A Life in Movies

Posted on May 8, 2011. Filed under: Memes and Blogathons, Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The ever-creative Andy has come up with another fantastic blog-a-thon idea and I’m determined to get in on the fun. The idea is to pick a favourite movie for ever year you’ve been alive. (I think it’s his sneaky way of finding out how old we all are.)

Notoriously indecisive as I am, this is probably going to be a tricky one for me…

1988

That’s right folks, I reach the ripe old age of 23 this August

This is actually pretty tricky, putting aside such cinematic wonders as Crocodile Dundee 2 and Police Academy 5, this is also the year that brought us Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and Big. The dilemma for me though is choosing between two of my favourite films: Rain Man and Die Hard.

In the end I’m going to have to go for Die Hard. It’s just everything I want in an action film.

1989

This one is a bit easier. Although I’m sure that most of you who were around at the time will be picking Batman starring the fantastic Jack Nicholson as The Joker, I have to go for Dead Poet’s Society.

1990

We’ll just gloss over the fact that this was the year that brought us Kindergarten Cop shall we? 1990 also saw the release of the final (and weakest) installment of the Back to the Future trilogy and the second (and weakest) of the Die Hard quadrilogy. Enough of the slightly dodgy though, there was also some good to ring in my terrible twos, including the surprisingly sweet Mermaids starring Cher and Winona Ryder, the quintessential Christmas film Home Alone and this year’s winner: Edward Scissorhands.

1991

This might be an unpopular choice, but I’m going to pick Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. It might involve a more American Robin than we’re used to in the form of Kevin Costner, but Alan Rickman as the sheriff of Nottingham more than makes up for it.


Here’s where I start to change the game a bit….As I was working through finding films that were released in each year, I came across a problem. There are films that came out in these years that I absolutely adored at the time, and still love now, but there are also films I’ve come back to as an adult that might edge out those childhood favourites if I’m asked to choose. So from here on I’ve kind of cheated a bit. Sorry Andy. Hopefully as well as being a massive cheat, it’s interesting for people other than myself to see what I was into at the time, and what I’ve come back to discover later.

1992

So what was the 3-4 year old watching in ’92? Aladdin of course! Meanwhile the grown up (well, not really) version looks back on ’92 as the year that gave us Reservoir Dogs. Bit of a contrast there….

1993

This was a good year for childhood movies.  Not only did it see the release of my guilty pleasure movie Free Willy but also Mrs Doubtfire and Nick Park’s brilliant short film The Wrong Trousers. The best childhood movie of ’93 for me though had to be Cool Runnings. Some people say you know they can’t believe….

Coming back to the ’93 films and I’ve got a tricky choice, but in the end I’m going to pass over Philadelphia in favour of the more feel good Benny and Joon

1994

This seems to be the year of Jim Carrey, with both Ace Ventura and The Mask showcasing his “rubber faced humour” as they love to call it.

There’s no question that the 5-6 year old me’s favourite film is The Lion King, I can still vividly remember going to see it in the cinema. It still a contender for my favourite film of the year , but faces stiff competition from a whole collection of films I love including; Pulp Fiction, Speed, Four Weddings and a Funeral and Priscilla: Queen of the Desert. In the end I’m going to have to go with the perhaps predictable choice, but outstanding film, Forrest Gump

1995

1995 was a big turning point for animated movies. It was the year Toy Story was released, becoming my favourite film instantly and holding on to that top spot for a long time.

Also that year came Apollo 13, Braveheart, Desperado, Die Hard With A Vengeance and The Usual Suspects, but you know what? I still love Woody the most.

1996

This is an easy pick in both directions.  My favourite film at the time (and I still love it now, because I’m cool like that) was Muppet Treasure Island. Tim Curry as Long John Silver. Yes.

But the best film to come out of ’96 has to be Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet. I’ve written about it on this blog more than once, but it really is a fantastically made movie and a clever adaptation of the worlds best known love story.


1997

OK, don’t judge me, but as soon as I saw this on the list of ’97 movies I knew what my favourite film at the time was….George of the Jungle

*ahem* Moving on.

Lots of big Sci-Fi movies in ’97: The Fifth Element is an under-rated movie, sitting alongside Men In Black and GATTACCA.  This was also the year the world went crazy for Jack and Rose in Titanic, but I’m going to pick a film that you might not know: Donnie Brasco. It’s a great look at what it’s like to infiltrate the world of organised crime, made all the more significant because unlike the many other gangster movies out there this one is true.


