After my brief switch to my favourite TV programmes, I return now to my true passion. Film. Most of these films will not be to everybody’s taste but that doesn’t matter, what matters is how much they mean to me. Some may be quite obscure, some not so much, but all have some kind of meaning to me. Enough waffle, let’s dim the lights…
HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN (1952)
This is not a biopic, rather a fairy tale about the king of fairy tales. The wonderful Danny Kaye is Denmark’s famous son who is portrayed here as a childish adult who lets the children skive off work and tells stories and sings songs. Hans is practically forced to leave and sets sail for Copenhagen where he falls in love with a ballerina. Its a bright world they inhabit here, befitting of the fairy tales Hans weaves. The songs are joyous and the Little Mermaid ballet is just beautiful. But truly, this film belongs to Kaye. His charm and charisma oozes from the screen as he flits from storyteller to song and dance man to foolish lover.
WATCH IT FOR: Danny Kaye
THE LOVE BUG (1968)
Jim Douglas is a down on his luck race car driver who happens upon a beaten up old VW Beetle that has a mind of its own in this delightfully charming film. It has the Disney stamp all over it with a loveable old-fashioned car that can think and drive for itself. Dean Jones is superb in the lead as is Buddy Hackett as his mechanic, Tennessee. But for most, the real star of this show is Herbie, the bug of the title and the little car that could.
WATCH IT FOR: A great piece of family entertainment
WHAT LIES BENEATH (2000)
From director Robert Zemeckis, this thriller in the style of Hitchcock’s classics sees Michelle Pfeiffer as a woman who believes that either her house is haunted or she is going mad. Her husband, played by Harrison Ford, is a university research scientist who tries to allay her fears to no avail. The tension mounts when she believes her neighbours to be having a violent argument and then strange things start to happen. Like all good thrillers, What Lies Beneath cranks up the tension with slow, lingering shots of open doors, mirrors and bathtubs but for all the technical wizardry this film possesses it’s actually Pfeiffer that steals the show. Her performance as a woman who slowly begins to unravel is mesmerising and it’s only towards the end of the film that she truly begins to figure out what’s going on.
WATCH IT FOR: You may never take a bath again!
KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE (2014)
This is a riotous romp and one that I thoroughly enjoyed even though I had no expectation to do so. Based on the comic book and directed by Matthew Vaughan, Kingsman tells the story of Eggsy (Taron Egerton) a street kid who gets recruited by a secret spy organisation. Featuring a stellar cast including Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Michael Caine and Samuel L. Jackson, it’s no wonder that a sequel is on it’s way. It’s smart, funny and very violent but don’t let that put you off – it’s also bloody brilliant!
WATCH IT FOR: One of the many brilliant set-piece action scenes
SPLIT SECOND (1992)
You can probably count on your left hand the number of people who remember this slice of bonkers sci-fi and one of those would be me! I saw this at the cinema in the brief time that it was on release back in 1992 and it has remained one of those cult classics that just never saw the light of day again. Until recently when I happened upon it in my local HMV and just had to buy it. Plot wise, well…there isn’t much but it has Rutger Hauer in a futuristic London where rising sea levels have left most of the land under water. He’s a cop who’s previous partner was killed by…something and then doggedly pursues this mysterious killer with the help of strait-laced Detective Dick Durkin (Alastair Duncan, him off Taggart!) and Kim Cattrall. It’s a violent, mental mess but I still hold it close to my heart!
WATCH IT FOR: This cheesy trailer will tell you all you need to know!
Robert Redford leads an all-star cast in this spy-tech thriller. Redford is Martin Bishop who, along with his team of security experts, is blackmailed by government agents to steal an important black box. They soon find themselves embroiled in danger and intrigue as they try to keep the box out of the wrong hands. This is such an enjoyable film that you forget that, at its heart, it’s meant to be a thriller. As ensemble casts go, this one is pretty impressive: River Phoenix, Dan Aykroyd, David Strathairn, Ben Kingsley and Sidney Poitier all give great support to a wonderfully pleasing thriller.
WATCH IT FOR: The great ensemble
SILVER STREAK (1976)
One of the most notable things about this comedy thriller is that it is the first teaming of Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor who would go on to make a further three films together and forge one of the greatest cinema partnerships. Plot wise, Silver Streak owes a lot of its DNA to North By Northwest wherein an ordinary man gets involved in international espionage and murder. Wilder plays a book editor on a long distance train journey through America who believes he is witness to a murder. All manner of chaotic scenes ensue once he meets up with Pryor’s good-hearted thief who gives Wilder a hand. At times thrilling and action packed while at other times completely manic and over the top, Silver Streak is always entertaining.
WATCH IT FOR: Wilder and Pryor coming up with a brilliant disguise!
SKI PATROL (1990)
Sometimes a film comes along that is just so awful that it’s actually okay! Ski Patrol is one such film for me, it really is pretty terrible but I have a soft spot for it. I remember seeing it at the cinema (much like Split Second, it was there and then it disappeared!) and as a fifteen-year-old it tapped into my style of humour at the time! Thankfully I’ve broadened my comedy horizons since then but I’ve never forgotten this little gem. I had a copy on VHS and watched it so much the tape got wrecked. One of the stars of the film, Paul Feig has since gone on to make such terrible films as Bridesmaids and the god-awful Ghostbusters reboot (don’t get me started!) so there’s no accounting for taste.
WATCH IT FOR: Watch the trailer in case you don’t want to watch the whole thing!
JURASSIC WORLD (2015)
Twenty two years after the original Jurassic Park failed, a new theme park built on the site is opened for business. Jurassic World is bigger and boasts more impressive dinosaurs and hybrids but, obviously, things inevitably start to go wrong. There was always going to be a lot of hype surrounding a new Jurassic Park film but since Jurassic Park III failed to stimulate the box office like it’s predecessors it was thought the franchise was dead in the water. Not anymore, thanks to director Colin Trevarrow and stars Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard, the JP franchise has been rejuvenated like one of it’s own dinosaur creations. A new sequel is also on it’s way and looks set to be even more of a monster than this one.
WATCH IT FOR: Chris Pratt, Raptor Whisperer!
A movie special effects expert is hired to fake the death of a mobster but finds his own life in danger. F/X: Murder By Illusion (to give it it’s full name) is one of those mid-eighties thrillers that deserved a little bit more love than it got. Starring Bryan Brown (my mum’s favourite!) and the ever reliable Brian Dennehy, this gives us a fictional insight into the world of movie special effects and takes us on an exciting ride in the process!
WATCH IT FOR: One of the many special effects set pieces
Another batch of films draws to a close and I think you will agree it is probably one of the most eclectic I’ve done so far. A couple of very random entries and a few big blockbusters and that’s pretty much my cinematic taste in a nutshell! Here’s to the next episode where I will endeavour to bring you the very best (and sometimes worst) of film. Until then, please leave the cinema as you found it and take all your rubbish with you…