All-Time Top 10 Films (No 1)

The Number One film in this very personal list of my All-Time Top 10 Films is the chilling, thought-provokingly outstanding ‘Intacto‘.

Here’s the theatrical trailer:

This Spanish-made independent film production calls on one major screen presence – Max von Sydow – and a cast of lesser-known names.

Similarly, the production, directorial and writing staff will leave the faces of most film buffs completely blank.

The story is one that will come back and worry your subconscious when you least expect it.

You will find yourself thinking about aspects of the film when you’re driving somewhere, or out doing the shopping.

One of the scenes is so disturbingly powerful that Editors featured it in their hit song ‘Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors’ (that song, coincidentally, features in my All-Time Top 25 Tunes at Number Eight!):

Pull the blindfold down,
Until your eyes can’t see.
Now run as fast as you can,
Through this field of trees.

And now to the film, the précis is simple.

We know people who we regard as being lucky. Similarly, we know people who we think of as either being singularly unlucky, or who have more unlucky spells than most of us.

‘Intacto’ takes the position that ‘luck’ is a commodity which a few people can steal, add to their own supply, and be even luckier.

We’ve seen things – even if on the television – and thought ‘Wow, s/he was really lucky to survive that crash unharmed’, haven’t we?

In it’s own way, ‘Intacto’ takes an innocent stab at explaining why some people might be luckier than others.

It also shows the dark side of ‘luck’, what might happen when groups of people choose to test how lucky they are.

I love the articulate intelligence of this film.

Don’t be put off by the large swathes of Spanish dialogue (they are subtitled in to English); if you are in a position to see this film, I’d encourage you to watch it.

All-Time Top 10 Films (No 2)

The second film in this very personal list of my All-Time Top 10 Films is the annoyingly brilliant ‘Groundhog Day‘.

The most annoying thing about this film is the casting of Andie MacDowell.

I dislike her.

Her face has magical powers, in that it makes the palm of my right hand itch whenever I see it.

I want to slap her.

Bill Murray, however, is the perfect foil – the most wonderful antibody – to combat Andie MacDowell’s faux goofiness and all-too-real sickliness.

Bill Murray makes this film; the gradual transformation of the character ‘Phil’ from a curmudgeonly, shallow, self-invested individual to a person who engages with every level of society, and who grows to show genuine compassion, where – before the change – he would have walked away, plays out against a series of almost slapstickesque scenes, and against some delightful dialogue.

It’s easy to miss the big picture and just enjoy the spectacle of the film.

I enjoy both aspects of Groundhog Day.

The irony that I could watch this, a film about the repeated hell of one person living the same day over and over again, on almost continuous repeat, is not lost on me.

Groundhog Day is more than a fantasy, it is also a clever commentary on aspects of life as most people live it:

Phil: What would you do if you were stuck in one place and every day was exactly the same, and nothing that you did mattered?
Ralph: That about sums it up for me.

If you want to examine this film deeply, there’s a lot going on beneath the surface.

But you can always just relax and let the story flow over you.

And remember, next February 2nd it’ll be…

Groundhog Day!

ps: Want to know where Harold Ramis got the idea for the script from? Go and read ‘The Gay Science’, by Friedrich Nietzsche.

pps: The original screenplay had Phil living his life on a loop as a result of a ‘This will teach him a lesson’ spell, cast by an ex-girlfriend (Stephanie). These details were dropped from the shooting script.

ppps: The original screenlay had Phil trapped in his Groundhog Day for over 150 years.

pppps: I know far too much about this film.

All-Time Top 10 Films (No 3)

The third film in this very personal list of my All-Time Top 10 Films is the awesomely outstanding ‘Grosse Pointe Blank‘.

The premise (we don’t see this but it’s critical to the plot):

High-school student Martin Blank (John Cusack) has a crisis of confidence on Prom night. He runs away, and joins the US Army, leaving his girlfriend Debi Newberry Minnie Driver), at home in her Prom dress.

Fast-forward ten years and Martin is now a freelance hitman. Through a series of incidents Martin finds himself back in his home town – Grosse Pointe, Michigan – tracking down friends and family. Things happen. Dark things, comedic things.

It is very easy to draw parallels between certain aspects of this film, and my own life. I don’t know if that’s the main reason why I rate it as highly as Number Three, but it is undoubtedly a factor.

That and the fact that I want to be John Cusack when I grow up.

I honestly don’t know how many times I’ve seen this film. I have the DVD – I bought it when I lived in Manchester.

The cast is an interesting blend of styles; Minnie Driver looks cute and sexy and doesn’t make the palm of my hand itch. John Cusack is just too fucking cool for school.

