Favorite movies

Some of my favorite movies, in no particular order...

The Vanishing (aka Spoorloos)
One of the most disturbing movies that I have ever seen; the images stayed with me for quite a time after seeing it. The movie is a brilliant portrayal of the madness that flows just underneath the crust of everday life. It keeps up the tension from the start, building up to an extremely disturbing climax. The situations presented are believable, and you are made starkly aware that you could easily be the star of the story in your own life.

If you hate subtitles (it's in French), do not think that the 1993 Hollywood remake will make for easy access to the movie. It may have been directed by the same person, but it is in no way the same story, especially with the Hollywood happy ending and the addition of some major actors (Jeff Bridges, Kiefer Sutherland and Sandra Bullock). It is a cliché, but it does lose so much in the translation.

Raising Arizona
Only one word can describe this movie, quirky. From the soundtrack (now imitated by advertisements for Yahoo!), to the script, featuring some of the Coen Brothers staples - John Goodman and Frances McDormand. It is a simple story which is wonderfully told, and can take repeated viewings. A childless couple - a police woman and an an ex-con (though not quite ex- enough), desparate for a baby kidnap one of a set of quintuplets, and the mayhem ensues.

Yet another Coen brothers movie, this was the one that opened them up to a wider audience. The story of a faked kidnapping gone wrong, snowballing into a murder case. Frances McDormand portrays a pregnant police woman (pregnancy, police women, kidnapping; is this becoming a common thread or what?) woken from her slumbering small-town job to investigate the murder.

The movie deftfully takes the piss out of Minnesota, and the many characters living there, but does so in a kind way, stopping short at being brutal.

Blade Runner
Incredibly lavish cinematography make this one of the most rewarding sch-fi movies to watch. The craft flying over the city, the crowd scenes, and the ever present rain; all are beautifully portrayed. It is not just stunnig visually, but also aurally. The Vangelis soundtrack, fo so many years unavailable, mirrors the images perfectly.

The movie is deliberately left open, although the directors cut leaves a different feeling afterwards. I would suggest that new viewers become familiar with the original, and when you get the chance to see the directors cut on the big screen, revel in it.

Star Wars

As a sprightly 7-year old, this movie had a profound effect on me - just the thought of the X-wing diving down into the death star trench brings out the goose pimples even now. The sound and the images were more real than anything I had ever seen (with the exception of 2001 which I hadn't seen anyway). The plot is simple; good vs. evil, but it is a film that for me, was just so memorable.

The follow-up episodes (Empire strikes back, and Return of the Jedi) didn't quite match the first, but for a complete generation, Carrie Fisher would always be dancing in the bikini! You don't want to get me started on the Phantom Menace.

Wings of Desire

Set in Berlin, filmed in black & white and subtitled in German, this was once described as the ultimate date movie. The cinematography is exquisite, showing the city, and those that dwell there in vivid detail. The film is richly textured. German is not the most beautiful language, but the words spoken in the film have an almost poetic quality.

Yet again, Hollywood decided to remake the film as City of Angels; all of the depth and complexity was stripped out, although this time they did keep closer to the plot than some other movies. It does, however have a pretty cracking soundtrack.

See the original - you will see the everyday with fresh eyes.


Very bizarre, but extremely funny. Stylish black comedy set in a post-apocalypse France, where food is in such short supply that the local butcher kills his employees. It is truly an original, and shows that at least some french people have a sense of humor.

Shallow Grave

Three friends come into a case full of money. What do you do? Saying anything more would give the plot away. An excellent movie, see it.


Deeply surreal tale of Edinburgh drug addicts. Based on the excellent book by Irvine Welsh (IMO, the best thing he has ever done), coupled with a suitably excellent soundtrack, woven together into a very tight, sassy film. Certainly, because of the subject matter, and the graphicness of it all, this is a film that isn't for everyone, but if you can take it, the trip is worth it.

Some of the others... The Sleeper, Usual Suspects, Leon, Clerks, Spinal Tap, Alien & Aliens, Twelve Monkeys, Cinema Paradiso, Killing Fields, Life is sweet, Life is beautiful