1998

In the year I hit double figures I have another very clear early cinema memory; going to see A Bug’s Life.  This time it was my little sister (then 5) who was in awe of the big screen for the first time. She stood up for the whole thing.

1998 was also the year of the battle of the killer Meteorites, with both Deep Impact and Armageddon coming up with different ways to prevent the apocalypse. I’ve gotta admit I prefer the ever so slightly cheesy but more fun version involving Bruce Willis and a giant oil drill.

As much as I love both these films though, I think my adult film of ’98 is going to have to be The Truman Show because not only is it a much unloved movie with a beautiful soundtrack that more people should see, but it also proved to me that even though I’d always been a fan of Jim Carrey because his dumb humour made me laugh, it turns out he can actually act too.

1999

It’s 1999! The year I started secondary school and everybody started panicking that the world was going to end when the millenium came. Light relief form these two distressing issues came in the form of a year of great movies including Sleepy Hollow, The Green Mile, Dogma, Notting Hill, The Talented Mr Ripley and 10 Things I Hate About You. This presents both the young and old versions of me with a dilemma because it’s quite hard to pick.

11 year old Katie is torn between The Iron Giant and Toy Story 2. Both amazing films. Both still watched with regualrity. I think my life long love of Pixar will win in the end though.

Meanwhile 11 years older Katie is debating whether I love Fight Club more than The Matrix. I don’t think I do.

Ps. Just in case you were forgetting/mentally blocking/still recevinign counselling for it, this is the year that George Lucas decided three epic Star Wars films wasn’t enough…exit, persued by a Gungan

2000

The world didn’t end. Confused computers didn’t bring civilisation to a standstill and (scarily) we have reached the halfway point in my life. Quite a lot of good “family” films came out this year, and despite being 12 at the time, I still had a soft spot for movies like El Dorado and The Emperors New Groove. Kids movie of the year has to go to Chicken Run, especially because it’s better than the classic its based on.

And while I can imagine a lot of you bloggers out there will pick Gladiator as your movie that kicked off the noughties, for me film of the year is the one that started my transformation from realtively geeky kid into Marvel comic super nerd. Because this is the year they brought out X Men.


And here’s where the split ends….by 2001 I’m 13 and my favourite movies of each year at the time tend to still be firm favourites. That probably has a lot to do with the release of a certain trilogyThere are still a lot of movies that I discovered later, but there’s less of a stark split in tastes as there was in the earlier years, so I’ll stop cheating and go back to only picking one movie per year.

2001

I’m not going to pretend that the next couple of years picks aren’t going to be pretty predictable. I could deliberately pick other movies in the interest of variety, but then I wouldn’t be picking my favourite film, which kind of misses the point now doesn’t it? 2001-2003 was all about three films for me despite other great releases including Donnie Darko and Moulin Rouge in ’01. But there’s never going to be any question that my film of the year is The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. If I hadn’t been to see that film, this blog would not exist. And that’s about all I can say that you haven’t heard a thousand times.

2002

Not even the release of Spiderman can topple Tolkein in ’02.

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

2003

As one trilogy came to an end, Pirates of the Caribbean appeared to fill the hole. But the big finish was definitely worth the wait, and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King delivered the epic battle scenes and final showdown we’d all been waiting for.

2004

OK, no more LOTR, you can stop rolling your eyes now. ’04 is quite tricky for me because there are a lot of films I really like, but not one that stands out against all the others.  There are some fun films like Spiderman 2, The Day After Tomorrow and Wimbledon but I think I’m going to have to go with The Motorcycle Diaries; a recent discovery that really surprised me with how good it was.

2005

Even though one of my current favourites, Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang came out in this year, I’m going to have to pick Brokeback Mountain because not only is it a fantastic piece of cinema, it was quite a moment in movie history, if only for showing us just how talented Heath Ledger was.

2006

2006: I left school and set out for the big smoke to start my degree. 3 fantastic years of new friends and new movies followed.

Loads of great films came out this year, but I’m picking Casino Royale because it was the first film I ever saw on the big screen in Leicester Square, with 3 people who are still among my best friends. It also converted me on Bond films.

