I am on a movie binge this weekend and I stopped to think about my favourite films. They are a combination of comedy, camp, drama, history, literature, sex, music and growing-up stories.
5 cult-y movies:
- Monty Python and the Holy Grail (UK, 1975) – A comedic parody of King Arthur and his knights in Camelot. I never tire of visiting the Black Knight and the Knights Who Say Ni, the Trojan Rabbit and the Killer Rabbit!
- Rocky Horror Picture Show (USA, 1975) – A send-off of Frankenstein and Hammer Horror movies. How can you not smirk at the Sweet Transvestite’s trick seduction of Brad and Janet? I can sing every song from this movie 🙂
- Yellow Submarine (UK, 1968) – Animated psychedelic music movie featuring The Beatles, under the sea, escaping the clutches of the Blue Meanies
- Koyaanisqatsi (USA, 1983) – A musical collage depicting humankind’s effect on the environment; it comments wordlessly on consumerism, our treatment of nature, and the pace of modern life
- This Is Spinal Tap (USA, 1984) – Mockumentary of a dimwitted heavy metal band who survive the 60s and suffer many funny mishaps during their 80s reunion tour
5 contemporary films:
- Billy Elliot (UK, 2000) – Tale of a northern miner’s son who defies tradition by sneaking into ballet lessons. Triumphant!
- Amelie (France, 2001) – A coffee shop worker spreads cheer by performing good deeds for everyone she encounters. See also: Chocolat (Lasse Hallstrom, 2000) and Happy Go Lucky (Mike Leigh, 2008)
- Better Than Sex (Australia, 2000) – Strangers enjoy a steamy weekend and are not sure they want it to end as a “one night stand”
- Bull Durham (USA, 1988) – “Works equally as a love story, a baseball fable and a comedy, while ignoring the clichés of each genre” – Newsweek
- Love Actually (UK, 2003) – Ensemble cast present a tangled web of romantic liaisons in this big-hearted and bittersweet movie, which is set in London over the Christmas season. A lobster at the manger, indeed!
and 2 runner-up contemporary films:
- Lost in Translation (USA, 2003) – The city of Tokyo is alive in this low-key tale of friendship between two lonely strangers who meet in a hotel. See also: Once (Ireland, 2007)
- Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (USA, 2004) – A couple breaks up and each has the memories of the other medically erased from their minds. This is the film that made me decide it was worth it to fall in love again!
Note: I didn’t know until this moment that DVDs of these two movies are sold together as a set!
3 literary historical films:
- Shakespeare in Love (UK, 1998) – A make-believe episode in the life of Shakespeare as he writes and stages Romeo and Juliet. Features a reversal of the usual convention of young men playing women characters in Elizabethan plays.
- Romeo and Juliet (Zeffirelli, UK/Italy, 1968) – The most believable retelling of this tragic tale of teenage angst
- A Room with a View (UK, 1985) – A young woman feels constrained by her chaperone while travelling in Italy, and forbidden feelings are awakened. Swoon!
- Beauty and the Beast (France, 1946) – This version has a striking artistic vision and a foppish prince
- Some Like It Hot (USA, 1959) – Two male musicians, on the run from gangsters, disguise themselves as women and join an all-female band, which also includes “Sugar Kane” (Marilyn Munroe). Much deception and many gender-bending adventures ensue!
4 children’s and family films:
- Kiki’s Delivery Service (Japan, 1989) – A young witch must make her own way in the world by learning magic and working for a living in a bakery, accompanied by her goofy cat Jiji
- The Many Adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh (USA, 1977) – With visual references to the books, these first Disney Pooh episodes include The Honey Tree, Pooh Remains Stuck, and The Blustery Day
- The Incredible Adventures of Wallace and Gromit (UK, 1996) – Includes the first 3 short films: A Grand Day Out (rocket, moon, cheese), The Wrong Trousers (techno trousers, evil penguin) and A Close Shave (sheep, knit-o-matic, porridge)
- My Neighbour Totoro (Japan, 1988) – Living in the country while their mother is in hospital, two sisters meet mysterious forest dwellers and ride on a cat bus!
and 1 documentary series:
- The Up Series (UK): Seven Up (1964), 7 Plus Seven (1970), 21 Up (1977), 28 Up (1984), 35 Up (1991), 42 Up (1998), and 49 Up (2005). Originally airing as a TV special, a group of children are filmed every 7 years through to their middle age – a new episode, 56 Up, is scheduled to be released this Spring. The series begins with the supposition that the children’s fates will be tied to the social class into which they were born. This film series has moved me as no other movies have ever done because of the way it shows the sweep of time over human lives. The true stories range from endearing to heartbreaking. If you grew up in a Western culture, you’ll believe these men and women are your own childhood friends!
I haven’t listed any sci-fi or action films, although I do watch them. I have several other movie fetishes not detailed here – in particular, I love movies set in India or tales of Indian emigrants (everything from Monsoon Wedding to Bend It Like Beckham), I love movies featuring teachers and students (Les Choristes, Etre et Avoir) and I love movies based on Jane Austen books (Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice). But I will save those for another day!