I listen to a lot of list-based podcasts, consequently I’ve been trying to work out my dream meal (Off Menu), dream festival (The Line-Up), and dream pub (The Moon Under Water) for quite some time now. But as it’s #FilmFebruary, and I managed to bag a ticket for the most recent live recording of Films To Be Buried With, I thought it was about time that I committed a few film choices to the internet.
There are quite a few questions in a typical episode, and I’ve come up against a few that I genuinely couldn’t think of an answer to (let alone a decent one), but I’ve done my best. I do really wish that I’d kept a list of all the films I’ve ever watched…
What is the first film you remember seeing?
It was all about Disney for the first few years of my life, as it probably was for most children in the English-speaking world – in fact, I couldn’t conceive of ever watching a live-action film when there were so many animated ones out there to choose from. I clearly remember going to the old Taunton Odeon with my dad to see Aladdin, which was presumably one of my first cinema trips (if not the very first). Plus I have vivid memories of watching The Jungle Book on video with my grandma, as I cried when I thought Baloo was dead.
What is the film that made you laugh the most?
This is a harder one to work out than you might think – especially when comedy is probably my favourite film genre. I’ll throw a strange one in there first, just for the boat chase section: Live and Let Die. Sheriff J.W. Pepper gets me every time (“A secret agent? On whose side?”) On the more obvious side of things, films like Anchorman, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and Blades of Glory always make me giggle, no matter how many times I see them, but for the West Country action sequences I think I have to select Hot Fuzz. My favourite of the Cornetto Trilogy, and a film I can quote to within an inch of its life.
What is the film that made you cry the most?
I do cry at films/theatre/TV shows quite a lot, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t an achievement when something does make me weep. My emotional ‘top three’ are quite varied, but there’s not a lot I can do about that! First up is Pride; this film is absolutely joyous & heart-warming, but tragic & hart-breaking at the same time – and when I first watching it I inadvertently chose the 35th anniversary of the miners leading the London Pride march. Coco hit me like a freight train – honestly, why did no one warn me?! But given that it consistently makes me cry, despite multiple viewings, I think I’ll have to go with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Odd choice, I know, but Jyn & Cassian’s story is told so beautifully that it’s easy to get attached to these brand new characters. Plus when it came out in cinemas Carrie Fisher had just died, making Princess Leia’s brief appearance rather poignant.
What is the film that everyone hates but you love?
Honestly, I think I tend to follow the crowd as far as films are concerned, and I’m definitely less critical than I am over theatre. Though I don’t love it, I’m not as averse to watching Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace as most people are – it’s certainly not the worst of the prequel trilogy – and the soundtrack elevates The Boat That Rocked, even if it wasn’t especially popular. Maybe the one I should go for is Flash Gordon; it doesn’t fit perfectly, as it did better in the UK and now has a cult following, but I think I just needed an excuse to pitch my idea of a stage musical adaptation again (yes, I’m obsessed). It’s super-camp, has Brian Blessed, is so 80s, and Timothy Dalton says “bastard”. Oh, and Queen did the soundtrack. What’s not to love?
What is the film that means the most to you?
This won’t come as much of a surprise to most of you reading this. It has to be Bohemian Rhapsody. I didn’t go to the premiere, I didn’t see it on the day it came out – but I did see it in the BFI IMAX in a room full of Queen fans, so by the time it got to Live Aid it felt like I was there. Is it a perfect film? No. Did it reawaken my love for Queen and positively impact my life? Hell yes. After that first viewing I saw it several other times, including on the anniversary of Freddie’s death (mistake) and in the Natural History Museum, and I cried each & every time (it could have overtaken Rogue One, but I thought I should share things round). It’s definitely emptied my bank account, but it ultimately meant I got to see Roger on his solo tour (with a Brian cameo) last year – and should finally see Queen + Adam Lambert in June. Not the same as seeing them in the 70s or 80s, but I have the film for that!
What is objectively the greatest film?
Obviously it’s impossible to be completely objective, especially as I still have a lot of gaps in my film knowledge, but I’ll give it a go. I’m going to nominate a bit of a range and try to work out the one true film… Psycho gripped me and freaked me out – the storytelling is tight, and the cinematography is excellent. Reservoir Dogs is the perfect combination of soundtrack, story & direction – and it got me on the Tarantino train. The Truman Show balances the elements of the drama & comedy to make a beautiful, deeply affecting film; Jim Carrey’s performance is moving and completely took me by surprise. What We Do In The Shadows sounds like an odd choice, but it’s a perfect comedy and spawned a brilliant TV series (basically anything involving Taika Waititi will keep me entertained). But let’s go for The Truman Show.
What is the worst film?
Unlike Brett, I’m more than happy to be negative (I miss writing yearly ‘worst of’ lists, that should tell you all you need to know). What Lies Beneath is supposed to be a horror but it just made me laugh the whole way through, I’m not sure how I came to watch Meet The Spartans but I wish I hadn’t, and The Holiday is just dire. Cats should get an honorary mention (even watching it drunk didn’t help), and I watched the entire Fifty Shades series for a laugh – they were all as bad as I anticipated. But I think the dunce hat has to go to Twilight; the acting is terrible (Kristen Stewart & Robert Pattinson have both proven themselves to be much better in recent years), the story is trite, and for some reason vampires glitter in the sun. It’s absolutely nuts, and all copies of it should be destroyed.
What is your favourite film?
Like picking your favourite song, this can change on a regular basis, but my go-to response for some time has been Cemetery Junction. It has a great 70s soundtrack, it’s very funny and so uplifting; it could also potentially come under the ‘film you most relate to’ question, as it features three friends stuck in the town in which they grew up, dreaming of leaving but never quite managing to make the leap. I first saw it when I was still living in Somerset, not really making any money (I’d graduated with no clue what I wanted to do, after constantly changing my mind), and wondering what my next move would be. Plus I’m a fan of pretty much everything Ricky Gervais & Stephen Merchant have made, so it had a headstart before I’d even seen the trailer. And now I need to watch it again…
You can take one DVD for movie night on the other side – which one?
Tempting to pick one I haven’t already mentioned, but I think I’m going to have to go with my funny bone and pick Hot Fuzz. You can’t go wrong with a comedy police action film.