Five films that made my day then and now
Last year I wrote a post all about the five games that made me the gamer I am today (http://www.roughing-it.net/?p=130) and having re-read the article I stand by the majority of it still now. BUT, having re-read the first section I have to say that the film choices I made were most likely influenced by my DVD shelves being next to the computer at the time. Fast forward a year and following request from Luke for a top five films post, here I am. Normally I don’t take requests as my writing style is somewhat different (I’d think) to most people, I normally feel a spontaneous need to write a post and the topic just appears, if this particular seems forced then it might rule out requests in the future – Sorry.
1\ Toy Story, Disney, 1995
I will assume that most people reading this are wondering as to why a 32 year old mans favourite film is a kids film. It’s simple really, it’s my choice. I have fond memories of this film being released and the wonder and awe of seeing the first, complete CGI film ever. The adverts had excited me massively and hearing the powerful ‘The Boy’s are Back in Town’ as its soundtrack cemented it in my mind. I even remember heading out the weekend after the first advert was shown to buy a Thin Lizzy best of album from the then popular Our Price.
Seeing the film was as magical as I had expected it to be and for me provided the Disney magic that people often refer to when talking about the Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and Lady and the Tramp. There will always be magic in children films and as a child it helps you (or at least me) see what could be achieved whether it was the technicalities of the film or the moral story it conveyed.
I watch Toy Story once a year and it still makes me smile to this day. I don’t need any other reason than that to love this film.
2/ Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Paramount, 1979 and all the others that followed it
This is by far, the longest and least action filled of all the Star Trek films. It isn’t my favourite of the collection either. Why am I placing it in this list? Because if this hadn’t been a success then I likely wouldn’t have found Star Trek and in turn not had a massive soft spot for it.
I’m sure it has been mentioned before that I am a massive Star Trek nut. No, I don’t wear costumes to live out my fandom but I do watch it semi-regularly. My first memories of Star Trek are watching the fourth film (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home to be precise) where most people who grew up in the eighties will remember it was a story about whales. Space Whales! Ok, maybe not Space Whales but Whales all the same. I’d watch the films (no, I never found the Wrath of Khan scary) and to me they were real, boys adventures and that’s not to say girls wouldn’t enjoy them too but it was more aimed at a male audience. They were innocent, had no swearing and with the heavy use of models over early CGI made you genuinely believe what you were seeing was real and not just painted on the screen. Part of this was down to the fact it did ‘really’ exist, it’s not the same as watching a bad CGI film from years ago, physical items don’t change whilst improved CGI techniques do.
3/ Home Alone, Twentieth Century Fox, 1990
Would you believe that Home Alone is 26 years old?! Can you remember that back then films didn’t come out on VHS a few weeks after the cinema but years later instead? I didn’t see Home Alone in the cinema, I was 6 years old when it came out and was much more interested in playing with toys than what was on at the cinema. Moving forward to Christmas 1991 and guess what was on every advertisement break across ITV and Channel 4? It immediately went on my Christmas list for Santa to bring that year which I can happily report, he did.
The more I think about it the funnier the memories become, for example. I had no idea what Home Alone was about when I saw the posters. 6 year old me didn’t study the poster in detail so it doesn’t surprise me that until the adverts were on TV, I thought the film had a space ship in it… Yes, a space ship. Quickly place at the movie poster above and I’m pretty sure you probably won’t see what I mean so let me explain. I never saw the white dots as snow, they were quite obviously (to me stars) and the torch in Joe Pesci’s hand? Obviously a space ship with it’s thrusters on show. Of course it doesn’t make any sense but the 6 year old me: “It’s a space film now where’s my Playmobil and Tomy Train’.
I don’t really have much to say on Home Alone, I watch it every Christmas followed by The Muppet Christmas Carol and Elf. The biggest part of the enjoyment I got as a child was seeing a child go one up on the adults and then drawing my own plans for my home should the need ever arise to protect us from thick robbers.
4/ Gremlins, Warner Bros, 1984
I was 2 months old when Gremlins was on general release in the cinema, funnily that meant I didn’t get a chance to see it on release. Instead I was treated to it on rental when our local Newsagent (Ramish the legend) still did video rentals. Actually, no, I’m wrong! It was before Ramish took over video rentals and we still had to get them from the local wine and beer shop, Threshers. Either way it doesn’t matter how we got it or from where, it was a treat that over summer holidays we were allowed. I’d say it is more the memory of enjoying the film then that makes this film a favourite of mine, it reminds me of how to enjoy a film whether it’s on TV at home or in the Cinema.
The first time I saw Gremlins (about eight years old) I was entranced by it all, these wonderful creatures who were unbelievably cute and cuddly. Of course as the film got darker the more scared I became and even the continued humour through-out the film wasn’t enough to keep me from hiding behind a pillow. As years passed I enjoyed the film more and more, especially with the further understanding of the jokes I hadn’t initially understood or noticed. I am still the proud owner of a rubber Gizmo figurine marked as made in 1984, I can’t tell you where it came from or from whom but it’s a cherished toy alongside a Playmobil robot and pet rock (a future post I think).
5/ The Green Mile, Warner Bros, 1999
Wow, just wow. If you’d told me in 1999 at the age of 15 that this film would make me nearly cry I’d probably have told you I was’t interested. Bear in mind that Starship Troopers had come out in 1997 along with Denise Richards breasts, it was that much more enjoyable.. However, a film evening meant I didn’t get the choice about watching it and I’m glad this was the case. It showed me that I could enjoy films that weren’t just explosions, boobs and full of action. There isn’t much to say, it opened my eyes to a different genre that I would have otherwise ignored.
There are so many films that I wanted to add to this list but didn’t for the sole reason that I could not decide between them, for example:
Alien, Aliens and to some extent Alien 3
Predator, Predator 2 (Not Predators or AvP)
Terminator 1 & 2
Indiana Jones: The Trilogy (Definitely not the fourth)
Back to the Future: The Trilogy (Yes, including the third)
These films are amazing and I watch them over and over again, they just don’t fall in the top five spaces.
What we must all understand is that this list is forever changing, new films come out everyday and blow us away in different ways to previous generations. The Martian starring Matt Damon (Said in a slow manner akin to Team America: World Police) blew my mind when I saw it causing me immediately to read the book, pre-order the DVD and watch it twice since. It may not be in the top five but it was so much more than I expected of a modern movie.
I will do a post soon about the worst films I have seen best voluntarily or forced. There are so MANY to choose from!