One of my favourite new podcasts is Films to be Buried With with Brett Goldstein.
Brett talks to comedians, breaks the news that they’ve sadly died and then they go on to discuss the films that meant something to them when they were still alive. For each of the ten episodes so far I’ve been wanting to jump in and talk about their choices with them. Brett is a brilliant host for this podcast, he’s a film enthusiast – his joy and love of films just exudes through the headphones and he doesn’t treat any of his guest’s choices with scorn or disdain. It’s a joyous celebration of movie making and it’s made me want to answer the questions myself. So… (apologies for any spoilers and for mashing up some of the categories from across a number of episodes, I just wanted to talk about a lot of films)
The first film you remember seeing:
The first film at the cinema that I have strong memories of was ‘The Little Mermaid’. I was five and we went to see it in the ABC in Banbury. I loved it so much that when we were next in the Ritz video shop, I made my mum buy me a video that had Ariel on the front because I was convinced that it was The Little Mermaid. It was actually ‘Sing-a-long songs – Under the Sea’, which Mum had tried to explain, but I was 5 and strong willed, so it came home with us. My older brother, Ian, told me that he was the one that animated the singing sea slugs and snails in the ‘Under the Sea’ section and I went around telling everyone at school, because why would my 14 year old brother lie to me about that?
My primary school also deserves a mention here because at the end of each school year, all of the classes would come together in the hall and Mr Stimpson would have a projector set up and we all watched a film together. It had to be stopped in the middle to change reels, but it was one of the most exciting ways of watching a film. I can’t remember all of the films we watched in this way, but there was definitely ‘The Jungle Book’, ‘101 Dalmations’, ‘The Rescuers’ and ‘Basil, The Great Mouse Detective’. We sang along to all the songs in ‘The Jungle Book’, and it was brilliant.
The film that made you cry:
Because I set my own rules, once again I’ve not chosen just one (I think that may happen a few times).
‘Little Women’ made me cry loads, mainly when Beth died. Claire Danes is an excellent crier and the scene where she is with Winona Ryder and about to die broke me as a twelve year old. This film also gave me a crush on both Christian Bale and Gabriel Byrne, only one of which has survived into my 30s. Sorry Christian.
My second pick is ‘About Time’, mainly because of the context that I saw it in. I was in Laos, on my own, 4 weeks into what was due to be a 5 1/2 month long trip around the world. It was 3 in the morning in a 20 person dorm and I couldn’t sleep so I put on a film, didn’t know anything about it, other than it was a Richard Curtis film, so I was probably safe. Wrong. When Bill Nighy’s character died I sobbed uncontrollably for the rest of the film – I could only afford that trip because of my inheritance money from Dad and Gaggy – I was exhausted and tired and a dead dad was too much to deal with. And yes, Rachel McAdam’s fringe was too short.
The funniest film of all time:
There are so many films that I used to laugh so much at as a child, ‘Drop Dead Fred’, ‘Spaceballs’, ‘Hot Shots’, ‘Problem Child’, then later ‘Team America: World Police’, ‘Shaun of the Dead’, but I’m going to pick ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’ for this one.
For most of my life I’ve had a very different sense of humour to most of my friends and that’s because I grew up watching Monty Python, The Young Ones, Bottom, A Bit of Fry and Laurie, Not the Nine o’Clock News, Fawlty Towers and my friends didn’t. My younger brothers and I would watch the videos over and over again. I knew every word to the Holy Grail, so much so that when someone doubted my knowledge of the Latin being chanted by the monks who hit themselves in the head with books when I was at my house party at uni, I had to get the DVD out to prove how correct I was. And I was.
The film is endlessly quotable but people really didn’t know what I was on about if I said “It’s just a flesh wound”, “a path, a path!”, “what, the curtains?”, “Blue, no! Yellow!!” or “She turned me into a newt… I got better!”.
I’ve probably not watched it for a decade, but I know I will still know every single word, cartoon and song.
The worst film ever:
There are only two films that I’ve never finished watching – ‘Dreamcatcher’ and ‘The Dark Tower’. ‘The Dark Tower’ I gave up on within 15 minutes, I’ll read the books instead and ‘Dreamcatcher’ I gave until the shit monsters and then went “nahhh.” I had never given up on a film before, even if I’ve not enjoyed one and this was the first that I really couldn’t consider wasting my life to finish. It’s shit.
The film which scares you:
I don’t get scared at horror films, slasher films just don’t do it for me and I don’t really enjoy being scared to be honest. I did watch ‘Hereditary’ and I mostly enjoyed it, I just wish it had finished about 10 minutes earlier because I think that would have made it scarier. The acting was brilliant, I’d not read anything about it and I thought the story was interesting and the film well made. But it didn’t scare me.
So I’m picking two here*, the first I didn’t see all of but it haunted me for ages and the second because of the style of film.
