Flicks

Flicks? I love out-of-date slang.

I also know that “film” is pronounced “filmmm”. Not the way I say it, i.e., “filim”. However, leaving out the second spoken ‘i’ turns you into a ponty-mouthed prck.

My top 10 pieces of music runs into hundreds. It’s a never-ending minor personal clusterfuck of rampant musical infidelities. By contrast, I do not have that many favourite films.

I have excluded much of the low and middle-brow stuff I love to watch. Not “High Plains Drifter“, again, exclaim my family : ) When I was a student, and had no responsibilities, I veered towards intense movies. But as an adult, I mainly want entertainment, ffs. I like my violence to be of the comedy variety, and ideally prefaced by an improbable quip. The violence of e.g. a Clint spag-Western, or Pulp Fiction, primarily is entertainment. I love the foregoing kind of film, but I can accept why critics can pick holes in them. I like them, in the way I love James Herriot’s vet’ books, but I’m not pretending that they’re art. For some reason, film, poised emotionally betweeen music and literature, permits less catholic shared enthusiasms than music.

Some films are too searing to be mere Friday-night entertainment, but are well worth a watch anyway, e.g., the English skinhead movie, This is England, the N. of Ireland Troubles movie, ’71, or the Irish revolutionary movie, The Wind That Shakes The Barley.

Apart from pretty much everything the gun-slinging and Dirty Harry versions of Clint Eastwood ever made, and the Godfather Trilogy (and Platoon and Gran Torino are up there too), see below for 5 disparate films that have stood the test of time for me. They have very little in common with each other. If you like or dislike one, there is no guarantee that you’d have a similar reaction to any of the other 4:

The Day of The Jackal (Dir. Fred Zinnemann, 1973)

I watch this annually. I always love it. Possibly, this is my favourite film of all time. Such ruthless cutting and such taut directing. Not an ounce of fat in this film. All shot on location too, and some wonderful performances by the cast, including the supporting cameo performances. Even the car is a classic! If you ever wish to assassinate somebody, watch this carefully (here available full-length for free – the quality of the amateur upload is not perfect, but it’s acceptable, and perfectly OK if you don’t super-size the screen):

Come and See (Dir. Elem Klimov, 1985)

Tough going. Powerful anti-war movie. Here available full-length for free:

The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (Dir. Peter Greenaway, 1989)

I went to see this when it came out, and never watched it again. But I have not forgotten it. An un-hinged revenge tragedy. View <here>.

Un Coeur en Hiver (Dir. Claude Sautet, 1992)

I’ve watched this several times down the years. Think of every Hollywood love story cliché, then do the directorial opposite. One of the most (satisfyingly-unsatisfying) French films ever made. In a Hollywood love movie, the central problem is “getting the woman”. She’s a challenge to be overcome, a puzzle to be figured out. You look at such films, and you wonder if the writers and directors thereof are all male virgins, stuck in a 1950s time-warp, so far removed are they from a world where women have any agency. (Ironically, today’s wokesters are also all stuck in the ideological 195os, with their quaint notion that only men chase and only women need to “consent”, lol.) The bloke in such Hollywood movies is always a bit of a likeable idiot – invariably, pantingly-eager, and there is no limit to the self-abasement and nonsense he’ll go through to “get the woman”. The woman in question, naturally, always requires an amount of persuasion. The French come to this narrative from a position of much greater equality. In this film, the central problem, one which Stéphane cannot figure out, is how to reconcile his Stoicism (which has served him well thus far in his cautious life) with deep fulfilment (which, shockingly for him, has landed in his lap). How do you re-invent yourself to cope with the conceptually-untidy reality that the woman of your dreams clearly is interested in you? Stéphane needs a massive kick up the arse, of course, but as an insight into the self-defeating dynamics of actual relationships / counter-dependency, as opposed to the clichéd active-male / passive-female conservative shallowness of Hollywood, this film takes some beating. Here available full-length for free:

Black Cat, White Cat (Dir. Emir Kusturica, 1998)

Never figured out what it was about, and it may be rubbish (there’s no great plot or insights), but I love the vibe – the entire thing seems drunk, a bit like a Swordfishtrombones era Tom Waits song made into a film. View <here>.

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