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Posts Tagged ‘favourite film’

NUMBER 5

Project A

Director: Jackie Chan

Starring: Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao

Year: 1983

IMDB Rating 7.5/10

This entry is a massive cop out. Even though I’ve titled the article with the name of the 1983 film, it’s just an excuse for me to talk about one of my favourite performers, the daredevil legend that is Jackie Chan.

Chinese cinema is a different animal compared to the films from our side of the globe and in the late 1960s and early 1970s, one particular Chinese actor managed to engage western audiences; his name was Bruce Lee. Very quickly, movie producers in both America and China were trying to emulate Bruce Lee’s success, especially after the man died in 1973. A young stunt man called Chan Kong-sang, who actually worked alongside Lee, decided he wasn’t going to try and be the next Bruce Lee, but rather become a martial artist film star that incorporated more comedy in his performance.

Now I won’t go into Jackie Chan’s life story (there is a book available for that), but once I eventually saw him in a film, I was eager to watch his earlier work. While Jackie Chan had made it big in the 1990s and early 2000s with American-made films like Rumble in the Bronx, Rush Hour and Shanghai Noon, his filmography from the 1980s always proved to be an entertaining watch. These films are always pure Jackie Chan and how he’s meant to be seen. The fight scenes are always bigger, the stunts are more daring, and the stories are usually more entertaining than the generic action films Hollywood tends to put him in.

Jackie Chan grew up in a performing arts school alongside other martial artists who he would occasionally work with throughout his career. Project A is one of the films that happens to feature Jackie Chan alongside two of his school buddies (above). The film is set in the 1800s in Old Hong Kong and tells the story of pirates and the law enforcers trying to suppress them. Inspired by the work of classic comedy actors such Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin and Harold Lloyd, the film features a stunt where Chan free falls 60 feet from a clock tower before landing on his head (he did three takes); funnily enough this isn’t the stunt that nearly killed him.

Project A represents my love for the action movie genre, which now relies heavily on guns, explosions and quick editing. Project A doesn’t feature much if any of those aspects; it’s pure entertaining action from start to finish. Project A also represents my love for Chan’s films; a genre in its own right. At the age of 61, Chan still performs his own stunts and choreographs fight scenes, although he has claimed that he’s going to be performing fewer stunts and being more careful in as his twilight years approach. So in a way Jackie Chan is my number five, but since a man can’t be a film, Project A takes this entry.

Watch the famous clock tower fall (three individual takes!):

Watch Jackie Chan wield a bike like a baseball bat:

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NUMBER 6

Carlitio’s Way

Director: Brian De Palma

Starring: Al Pacino, Sean Penn, Penelope Ann Miller, John Leguizamo

Year: 1993

IMDB Rating: 7.9/10

There are few actors as stellar as Al Pacino. From Tony Montana to Michael Corleone, the guy is able to perform convincingly. Regardless of the characters he plays, most of whom are flawed anti-heroes or downright villains, he manages to persuade the audience to root for him, and a great example of that can be found in Carlito’s Way.

Set in New York, the film is a crime drama with elements of a Greek tragedy and aspects of film noir cinema. Pacino plays Carlito Brigante, a Puerto Rican who is released from prison after serving only five years of a 30 year sentence thanks to his cunning and slimy lawyer, Dave Klienfeld (Sean Penn). Carlito returns to his old neighbourhood, determined to save enough money to retire to the Caribbean, and he wants to do this legitimately. He’s convinced that he’s done with crime and the “rules of the street”, but the past is a gaping whole, the more you try and run from it, the bigger it gets. Suffice to say, Carlito’s good intentions quickly spiral into chaos and he struggles to choose between being what he wants and what he is.

From the get go, you know that things aren’t going to end well for the titular character, but that’s what makes the film so interesting. Knowing the outcome, but seeing how it plays out reinforces the idea that it’s very much the journey that matters and not the ending. Carlito’s choices and the company he keeps greatly symbolise his inner conflict; Penn’s Klienfeld character represents the corruption of greed and power, while Carltio’s relationship with Gail (Penelope Ann Miller) represents the fragility of life and how difficult it is to change who we are.

Carlito’s Way is an evocative crime drama and represents my love for the genre. I didn’t discover this film until my early twenties when I watched several Al Pacino films back to back. These included: The Godfather trilogy, Scarface, Serpico, Donnie Brasco and Heat, but it was Carlito’s Way that proved to be my favourite and I believe it fairly represents my admiration for who I consider to be one of the world’s coolest performers.

