My Life In Film: Part Sixteen

“This means something.  This is important”  Well, at least that’s what I keep telling myself.  It might not be moving any earth or shaking any trees but this countdown of my favourite films certainly means something to me.  It’s giving me a focus, a purpose if you will.  Like I’ve said before, I’m really enjoying revisiting these classics and sharing them with you.  Even if you’re not actually reading any of this!

 

PULSE (1988)

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This is one of those films I’m going to file under “nobody else remembers this”.  I first saw it when it was tucked away in the late-night schedule and immediately loved it.  I think I’ve only seen it once since then and haven’t seen it shown anywhere else.  There’s an unseen, electrical force taking out whole neighbourhood’s and taking lives.  Joey Lawrence plays David, a young boy visiting his father (future star of Face Is Familiar… Cliff De Young) and new stepmother (Roxanne Hart) when he discovers this strange force is out to harm him and his family.

WATCH IT FOR: Trailer – “Spooky, ain’t it?”

 

UNBREAKABLE (2000)

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Following the success of The Sixth Sense, writer/director M. Night Shyamalan brought us another suspense thriller.  Bruce Willis is David Dunn, the sole survivor of a massive train wreck who walks away without a single scratch on him.  Samuel L. Jackson‘s mysterious Elijah Price has a strange theory as to why this happened to him.  As in his previous film, Shyamalan weaves a seemingly simple story that captivates right through until the twisty final act.

WATCH IT FOR: Comic Book Store

 

THE ROCKETEER (1991)

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Long before comic books spawned a thousand blockbuster movies, this pulp graphic novel hero reached for the stars.  It’s a 1930s Hollywood complete with Nazi spies, gangsters and a young pilot (Bill Campbell) who stumbles across a top secret jet pack that allows him to become a masked hero.  With the help of his friend/mentor (played by Alan Arkin) he rescues his girl (Jennifer Connelly) from the clutches of Neville Sinclair (a deliciously hammy Timothy Dalton) and takes to the skies as The Rocketeer.

WATCH IT FOR: A daring rescue

 

TOY STORY (1995)

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It’s a common sight now but back in 1995 Toy Story was the first full-length computer animated film.  And what a film it is!  Woody (Tom Hanks) is Andy’s favourite toy but then, for his birthday, Andy is given the all-singing-all-dancing Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen).  Trouble is, Buzz isn’t aware that he’s a toy – he thinks he’s a real space ranger.  The drama comes from Woody’s jealousy which leads the two of them lost in the big, wide world and needing to work together to get home.  Toy Story is an absolute joy of a film and a landmark in modern cinema.

WATCH IT FOR: “You are a toy!”

 

AUSTIN POWERS: INTERNATIONAL MAN OF MYSTERY (1997)

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Essentially, this is a love letter to the British spy films of the sixties from Mike Myers (Wayne’s World).  Austin Powers is a super-hip spy in swinging sixties London who is cryogenically frozen and awoken 30 years later  in a radically different world in order to defeat his nemesis Dr Evil.  Myers plays both Powers and Dr Evil with great energy and humour and sends up the spy film brilliantly without making fun of it.  Support comes in the form of Elizabeth Hurley, Michael York and the brilliant Robert Wagner, whose performance is a revelation.

WATCH IT FOR: Myers having fun as Dr Evil

 

RANSOM (1996)

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This gripping thriller from director Ron Howard sees the son of millionaire businessman Tom Mullen (Mel Gibson) kidnapped and held for ransom.  At first Tom works alongside the police but soon takes matters into his own hands.  Gibson is great as the desperate father willing to do anything to get his son back.  Rene Russo and Gary Sinise provide excellent support but this is really Gibson’s movie which grabs with both hands.

WATCH IT FOR: Tom turns the tables

 

INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL (2008)

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Yes, this film has plenty of flaws but I love it!  Almost twenty years since he cracked his whip in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) Harrison Ford returns as the man in the hat for an adventure that takes him further into the realms of the supernatural.  During the Cold War, Indy is approached by Mutt (Shia LaBeouf) with a coded message from an aged colleague Harold Oxley (John Hurt) that leads them to the legendary Crystal Skull.  Hot on their trail is Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett) who will stop at nothing to claim the skull for herself.  Although it does lack a lot of the heart of the original films, Spielberg does pepper the story with nods to the past including the return of Marion (Karen Allen) but, ultimately, it just doesn’t stand up as well with the others (Mutt’s character grates and the swinging through the trees scene is just stupid!).  That aside, I enjoyed seeing Ford as Indy again (a fifth instalment has also been announced, due in 2020!)

WATCH IT FOR: Indy’s back

 

CITIZEN KANE (1941)

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Much revered and usually found atop most Top Ten lists, this film is a work of genius from one of Hollywood’s greatest maverick filmmakers.  Orson Welles plays Charles Foster Kane, a multimillionaire media tycoon who, upon his deathbed, utters one single word: “Rosebud”.  This leads a group of reporters, including Joseph Cotten, to try and decipher it’s meaning and thus begins Kane’s story.  Through flashbacks we see Kane’s rise to the top and ultimate downfall using many cinematic techniques that were fresh and new for the time.  Welles was just 25 years old when he co-wrote, directed, produced and starred in this film and created an iconic piece of cinema.

WATCH IT FOR: “Rosebud”

 

JERRY MAGUIRE (1996)

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I’ve never really been a huge fan of sports movies but this one really caught me out.  Tom Cruise stars as Jerry Maguire, a narcissistic sports agent who one day has an epiphany about his job and is fired for expressing his feelings about it.  He decides to take his new sports philosophy and try it out on the only athlete who has stayed with him.  Cruise is on excellent form as the self-obsessed Maguire who, along with Renee Zellweger takes Cuba Gooding Jr‘s football star to new heights.  It’s a masterful story from Cameron Crowe about the human condition and what it means to be successful.

WATCH IT FOR: An Oscar-winning Cuba Gooding Jr – “Show me the money!”

 

THE TOWERING INFERNO (1974)

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Irwin Allen was the master of the disaster movie, having already brought us The Poseidon Adventure (1972).  Here we are in similar territory with a huge construct, poorly built and full of party guests, stricken by nature and threatening to engulf the whole lot.  Paul Newman is the architect who discovers that while he was away his wiring schematics haven’t been followed correctly.  Whilst at the inaugural party, a fire breaks out and disaster is only a matter of time away.  Chief fire officer Steve McQueen leads the charge against the flames trying to protect the all-star cast inside.  Faye Dunaway, William Holden, Robert Vaughn, Richard Chamberlain and an Oscar-nominated Fred Astaire are just some of the big names attracted to this mammoth project.

WATCH IT FOR: Explosions and panic

 

And, as the smoke clears, we find another batch of cinematic gems to enjoy.  Yet another eclectic mix, don’t you think?  Each of these films is great (or terrible) in its own right and hopefully this is giving you the inspiration to view some of them for yourself.  Or maybe you’re compiling your own list?  Either way, let me know what you think of this group and I’ll see you on the other side…

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