And, as I hurtle towards the 200 mark, I present the 19th part of my odyssey to list those films that have, in one way or another, made an impact on me. At least one film in this edition surprised me and I think another film will surprise some of you. That’s what I like about doing this, the fact that films can surprise you when your initial impression is one of ‘I don’t like the look of that’. Anyway, enough of my waffling let’s get down to business…
GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS (1992)
There aren’t many films set in the world of sales that can grab your attention and slap you around the face like this one. Based on his own Pulitzer prize winning play, screenwriter David Mamet creates a world of tension in the business of real estate aided by a stellar ensemble cast that features a powerhouse performance from Alec Baldwin. Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Alan Arkin, Ed Harris, Kevin Spacey and Jonathan Pryce are all excellent in a film that isn’t afraid to say it like it is.
WATCH IT FOR: Baldwin’s amazing speech – Always Be Closing!
CAPE FEAR (1991)
Robert De Niro plays Max Cady, a convicted rapist, who is released from prison after fourteen years and then begins a campaign of revenge against the lawyer (Nick Nolte) who put him away. This is a delicious remake of the 1962 thriller that starred Robert Mitchum and Gregory Peck (who also have cameos in the remake) and is given a fresh outlook by director Martin Scorsese. De Niro is, as you’d expect, outrageously evil as Cady, wreaking his revenge against the lawyer and his family (played by Jessica Lange and Juliette Lewis) but, at times, the film slips into parody and cliché. This aside, Cape Fear is a stunning thriller from a fearless director and cast at the top of their game.
WATCH IT FOR: Cady disrupts a cinema visit!
THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW (2004)
Director Roland Emmerich has a track record for causing mayhem and destruction in his films (Independence Day, 2012, Godzilla) and this one is no exception. Dennis Quaid plays Jack Hall, a paleoclimatologist, who must travel across the country to rescue his son (Jake Gyllenhaal) who is trapped in New York during a catastrophic storm that sees the world enter a new Ice Age. Emmerich applies all his usual techniques to crank up the action and drama while Quaid and Gyllenhall are the backbones of an international ensemble cast.
WATCH IT FOR: Epic freeze
THE GENERAL (1926)
Widely regarded as one of Buster Keaton‘s finest films, The General sees him play Johnnie, an engineer, who is turned down for service in the American Civil War because he is deemed to important in his job. Union spies capture Johnnie’s beloved train (“The General”) with his beloved Annabelle Lee (Marion Mack) on board. Johnnie embarks on a daring rescue mission to save both his loves.
WATCH IT FOR: The genius of Buster Keaton!
A number of popular singers were in the running for the role of Jareth, the Goblin King – among them Michael Jackson, Prince and Sting. Director Jim Henson wanted Sting but was convinced by his children that David Bowie would be perfect. How right they were! The story concerns a young girl (Jennifer Connelly) who makes a wish to the Goblin King to take her baby brother away. Once the wish is granted, though, she immediately regrets it and must then fight her way through a magical maze in order to rescue him. Henson creates a wonderful fantasy world full of monsters and musical numbers and Bowie revels in his sinister role.
WATCH IT FOR: Magic Dance!
McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) is a career criminal who find himself back in court. In order to avoid labour duties in prison, he pleads insanity and is sent to an asylum where he faces the irrepressible force of Nurse Ratched (Louise Fletcher). The film is one of only three (It Happened One Night & The Silence of the Lambs) in history to win the ‘Big Five’ Academy Awards – Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress & Best Screenplay – and it’s not hard to see why. Nicholson and Fletcher are on top form in a film that rarely falters.
WATCH IT FOR: “You’re not crazy”
Now, you can hate on me all you want but I’m a big fan of this entry into the Bond franchise. Yes, it has major flaws (Don’t get me started on the Blofeld storyline!) but it also has some nods to the earlier movies that sets it apart from Casino Royale or Quantum of Solace. A cryptic message from Bond’s past puts him on a path to uncover a sinister organisation. Daniel Craig returns for his fourth outing as 007 and for the most part seems very comfortable in the role. There are some spectacular action sequences that remind us what the Bond franchise used to be before the Sam Mendes soap opera it turned into with this and Skyfall. I for one would love to see Craig return for a fifth Bond film (at time of writing there is still no word on his future) but if this were to be his final instalment, it’s not a bad one to bow out on. Just don’t mention Blofeld!
WATCH IT FOR: The epic opening sequence
THE ROCK (1996)
Long before Michael Bay turned every movie he made into a huge, stinking pile of dog dirt he hit his stride with this action thriller. Stanley Goodspeed (Nicolas Cage) is a biochemist in Washington D.C. who is called upon to help the government when General Hummel (Ed Harris), a former soldier and team take Alcatraz hostage. Hummel has stolen some highly dangerous nuclear warheads and threatens to launch them at San Francisco. Goodspeed can disarm the bombs but first, he needs to find someone who can get him inside – enter John Mason (Sean Connery), former British Intelligence officer and one-time inmate at The Rock. The two men reluctantly work together to break in to one of the most notorious prisons in the world. It’s a non-stop, boy’s own adventure that doesn’t hold back on the subtlety!
WATCH IT FOR: Connery at his best!
PITCH PERFECT (2012)
Here’s a film that I wasn’t expecting to enjoy as much as I did. I’d managed to avoid it for a while as I thought it was just a chick flick but it really isn’t. Anna Kendrick is Becca, a University freshman who gets herself signed up to the school’s all-girl singing group, The Bellas. They take part in a campus competition against their male counterparts in a film that both surprises and lifts the spirits. Kendrick is great but the real breakout star of the film is Rebel Wilson as Fat Amy. It really is a fun film. In fact, it’s acca-awesome!
WATCH IT FOR: Fat Amy!
MEMOIRS OF AN INVISIBLE MAN (1992)
After a freak accident, Nick Halloway (Chevy Chase) is made invisible and forced to flee for his life when the CIA want to recruit him. In theory this film, from acclaimed horror director John Carpenter, should have been great but it just doesn’t work quite as well as it should. It’s still good fun though, seeing Chase’s character come to terms with his invisibility. Daryl Hannah provides the love-interest support while Sam Neill is the villainous CIA agent tracking down his man.
WATCH IT FOR: The trailer
Another batch of cinematic classics and box-office bombs that mean something to me, whatever that may be. So far, 190 films have made the list and there are still SO many still to come. If you agree (or disagree) with some of my choices then let me know, I’d love to hear from you. In the meantime, I’m off to track down some more lost gems!
“You’re a kite dancing in a hurricane, Mr Bond”