A new year and a new series of articles launches on FilmsFilmsFilms focusing on you the reader. As every movie fan knows the best thing about movies is that from one fan to the next the films that shaped our tastes and formed our most memorable movie moments are unique to us. So starting this month FFF are inviting its readers to contact us with the choices and stories behind eight key movie selections.
Kicking off "Films Films And Me” is Mark B from Maidstone, a movie connoisseur whose not afraid to seek out cinematic delights in any genre of film. Mark takes a walk down movie memory lane and tells all about the films that stand out for him.
1. The First Film I Saw At The Cinema -
I have to answer this in two parts, as my first film and first film I saw by my own choice are different. The first film I ever saw at the cinema was Home Alone 2: Lost In New York (1992) due to the fact that Primary School teachers are lazy when it comes to teaching in the last week before Christmas, or at least they were. In today’s permission slips to walk down the street health and safety world taking twenty kids from Cobham to Lakeside by car need weeks and weeks of planning. But I don’t recall finding out about this trip until the day before we went. It was one teacher and maybe three parents cramming these kids into their cars and off we went. As an adult cinema goer now I’m sure we were a nightmare for the regular patrons. Home Alone 2 was pretty much the perfect film for a class of primary school children though so it was really fun for us, as we were around the same age as Culkin’s Kevin character and seeing him causing havoc was so much fun at the time. Every few Christmases I’ll catch the film on TV and remember the day our class all went to see it and had a good time.
The first film I saw by my own choice was a couple of years later, and regrettably is one that’s not great to admit to because the film sucked, Batman Forever (1995). I have the same problem with the first single I bought, which was Do The Bartman (fortunately, my first album was Dangerous by Michael Jackson which I’m much happier to admit to!). Val Kilmer was poor as Batman, Jim Carrey as The Riddler was a terrible Batman villain, Chris O’Donnell as Robin was lame, Nicole Kidman was a poor lead female; all round it just didn’t work and thirteen year old me knew this. It’s not revisionist history just because we’re now living in a post Bale/Ledger world when it comes to Batman movies. This would’ve been the summer between years 8 and 9 at school as I turned thirteen, and around the time Gravesend town centre was taken over by kids from school most Saturday afternoons. A bunch of us were in McDonald’s eating way too many hamburgers, and I ducked outside to watch WCW Worldwide on ITV through the window of Radio Rentals next door while they went round the shops knowing to meet me back there in an hour to go bowling. But I went to the cinema instead. Abandoning them was a big deal apparently for reasons I never understood since two days later I’d see them at school; it’s not like I moved to Japan! To be fair even seeing a bad film, cinema beats bowling 10 times out of 10. Even though the film sucked, the independent streak in me fell in love with the cinema as the perfect day out without having to spend time with people I saw at school five days a week anyway. It was perfect. The price of a ticket at Gravesend cinema was £2.70 back in 1995 so you could get bus fare, McDonald’s lunch and a movie for less than a tenner, and be out of the house all day, which was tremendous value to a thirteen year old.
2. Funniest Film I’ve Seen –
I really struggle to answer this one. Comedy as the sole selling point for a film is not something I’m a fan of. All my favourite films are character or story driven so films I love where the sole intent is being funny are quite rare for me. If the whole of South Park: Bigger Longer Uncut (1999) was as funny as the classroom scene that culminates with Cartman repeating his previous commentary to Mr Garrison with the aid of a megaphone it would be this film, since that’s the funniest minute or so I’ve ever seen in any movie. At the cinema the loudest reaction in terms of laughter I’ve ever heard was for American Reunion (2012). I went to the Maidstone Odeon, my hometown cinema, on bank holiday Monday in mid-afternoon and the place was absolutely packed, a massive rarity in modern times for various reasons. And a full cinema all laughing at the jokes is a really infectious thing to be involved with, especially with characters you’ve grown up with, a great script, nods to the previous films, the characters having developed their lives, and basically everything you could want from a years-later follow up in a successful movie franchise.
3. Scariest Film I’ve Seen –
The Birds (1963). I’m naturally quite a jumpy person so most hardcore horror fans would laugh at me for my horror film reactions. But where The Birds gets me is that the realism of the violence; its not over the top and cartoony. In real life a demon with a spinning head is not going to jump out of the walls and drag me to the depths of hell or whatever, but being attacked by birds who try to bite and scratch my face off seems like something that could happen. And of course the way it’s filmed, the use of atmosphere and sound effects, all Hitchcock trademarks, are there in force to heighten the danger and fear the viewers feel for Tippi Hedren’s character. Also, I’ve always had a fear of animals dating back to childhood cartoons. If there was a shark or crocodile showing up out of nowhere I jumped out of my skin, so this I guess subconsciously played into that as well. It’s a great film, but definitely not something I would consider rewatching on a regular basis because of the content, which I guess is the acid test of a good scary film.
