A good film is one that can make you laugh, cry, think and be entertained. My mum has always been a bit of a film buff, and growing up in a household where storytelling was engrained into daily life in one way or another, the visual narrative of film has played a huge role in my development as a person. So, after thinking carefully about what films have impacted me the most over the years, I have compiled a non-extensive list of five films that have revealed something new to me throughout my life, and continue to impact upon me today.
Drop Dead Fred
dir. Ate de Jong
Ate de Jong’s cult classic ‘Drop Dead Fred’ seems an odd film to have influenced my childhood. Especially considering it is rated fifteen, and carries some very complex and adult themes. More obvious, and perhaps age-appropriate candidates, such as Toy Story or one of the films from the Harry Potter series, would have been just as suited, but Drop Dead Fred is a film that has stuck with me and informed me at countless different stages throughout my life.
Drop Dead Fred tells the story of Elizabeth (Phoebe Cates) and her imaginary childhood friend Drop Dead Fred (Rik Mayall) in a riotously wacky, colorful and emotional feature film. It strikes an intriguing balance between light-hearted, ridiculous, dark and hard-hitting, as it charts the return of Drop Dead Fred during Elizabeth’s troubled adult life in order to ‘cheer her up’.
As well as exploring the silly and colorful relationship between a young girl and her imaginary friend, ‘Drop Dead Fred’ delves deep into the issues of mental health and what it means to be happy, and is a film that carries different weight and meaning as you pass through your life. Just as Drop Dead Fred represents Elizabeth’s loneliness and escapism from her controlling mother in her childhood, and her emotional instability in her older years following her divorce with her husband, so the film develops meaning throughout life with its honesty and deliciously twisted comedic flares.
Some Kind of Wonderful
dir. Howard Deutch
Some Kind of Wonderful was one of my first introductions to John Hughes’ incredible screenplays, and the world of 80s teen movies and remains one of one of my all-time favorite films to this day. Following the typical boy-girl love triangle that usually pronounces itself somewhere in John Hughes’ screenplays, the film follows the story of Watts (Mary Stuart Masterson) and her best friend Keith (Eric Stoltz), as Keith tries to seduce the most popular girl in school, Amanda Jones (Lea Thompson). Like all John Hughes movies, Some Kind of Wonderful speaks honestly about adolescence, love and class amongst other things. This film brings out the romantic in me, and never fails to make me tear up. Once I was introduced to John Hughes’ screenplays, I never went back, and have watched them repeatedly since my mum introduced me to them.
dir. Wes Anderson
The film that introduced me to Wes Anderson’s incredible cinematography and unforgettable storylines, Moonrise Kingdom is a light-hearted comedy that follows the ‘whirlwind romance’ of twelve-year-old boy scout Sam (Jared Gilman) and his love interest Suzy (Kara Hayward), as they are pursued by a group of quirky adults that are determined to find them before the storm arrives. This film is what really got me into more independent, experimental films, and got me to appreciate the minute details of film, and the work of the production teams as well as the director and actors.
dir. Alan Parker
Now, I’m not a massive fan of a lot of musicals, but Bugsy Malone is one of a handful of musicals that I really love. My mum introduced me to this incredible all-kid-cast film when I was about eight or nine and I’ve loved it ever since. The music, by Paul Williams, is incredible, and seeing an all-child cast up on the screen when I was younger, and an aspiring performer, really inspired me. Of course, I didn’t end up being an actress or a tap dancer, but I still love this film, and it is one of those great comfort watches that contains all of the best things: gangsters, speakeasies, wit and pies!
dir. Rick Famuyiwa
A film that I have fallen in love with more recently that has really influenced the way I look at how film is used as a tool for conveying political messages, and one that I thought did this very well, was DOPE. Not only an incredibly entertaining and funny film with a great storyline, DOPE is also an open letter to stereotyping and racial inequality that still exists – and really shouldn’t – in the modern world. This film provoked one of those ‘oh shit’ moments where the potency and mastery of the artwork in front of you just hits you all at once, and is one that I recommend to everyone I encounter. One of the best films I saw in 2015, DOPE was an absolute must to put on this list.
Stuck in Love (2012), Inglorious Bastards (2009), Pride and Prejudice (2005), Moulin Rouge (2001), Titanic (1997), Amélie (2001), Harry Potter (2001 – 2011), Prince of Egypt (1998), Hercules (1997)
Words by Daniella Bassett