Saturday, 25 September 2010

Friday night at the movies

Every now and then, Gary Davison (Fat Tuesday, Streakers, A Tale of Two Halves) and myself write guest posts for one another's blogs.  Three weeks ago we both wrote about films.  Here's what I posted on Gary's site:

Right then, Gary’s challenge this week is for us to identify our favourite film for each decade from the 1970s on.  He’s done a little private baiting, I’ll have you know, reckoning that Jaws would be on my list for the 80s, but I’ve got news for him: I’ve never seen a single one of the Jaws series.  Nup.  I have to confess to the bloody-minded truth that I do everything I can to resist the sort of hype that surrounds films like Jaws and Titanic.  Sometimes I get sucked in and sometimes, when I do, I don’t regret it.  For instance, I was well on the way to boycotting Avatar because the film’s Publicity Department were in hyper-drive, but when I finally succumbed and travelled to Melbourne to see it in 3D, I loved it.  It’s got a classic storyline that works superbly – a new interpretation of a traditional line – and the special effects were just stunning.  Trippy indeed.
Had to do the 300k trip to Melbourne because we were without a cinema in these here parts for a year, on account of the place burning down somewhat.  Damn those critics!  It opened up a couple of weeks ago and I trundled along to watch Inception which, again, I thought was fantastic, but it was a pretty safe bet that I’d be a fan of a film that explored layers of reality because I’m a sucker for such renderings in Matrix, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Donny Darko, Vanilla Sky, The Truman Show, Run Lola Run, Memento and so forth.  Love those movies.

Anyway, I digress.  Well, let’s just call that an introduction, shall we?

I started doing some serious movie-watching in the 70s, because the cinema was a good place to take a girlfriend when you still lived at home and there weren’t any parties to crash (and you’d got tired of sipping warm beer in the local pubs).  I reckon it was a good decade too with some edgy pieces like Straw Dogs, Apocalypse Now, The Night Porter, etc.  However, while I’ve got fond memories of Woody Allen’s whimsical Everything You Wanted To Know About Sex But Daren’t Ask (mainly because it told me a fair bit about sex that I daren’t ask), my trophy for the film of the 70s has to go to Last Tango in Paris.  Not just because it told me everything I’d never imagined doing with butter (and never thought to ask) but because the images from the film stayed with me for years afterwards and because when I watched it again, about five years ago, I thought it was still a stunning film.

The 80s are a different matter entirely.  There were some decent films released, but they were swamped by so much Hollywood dross.  To keep the choice simple and the length of this piece shorter than it might otherwise be, I’ll plump for the movie I’ve seen the most from that period and which still works as a wonderful retelling of Stephen King’s story The Body: Stand By Me.

Things improved in the 90s with the likes of American Beauty, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Pulp Fiction and, on the lighter side, Pleasantville, Austin Powers and a film I have been known to watch on a continuous loop: Groundhog Day.  It’s certainly a harder choice, but Fight Club gets it – what a knockout movie.

As for the noughties, choosing gets harder and harder.  Having mentioned that whole raft of alternative reality movies above, I could go for any of them quite comfortably.  Or select from some of the films that have me creased up like Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead, Black Sheep.  Or something a little Art House like Amelie, Perfume or The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.  However, I’ll have to bypass all these and more for one of my all-time favourites: the two volumes of Kill Bill.  Quentin Tarentino is a wonderfully innovative storyteller and film-maker and not only does he unashamedly draw on a whole range of old (retro) tricks for this movie but he invents a few new tricks too.

So there you go, four decades in 700 words... and not a monster shark or piranha in sight.

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