Mark Robinson and I (aged 13 or 14) went to see Mel Brook’s Young Frankenstein (another excellent film, but one outside this list) as at the time we were all into Blazing Saddles and the like. On the double bill was this movie we’d never heard of. All we talked about for a year after that night was the other movie: the Rocky Horror Picture Show. So outrageous, so glam, so sexually ambiguous, it opened our eyes to diversity and camp. True to say, I’ve never been the same since.
A few years ago (2013) I listed the Albums which I felt had shaped me as a person: not necessarily the best albums but the ones which shaped me see https://www.frsimon.uk/my-favourite-albums-of-all-time/
My son, Liam, mentioned that he had been compiling his own list of movies, and so it set me thinking. Here is my list (in no particular order) of films that have helped make me what I am today, and for that I apologise. It is definitely not a list of the super-cool, hip or esoteric, but these are films I treasure.
I have already spoken at length about this. See https://www.frsimon.uk/why-human-traffic-is-possibly-my-favourite-film-of-all-time/
I did not really know what the Matrix was all about when I went to see it, and so the ascension of Neo back into the real world was a genuine shock – an experience that I’ll never get back, because once you know… That feeling was just amazing, a lightbulb moment. Beyond that the depth, the theology, the philosophy behind the Matrix has enough material to keep me engaged for decades: questions of reality and perception, of creation and ontology are all expressed in this wonderful movie. Pity the other two were absolute shite, but you have to milk the cash cow for all it’s worth these days.
City of God
Brazilian film of such style, grace and brilliant story-telling. Yes, it’s in Portuguese, but reading subtitles never heart anyone. It’s a wonderful, challenging film about one of the worst places in the world. People are ace, they really are.
Tarrantino’s masterpiece of non-linear storytelling is just perfect: the characters are all comic-book, the timeline is all messed up to keep the whole thing boiling and the soundtrack is one of the most carefully curated parts of the film: not just an add-on, but an intrinsic piece of the story-telling. Each little episode is so disjoint and yet so connected. Does the suitcase really contain the soul of Marcus Wallace?
Silent. 7 and a half hours long. Incomplete, because bits of it still hasn’t been found. This is simply a masterpiece. I have been fascinated by this film since a patient at Barts introduced me to it. Abel Gance tells the epic story so epically, and at the climax, across 3 screens. This was in 1927 for goodness sake! Best watched at a big screening and a live accompaniment.
Rocky Horror Picture Show
Again, not necessarily the best films (or albums) but the films that have made a difference to me. I may well expand this list as time goes on and I am reminded of other great, important and influential movies on me. So, although I love to waste train journeys rewatching the camp classic Pitch Perfect, quote frequently and extensively from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and The Breakfast Club and won’t mention the pornography of my teenage years (formative in one way, at least), and clearly I’m not hip or savvy. This is me. I am who I am.