The plot is ridiculous.

The film is funny.

The soundtrack is, like Mr Cusack, too fucking cool for school.

To show you what I mean about the soundtrack, here are just some of the tracks featured in the film.

Enjoy.

All-Time Top 10 Films (No 4)

The fourth film in this very personal list of my All-Time Top 10 Films is the richly entertaining ‘Singin’ In The Rain‘.

A comedy. With tragic undertones. And songs. And dancing. And witty dialogue.

A film about films. Sortov.

And about the introduction of new technology. Sortov.

And about how the film studios foster the ‘star’ system. Sortov.

Singin’ In The Rain is all of these things. And yet, lurking below the surface, is one of the lightest RomComs I’ve ever seen.

Lightest, not ‘most insubstantial.

What?

You want more?

I once sat in the departure lounge at Almeria airport and almost missed my flight back to the UK, I was so completely engrossed in watching this film on my laptop.

It is a classic.

Enjoy.

All-Time Top 10 Films (No 5)

The fifth film in this very personal list of my All-Time Top 10 Films is the highly entertaining yet wildly inaccurate ‘A Knight’s Tale‘.

This is one of those films it’s possible to watch more than once and, surprisingly (surprisingly because it’s a film of no deep content at all), be thoroughly entertained by it every time.

The film adopts the ‘pop culture’ school of cinematography and this, somehow, makes up for a wonderfully cheesy, unsubstantial tale of historically inaccurate fluff.

That’s the only word to describe it.

Fluff.

But fun.

And accompanied by a killer soundtrack.

All-Time Top 10 Films (No 6)

The sixth film in this very personal list of my All-Time Top 10 Films is the brilliant yet slightly disturbing ‘Pulp Fiction‘.

Many words have been written about this film by many people far better qualified than me.

So I’m just going to give a couple of reasons why I like ‘Pulp Fiction’.

The characters.

The writing.

The cast.

The camerawork.

The deeply dark humour.

And, as an added bonus, lots of swearing.

And a kick-ass soundtrack.

And Zed’s dead, baby.

Zed’s dead.

All-Time Top 10 Films (No 7)

The seventh film in this very personal list of my All-Time Top 10 Films is ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”.

I love this film. Well yes, obv, otherwise it wouldn’t be number seven on this list, would it?

No.

But Ferris Bueller’s Day Off breathes innocent escapism through almost every frame.

Except for the final scene, where the unfortunate thing happens with the car.

This film is not about young people exploiting the rules and structures of a more senior world.

It’s about freedom and expression and moving beyond the confines of a staid and uncreative domain.

And it’s also about showing the grown-ups how things used to be.

You know, back in their day.

Before they got sucked in to a world of defined by rules lacking all creativity.

Oh yeah, I nearly forgot.

It’s also about three kids bunking off from school for the day, and having a riotous time.

What, you’ve never bunked off school?

Really?

I did.

All-Time Top 10 Films (No 8)

The eighth film in this very personal list of my All-Time Top 10 Films is ‘It’s A Wonderful Life‘.

Although not a film with a great deal of musical content, ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ uses what little music it has to tremendous effect.

The final scene (featured above) where the mob gathers inside George’s house and strikes up ‘Hark The Herald Angels’ is an unashamed tear-jerker.

Especially with the ‘Auld Lang Syne’ closer at the end of the scene.

It’s a great film.

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a good cry, and this is the film to make that happen for you.

Enjoy.

All-Time Top 10 Films (No 9)

The ninth  film in this very personal list of my All-Time Top 10 Films is ‘Love Actually‘.

And I can offer you two choices of musical soundtrack:

The morbidly amusing (this song was played at a funeral, on the request of the deceased):

Or the emotionally pulling:

In my world, Richard Curtis is a writer who can do little wrong. His credits are legion and varied, and his work, usually, is a joy to read or watch.

Love Actually is a schmaltazy RomCom packed with cliché. Yet the characters are believable. The scenes and settings taste real and the dialogue (who can forget Martine McCutcheon’s ‘Where the fuck is my fucking coat?’) is instantly credible.

And it has an epic soundtrack.

I’d go as far as saying that Love Actually is one of the ‘must see every year’ Christmas films of its generation.

All-Time Top 10 Films (No 10)

The Number 10 film in this very personal list of my All-Time Top 10 Films is ‘The Bourne Trilogy‘.

Yes, I do realise that there are three (soon to be four) films in the Bourne franchise.

But, in my head, these three films blend together to form one action-packed romp through Robert Ludlum’s books.

Don’t look for anything deep, mystical or philosophical here.

You’ll only be disappointed.

They’re just for fun.