“I told you I’d be back!” – Arnold threatened to be back and he is a man of his word, as am I. Part Eighteen already? I thought I would run out of films to include but that’s not the case. What I’ve found is, the further into the vaults I go the more films I remember and can’t believe they haven’t been included already. So, in the words of Beetlejuice: “It’s Showtime!”
DIE HARD 2 (1990)
The original Die Hard movie was such a huge hit in 1988 that it was inevitable that a sequel of some sort would be on the cards. Two years later and Bruce Willis is back in action as LA cop John McClane, this time trying to avert disaster in a busy airport. Rogue military operatives have seized control of Dulles Airport in Washington at Christmas and are holding everyone to ransom. McClane is there to meet his wife (Bonnie Bedelia) off her flight when he stumbles across the terrorists and manages to find himself “in the same shit twice”. Director Renny Harlin, in his usual style, brings more bang for your buck to this all-out sequel and sometimes it loses its way because of this but it’s still full of the things that made the first film such a hit. William Sadler is particularly menacing as McClane’s foe and it’s nice to see some of the original cast returning.
WATCH IT FOR: One of the spectacular action sequences – “Military funeral”
In the early nineties there was a spate of thrillers featuring the very unhinged type of character that Rebecca De Mornay plays in this film from the late, great director Curtis Hanson. Peyton Flanders suffers a miscarriage following her doctor husband’s suicide after being accused of sexual harassment by a patient, Claire (Annabella Sciorra). Flanders blames Claire and sets out on a plan of revenge that sees her pose as Claire’s new nanny. The supporting cast is excellent, Matt McCoy as Claire’s husband and Ernie Hudson as a mentally-challenged odd-job man are particularly good but this film belongs to Rebecca De Mornay and her portrayal of a desperate woman looking for answers and someone to blame.
WATCH IT FOR: The trailer
Oliver Stone always knows how to court controversy and create a debate about films and filmmaking so it was no surprise that JFK caused great rumblings when it was released. More than just a conspiracy theory, Stone’s movie is a work of art. Kevin Costner plays New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison who discovers there may be more to the Kennedy assassination than everyone believes. It’s an intense, in-depth portrayal of the turmoil that surrounded the shocking events yet still manages to walk the fine line of being a genuine Hollywood ensemble movie. The cast list is just as impressive as the film itself with brilliant cameo performances from Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, Joe Pesci, Tommy Lee Jones, John Candy and an outstanding Gary Oldman as Lee Harvey Oswald. It’s a long slog to watch, clocking in at over 3 hours, but it is well worth it.
WATCH IT FOR: Trailer
THE BIRDS (1963)
“There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it” One of my favourite Alfred Hitchcock quotes about his movies. It’s a quote the pretty much sums up his style. There was never that much blood, gore or violence in his horrors, only the fear of what was about to happen. Psycho did it best, but The Birds is right up there for me as one of his finest. Tippi Hedren plays a wealthy socialite who meets Rod Taylor in a pet shop and subsequently follows him to a small town where he stays with his mother and younger sister. Once she arrives, though, strange things start to happen and birds of all species begin to attack the people. There’s never an explanation as to why this bizarre occurrence happens and I think that’s part of the films charm. Sometimes, things happen that you just can’t understand.
WATCH IT FOR: One of my favourite scenes – crows assemble in the playground
STAY TUNED (1992)
It seems fitting that two stalwarts of American television find themselves as husband and wife, trapped in a television set from hell and forced to take part in versions of the programmes they find themselves in. Pam Dawber (Mork & Mindy) and John Ritter (Three’s Company, Hooperman, 8 Simple Rules) are Helen and Roy Knable, a couple with run-of-the-mill jobs who are given the opportunity of a lifetime when a salesman knocks on their door with a state-of-the-art satellite TV set. It’s basically a chance to spoof some popular TV shows of the past and see how these characters play out in each one. It’s good fun, if a little lacklustre but to be honest, I haven’t seen it since I saw it at the cinema so my opinion might be completely different if I watched it again!
WATCH IT FOR: The trailer
ON THE TOWN (1949)
Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra and Jules Munshin play three sailors on 24-hour shore leave in New York City where they hope to find fun and romance. What sets this apart from most other musicals of that era is the fact that it went out on location to film scenes rather than use sets. This is evident is the famous opening song-and-dance number where our three heroes take a sight-seeing tour of the city. It’s vibrant, bold and still holds up after all these years.
WATCH IT FOR: That opening scene
You could almost look at Goldeneye as a twist of fate for Pierce Brosnan. He was originally approached to play James Bond when Roger Moore retired after A View To A Kill but lost out due to his contract on Remington Steele. As we know, Timothy Dalton got the part and played 007 in two films until the franchise ran into legal problems, hence the six year gap between Licence To Kill and this. Bond is assigned to retrieve stolen access codes for a top secret space weapon, “Goldeneye”, but he is hampered by a villain (Sean Bean) who anticipates his every move and has a deeper reason for wanting Bond dead. It’s a great return for the franchise and Brosnan was always going to make a great Bond but it does fail at times to bring the humour of the original films. This film also marks the first appearance of Judi Dench as ‘M’.
WATCH IT FOR: The breath-taking opening sequence
TOY SOLDIERS (1991)
A group of rebellious teens at a prestigious boarding school face off against a bunch of terrorists in this popcorn-treat of a thriller from director Daniel Petrie Jr. I missed this one at the cinema but thanks to home video I got the chance to watch it on VHS many times and wasn’t quite sure why it wasn’t a success. Sean Astin and Wil Wheaton lead the group of rebels against Andrew Divoff and his terrorists. There is also fine support from Louis Gossett Jr and Denholm Elliott. If you haven’t already, you should check it out if you can, it’s a great little action flick that deserves a wider audience.
WATCH IT FOR: The trailer
KILL BILL: VOL. 1 (2003)
A brash, bloody and violent tale of revenge from Quentin Tarantino. Uma Thurman stars as ‘The Bride’ a former member of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad lead by her lover, Bill (David Carradine). Once she fell pregnant she decided to leave this violent world and fled to Texas where she fell in love and, on the day of her wedding, is gunned down by a jealous Bill and his squad. Four years later ‘The Bride’ wakes from her coma with only revenge on her mind. Tarantino is a master at the quirky dialogue and violent action sequences and this film has plenty of both.
WATCH IT FOR: The Bride vs O’Ren – warning, there be violence!
THE CASTLE (1997)
This delightfully funny and touching Australian film crept under the radar back in 1997. I first became aware of it thanks to Johnny Vaughan and Liza Tarbuck on The Big Breakfast discussing it and quoting lines from the film to each other. We rented it on VHS and were not disappointed. It’s quirky, very funny and instantly a cult classic. It’s the classic David & Goliath tale of a normal, working class family forced to take on the bigwigs at City Hall who want their house for expansion. You must watch this film at least once in your life. It will lift your spirits like nothing else.
WATCH IT FOR: House valuation
In the blink of an eye, another batch of films bites the dust. Looking back at this particular grouping and I notice most of them are from the 1990s – a prolific period of time in my cinema-viewing life. Yet, there are still SO many more films still to come, these lists just keep getting longer after every post. If you enjoy these blog posts, please get in touch and let me know – I really would love to hear from you. “Get your hands off it, Daryl”