Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Films from a Skewed Perspective 1

I have long despaired as to why anyone would have a top ten of anything. It seems so limiting and inflexible. I find it quite impossible to have my top one hundred albums or books  and if I did then that may change according to mood. The same goes for films. I simply couldn't say which film was my all time favourite as the next day it might be another and one I probably watched recently. The following then are my all time favourite ten films of today....tomorrow? Who knows...

'Withnail and I'

The first of my all time favourite films for today is 'Withnail and I.' It is a film caught somewhere between the surreal and the downright ridiculous. Released in 1987. Directed by  Bruce Robinson and starring Richard E. Grant, Paul McGann, Richard Griffiths and Ralph Brown.. Set in London in 1969 we see two out of work actors, friends linked by trade and bad luck who visit an Uncle's holiday home and do odd things with dead chickens and live bulls. British comedy at is lfar flung best.

The French have a way with words, accents and films - they all come out sounding very sexy. They are also incredibly imaginative with all they create. This film, directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, nods a wink to a blind horse as it invites you with its mischievous grin, to enter a world of Parisian charm and romance. It is a ride on a carousel with music played on a street urchins accordion. Young Amelie has a benevolent heart, a quixotic mind and a sense of divine justice. She resolves the quest of hungry, amorous hearts, rights the wrongs done with wicked abandon whilst seeking the man she thinks is of her dreams. It is funky romance with a quirky heart.


Once whilst being Interviewed by Michael Parkinson, Woody Allen suggested that we like his work more over here than his countrymen over there. Not sure how true that is but he does manage to create some rather moving, often off beat, little tales that beautifully capture human frailties and foibles. Having Penelope Cruz in the film in no way addled my judgement. This is a good film that examines human relationships both conservative and adventurous and discovers that there really is nothing as odd as people.

Tying to select just the one Studio Ghibili the name always reminds me of Giblets) is a toug task for there are so many good ones. I think this resonates mostly with me as i watched it along with two of my children - Jimbob Badfinger and Tweezil. It is a fantasy but both immaculate in its production and imaginative in its invention. The story is by Diana Wynne Jones and directed by Hayao Miyazaki. The one thing I like above all else though is hearing for the last time the lovely voice of the equally lovely  Jean Simmons  The cast is superb with Billy Crystal, Emily MortimerChristian Bale and the goddess of old Holywood films - Lauren Bacall. Wonderful movie.

Not often you get husband and wife team, Pauline Collins and John Alderton acting together, not since their days spent on Brit TV drama Upstairs, Downstairs, but here they are again on this sweet but underrated film. Widowed Mrs Cauldicot (Pauline Collins) finds herself outmanouvered by her son and his wife and sent packing to a care home so that they might enable themselves of her property and upon arrival, suffering at the hands of a randy but dictatorial Care Home Manager (John Alderton), Mrs Cauldicot makes plans, garners her troops (the other residents) into a break out. Pensioners on the loose and havoc ensues.

Not sure if this one was meant for children, family or adults. It works on all levels though. I like the way it makes no excuses, hides no unpleasantness, does not treat the audience (family surely?) as though they need patronizing. The ugly scenes, violent at times, is shown for what it is, horrible. It is a story set during World War 2 and features an unpleasant Nazi, a girl child and some wonderful CGI. If anything this film takes all children, no matter their ages, into some dark places but brings them out again into the light. This may not be how life always is but we all can hope and that is the point being made here.

'Pans Labyrinth'
"Brief Encounter"
A classic of its and any time. Rather tame by today's standards perhaps with nothing in the way of sex scenes but still a gripping romantic drama as two people meet by accident on a train station then begin what can only be called an almost love affair.

Dirk Bogarde made his name making comic roles in the 'Doctor' filmsthen  and Hollywood type action movies. He was in many ways the English Rock Hudson This was a brave move to act in this highly charged and challenging film.. Bogarde plays a former Nazi officer now working as the concierge in a hotel. Charlotte Rampling plays the part of a woman who during the war was tortured then sexually abused by Bogarde who then falls in love with her captor and tormentor. The couple meet up again after a break of many years and re-start their affair. This is finger nails dragging across a chalk board.

The thought of such two talents working on a film like this is indeed a tempting concept bearing in mind they had already worked together on other projects but in another medium that of graphic novels. Here was Neil Gaiman, author of The Sandman series, American Gods and of course Stardust. Then there is Dave Mckean, one of the more interesting of graphic artists. Together -Gaiman scripting, Mckean visualising - they managed to produce this modern day masterpiece. The story is simplicity itself which allows the marvellous effects, animations and wizardry to take us on a cinematic trip of a lifetime. Perhaps there is more to the tale than meets the eye? Duality perhaps or that most interesting of concepts the accidental merging of the Immateria with the waking world. Whatever, a thoroughly enjoyable film.

Did I say ten films? Oh dear. Maybe next time

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