My Life In Film: Part Twelve

Here we go again!  Like another sequel to Fast And Furious, I’m back whether you like it or not.  I’ve looked through the list of films I’ve already included and noticed some glaring errors – not spelling or grammar (that I’m aware of!) – but errors in the films that haven’t been posted yet.  That’s one of the hardest parts of doing this (whatever this is) trying to decide which films to add and when.  But remember, this is by no means a definitive list more like a living, breathing archive.  So don’t worry that I haven’t included “such and such” in favour of “whatsit”, I’m pretty sure they’ll appear sooner or later.

 

ROMANCING THE STONE (1984)

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The mid-eighties was a peak time for adventure movies thanks mostly to Raiders of the Lost Ark.  This film was just one of many that broke through.  Kathleen Turner plays Joan Wilder, a writer of pulpy romance novels who travels to Columbia when she hears that her sister has been kidnapped.  Once there she meets soldier of fortune/treasure hunter Jack Colton, played by Michael Douglas and the two of them embark on a non-stop adventure where they encounter many undesirable characters, including Danny DeVito.  Director Robert Zemeckis whips the pace along and gives the film a feel of old style Hollywood.  Douglas, Turner and DeVito have a chemistry on screen that is unlike any other, so much so that they starred in a sequel (The Jewel of the Nile) and a third, unrelated movie (The War of the Roses).

WATCH IT FOR: The trailer gives you a flavour of what to expect.  Plus, it’s not your bog-standard type of trailer.

 

DARKMAN (1990)

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Weird, darkly-comic and innovative.  Director Sam Raimi brings the comic book to life in spectacular fashion.  Liam Neeson plays Peyton Westlake, a brilliant scientist who has discovered how to make synthetic skin.  After being horrifically burned by ruthless criminals and his assistant murdered, Peyton is presumed dead.  In his quest for revenge, Peyton utilises his discovery to take on other people’s appearance but, due to a glitch, his synthetic skin only last for 100 minutes in exposed light.  Neeson is brilliant as the disturbing dark avenger as is the late Larry Drake as his nemesis, Durant.  It’s bonkers, quite gruesome and very funny.

WATCH IT FOR: “Justice has a brand new face” – Classic trailer

 

EMPIRE RECORDS (1995)

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This is one of those cult teen movies from the nineties where the soundtrack is just as good as the film itself.  Focussing on a day in the life of an independent record store facing the prospect of closure due to the appearance of a large chain store.  Its a story of the underdog fighting against corporate greed.  Featuring early performances for future big names like Liv Tyler, Robin Tunney and Renee Zellweger, Empire Records is fun, hip (for it’s time) and full of great songs.

WATCH IT FOR: The trailer, pretty much telling you the whole story!

 

NECESSARY ROUGHNESS (1991)

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Cinema loves an sports underdog and we’ve been treated to a fair few over the years, some better than others.  I happen to prefer this one, mainly because it stars Scott Bakula, star of one of my favourite TV shows Quantum Leap.  The story is tried and tested, a struggling college football team takes on an ageing (and retired) former quarterback, a female kicker and a bunch of misfits to help them win against all odds.  Featuring fine support from Hector Elizondo and Robert Loggia, Necessary Roughness may not be to everyone’s taste but I love it!

WATCH IT FOR: The obligatory pep talk!

 

WAY OUT WEST (1937)

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What list of great films would be complete without a little bit of Laurel & Hardy?  I think this is probably one of their finest, and definitely one of their most famous films.  Way Out West sees Stan and Ollie tasked with delivering a deed to a gold mine to the daughter of a dead prospector.  The film is full of classic moments that make this duo one of the best in cinema history.

WATCH IT FOR: The Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia

 

GHOSTBUSTERS II (1989)

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Five years after the original, Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson are back as New York’s finest Ghostbusters.  Called in to help when a massive river of ectoplasmic slime is discovered under the streets of the city, our heroes come up against an evil that threatens to destroy the world.  Though it might not be as good as the original (few sequels are) it still boasts plenty of comedy and thrills to keep you watching.  It’s a damn sight better than that shambles of a reboot (I’ll not mention it again, honest!)

WATCH IT FOR: The boys are back!

 

THE INTELLIGENCE MEN (1965)

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The first of three films for the Rank Organisation starring British comedy stars Morecambe & Wise.  Although these films didn’t set the world alight, they were popular enough to keep their star status which saw them dominate TV for years.  In brief, Eric and Ernie reluctantly come up against international spies in the heart of Swinging Sixties London.

WATCH IT FOR: Swan Lake!

 

PAPERHOUSE (1988)

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This forgotten gem of a British horror sees a young girl, lost in her own loneliness and solitude make friends with a disabled boy she can visit through a picture she has drawn of a house.  Soon her fantasy world and reality combine to create stuff of nightmares.  I remember first seeing this film on VHS and being absolutely scared beyond belief.  I think because it’s a British film and looks more realistic than any Hollywood horror films that it felt more real to an impressionable kid like me.  Charlotte Burke and Elliott Spiers are brilliant as the young leads.

WATCH IT FOR: An atmospheric trailer to tingle your spines!

 

CLIFFHANGER (1993)

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Released in the summer of 1993, this high-action adventure thriller from director Renny Harlin sees Sylvester Stallone face off against terrorists up a mountain.  The film starts with one of the most heart-stopping moments on film before racing through magnificent set-pieces all set against the backdrop of spectacular scenery.  John Lithgow provides the villainous support with a rather decent British accent to boot.  It’s pretty much Die Hard Up A Mountain but it’s so fast and enjoyable that you forget you’ve seen most of it before.

WATCH IT FOR: The trailer, in typical Harlin style!

 

STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS (2015)

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Thirty years after The Return of the Jedi, the Star Wars franchise is given a massive boost after the disappointment of the prequel trilogy.  Director J.J. Abrams, a fan of the films himself, brings his own style to what is a wonderful entry into the canon.  A new threat has risen in the shape of The First Order which attempts to rule the galaxy but didn’t bet on a mismatched bunch of heroes in the form of Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega) and a little help from the Resistance.  What makes this film stand out from the prequels (apart from being much, much better) is the inclusion of the original stars.  Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher all reprise their iconic roles to bring the two generations together in spectacular fashion.

WATCH IT FOR: Old and new work together

 

And so ends another countdown of some of my favourite films.  At this rate, I’ll be hitting the 200 mark very soon.  As it happens, we’re at the 120 mark at the moment and still so much more to come.  If you agree, disagree or just aren’t that bothered by my choices, feel free to let me know here or find me on Twitter.

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