Ellis and I seem to be making an effort to turn Sensation into the new Book of Lists. I find it very difficult to produce a list of favourite album tracks so you will have to make do with a baker's dozen of my favourite films instead. In no particular order, and with the usual caveats pertaining to snapshot type selections, here goes:
Annie Hall. Woody Allen 1977. Why not start with a surprise. Siggins choosing a Woody Allen is no major shock but it is, when you get down to it, really tough to choose just one of the master's many classics. How do you rule out films such as Manhattan, Sleeper, Love & Death, Play it again Sam and Hannah? The answer lies in the fact that you only have to exclude them for the public, at home you can watch them all over and over. You will have seen this film appear in so many top 10s that it is pointless going over it again. I simply rate as one of the best of an excellent bunch.
The Bad News Bears. Michael Ritchie 1976. This one recently popped up on TV again, so I have it firmly captured on video for ever. A great little film, not least because of the subject matter of baseball. I like Matthau a lot, he doesn't actually appear to do a lot when acting but comes across superbly as the drunk coach who comes good in the end. Tatum O'Neal is marvellous as the spitballing little madam-come-tomboy and the supporting cast of brats is perfectly chosen. The tale is heavily weighted to set up the ironies and joys of life but overall it gets across the message that has all but disappeared in sport; that having fun and participating, not winning, is the important thing.
Aliens. 1986. I am no fan of horror films in general, basically because I scare too easily. Ever since I hid behind the settee when the Wirrn were eating the Brigadier, I have never been the same - show me a bunch of chanting devil worshippers in hoods and I'm out of here. Despite this handicap, I will tolerate some SF linked stuff and Alien was good enough to encourage me to see the follow up. Aliens is a masterpiece of sustained suspense and is also one of the few occasions where a sequel has been a better film than the original. OK, it does have some gung-ho space marines and some pretty obvious plot developments but overall it is a classic. The scene where the aliens are breaking in through the walls remains one of my favourite scenes of all time. I left the cinema mentally drained and have not been back to see it again. The experience will be worth the wait.
The Man who loved Women. Francois Truffaut 1977. Fighting off tough competition from a seemingly endless selection of late Saturday night classics, this one gets to represent the rich scope of French film making. French films have given me a great deal of pleasure over the years and the likes of Diva, Subway, Le Cop, Deadly Run, La Balance, A Bout de Souffle, Cop au Vin and Jean de Florette are right up there with my all time favourites. This film is I suppose a representative of all the humour, originality, wonderful characters, weird plots, beautiful women, subtitles and that unmistakeable eroticsm that French films ooze.
Koyaanisqatsi. Godfrey Reggio 1983. Judging by the blank looks, I sometimes wonder if Geoff Challinger and I are the only people to ever have seen this film. It has been on TV twice to my knowledge and if you haven't seen it, please do. There are no characters, plot or dialogue, simply a sparse musical score by Philip Glass and ninety minutes of awesome photography. The effect is stunning yet restful at the same time and I await the sequal, Powaaqatsi, with eager anticipation.
Blade Runner. Ridley Scott 1982. A fixer if ever there was one. I have a great liking for Philip K Dick's work and was keen to see this film version of his Do Androids dream of Electric Sheep. The keeness was reduced when I read of Dick's unhappiness with the outcome and the far from good reviews. The answer is simple, having seen the film, forget it is loosely based on a Dick novel and enjoy it for what it is; possibly the best science fiction film I have seen and in terms of atmosphere, without equal. Harrison Ford is perfect in his role of latter day bounty hunter and the milieu, effects and characters are marvellous. My only comment is that you must see it on the big screen to get the full effect.
Reds. Warren Beatty 1981. This one drops in neatly under the 'epic' category and its only serious rival is Centennial, for anyone who remembers that superb 10 part serial. I love films, books or any form of adventure that has wide scope, historical subjects, interesting characters and a great story. This one has it all and Diane Keaton to boot. This film is also memorable because it represents the only time (November 1985) that I have ever taped the wrong channel while actually being in the same room as the video. I am still waiting for it to re-appear on TV and have never seen it on video either - the shops round my way specialise in Electric Blue, Chuck Norris and splatter movies. No Tarkovsky here, boys. Bottom of this category, by the way, was Heaven's Gate - this one had initial, and correct, critical condemnation followed later on by an Emperor's New Clothes syndrome that still mystifies me.
The Wizard of Oz. Victor Fleming 1939. Yes, well we all have our little foibles. This is such a nice film, made when the world was a different place. It does complete justice to the excellent books and I enjoy it every Christmas.
Company of Wolves. Neil Jordan 1984. Aside from Blade Runner, the flawed but excellent Brazil and possibly my first viewing of Twilight Zone: The Movie, no film has come anywhere near this one for sheer atmosphere and fantasy quality. The story is a lightly disguised moral tale that simmers with barely suppressed sexuality. Apart from the poorly played wolfman, the performances are perfect and the dream sequences are some of the best cinema in the fantasy/horror mould I've seen.
Ran. Akiro Kurosawa. A bit of culture thrown in as well. Kagemusha and The Seven Samurai just don't cut it with boring old Siggins but this one struck a cord. Great battle scenes (not just blokes waving a few flags about), fine drama and a plot which owes a nod or two to the Bard. The main attraction though is the cinematography which is quite superb. It is fortunate I liked this one or Japan and Kurosawa wouldn't have made the cut for the third round.
Being There. Hal Ashby 1979. I wasn't really sure where to put this one but it sort of falls under the humour section thus pushing out Life of Brian. Off hand, I cannot think of two more dissimilar films. Being There represents by far Peter Sellers best performance and the whole film is simply a joy to watch. It is gentle, humorous and touching all at once and its moral message is one we should all relate to. A nice film and one I watch regularly to cheer myself up.
Local Hero. Bill Forsyth 1983. A classic to round out the 13. This film has it all. Gentle humour, beautiful location, evocative soundtrack and a touch of fantasy. It is so much more a polished product than was Gregory's Girl while still retaining the innocent charm. Perfect performances from all the players round out one of my all time favourites.
Honourable Mentions: Brazil, After Hours, Dark Star, the Star Wars Trilogy, Das Boot, Life of Brian, Android, Gremlins, The General, Blues Brothers, Midnight Cowboy, Name of the Rose, Educating Rita, Jagged Edge, Marriage of Maria Braun, Long Good Friday, Hammett, Room with a View, Diner, Papillon, Zulu, Right Stuff, Marathon Man, American Werewolf, Witness, Atlantic City, Poltergeist, One from the Heart, Picnic at Hanging Rock, All the President's Men and Gregory's Girl. It was tough to keep to thirteen.
Mike Siggins. 27/7/88.
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