When it comes to the cinema, I’m quite predictable. Stick a Brat Pack staple in front of me and I’m happy. But it’s not always been this way – there were many predecessors to my look-at-me-I-just-discovered-John-Hughes-and-The-Smiths phase. So without further ado, here is a definitive list of all the films that have shaped my existence, with a few close seconds.
Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971)
Dir: Robert Stevenson
I have fond memories of wearing out the VHS tape of Bedknobs and Broomsticks at my grandparents whilst wolfing down a pack of malted milk biscuits. A musical fantasy film in the form of a strange reality-cartoon hybrid, I never fully understood it until I rewatched it a few years ago; the plot centring on a group of children evacuated during WW2 to a modern witch’s house in the countryside must have gone over my head as a kid, as well as Bruce Forsyth’s cameo as a wheeler-dealer. I was probably more compelled by the anthropomorphic cartoon animals engaged in a game of football. As Disney films go, it’s on the darker side, with a faceless ghost army fighting off a Nazi invasion. Now I kind of see why its bonkers plot went in one ear and out the other as a child.
Hot Fuzz (2007)
Dir: Edgar Wright
My parents had a huge influence on my cultural tastes growing up. Armed with a Freeview box and a packet of Doritos, every so often we’d sit down in front of ITV2 or Film4 and see what was on offer on a Friday night. Thanks to their seemingly limited repertoires (the channels, not my parents!) – or perhaps it was down to a penchant for Edgar Wright – Hot Fuzz was a regular feature. I’m not a huge fan of cop films, though I am partial to Channel 5’s Police Interceptors, however, I have seen this film more than anyone needs to in their lifetime, ever. On a recent visit home, after poring through Amazon Prime to no avail, my dad even suggested that we watch it. Again. But I’ll never get bored of Olivia Colman’s insufferable laugh, the incredible one-liners (“What made you wanna be a policeman-officer” tops them all) and that goose chase.
Dir: Wes Anderson
I discovered Wes Anderson when I was about 17 or 18. By now I’d tried to steer myself away from twee romantic comedies, for the most part failing, and Rushmore was a perfect gateway drug to slightly-more-serious cinema. The braces-clad protagonist, Max Fischer, carries Rushmore with his dry wit and iconic red beret. An insufferable know-it-all – who, as a matter of fact, knows almost nothing – he winds up in a strange love triangle he’s invented between himself, his teacher and a lone millionaire.
Granted, it’s a very odd film, but there’s something about Anderson’s style that I can’t quite put my finger on. Maybe it’s his devotion to symmetry, sharp costumes or witty dialogue, but I think mostly I love his films so much thanks to the music. By the time I reached university, this had escalated into a devotion that saw myself and a friend start a radio show dedicated to soundtracks and scores as the aptly-named duo Girls on Film, with an entire week devoted to the musical direction of Anderson’s filmography.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
Dir: John Hughes
I will never love a film more than I do Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. I will never tire of watching it. I will never tire of reciting the script word-for-word to the annoyance of anyone who has to suffer watching it next to me. A timeless feel-good classic that had me indulging in my own Cameron Frye moment a few months ago, basking in front of Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jette at the Met. Ferris Bueller is another facet of my love affair with film soundtracks. It happens to include one of the best Smiths covers ever created – the Dream Academy’s rendition of ‘Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want’ – as well as a legitimate use for Wayne Newton’s ‘Danke Schoen’.
Watching Ferris Bueller for the first time is easily one of the most defining moments of my life as of yet, which is quite something for a film that was written in a week. This arrogant yet unavoidably likeable truant and his Chicago escapades provided the perfect escapism for a student knee-deep in her A-levels.
Starter for 10 (2006)
Dir: Tom Vaughan
These days, I try to broaden my horizons when it comes to the silver screen. Often I fail. I’m a sucker for a coming-of-age flick, a rom-com, or a combination of the two. But the age-old criteria of an excellent soundtrack prevails when it comes to my film choices, as always. Starter for 10 is a perfect combination of everything I love about film – a quirky tale of a bookish Bristol student obsessed with University Challenge and “knowing everything.” Based on the David Nicholls book and starring the immensely talented James McAvoy, alongside a stellar ensemble of castmates, it’s much wittier than most other romantic comedies in my Netflix history.
HONOURABLE MENTIONS: Bugsy Malone (1976), What If (2014), 10 Things I Hate About You (1999), The Boat That Rocked (2009), Filth (2013), Skate Kitchen (2018)
Words by Holly Patrick