jones, Martin Short, Pierce Brosnan and Rod Steiger to name just a few. Its bizarre, colourful and, at times, really weird but that’s the kind of thing you expect from a Tim Burton movie, right? Sure, its still a bit messy and confusing but, with older eyes, its a better watch than the first time around.
WATCH IT FOR: “They blew up Congress!”
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (1991)
Prior to The Academy Awards introducing a Best Animated Feature category, this magical Disney film was the first fully animated movie to be nominated for Best Picture (losing out to Silence of the Lambs) and the first to win a Golden Globe for Best Picture – Musical or Comedy. Its not hard to see why everyone took this film to their hearts. Harking back to the classic Disney movies of the past, Beauty and the Beast tells the story of a selfish prince, cursed to spend the rest of his life as a monster unless he can fall in love with a beautiful girl he has as a prisoner. Full of wonderful animation, majestic songs and forging a path for some of the greatest Disney movies every made, this is a joyous adventure and one of my mum’s favourites!
WATCH IT FOR: Ballroom
THE ABYSS (1989)
I’m usually hyper-critical of James Cameron films, the majority of which are absolute nonsense, but this sci-fi epic is one of the exceptions. When Cameron gets it right, his vision is truly stunning. A civilian diving team, lead by Ed Harris, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio and Cameron regular Michael Biehn, is enlisted to help the search for a missing nuclear submarine but find themselves fending off danger from an unlikely, alien species. Featuring ground-breaking special effects and, quite often, fear-inducing underwater scenes, The Abyss is a slow-burner of a film. More cerebral than most, yet still managing to bring enough scares and adventure to keep you watching.
WATCH IT FOR: “I think it likes you”
This tense, psychological thriller from director Jon Amiel pits agoraphobic psychiatrist Helen Hudson (Sigourney Weaver) and tough detective M. J. Monahan (Holly Hunter) against a dangerous serial killer who is copying the most notorious killers from the past. Weaver and Hunter are, as you’d expect, magnificent as are the rest of the supporting cast but, for me, the real stand-out performance here is Harry Connick Jr. as the antagonist of the piece. His creepy and downright sadistic portrayal of serial killer Daryll Lee Cullum stays with you and proves to be a worthy opponent for the two leads.
WATCH IT FOR: Trailer
DOCTOR ZHIVAGO (1965)
Movies don’t come much more epic than this one from David Lean. A stunningly beautiful romance starring Omar Sharif and Julie Christie and set against the backdrop of the Russian Revolution. Lean’s films are always full of sweeping, majestic imagery and you are treated to some of the most iconic scenes here, courtesy of legendary cinematographer, Freddie Young. Add to that the most luscious score from Maurice Jarre and you have a truly wonderful piece of cinema. At over three hours, it is a long haul but you are carried away by the sheer brilliance of all involved.
WATCH IT FOR: Somewhere My Love
And there you have it, the thirty-fourth instalment of this epic odyssey of cinema. I hope you liked it. I think you’ll agree that, once again, it was quite eclectic and just goes to show my tastes in film is as varied as the Hollywood output itself. Please feel free to get in touch if the mood takes you and let me know what you think. The next time we meet we’ll be decking the halls with festive favourites! Until then…
“I could grow to love this place”