4. The Last Film To Make Me Cry –
I don’t remember ever crying at a film which I guess makes me look like a heartless bastard (I’m really not!).
5. The Film I Haven't Seen That I Really Should Have By Now –
Wow, there are a million answers to this. I’m told the Harry Potter movies are great, but the film version of children’s books famous for being read by adults just doesn’t appeal. It’s the same with Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit. I read the books as a kid and found them really boring, so I’ve resisted watching the films even though I’m told they’re spectacular. Avatar (2009) I remember having a lot of hype around it when it came out, and while there have been some great 3D films recently if being in 3D is sold as the only reason to watch a movie that’s not enough for me. One of my best friends cried at Toy Story 3 (2010) but I’ve never seen any of them because animation of toys coming to life again just doesn’t appeal. Titanic (1997) made loads of money, won tons of Oscars, Winslett and Di Caprio are great actors who I’ve enjoyed immensely in other films, but I’ve never sat down to watch Titanic. I know critically it doesn’t have a great reputation but in 1997 seeing the film was all that anyone was talking about; yet I’ve somehow avoided it. I’ve not seen Reservoir Dogs (1992) but I’ve seen the famous Stuck In The Middle With You scene. I’ve never seen Psycho (1960) either, but again have seen the shower murder scene. People look at me like I’ve got three heads when I say Bridge To Terabithia (2007) is my favourite Disney film, mainly answering with either the Pirates Of The Caribbean films, or the famous animated stuff like The Lion King (1994) or Aladdin (1992) or whatever, all of which I’ve never seen.
6. The Worst Film I've Sat Through –
Hollow Man (2000). I was in sixth form at this time and for some reason I don’t remember we all got let out at lunchtime, so three of us decided to head up to Bluewater for the Showcase Cinema there. Somebody decided that of the films out, we would go to see this, a decision I regretted about ten minutes into the film when you knew who would survive, who would die and in which order. The next hour and a half was just predictable things happening in a predictable order, with no creative writing, no good acting, and no plot twists. Everything happened exactly as you thought it would. The kind of movie that could have been written by a five year old, and the performances did not help. Just a terrible movie.
7. The Film I've Seen More Times Than Any Other –
Although there are no films where I have the trademark "I’ve watched this fifty four times” thing, there is a clear answer to this question for me, and it’s Goodfellas (1990). It’ll be maybe half a dozen times I’ve watched it, but it is the only film I’ve owned on VHS, DVD and Blu-Ray, and watched on television. I just love it. I know people talk about Scarface (1983) or The Godfather Trilogy but to me this is the gangster film. The journey from impressionable child to cool gangster to grass taken by Ray Liotta’s character is one of the great stories told in the history of cinema. As well as loving the film, somewhere in a pile of books at my parent’s house I also have the script in book form, which I read from start to finish while in hospital waiting to be discharged following an operation in my teens, which certainly took my mind off the pain!
8. My Favourite Film –
12 Angry Men (1957). I’ve only seen it the once, about 3 years ago on ITV in the night time post news slot where they’ll occasionally put films rather than highlights of the football match they showed live earlier, some rubbish comedy they’re trying to push, or the second episode of the night of a reality show. 12 Angry Men came on and I was hooked. Its basic story is the entire film takes place in court, and a jury goes into the room to deliberate over the evidence of the case. At first everyone wants the defendant to fry or hang or whatever a guilty verdict gave in that States at that time, and there’s one juror who, although you sense he thinks the guy is guilty, wants to go over the evidence again and again to be sure, and as the film goes on, he gradually brings the other jurors around and you see the change in the mood of the room which is brought on by the main character as they question what they’ve seen throughout the trial and open their eyes to what they’ve missed. I’ve seen other movies (A Time To Kill) and episodes of TV shows use the "everyone on the jury thinks he’s guilty to start with but events and looking at things closer and change their mind” format, but having the whole movie set around the court scenes and the jury room just hooked me as a viewer. And like any good story it makes you empathise and root for the heroic main character so well and you hope he’ll be able to bring the other jurors around to his way of thinking. Small touches like setting it in mid summer and showing the sweltering heat flare the tempers of the jurors who are of opposing viewpoints is so simple but so effective. I love this film and now it’s out on Blu-Ray definitely need to pick this up and add it to my growing pile of unwatched stuff.
If you fancy sharing your movie memories with the FFF readers, drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with your eight choices, the stories behind them and a little bit about yourself.