2007

Lots of sequels in ’07:  Spiderman 3, Pirates 3, Die Hard 4, but movie of the year for me has to be Stardust. Because its brilliant 😛

2008

I will never forgive 2008 for Mamma Mia. It still gives me chills. It does try to make up for it though with The Dark Knight and the possibly controversially picked, (but I am a Marvel girl after all) Iron Man.

2009

The year I graduated from uni (the first time). The year I started this blog, and a big year for movies. No wonder I was inspired!

I find it impossible to believe that Avatar came out 3 years ago. I was also converted to the trekkie side by J.J. Abrams and got into endless fights with  bloggers about why Wolverine should not be trashed all over the internet. It’s a tough choice, but I think I’m going to pick Sherlock Holmes as my film for ’09, because I can’t wait to see what happens next.

2010

This gets easier as I’ve had less time to get to the cinema and so have seen very few of the films released in the last year. The ones I did see are all strong contenders though; Inception, Iron Man 2, Toy Story 3…I’m going with The King’s Speech. Partly because it got me to finally forgive Colin Firth for the sins of 2008, but mainly because it did what very few films manage to do, it lived up to the hype.

2011

And here we are. Although I still have trouble remembering it actually is 2011. Depressingly this post has made me realise that I haven’t been to the cinema yet this year (is it really May already?) However, with Thor already out, Pirates 4 coming out on May 16th and X Men: First Class hot on its heels in June, I’m sure it’s going to be a very good year. 🙂


And there you have my semi-autobiographical life in movies. I’m back at uni again, and struggling a bit to find time to get to the cinema or post on here, but getting involved in things like this reminds me why I started STRM in the first place. Hope you all enjoy having a read through my tragic taste over they years. Looking forward to being trashed in the comments.

Click HERE to see what everyone else has picked.

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Top 5 Magical Movie Moments

Posted on June 6, 2010. Filed under: Ramblings, Top 5 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

Yet another post inspired by channel hopping to films on TV.  Back in October I told you about my Top 5 fight scenes, but today I want to get you thinking more generally about those moments that are just great pieces of cinema.  The ones where the direction, the acting, the score, the cinematography, everything just comes together for a scene that makes you think “wow.”  When I was thinking about what I’d put down, I realised that for a lot of these scenes, it’s the combination of the action and the music that really makes it a perfect scene for me.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, a great score can really make a movie.

Although I’ve called it Top 5, these aren’t necessarily in ascending order.  It’s more 5 great moments.

1.Where does my allegiance lie if not here?

This is the scene that got me thinking.  Now, we all know that I can rave about LOTR until the Orcs come home, but before you start rolling your eyes hear me out.  This scene really is pure magic.

Howard Shore’s score is so perfectly matched it’s scary, building the drama and then breaking away for Billy Boyd’s (self-penned) haunting melody.  What I think really makes this scene though is the foley work.  As the score takes over, we lose some of the sound.  The commands of the men and Orcs are silent screams, but the creaking of the bows remains, really hammering home the suicidal misson that faces the brave riders. It’s just epic.  Add to that the juxtaposition of Denethor almost frantically eating while he tries to ignore what’s happening, with blood running down his chin, and you end up with an awesome movie moment that is just melodramatic enough without over doing it.

2. At the Moulin Rouge you’ll have fun!

I have written about this scene before but I just couldn’t exclude it when talking about my favourite cinematic moments.

Energy and colour are what Baz Luhrmann does best, so when it comes to Moulin Rouge that first scene when you’re taken on a rollercoaster ride through the dance hall is just mindblowing!  In one 3 minute scene we get a mash up of no less than 6 songs culminating in a supercharged Can-Can.  The best thing about the scene is that we’re seeing it from the same position as Christian, so we too are bewildered and enthralled by all the flashing colours (and flashing flesh!)

3. Welcome to Port Royal Mr Smith

Best. Entrance. Ever.

Before he even says one word we know eveything we need to know about Captian Jack Sparrow from his incredible entrance to Port Royal. Who else would stand so proudly on the top mast of a ship which was more than three quarters sunk?  The best part is it doesn’t even seem to faze him.

As soon as he set foot on that board walk I knew I was going to love this film

4. He is The One.

Another great moment for movie music.  This scene is slightly marred by all the crazy superman stuff we see Neo do in the two Matrix sequels, but when he first stands up and stops those bullets I always want to jump up and cheer!  I love how effortless it all becomes for him, he just turns and says “No.” He even fights with one hand behind his back!  It’s a great turn around having just watched him have the crap kicked out of him.  The music is perfect here too, that great strings slide that runs through the film really captures the idea of being in a dream while still sounding artificial, but the addition of a choir brings back the human element, mirroring what’s going on on screen.

