你好/ Ní hǎo / Nín hǎo / Hello / How do / S’mae,
In 2019, Velvet Buzzsaw, starring Jake Gyllenhaal arrives on general release in February. The arty feel of the trailer made me think of some of my favourite movies. I also gandered a dozen other trailers, include Men In Black International, which in its first edition was refreshing and great fun. Pet Sematary as a remake excites me too. Hellboy as yet another remodelling seems okay too. It does make me think that new ideas for Hollywood are limited but you’ll still see me watching Godzilla: King Of The Monsters in May. Triple Frontier, The Mustang and Bird Box follow tested formulas and throw in solid casts, but they carry much anticipation. I do like a good movie though. In 2020, maybe Ghostbusters 3 will be marvelous – with the teaser adding familiar noises and music. Who knows?
In 1993, Jurassic Park was my first truly antipcated movie. I’d been glued to the novel years before and now I wanted to see the words on the big screen. Mum and I went to the Davenport Cinema near Stockport. The cinema has since been demolished. I remember that the screen was massive, and the old theatre style was beautiful. It had become too expensive to maintain. I grew up having watched few movies, unless you count Dot and The Kangaroo. Movies rarely interested me. Watership Down had probably freaked me out too much – and then The Plague Dogs – too much you know, erm, grimness. At least the former had a great song!
Movies that I like that are probably on almost everyone’s list include: Braveheart, Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, Terminator 2: Judgement Day, The Silence of the Lambs, Titanic, Toy Story, Schindler’s List, The Lion King, The Shawshank Redemption, Fight Club, Groundhog Day, Heat, Fargo, 10 Things I Hate About You, Trainspotting, Brassed Off, The Fugitive, Goldeneye, Mrs Doubtfire, Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window, Goodfellas, Forrest Gump, The Green Mile, Bad Boys, The Iron Giant, and Con Air. I’m sure you can pick this entire collection up on DVD for less than £10 now. I watched Saving Private Ryan with my Granddad. It was the only time I seen him cry. The realism was all too much for someone who had seen it up close and personal.
Do you believe in UFOs, astral projections, mental telepathy, ESP, clairvoyance, spirit photography, telekinetic movement, full-trance mediums, the Loch Ness Monster and the theory of Atlantis?
In 1984, the world had new heroes. The Ghostbusters. Just like 1984’s Gremlins, 1990‘s Gremlins 2: The New Batch, 1985‘s Goonies and 1989‘s Ghostbusters 2, I had a winter’s day movie. Great entertainment and fun, that you can watch time and time again, are hard to come by in a movie. Flash Gordon sits in there too, alongside the Back to The Future trilogy. From my year of birth, 1982‘s E.T. – the Extra Terrestrial is on that list but give me a tissue. A tissue to watch 1942‘s Bambi too. From 1988 onwards, The Naked Gun triology just requires a light-hearted laugh. 1980‘s Blues Brothers wins on that count too.
‘Little Sir Echo, how yo you do?’ – Bing Crosby, 1939
Night Train to Murder starred Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise and came out in 1985. It was written by the comedy duo too, alongside the original James Bond Casino Royale director Joseph McGrath. Well one of them. There were about six! His credits included the Beatles’ music videos, The Goon Show and Rising Damp. Night Train to Murder would be his final movie. 16 TV appearances would follow and two writing jobs. The Glaswegian went near silent. Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise’s TV movie. One half of the duo was ill during filming of this movie and soon after in May of 1984. Roger Brierley, Richard Vernon and Pamela Salem co-star. The film would be the fourth and final expected big screen outing for Morecambe and Wise. Due to Eric’s death, it became a TV release in 1985. The closing moment of the TV movie sees Morecambe and Wise walking away together. There never was another televised gig.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon [卧虎藏龙] gave international audiences something unseen before. Hovering, fluttering and graciousness seemed to be hand in hand with violence, menace and misery. Warriors, destiny and mythology gave Michelle Yeoh [杨紫琼] good reason to shake off the Bond Girl moniker. That same year, of 2000, saw Snatch hit the screens. As me and my best mate Dan watched, the movie entertained us. Momento came out too. Gladiator may have ruled the screens but Requiem For A Dream would carry as great a memory in time. Cast Away was epic.
Y Tu Mamá También, came out in 2001. This Mexican road movie is essential viewing. Donnie Darko was a very indie film with a great indie score. A beautifully dark movie. Black Hawk Down was a fine example of a bleak war movie. A Beautiful Mind, was as the title said.
City of God (Cicade de Deus), has great street chases, raw energy, a lack of Hollywood gloss and shows realism that modern gangland movies can only dream of. This 2002 movie is a snapshot of a Latin America that the tourism boards will hate. Another movie that I can’t reverse watching was Irréversible. It made me feel physically sick. Powerfully forlorn cinema. The camera shots and soundtrack are dizzying. Perhaps look up Daft Punks’ Thomas Bangalter and his solo work. Many a film critic said it was, “a movie so violent and cruel that most people will find it unwatchable” – and some labelled in homophobic. I just found it dizzying and extreme. The Bourne Identity was simple to follow, with a great sequence of pursuits throughout. In some ways it was James Bond without the boobs. 28 Days Later and Signs added to the cinematic splendour.
In 2003, Oldboy leapt off screens from Korea. It was remade many years later. Avoid that. The best in this case is the original. Prepare to be shocked. Kill Bill: Volume 1 was released too, with one of the best soundtracks for some time. Bad Boys 2 probably marked my last VHS owned.
