Greetings Readers, Gary here. I’d like to give you all a big Film Book Club hello – and fear ye not, that is in no way similar to the Brentwood Hello (Oh just Google it). We’re thrilled to be up and running with this shiny new website which hosts all of our creative film output, be it podcasts, YouTube videos or articles. As time passes I’m sure we’ll get to know each other quite well, but as we’re newly acquainted I’d like to give you an insight into some of my favourite films, to give you a better understanding of my preferred directors, actors, genres, decades etc.
Being an avid fan of all things Desert Island Discs I’m going to put a filmic spin on the format and reveal what my Desert Island (Digital Versatile) Discs would be. For those of you unfamiliar with the radio format, the scenario is that you have been marooned on an island with nothing but 8 DVDs and the equipment to play them. You also get a copy of the Bible, the complete works of Shakespeare and one luxury item…
The following may not be what I believe to be the top 8 films of all time, but certainly the ones which could keep me going if stranded, Castaway style.
Jason & The Argonauts (1963, Don Chaffey)
The film which started it all for this small Lancashire lad. I was bought a VHS copy of this in 1993 and wore the tape out due to excessive viewings. From the opening bars of Bernard Herrmann’s score, Ray Harryhausen’s wondrous stop-motion and the Hollywood enigma that is Todd Armstrong, I was captivated from start to finish. This awed me in every way possible and even to this day it remains a firm favourite.
The Wicker Man (1973, Robin Hardy)
There is something hypnotic about The Wicker Man. It draws you in, charms you, intrigues you, baffles you and then chills you to the core. A film made with great turmoil behind the scenes and ripped to shreds in the editing room, it was believed to be unsellable to audiences and lay dormant for decades, slowly building momentum with the power of a strong cult fan base until eventually ‘The Final Cut’ was released, which although still has some scenes missing, it is certainly the most complete form we have. The songs, the performances and that climactic scene… how could this not be on my list!?
Jaws (1975, Steven Spielberg)
Jaws has affected me more than any other film. I know it’s completely irrational to have a fear of sharks when ankle deep in a lake in northern Wales but the thought of Bruce is always at the back of my mind, niggling away and that truly shows the sheer power of this classic. The brilliance of the film is that ultimately, the shark is the MacGuffin of the piece. The real heart and soul is around the three central characters of Brody, Hooper & Quint. It’s also impossible to watch this film without putting your feet on the sofa, just in case Jaws comes to get you.
Goldfinger (1964, Guy Hamilton)
How can you pick one Bond film from the twenty-four individual bullets of sheer cinematic majesty? Goldfinger was the first of the franchise I saw and it also set the standard for much of the iconography which would later follow. It’s slick, has a wonderful theme, an unforgettable cast of villains, Connery is never better and contains more memorable moments than I have fingers to count them on.
Bad Taste (1987, Peter Jackson)
A perfect example of ‘get up and go’ cinema before the likes of Kevin Smith came to town. Bad Taste was made entirely by Peter Jackson and his friends over the course of two years. They built all of the props and costumes themselves as well as showcasing tremendous skills regarding special effects which Hollywood would have been proud of. It’s very funny, very gory and a very underrated masterpiece.
Rear Window (1954, Alfred Hitchcock)
Perhaps one of the very few examples of a perfect film. There is absolutely nothing wrong with it and everything on offer throughout its duration works like clockwork. Hitchcock knocks it out of the park yet again in what must be regarded as one of the finest continuous streaks in any directors filmography (followed by numerous classics such as Vertigo, North By North West, Psycho & The Birds) as practically everyone involved in the production gives a career best performance. Worthy of a place on the list just for the shot of Thorwald smoking in the dark.
Once (2007, John Carney)
An absolute gem of a film. Shot with barely any budget, often in locations without permission and using only natural light throughout, both the characters and the music sore. Casting real musicians Glen Hansard (Guy) & Markéta Irglová (Girl) was an inspired choice as their low key performances are so genuine and heartfelt. It perfectly treads the line of being heartfelt but never wet. It also contains some of the best understated humour cinema has had in years.
20000 Days On Earth (2014, Jane Pollard & Iain Forsyth)
My associations are plenty with this film. It is a documentary about a day in the life of Nick Cave interwoven with dreamlike sequences including conversations with Kylie Minogue & Ray Winstone. I was lucky enough to get tickets for the concert which takes place in a crammed Koko (10x cool points if you can spot me) and not only that, I later went on to win a competition during the premiere of the film with the prize being the blue typewriter used both in the film and for writing the album Push The Sky Away.
Luxury item: Mass quantity of paper & stationary.
What would be on your list? Tweet & Facebook us your answers!