5. Oh Captain my Captain

I know it is incredibly cheesy. And I know that it is orchestrated to be a heart wrenching moment. But cynicism aside it’s still a great scene.  Ethan Hawke makes it for me.  It’s not so much the getting up on the desks that has the magic but the obvious guilt and pain of Hawke as everything he has been taught not to believe in is once more forced down his throat.  And Robin Williams is a better actor than he lets on…(may have to come back to a post on that later)

Those are mine, what are your stand out moments of cinema?

**Disclaimer: thank you to all the YouTubers whose clips I’m borrowing.**

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The Theory of Second Viewing

Posted on January 7, 2010. Filed under: Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

Sounds clever doesn’t it? Don’t worry, it’s not.

Basically, I am of the belief that you cannot form a proper opinion about a movie until you’ve seen it twice.  Case in point: if you look back you’ll see that when I watched Iron Man for the first time I said that I liked it but probably wouldn’t put it on the movies to see before you die list, and didn’t rate it too highly amongst the other Marvel films.  However, now I’ve watched it again (a couple of times) I’ve pretty much completely changed my mind! Definitely a firm favourite for me now and making it’s way onto the list.  There’s also been films I wasn’t too sure about first time around but having seen them again I think I misjudged them. Sin City springs to mind. Twelve Monkeys takes most people a couple of goes too, but that’s mainly to get your head round it.

I think part of it is that the first time you see a movie you’re trying to keep up with the plot and the characters and so you can miss little things like throw away one liners or cool set design that you’ll pick up second time around.  Of course some times though, you’ve got to trust your instincts.  You will have to pay me a whole lot of money to make me sit through the  Mamma Mia or Lost In Translation again, while at the same time it didn’t take me more than one viewing to realise that Lord of the Rings was a brilliant film.

More often than not I find that films I thought were only OK to begin with get better the more you watch them, but things can go the other way too.  The sequels to The Matrix and the Pirates follow ups both came out in a wave of PR and special effects that had you going in the cinema, but the plot holes get wider once you get the DVD back to your sofa. Not that I dislike any of those films, just perhaps not as into them as I was the first time.  I’ve already written about how hype can affect your opinion of a movie with The Dark Knight, and from what I hear of Avatar so far, it seems like that will be another one which loses some of the magic once it’s out of the cinema, especially since so much stock is tied up in the effects.

There’s more than a few places on this blog where I’ve written I need to see a movie again before completely making my mind up (The Eternal Sunshine debate rages on).  It’s not so much for the films you either love or hate, it’s the ones where at the end you can’t quite decide how much you like it.  My advice is watch it again.  You’ll probably find it’s better than you think.

…unless it’s Mamma Mia 😛

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Top 5 Movie Fight Scenes

Posted on October 18, 2009. Filed under: Ramblings, Top 5 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Catching the final showdown of a soon to be named action movie on TV a little while ago got me thinking about the best fight choreography to hit the big screen.  The following debate with my sister made me realise that a blog post was in order, so here are my favourite movie punch ups.

Just so you know, I’m not counting full on battles here, more one on ones (or one on manys).  Coming up with a top 5 was really tricky, and there are lots of great films that aren’t on the list (Die Hard, Fight Club, Spiderman, Star Wars…) so try not to get too angry if you’re favourite isn’t there. And please, remind me of the awesome punch ups I’m bound to have forgotten.

5. Daredevil

Maybe a controversial one here, since I seem to be pretty alone in liking this film, but I reckon that the first meeting between Matt and Elektra in the playground is a great movie moment.  It’s a tie between that playground fight, and the showdown in the bar with some cocky criminals for best fight in the movie.  What makes the latter so great is the point of view stuff, showing what Daredevil “sees” and making the fight a lot more interesting.

4. Bridget Jones’ Diary

It’s the ultimate anti-fight.  Two posh public school boys try to knock the stuffing out of each other without getting their expensive suits dirty.  Outcome? Definitely one of the best on screen fights ever.  I think what makes it so good is the fact that it seems perfectly likely that if Hugh Grant and Colin Firth ever do get into a fight, this is exactly what it would look like.  The best part is when they sing happy birthday.

