And so, like the depressing inevitability of yet another Seth Rogen project, I return with another sampling of films that have made an impact on me in one way or another. I’m hurtling through these at the moment, the momentum is strong (and stable!) and the list is getting longer! I was flicking through the TV channels seeing what was coming up over the next week and added another four films to the ever-growing list, so before I run out of space…let’s go to work!
HOPE AND GLORY (1987)
This is a beautiful film. A semi-autobiographical story from writer/director John Boorman about Bill, a young boy growing up in London during the Blitz. It shows the adventure that most children at the time saw the Blitz as, the danger and destruction was their playground. Sebastian Rice-Edwards is just superb as Bill and Ian Bannen as his grandfather also stands out among a stellar cast. You really must watch it.
WATCH IT FOR: The trailer
NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN (2007)
The Coen Brothers really know how to make a great movie. This is one of their best. Josh Brolin plays Moss, a hunter who stumbles across a drug deal gone wrong and takes the 2 million dollar loot for himself. This sends psychotic killer, Chigurh (Javier Bardem on Oscar-winning form) on his trail. In amongst all the ensuing bloodshed, Tommy Lee Jones‘ Sheriff Bell oversees an investigation, the like of which he finds difficult to comprehend. It’s a twisted, dark thriller but you’d expect nothing less from the minds that brought us Barton Fink and Miller’s Crossing.
WATCH IT FOR: “Call it”
LETHAL WEAPON 3 (1992)
I seem to recall, when this film was released, a lot of the advertising implied that this would be the last ever entry in the franchise. Also implied, I think, was that Riggs would die in the movie. I may have made all of that up but I’m pretty sure that’s how it was perceived to be. We know, of course, that one more film was made but I won’t go into that one just yet. Anyway, Riggs (Mel Gibson) & Murtagh (Danny Glover) return to crack crime on the streets of Los Angeles and come up against an arms dealer who is a former LAPD officer. The laughs are played high on this one, the cast clearly comfortable with each other and the welcome return of Joe Pesci only adds to the comedy. Rene Russo is brought on board as a love interest for Riggs who turns out to be quite a match for him. It’s the most fun of the four films and for that reason alone it warrants it’s place in this list.
WATCH IT FOR: Will Riggs survive the fall?
Three years after the original movie smashed box-office records, The Empire Strikes Back proves that sometimes, sequels can be better. Often quoted as being the better entry in the Star Wars family, it’s certainly a lot darker. Whilst under attack from Imperial forces on the ice planet Hoth, Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) escape in the Millennium Falcon; Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) journeys to Dagobah in search of Master Jedi Yoda in order to get help in defeating Darth Vader in the ultimate duel.
WATCH IT FOR: Things get ‘frosty’ for Han
THE MAN WITH ONE RED SHOE (1985)
Tom Hanks plays a man who is picked out at random and made the target of CIA surveillance. I know it’s not one of the best films ever made but I’ve always had a soft spot for Hanks’ earlier roles. They might have been stupid and without focus but they were enjoyable. This one had the added bonus of James Belushi and Carrie Fisher as well as 80s icon Dabney Coleman. But, to be fair, that’s pretty much all it had going for it!
WATCH IT FOR: If you don’t want to watch the film, the trailer will fill in the blanks!
Casablanca is, quite rightly, regarded by many as one of the greatest Hollywood movies of all time. It often features very high in Greatest Film Ever lists and has become a pop culture icon for generations. Humphrey Bogart stars as Rick, a world-weary, cynical, ex-pat who now runs a bar in Morocco at the start of World War II. He faces adversity and pressure from local authorities, despite his bar being a haven for refugees seeking a way out of the country. Then his ex-lover, Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman), and her husband arrive forcing him to make some difficult decisions. Often misquoted and parodied but never bettered, Casablanca is a true masterpiece of cinema.
WATCH IT FOR: “Here’s looking at you, kid”
TOP SECRET! (1984)
When you see the names Zucker and Abrahams on the credit list you certainly know what you’re letting yourself in for. A playful spoof of WWII movies, Top Secret! is, perhaps, not as universally liked as Airplane! but it definitely has the same exclamation mark! Val Kilmer is Nick Rivers, a rock ‘n’ roll singer performing in East Germany and gets caught up in the French Resistance’s fight for freedom. There are some brilliant sight gags (the giant telephone) and it has one of my all time favourite jokes – “I know a little German. He’s sitting over there” – but the best bit for me is Peter Cushing‘s cameo (see below). Top Secret! is funny, crude and completely insane. That’s probably why I like it!
WATCH IT FOR: Peter Cushing’s brilliant cameo – Backwards Bookstore!
There’s a scene in Flatliners that gave me nightmares for weeks. Despite that, I’ve enjoyed watching it again since, although I still got a little knot in my stomach when that scene approached! Kiefer Sutherland, Julia Roberts, Kevin Bacon, William Baldwin and Oliver Platt are the medical students who decide to do an experiment on near-death experiences only to discover that they have awakened something deep inside their consciousness. Director Joel Schumacher guides the film well and treats us to a few scares and shocks but it’s the cast of future megastars that take full credit here.
WATCH IT FOR: Trailer
RUNNING SCARED (1986)
Billy Crystal and Gregory Hines play two Chicago cops who, after almost getting themselves killed on a case, take a vacation to Key West. Whilst there they decide to quit their jobs and retire out there. Upon their return to Chicago they find that the drug dealer who nearly killed them has made bail and is out to make a big deal. Crystal and Hines are a great team and bounce off each other brilliantly but you do feel that the film lacks a certain something. Jimmy Smits provides the villainous support but the film belongs to the cops.
WATCH IT FOR: The cops getting mugged!
Sequels are usually tricky waters to sail but in the right hands they can sometimes be loved and enjoyed more than the original. Such is the case with Aliens, the blockbuster sequel to the 1979 Ridley Scott original Alien. Director James Cameron (before he became “King of the world” and hot on the heels of The Terminator) brings Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) out of hyper-sleep for another battle with the extra terrestrial beings. Ripley joins a team of rugged space marines lead by Michael Biehn and featuring a powerhouse performance from the late, great Bill Paxton. The action is relentless without losing sight of the story or the integrity of the characters which makes it stand out as an exemplary sequel.
WATCH IT FOR: Surrounded by aliens!
And there you have it…150 films so far in this countdown of my favourites. Some great, some good and some…well, some are better left alone! Still plenty more to come so stay tuned and don’t forget you can get in touch and let me know what you think. Until next time…Here’s looking at you, kid!