The Infamous Tense Snooker Scene:

Viggo Mortensen crops up for one scene. How far has Aragorn fallen?

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(source: scifiportal.eu)

(source: scifiportal.eu)

NUMBER 9

Sunshine

Director: Danny Boyle

Starring: Cillian Murphy, Michelle Yeoh, Troy Garity.

Composer: John Murphy

Year: 2007

IMDB Rating: 7.3/10

I like the odd bit of science fiction, from sci-fi fantasy like the original Star Wars to sci-fi thrillers like Alien. The possibilities with the genre are endless. However, I do disengage with sci-fi films that are too action-orientated, for instance Armageddon and the two Matrix sequels; I don’t like mixing my sci-fi with over the top action. It’s like when I’m eating Spag-Bol, the ratio between pasta and sauce needs to be just right (less pasta/action than the sauce/sci-fi). A messy analogy.

Sunshine is an intelligent film without being too nerdy (if that’s possible). The premise is simple: the Sun is burning out and Earth is freezing over. In a desperate attempt, humanity bands together to send a small crew into space to reignite the Sun. I know what you’re thinking: “Isn’t that similar to the plot of that Michael Bay film you’ve just said you didn’t like?” Sure, they are not dissimilar, but there’s no Aerosmith, hammy acting, overly used CGI action sequences or ridiculous immediacy; Sunshine is a slow burner.

(source: worldofspaceships.com)

The film is a technical masterpiece. The acting from Cillian Murphy, Mark Strong, Michelle Yeoh and Cliff Curtis is superb, the cinematography is gorgeous and the music – oh man the music – augments the drama. John Murphy’s soundtrack is so powerful I’m getting chills thinking about it.

Sunshine is a tragic tale, but the journey is worth the distress. It resonates with me on so many levels: the setting; the desperation and moral extremities of humanity, the majesty of science and the allure and destructive force of the Sun.

(source: giphy.com)
There are obvious connections to films that came before Danny Boyle’s British made sci-fi epic. Many people compare Sunshine to Event Horizon, while others refer to Solaris and 2001: A Space Odyssey. Sunshine is often misunderstood by wider audiences and considered one of Boyle’s more underrated films by critics. I love other films from Boyle, with 28 Days Later and Slumdog Millionaire being memorable films from the 2000s, but it is Sunshine that takes the accolade of being my ninth favourite film.

(source: giphy.com)

This piece of music from the film’s soundtrack is absolutely amazing (you may have heard it in Kick-Ass and The Walking Dead: Season One):

Trailer:

Discussion on Sunshine with Danny Boyle, film critic Mark Kermode and physicist Brian Cox:

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NUMBER 10

Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Director: Steven Spielberg

Starring: Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Paul Freeman.

Composer: John Williams

Year: 1981

IMBD Rating: 8.6/10

When I was teenager I decided that I wanted to be an archaeologist. My interest in the profession was borne out of my love for the Indiana Jones trilogy. I saw the films when I was a child, watching them with my family. My earliest memory of the series was the climax of Temple of Doom where we find our titular hero on a wooden bridge over a chasm, with alligators below snapping their jaws in hungry anticipation. This scene stayed with me, but it wasn’t until I was a teen that I watched the films again.

(source: filmtakeout.com)

While it’s still a good film, Temple of Doom is the weaker of the trilogy and The Last Crusade is certainly the most fun to watch (Junior!?). However it is Raiders of the Lost Ark that claims the top spot, as it’s clearly the most focused film. It is full of spectacular and memorable set-pieces: the iconic boulder sequence; bringing a sword to a gun fight (improvised by Harrison Ford due to a bout with dysentery); the fist fight in the airfield; the truck chase scene (with random cliffs for vehicles to fall and then explode, or explode then fall); and the melty face finale that terrified a pre-pubescent me. Indy also provided me with some useful tips for dealing with the ladies 😉 (Where doesn’t it hurt?), not bad for a guy who decided to name himself after his dog.

(source: fanpop.com)

With the film approaching its 35th anniversary, I’m hoping that it might have a limited re-release at some cinemas, then I can relive the adventure again. I may have given up the dream of being an archaeologist, but now I’m a teacher which – incidentally – was Indiana’s day job (sort of) .

(source: media.giphy.com)

Opening:

Bringing a sword to a gun fight:

Indiana Jones Theme:

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