How not to fight

3. X2: Wolverine’s Revenge

When I’ve watched Origins again, this may well get replaced by one of the Wolverine/Sabre fights, but when I first saw X2 and the set up starts for the battle between Wolverine and his female counterpart Lady Deathstrike I knew it was gonna be good.  It’s a dual of the immortals and the fact that the pair are so evenly matched is what makes the fight so awesome.  And the way he wins, you’ve gotta admit, is pretty inventive.

2. Equilibrium

Gun Kata. All hail the guy who came up with that one.  It’s not quite Martial Arts, it’s not exactly a shoot out, it sure is awesome to watch!  The whole film is filled with wicked fight moments, but I think for obvious reasons the ultimate fight sequence of the movie has got to be Preston’s final show down with “Father”. Damn that was good.

1. And the winner is….The Marix Trilogy

The film I was watching when this idea came to me was Matrix Revolutions, and despite the flaws in that film, I still think the so called “super-burly brawl” at the end is the best bit of fight choreography yet to be committed to celluloid. I mean, their punches stop the rain for god’s sake!  The effort that went into the visuals of that scene is just staggering, the row upon row of Agent Smiths that appear even in the windows of the skyscrapers for example must have taken hours of post production.  Of course, the focus on visuals rather than plot is probably what killed the two sequels, but you’ve got to hand it to the Wachowski brothers, they know how to stage a punch up.  In Reloaded we have the (not quite as super) burly brawl where Neo and a metal pole take on the legions in yet another stunning combination of wire work, kung fu and bullet time.  If you’re not into the sequels, the sequence which follows: “What do you need?” “Guns. Lots of guns,” in the original is just epic.  And since it’s pretty clear that fights liked this spawned our number two spot, it gets extra credit.

I could go on about Matrix fight scenes for a long time.  The thing about The Matrix is, the films changed our expectations of movie fights; with the invention of bullet time one of the major landmarks in visual effects history.  Thanks to them, fight choreography isn’t just about one guy swinging at another, it’s an art form in itself.  Which keeps action junkies like me very happy. 🙂

He's beginning to believe

Honorable Mention:

“Come back and I’ll bite your legs off!” The Black Knight always triumphs.

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Good Bad Movies

Posted on June 7, 2009. Filed under: Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

One of the problems with the way I’ve structured this blog is it’s a bit black and white. There are films out there which fit in the grey area between genius and disaster.
So, here’s a list of good bad films, they’re not exactly brilliant, but they’re good in their own rubbish LXGway. They’re the inbetweeners that don’t fit on the must-see list but don’t belong on the steer-clear list either.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. It’s not exactly a great film; the plot is thin and the adaptations from the novels are just plain wrong, but I still love it to bits. It’s harmless fun, it makes me laugh and on a dull night in it definitely passes the time.

Die Hard 2.  Yes we all know it’s nowhere near as good as the original, or even the third, but its John McClane running around shooting things and saying Yipee Ki-Ay. It’s all I need.

Bruce Almighty. I know that its wrong to love Jim Carrey but I can’t help it.  This film borders on preachy but just gets round it, and it really does make me laugh.  We’re all alllowThe Matrixed some guilty pleasures…

Home Alone.  I know. But hear me out.  It’s Christmas and that brilliant John Williams score starts up…it just works.

The two Matrix Sequels.  Compared to the original they aren’t fit to call themselves The Matrix, but if you let that go, there’s some awesome fight choreography which make it worthwile as long as you don’t try and understand the plot.  The multicar pile up in Reloaded is the best I’ve ever seen, I’d watch it just for that.The Lost Boys

Fantastic Four.  Defintely the weakest of the Marvel adaptations, the characters just aren’t as interesting, but it’s still a fun watch.  I’m never going to quite buy Ioan Gruffudd as an action hero, but the film doesn’t take itself seriously enough for it to matter.

The Lost Boys.  Possible the most 80s film ever made.  The special effects are “special” for all the wrong reasons and the vampire plot was tired even then, but somehow it still manages to be brilliant.  Maybe it’s Keifer Sutherland with peroxide hair that does it…

So, they’re not exactly run out and see them now recommendations, but don’t turn them down.  Give ’em a go.  Don’t expect Oscar winners, just slightly fluffy but fun film making.

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