In 2004, Downfall, was made and suddenly Hitler’s angry map scene would occupy an endless flow of memes. Kill Bill: Volume 1 wasn’t just released – it was practically flung at you like a dagger. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou and The Terminal completed a good year. Ttosi landed in 2005. It is hugely emotive, dynamic and lives up to its meaning of thug. Redemption may or may not be earned. Lord Of War added wit and seriousness to the world of arms dealing.
The Lives of Others released in 2006 is worth a look. Of course, you are being watched – just like the antagonists on screen. That same year Pan’s Labyrinth became quite mainstream for a foreign movie. The movie is up there on the good ground with David Bowie in Jim Henson’s Labyrinth. Batman Begins kept my love of mainstream movies that year. It also gave us Little Miss Sunshine, and Letters from Iwo Jima.
In 2007, The Bourne Ultimatum made great contrast to the movie adaptation of Into The Wild, perhaps my favourite tragic book of all time. Sunshine was great viewing too. The Western movie 3:10 to Yuma ranked highly on my watchlist. 2008’s guilty pleasure for me was Iron Man. If only we knew what was to come!? Slumdog Millionnaire was an instant hit and the soundtrack made my MP3 player soonafter. Lion’s Den was the most gripping movie of the year. Like Stars on Earth is the sweetest teacher-themed movie of all time. The Baader Meinhof Complex is brutal and wonderful in equal proportions. If you needed a taste of mental health awareness – though extreme, Belgain film Ben X had it.
Three Idiots was a surprise. It was neither Bollywood, nor Hollywood. I’ve tried watching many Indian and Pakistani movies. None have succeeded in keeping my attention, until Three Idiots arrived in 2009. There is a buddy movie feel that Trains, Planes & Automobiles successfully caught – as did the Canadian production Due South. Tragedy and warmth drips from the screen. District 9 added a valid and tangible story to the usual CGI-gone-mad state of movies of this period. The Secret in Their Eyes was a particularly good thriller. The White Ribbon, set before World War One is a mystery that both grips whilst it presents oddity and intrigue.
127 Hours was not as long as the title suggested and with a soundtrack to suit the true story, the movie whistled by in no time at all. In 2010, the book was promptly picked up afterwards. Incendies followed twins returning to their former middle-eastern homes. Biutiful was a great and disturbing movie that awoke the imagination. Can you imagine knowing how you will die? Javier Bardem was hypnotically mesmerising.
The following year of 2011 gave many awards to Drive, and rightfully so. Moneyball added some baseball to my viewing but the story was wonderful, so I let the U.S. version of rounders slip without a worry. Super 8 surprised me with how good a feel it could generate. The Intouchables was heart-warming and witty – and in 2017 the formula of a caregiver with an aristocratic quadriplegic was remade with Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston.
In 2012, The Dark Knight Rises, wasn’t quite as the previous two Christopher Nolan incarnations of Batman. Still it is a favourite. Skyfall made up for that. At last a Bond movie with a real bite to it. The Hunt gave us a look at how creepy Mads Mikkelsen can appear.
Captain Phillips told audiences, in 2013, a story of Somalian pirates. Tom Hanks stars. When he performs well, the audience always feels it. Accolades and awards followed. The Man of Steel reinvented Superman before DC Comiscs trashed that in almosy every instalment since. All Is Lost, scored by Alex Ebert, lasted 105 minutes – and starred just Robert Redford. It was not last time watching that masterpiece. Pacific Rim followed a Transformer, Power Rangers, Godzilla feel but kept me inside a Colchester cinema out of a heatwave. I enjoyed the movie greatly. It was one of my guilty pleasures that year.
In 2014, Boyhood gave probably the most original piece of cinema for a long, long time. The coming-of-age drama had been shot over an epic period spanning more than a decade. Nightcrawler added thrills and gave the pulse a work-out. Gone Girl was another great thriller. Godzilla was okay, just okay. Birdman was a wonderful comedy and The Theory of Everything was positively riveting. American Sniper told a sorry story well.
The Revenant in 2015 was powerful and moody. The Martian was atmospheric and moving. Spectre started great but fizzeld out. Idris Elba’s Beasts Of No Nations, opened discussions and eyes to an otherwise ignored world within the 21st century. Everest, tried to bundle together many accounts of a disaster offering a respectful disaster and made a wonderful IMAX feature. 2016 reinvigorated the Jurassic Park machine by bringing is Jurassic World, a rollercoaster of a movie. In 2016, Deadpool refreshed the graphic novel/superhero genre with a splash of bad taste and violence. The Jungle Book, in live-action was almost a frame by frame copy of the cartoon by Disney but it added sweetness to the silver screen. Suicide Squad added wit to the overly-full genre of superhero outings. Star Wars: Rogue One was a good war movie, albeit with a scifi backdrop. Tom Hanks once again wowed audiences with his performance in Sully.
Dunkirk was visually stunning and well shot in 2017. Wonder Woman challenged gender roles for superhero main stars and also added some good drama between the CGI sheets. Logan added a geriatric take the hero genre. Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing Missouri swept away many awards and rightly so. War for the Planet of the Apes concluded a great trilogy remaking. The Darkest Hour gave the excellent Gary Oldman a vehicle to display his varied talents. Disney added a live action beauty in Beauty & The Beast.
In 2018, Bohemian Rhapsody added a loveable rock star to our screens. Freddie Mercury was extragavant, complex, talented and had a voice like so few. This movie captured the magic and gave voice to a story that many didn’t know. I didn’t know that Farrokh Bulsara was born in Zanzibar and went on to become the lead singer of Queen.
再见/ Zài jiàn / Bài bài / Ta’ra / Goodbye / Hwyl Fawr