Today was my last day of work for Gala Coral Group. I’ve been working there for the last 6 months after having been made redundant from HMV. I’m leaving Gala Coral for the same reason. Before HMV I was at Electronic Arts where I left after my job got sent to Romania. Suffice to say it’s been a rubbish last few years for jobs for me. So I need cheering up. But I’m one to share so this weekend I’m going to share with you my top 5 (in no particular order) films that make me grin. Also, this is totally not a hashed out list because I couldn’t think of a real Weekend Dump topic this week. Click the link below for the list!
Here’s one for the “why the hell haven’t I reviewed this yet” category. Amelie is a remarkably beautiful and enjoyable film. It is made of pure whimsy and wonderment and is, in my opinion, Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s finest work. Apart from Alien Resurrection of course… I kid… seriously. Alien Resurrection sucks balls. Amelie on the other hand drags you into it’s world within the first few seconds. It comes up behind you, gives you a reassuring hug, places it’s hands on your shoulders and firmly plants you down on your seat of choice, which you will now be glued to, for 2 hours of magical beauty.
It doesn’t hurt that Audrey Tautou is looking magnificent here. I thought she looked like a skeleton in The Da Vinci Code. Here she looks like some sort of mystical nymph that couldn’t possibly be real. Her story is a heart warming one of selfless generosity and the her discomfort of being the target of someone else’s affection. She devotes so much of love to others around her that the concept of keeping any for herself is alien. But a mystery is something she cannot resist and the gradual unravelling of said mystery leads her to create a situation where she finds someone she wants to be loved by purely because of the idea of who he may be. Layered on top of that is her fear that he won’t be who she thinks he is in her head.
The film is rounded out with so many colourful characters and scenarios that not a single second of the film is spent on anything other that crafting a magnificent, romanticised version of Paris. There’s none of the dark grime of the worlds that City of Lost Children or Delicatessen were set within. This is the flip side of those worlds. Jeunet’s films since Amelie haven’t quite recaptured the magic of his work up to this point, with the one obvious exception. Amelie still remains his master work and is a film guaranteed to give you make you smile like one of them weird people on the adverts. You know, like that woman who’s really happy that her yeast infection has been cleared. Those sorts of people.
No.4: Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl
Say what you will about the sequels… seriously, please do… The first of the pirates films is an excellent example of how to make a big fun movie. It worked so well that Disney seem to be obsessed with recreating the formula and tone over and over. Each big film they make now has the same largely inoffensive, swashbuckling adventure tone. They all seem to miss that at the core of Curse of the Black Pearl was the fact that no-one was confident the film would work, but everyone working on it clearly wanted it to.
Here’s a film based on a theme park attraction along with a huge dollop of The Secret Of Monkey Island and the classic pirate film Blackbeard’s Ghost. It’s a mixture that could mix together perfectly like a good Grog, or potentially be poisonous and maybe explosive… like Grog. At the time pirate movies were pretty much cursed to die. There hadn’t been a successful one in decades. The last two pirate films to be made for mainstream cinema were Waterworld (yes that’s a pirate film) which was messy and was a disaster to film, and Cutthroat Island… which was just awful… and also a disaster to film. Somehow Gore Verbinski got Curse of the Black Pearl made without a lead quitting in a huff and without sinking too many of his sets.
The result is a film that keep the fun ratcheted up from start to finish. A film that takes two potentially bland characters and throws them feet first into the unpredictable world of Captain Jack Sparrow. Back then no-one gave two monkeys about Jonny Depp. He has spent the last 5 years since Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas on the fringes with only Sleepy Hollow gaining any attention. Here he steals the show, runs away with it and stashes it in pit with a load of Rum. Unfortunately no-ones been able to find it since then and we’ve had 3 lacklustre sequels.
When Pirates of the Caribbean came out I was not interested in seeing it. The trailers looked awful, even making it seem like they were looking for an actual black pearl. I didn’t know who these Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley people were because, as is documented, I don’t get on with Lord of the Rings and malnourished upper class English girls. I got dragged to the film by my mate Kev and left with a big fat stupid grin on my face. Saw it again a few days later and I’m pretty sure I went back a third time. Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl is pure distilled fun.