The first film I saw from the middle when I was perhaps 8 or 9. My sister was babysitting and we’d been watching tv and fell asleep on the sofa. The tv stayed on and when I woke up an old film was on; I was too tired to go and switch the channel over. Some woman tried to kill a man but it didn’t work, a cathedral collapsed on a congregation of people, there was a man in a hospital bed, wrapped in bandages connected to a monitor, he flat-lined and then opened his eyes. I almost shat myself, it was the scariest thing ever. I didn’t sleep well that night and it took me years to work out what the film was – thanks Google – and I’ve always remembered it. It was Richard Burton in the bandages and the film was ‘The Medusa Touch’. I’ll probably watch it in it’s entirety one day…
The other film that scares me is the thriller ‘Enemy of the State’ in which Will Smith is targeted by the Government because someone has stolen some files or something and hidden them in his Game Boy. This film scares me because Will Smith doesn’t know why he’s being targeted, many of the people working for the Government think that they are running a training exercise and Will Smith can’t escape from this. They mess with his job, bank accounts, all sorts and I find it terrifying because I feel like it could happen and I really hate these scenarios where you can’t get out of it. I also find films like ‘Existenz’ and ‘The Game’ quite scary for this reason. Eurgh…
*Actually, I’ve spent a few days away and had to pause in writing this and then I remembered ‘Sleeping With The Enemy’, and shit me, that is definitely the film which terrifies me the most. The cupboard, with the cans, the towel rail…
The film you like because of something that happened when you watched it:
Initially I found this really hard to answer but then I came up with two films where the cinematic experience was really special and one with a personal connection.
I saw ‘Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves’ at the ABC in Banbury when I was 7 or 8. It was exciting, I wanted to have Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio’s hair, Alan Rickman was brilliant, Mike McShane had been on ‘Whose Line Is It Anyway?’… I didn’t care that half of them had American accents in Nottinghamshire. At the end when King Richard arrived, so many people in the cinema stood up applauding and cheering. I thought the people of Banbury and surrounding areas were just really big Lionheart fans. I didn’t know who Sean Connery was.
When the Mayor of Sheffield put out a tweet inviting people to the cinema to watch ‘Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again’, I decided I would be one of them. I went on my own, chatted to some random strangers, sat next to Babs and had a lovely chat before singing along loudly (as requested) to all the songs I didn’t know the words to! I think it was honestly one of the most fun cinema trips I’ve ever had.
My Dad used to make props and sets for films and one that you can see quite a lot of his work in is ‘The Fifth Element’. At the beginning when the Mondoshawan aliens come and open up the Egyptian temple you can see the finger key that Dad made, and I believe he also worked on the gauntlet that Leeloo was cloned from.
The film you used to love but now don’t:
This for me has to be ‘Two to Tango’, I had a crush on Matthew Perry, I thought Oliver Platt was brilliant in it (he still is) and I used to quote “You’ve made your big gay bed, now you must slumber gaily in it.” whenever the situation was appropriate.
It was made 20 years ago and there are so many problems with it, I just can’t.
The film you have to defend to people:
‘Saved!’ is excellent. Barely anyone I know has seen it and not many of those that have like it. But it’s great, the story of a girl at a Christian school, whose boyfriend comes out to her, she’s so shocked she hits her head, sees an apparition of Jesus and thinks he tells her she should have sex with the boyfriend to save him. Watch it. It’s got a great cast – Jenna Malone, Mary-Louise Parker, Macauley Culkin, Mandy Moore, Eva Amurri… Just watch it. I’m not wrong.
The film you have watched, and could watch, over and over again:
‘Empire Records’. What’s with today, today? Shopliffteeeeerrrrr. My name’s not Fucking Warren! welcome to Music Town, may I service you? Well Sinead O’Rebellion, shock me, shock me, shock me with that deviant behaviour. I don’t feel the need to explain my art to you Warren.
This used to be on our videos that my friends and I would watch during sleepovers at my house, including Braveheart, Clueless and Titanic. Empire Records cheers me up, connects me to people, has a great soundtrack and some of my favourite quotes. It made me want to have a vespa, wear a red bra and khaki vest top, it is responsible for me playing ‘If you want blood’ by ACDC very loud every morning over the PA at a folk festival I was working at a few years ago and is fully embedded into my being.
My favourite film:
I cannot chose just one, and I’m not being interviewed for a podcast this time (happy to though Brett!) so I’m picking four…
‘The Station Agent’, a beautiful film, nothing really happens but at the same time everything does. I love it and try to convince anyone I can to watch it.
‘Clueless’, “Oh my god, I love Josh!” and I do. A near perfect updating of Jane Austen. I’ve seen it so many times. It’s well written, well made and everyone in it is perfectly cast. It’s a shame they made a tv series based on it, which was a full on Monet.
‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’, I see something new every time I watch it, Jim Carey is brilliant. It’s beautiful and sad and hopeful and I have no more words to describe it. I hold this film jointly responsible for my need to have multi coloured hair and deciding that Kate Winslet should play me in the film of my life.
‘Muriel’s Wedding’, that’s because my life is as good as an Abba song, it’s as good as Dancing Queen.
What are your thoughts for this? Post in the comments below.