There was a recent trend on Twitter among the film Twitterariti with the hashtag #tenfilmstoknowme, where you choose ten films which best described you as a person, and as a film buff. I took it not necessarily as a top ten ‘best films’ list, but more about films very personal to you (but it could be a mix of both).
10 films to know me:
A magnificent fantasy film for children and adults, funny, clever, scary entertaining and made with magnificent imagination. One of the great endings in cinema and a cast of dwarf actors. The practical effects are amazing. A film sprinkled with star dust from the great creator.
To Live and Die in LA/ Sorcerer
Two films, both directed by William Freidkin – both much maligned at the time, both now considered classics. ‘To Live and Die in LA’ is the best looking cop film ever made (photographed by the late Robby Muller). ‘Sorcerer’ is a remake of ‘The Wages of Fear’, its crackers, a mad jack of a movie and well worth seeing.
Lovely, sweet, funny and beautifully shot movie all set on one day and one night in Memphis. An American art film.
The Empire Strikes Back
The greatest most fun blockbuster sci-fi film of the 80s.
A buddy film with a heart, Robert DeNiro and Charles Grodin make you care about these two mismatched reluctant buddies on the run from the law and the mob. Amazing music by Danny Elfman.
Ghosts of Mars/John Carpenters’ Vampires
I love John Carpenter and of course ‘The Thing’ is his greatest film, but to prove my fanboy allegiance I’ve included this double bill, which most fans agree are not his best work, but… ‘Ghosts of Mars’ is hokey on purpose, the bad script and acting are actually sending up the film you’re watching (as you watch it) – I think most people don’t get that. ‘Vampires’ is just great fun.
Boom. It’s not a best of list, but this would be in my best of list too. The film that really showed me what a director can do (It’s ‘Citizen Kane’ for kids). Amazingly shot, brilliantly directed, a smashing cast and stunning music.
Streets of Fire
Double Boom. Much maligned at the time, a big flop movie. It now looks like a classic (it’s a good bookend with ‘Rumblefish’) and features Diane Lane (also in ‘Rumblefish’ – and my crush for 35+ years). Walter Hill is a great no-nonsense director and writer of action – here he went into fantasy and romance too. It’s a rock and roll fable.
Withnail and I
Simply, the best and funniest British film ever made (and I don’t drink anymore). Two young, unemployed actors struggle to survive a holiday in the country. No plot, just funny lines and well drawn characters and spot on, pitch perfect performances.
The Blues Brothers
They’re on a mission from God. Comedy musical, again – a big flop at the time. Danny Ackroyd’s script was 300 pages long apparently. Great music, cast, and also a mad stunt movie, one of kind.
Full Metal Jacket
War movie, satire, horror movie, a film about the duality of man, a comedy and a tragedy – everything in one film. Vietnam recreated in the UK by a genius director working on a low-ish budget but with total control. This is my go to film by Stanley.
The Deer Hunter
Director was a lunatic and a genius (he later managed to totally ruin a studio, it shut down because of his refusal to stick to a budget on ‘Heaven’s Gate’). The film has little base in reality (there was no Russian roulette in ‘Nam) but it’s a beautiful, mad, wistful, romantic classic. ‘Gone with the Wind’ for the Vietnam generation.
Special mentions should also go to: Drugstore Cowboy, Carlito’s Way, Millers Crossing, Pat Garret and Billy the Kid and Breaking Away.
Matthew Cooper has been a script writer for hire, UK Script editor and script doctor for over 20 years. He’s written for most of the UK soaps, including writing award winning episodes of Emmerdale, EastEnders, Hollyoaks and Family Affairs and has been BAFTA shortlisted and Royal Television Society nominated as a script writer. He’s also a leading UK script consultant. You can find some of his broadcast credits on the IMDb. You can get in touch with Matthew on firstname.lastname@example.org or hire him on Peopleperhour
His directorial debut, the rubber reality horror thriller Markham will be released in 2020.