Friday, September 25, 2015

10 films that have left an indelible mark

Thunderheart - more violent than I normally like but such a great film. Shows a side of America rarely seen in film, great landscape and a man character struggling to come to terms with his identity.

Children of Men - based on a short story by P.D. James. Some great acting but all the more disturbing in that it is so believable - especially in the context of the refugee crisis.

Hi Fidelity - probably in my top 3 films of all time. Faced with a relationship crisis the main character decides to re organise his record collection autobiographically - brilliant. Great sound track too - when I saw this at the cinema I was the last person to leave as I had to stay until the Stevie Wonder track had finished (I believe when I fall in love) it sounded amazing on the big speakers.

Three Colours Blue - my favourite of the three colours films. Has a special poignancy as I first saw it a couple of years after my first partner was killed in a car accident (the main characters son and husband are killed in an accident). I really identified with her desire to just leave and start over where no one knew her. The music is haunting and the film is beautifully shot. I always wanted a blue glass mobile like the one she has but never found one.

The Consequences of Love (Le conseguenze dell'amore). An Italian thriller with one of my favourite soundtracks. An unlikely romance between a weird middle-aged guy living in a hotel and a waitress. The film is quite weird and involves the Mafia and drugs. The soundtrack does sudden switches from almost complete silence to beautiful melancholic music to loud thumping dance tracks. Needless to say things don't end well for the central character. Brilliant and compelling.

Manufactured Landscapes - a beautiful and disturbing documentary following photographer Edward Burtynsky as he photographs landscapes that have been irrevocably changed by human activity. One of the most memorable scenes is near the beginning when they are filming inside a Chinese factory - that just goes on and on and on. The scale is mind boggling. The Chinese scenes are the most memorable for the sheer scale of the devastation (and how beautiful it sometimes is in its ugliness. A city demolished to make way for a giant reservoir where the residents are forced to take it apart by hand sticks in my mind. As does the description of how the earth rocked on its axis when it was filled. Terrifying.

Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus - 2003 documentary film of Jim White's musical exploration of the American deep south, looking at where Christianity and music overlap. Beautifully shot and with an amazing soundtrack - the shots of the handsome Family singing on the verandah of a wooden shack on a Louisiana swamp stayed with me for weeks. Amazing!

The Breakfast Club - you can tell by this choice that I came of age in the 1980s. A bit dated now but still a great coming of age story which also has a great soundtrack. Five archetypal teenagers (the swot, the jock, the popular girl, the rebel, the shy weird girl) find themselves in Saturday detention together and unite against the teacher discovering that they may have different backgrounds but aren't so different after all. There are some moving scenes where they share secrets and some funny really funny bits too. Feel good nostalgia.

The Lives of Others - great German film from 2006 set in East Berlin. A Stasi agent who monitors conversations gets obsessed with the life of a theatre director and his partner. The film brilliantly portrays the paranoia and back stabbing behaviour that goes on living under such a repressive regime - the fact that you never know who you can trust and that sometimes help comes from unlikely places.

Truly, Madly, Deeply - Alan Rickman and Juliette Stevenson star in this romantic film about a cello player who dies and comes back to haunt his distraught fiancee (bringing with him a bunch of famous ghosts to watch videos). Poignant, moving and with a soundtrack featuring some great cello music as well as Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan.

Honourable mentions: The Conversation, West Side Story, Star Trek - First Contact, Falling in Love, Donnie Darko, Quadrophenia, Alice's Restaurant, Withnail and I, The Future is Unwritten, The Goob, Boyhood.