The 1982 ShowWhat the hell was in the water in 1982? Or in 1980 when these things were green lit? I mean, that is a stellar line up (no pun intended) for any year and then you have another think and realise that none of these were your favourite movie from that year. Close, don’t get me wrong. Every single one of these is a classic. But they aren’t number 2 on the list. That goes to.. Blade Runner. Ridley Scott’s dystopian rendering of a Phillip. K. Dick novel and such a leap that it is reported William Gibson left the cinema in shock.
About ten minutes into Blade Runner, I reeled out of the theater in complete despair over its visual brilliance and its similarity to the “look” of Neuromancer, my [then] largely unwritten first novel. Not only had I been beaten to the semiotic punch, but this damned movie looked better than the images in my head!
William GibsonAnd for me it was much the same. I stayed until the end mind you. Blade Runner came only a few years after Star Wars in cinema terms and it is vastly, vastly different in all ways except one – it changed my perception of what was possible. Not just in a cinema, not even just in a story, but in life. I was 14 or 15 years old when I saw it and as a naive young Scots lad had not entertained the notion that the future would not be bright and white and shiny and clean. Blade Runner blew all that away. Blade Runner invented sci-fi noir as far as I’m concerned and finally gets it right with The Final Cut of the film that took away the unnecessary voice-over and the fake happy ending. Replacing it with the unicorn truth that answers the question whether or not Deckard is a replicant.
Number Four – The Suspect SuspectsThere are very few films that can actually surprise you once you know how a story is put together. But number four in our countdown was one of those rare events where I was actually ignorant of the twist right up until they told me. It is of course, The Usual Suspects. It is also a film that bears repeat viewing because of the nature of the twist. Yes, a lot of what takes place is utter fabrication on the part of Verbal Kint but you can’t take it all as an untruth. Verbal is our narrator and he is an unreliable one as these things go but not everything he says is a lie. There are verifiable events that he can’t avoid. I do actually enjoy watching this film just to see where the lines are between truth and reality. It is a modern shame that this movie cannot just be enjoyed for its own merits. At least not as much as it used to be because of two contributors now mired in scandal and disgrace. I find it easy not to listen to Michael Jackson and easier still to ignore the work of Bill Cosby but when it comes to film I find it harder. Film is collaborative – what crimes have the others committed? So I will still watch The Usual Suspects and even to this day it still manages to surprise me now and then.
Number Three – Great films never die (hard)I never even thought of Die Hard as something laudable at all until a friend of mine (D. Brown) actually quoted it as his favourite movie. Like, of all time. This must have been not long after it was released because I had only seen it once at the time. It now sits in second place on my all time watched list just behind Star Trek II; Wrath of Khan – but you have to remember that these were back in the days when all we had were VHS tapes that you rented, or bought or used to record things on the telly. We ended up watching loads of stuff over and over again. Christ, I’ve watched Koyaanisqatsi two or three times. I’ll let you look that up yourself – spoiler alert it isn’t in the top 2. And that’s the thing about Die Hard – it’s just one of those movies that you can watch over and over again without even having to think about it. If you are browsing through the channels just before going to bed for example and you come across Die Hard, well… bed will still be there later, no? The utter watchable-ness of this film added to the fact that it has a great deal of humour interspersed with its comic book violence puts it in the top three. No bother at all.
A little while back I did a list of the seven worst films I had ever seen. And that was all very funny (I hope) but also negative. And what with the state of the world currently we could likely do with a little more positivity. So, following some recent questioning by folks I have decided to put up my top six films. It was gonna be five but… I just couldn’t get it into five. The clips are about three to four minutes long. In the manner of classic countdowns we’ll start at the bottom and work towards number one. So, leading us off is a classic noir and one of only two black and white films that made the list (to the surprise of many I am sure). It’s Bogey and Bacall in…