No.3: Kiki’s Delivery Service
Because fuck you, I can like films aimed at little girls too.
Remember, I said no particular order. I could easily swap this with the number one grin inducing film easily. It depends on my mood… and also the random order I arrange lists in. Ghostbusters was easily my favourite film as a child. I watched the animated series, and subsequently disliked it when it because all Slimer focused. Collected the comics and toys. Looked upon my friends with envy when they would get the headquarters playset or an Ecto-1 car. I even enjoyed Ghostbusters 2, which is a fine film. It’s just not the first film.
Ghostbusters is this perfect storm of comedic talent, great writing and the daring to be just a little bit out there. The 80s was a weird time for comedy films. Many were wacky but lacking in the writing. Some were smartly written films that just didn’t fit in an era that was moving towards a more irreverent, anarchic style. Ghostbusters got it just right. The world felt real, as did the character interactions, but the ghosts were right out of a cartoon. No attempt was made to make them appear to be real. As a result when the ghosts appear you’re given the impression that these creatures truly are of another world. The only other film from the 80s that got it this spot on was Who Framed Roger Rabbit?.
Even as I am halfway through my 31st year on this God forsaken planet I still find myself drawn to watching Ghostbusters from time to time. It’s a film I’ll happily make time for and it never fails to entertain whilst serving to remind me of nostalgic feelings of youth when I didn’t have to worry about bills and life in general. It’s also a film that, as I started to study film in more depth, I came to realise was a really tight production. Ghostbusters is of a legitimately high quality that some of the all time greats of cinema share. It’s a film that you should be sharing with you kids to serve as a gateway to loving cinema of a bygone era. Which is kinda depressing to think about really, that many kids are growing up without Ghostbusters. Now I’m depressed. I guess I’ll have to watch…
No.1: Scott Pilgrim Vs The World
What can I say about Scott Pilgrim Vs The World that I didn’t already say in the review? I’m not sure… I’ll have to go read the review. BRB. Oh, I actually mentioned that I’d put it in the same category of fun films as Ghostbusters and Pirates of the Caribbean. Huh… fancy that.
The joy of Scott Pilgrim comes from how little it cares about being taken seriously. The film is sugar coated fun and silliness from start to finish. The fights are all unique and shot using different techniques. Characters always have something witty to say. Barely 10 seconds go by without a gag. I’ve always felt that it is what Spaced would have been like if Edgar Wright was given no budgetary constraints. The pace is snappy. The dialogue is fast and the fists even faster. I must have watched this film somewhere in the region of 10 times in the months following it’s release. I still chuck it in from time to time because it gives me a happy face. I’m thinking about putting it on right now actually. I suppose I don’t have work tomorrow, so why not?
Whilst the film is littered with flaws that I’d take no umbrage with being pointed out, such as a rushed romance plot and one note characters, I still love the film for what it is. It’s every video game, anime and band I loved as a kid and into my teenage years distilled into 35mm film and projected onto a cinema screen. Time will tell with this film how strong it’s legs are. Personally I can imagine it becoming a bit of a Rocky Horror Show style cult experience. The Prince Charles Cinema in London does near monthly Quote-along screenings already.
This is the kind of film only Edgar Wright could have pulled off. His pairing with Brian Lee O’Malley is the sort of perfect fusion the likes of which haven’t been seen since Kid Trunks and Gotenks did their little dance. The resultant film has burned it’s way into my skull as a film that I doubt I could ever tire of. It may not be an actual work of cinematic art, but that’s not what this list is about. This list is about films that make you grin like a loon. Scott Pilgrim Vs The World makes me grin so much that my cheeks will hurt. The only other things that will always do that is pictures of kittens and watching idiots get hurt by their stupidity. But eventually those things can get tiresome. Scott Pilgrim endures. He has to. He’s got seven evil exes to defeat after all.