Well, I hope you’re all suitably feasted and rested from the Christmas activities because it’s time to get back to it. 2018 begins with Part twenty-six of my cinematic odyssey through the films that have special meaning to me. Whether they be giants of the silver screen or the not-so-giant, these films have made an impact on me in one way or another. This time around you can find a couple of bona fide classics as well as some that come under the “cult” banner. Sit back, scoop up the last of the Quality Street and let’s get to work…
DIRTY HARRY (1971)
Cinematic superstar Clint Eastwood was already well on his way to becoming an icon with the Spaghetti Westerns of the sixties when he took on the role of maverick cop, “Dirty” Harry Callahan. This gritty thriller sees Harry on the trail of a sadistic serial killer, known as Scorpio (chillingly played by Andy Robinson), who is terrorising San Francisco. Dirty Harry cemented Eastwood’s popularity and ensured his longevity playing likeable but notoriously difficult to work with characters.
WATCH IT FOR: That scene
THE RIVER WILD (1994)
Here’s a nice, underrated thriller from director Curtis Hanson. Meryl Streep plays Gail, an expert in rafting who decides to take her family on a trip down a notorious wild river. Along the way they meet a couple of armed men with a secret mission of their own that requires Gail’s help to navigate the river. David Strathairn, Kevin Bacon, John C. Reilly and Joseph Mazello round out the cast in a non-stop thrill ride that will have you on the edge of your seat.
WATCH IT FOR: Trailer
Apparently, everybody has a time-twin. For New York advertising executive, Jim Ferguson (Alex Hyde-White) his just happens to be WWI flying ace James “Biggles” Bigglesworth (Neil Dickson). Together they travel back and forth through time in order to prevent the Germans from changing history. This is one of those fun, action adventures that populated most of the 1980s while still harking back to the classic serials from the twenties and thirties.
WATCH IT FOR: A suitably cheesy eighties trailer
FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF (1986)
Arguably one of John Hughes‘ best films, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off sees Matthew Broderick as the eponymous hero intent on taking a sick day from school. With the help of his girlfriend, Sloane (Mia Sara) and best friend, Cameron (Alan Ruck) they take in the sights of Chicago unaware that their principal, Ed Rooney (Jeffrey Jones) is hot on their trail. It’s a joyous comedy full of wonderful moments and fine performances, not least from Hughes regular Edie McClurg as Rooney’s secretary, Grace.
WATCH IT FOR: “He’s A Righteous Dude”
FATHER OF THE BRIDE (1991)
This remake of the classic 1950 movie sees Steve Martin as George Banks facing up to the prospect of his eldest daughter Annie (Kimberly Williams) getting married and leaving home. It’s a charming, funny movie with a very Hollywood-style family unit that just about manages to stay on the right side of schmaltz. Diane Keaton and an over-the-top Martin Short provide ample support in this family comedy that spawned a 1993 sequel.
WATCH IT FOR: Basketball
RUN, FATBOY, RUN (2007)
Dennis (Simon Pegg) left his pregnant fiancée, Libby (Thandie Newton) at the altar five years ago. Since then, he has tried every day to convince her to take him back. When he discovers that she has a new man in her life in the shape of Whit (Hank Azaria), an ultra-fit, ultra-cool American, Dennis vows to do something about it. His plan? To run a marathon. The only trouble is, he is extremely unfit. This is one of those comedies from the old school – ordinary man does something extraordinary to win the girl – from director David Schwimmer (Friends). There are some great moments, including one that makes me wince every time I see it, and it does what it sets out to do – lift the spirits.
WATCH IT FOR: Trailer
FOREVER YOUNG (1992)
In this romantic, sci-fi drama, Mel Gibson plays Daniel McCormick, a 1939 test pilot who asks his friend to use him as a guinea pig in a secret experiment into cryogenics. When eventually wakes up it’s 1992 and time is running out. His body is rapidly aging and he must find a way to survive in this new, modern world. Jamie Lee Curtis and Elijah Wood are along for the ride as a mother and son who take him in and help his quest.
WATCH IT FOR: Trailer
Adaptations of Stephen King novels and stories have had a sketchy history in cinema, some fall flat and lose their meaning while others – like this one – triumph. Misery sees James Caan play Paul Sheldon, a successful novelist, who crashes his car on a dangerous, snowy road. He is rescued by Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates in an Oscar-winning performance) who happens to be a huge fan of his and, also, slightly unhinged. Director Rob Reiner has created a wonderful atmosphere of tension and suspense that drags you deeper into Annie’s twisted world.
WATCH IT FOR: “I’m Your Number One Fan”
JUMPIN’ JACK FLASH (1986)
This fun comedy shows off Whoopi Goldberg‘s comedy talents as a low-level computer operator working for a bank who gets caught up in an espionage plot. Throughout this she is in contact (via computer) with an unknown man calling himself Jack. Goldberg is brilliantly manic and keeps the film moving along with a solid supporting cast. The technology might be dated, but the humour and action isn’t.
WATCH IT FOR: Stones
BIG HERO 6 (2014)
Animation has gone through something of a renaissance of late with some amazing films being made. Complex stories involving real issues are being incorporated into stunning animated movies. Big Hero 6 continues this new tradition by dealing with bereavement, friendship and loyalty while still maintaining all the things you’d expect from a “kids” film. Hiro and his gang of new friends, including an inflatable plus-sized robot called Beymax, take on the sinister forces that have brought havoc to their city. Prepare yourself, there will be tears.
WATCH IT FOR: Trailer
I really do enjoy putting these lists together, finding the films that have fallen between the cracks of my memory along with those that are still very relevant in my mind. Some are classics, some are not but all give me something that other films don’t. I hope you enjoy reading my meanderings here and, even if you don’t, please feel free to get in touch, I’d love to hear from you. In the meantime, I need to make a start on Part Twenty Seven – I’ve already got part of a list and the further into my mind palace I delve I remember more. Until next time…
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it”