… except for that one guy.
In the Q & A section of our final episode, someone asked Jon and I what our favourite films were. Because I was both half cut and tanked on the sudden realisation that I might actually be able to watch a film again sometime soon, I reeled off the first few things that came to mind. I don’t have a single bad word to say about anything that was originally mentioned, but those films don’t really reflect my tastes or viewing habits at all.
Had I taken the time to review the questions we received in advance like a prudent adult, I may have mentioned some of the below flicks instead. Much as I’d love to appear to be the impossibly cultured fuckwit that I envisaged during that episode, I am no cineaste. This is merely a list of things that I love, and if you’re even slightly enchanted by cinema then I recommend that you try them if you haven’t already.
I realise that this is all very off topic and self-indulgent, but in the wise words of the Turkish/French actor Tchéky Karyo, essaying the role of international drug kingpin Fouchet in Michael Bay’s 1995 motion picture Bad Boys: “I don’t care. I don’t care. I’m not a fucking chemistry teacher, idiot.”
Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans
A silent film made in 1927 (wait) and one of the first films to ever win an Oscar. Film historians are ridiculously quick to assert that any old film has stood the test of time, when in truth that is so seldom the case. Watch the opening five minutes of Sunrise and then try to turn it off.
To Live and Die In L.A.
There are tiny plot morsels (ideas, even) that are fleetingly explored in To Live and Die In L.A. that later formed the backbone of entire other movies; which I won’t name, because that would give away some of this film’s outstanding twists. The best cop movie of the 1980s.
Dark Angel a.k.a I Come in Peace
Dolph Lundgren dies his hair black in order to fight a drug dealing alien who slays people with magnet-propelled compact discs. I couldn’t make this film sound crap if I tried. Unbelievably good trash.
Être et avoir
This French documentary is so completely perfect that I have nothing to say except this: find it.
A story about the nationwide hunt for a child murderer that literally could have been made yesterday. Stories of any kind, in any medium, don’t get more compelling or well conceived than this.
Out for Justice
In a review that I read in Empire magazine as a child, Kim Newman gave up trying to explain the appeal of Out for Justice and just capped his piece with the two-word sentence, “Outstanding entertainment.” That’s basically it.
For ninety minutes, a bunch of indoctrinated, shellshocked children sit in a room and concede to the war crimes they committed in Vietnam. Boisterous hippies cheer every revelation as infants quietly laugh to themselves while listing the implements they used to torture Vietnamese civilians. Wherever your political allegiances lay (or lie) you’ll watch every second feeling righteously angry, and despite barely venturing outside of those four walls, it’s an impossibly vivid portrait of America in the early 1970s. A priceless educational tool that has never, ever been used as such. Criminal.
A Nightmare on Elm Street
The first Nightmare on Elm Street is at least as good as the original Halloween, but has never gotten anywhere near enough of that scholarly reverence. The sequels bastardised it, and its status as an enduring fable for the ages won’t be cemented until after we’re all dead. Which is quite annoying.
An over-the-top and extremely strange film about Jesco White, a hillbilly tap dancer from the Appalachian mountains, and very much a real person. Much of White Lightnin’ isn’t true, and the film has the demeanour and temperament of a deeply dishonest person slowly going cuckoo. Which may or may not be appropriate. This is quite difficult to find, but that doesn’t mean that I endorse this sort of thing.
The best film of the 1990s.
A grim cinematic fever dream. A rollocking action film. A hysterical comedy. A flavourful religious allegory. They don’t make films like Robocop any more, and that’s because nobody has ever made films like this. One of the great American movies.