Movie night

I have not actually counted but I’d hazard a guess that I own (and have owned but subsequently ebayed / charity shopped) as many movies as books. I tend to keep them in separate rooms though, just to avoid any upset or jealousy about which I spend most time with.

The VHS are all gone now, and many of the DVDs upgraded to Blu Rays and some movies I have owned on several formats. And so on occasion, when perusing the shelf for something to watch, thoughts turn to favourites. And lists. This is the first ten in no particular order.

1. Jaws. I love Jaws, it is a perfect movie. Perhaps driven by the well known mechanical problems with the big fake shark, Spielberg relies on other techniques to build the tension and the terror and it’s a masterclass in both. And the cast is exceptional too. All that, and Quint’s showstopping, scene-stealing monologue.

2. Anchorman. I like Will Ferrel a lot but there is often a feeling of diminishing returns from this high watermark. Nevertheless, there are few bad days or bad moods that cannot be turned round by this endlessly quotable classic. 60% of the time, it works… every time!

3. Life of Brian. Some of the finest comedy performers ever in one of the finest comedy performances ever. Pythons at the top of their game. Also amusing the reaction of people not actually getting the joke.

4. Aliens. Stop yer grinning’ and drop yer linen. So many sequels fail because they cannot live up to the standards set by the original. Cameron doesn’t even try to, and goes in a different direction, with deliriously entertaining results.

5. Dead Mans Shoes. Shane Meadows is your actual, proper genius and this is, for me, his stand out film, in part due to the phenomenal performance of Paddy Considine.

6. Bourne Identity. A game changer in the genre and responsible for the overhaul of the Bond franchise it is just a brilliantly paced and pitched action movie. And Matt Damon kicks any ass that needs kicking.

7. Bladerunner. Ridley Scott has made a lot of good movies, and this one seems to have been made several times. No matter how many iterations there are, whether you prefer the voice-over version or not, it has still not really been topped as a piece of sci-fi and still does not look dated all these years later. I’ve seen things you people would not believe.

8. Oldboy. First time I watched this movie, I was already blown away and then the final twist had me all hand-clasped-to-mouth in shock, which is really not a gesture I employ commonly. Features one of the best fight scenes ever. Ever.

9. Empire Strikes Back. We can safely ignore the prequels but this one of the proper Star Wars films edges it for me. Mostly because of the Hoth sequences but it feels the most accomplished and there are no ewoks.

10. Withnail and I. Richard E Grant is astonishingly good, the script is majestic and endlessly quotable and no matter how many times I watch it, it never gets less funny. Every British comedy made since must live in its shadow.

I will return to this topic, and soon. For now, if anyone wants to chip in with a top ten, or take issue with these, feel free.

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