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 Tear-jerkers

Posted on August 1, 2010. Filed under: Ramblings, Top 5 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

Carrying on with my Top 5 posts (an idea not even slightly nicked from Ross vs Ross) let’s look at those lump-in-the-throat moments we for some reason can’t get enough of.

I am absolutely useless when it comes to crying at movies.  In the right (wrong?) mood I will end up crying at the most pathetically not sad things.  Despite this distressingly girly quality it is ironically quite often boyish movies that get me going.  So without further ado, here are my Top 5 tear-jerker moments. *Sniff*

**Beware Spoilers and thanks again to all the YouTubers**

5. Mufasa dies

I think everyone of my generation has this scene burned into their consciousness.  It was our “Bambi’s Mum,” except this time, and for the first time in Disney history, there was a dead body on screen.  Scary stuff for little kids.  Add to that Hans Zimmer’s score and you have a really moving scene.  Don’t worry though kids, he’s up in the clouds keeping an eye on things.

4. Billy gets into Ballet School

Even though you can sort of guess where it’s heading, the tension is so high by this point that when that letter appears on the table we are right there with his family waiting to hear what happened.  There is almost no dialogue and a very sparse piano accompaniment to go with some great acting from the young Jamie Bell.  This scene is also the first time we see Billy’s family really getting behind him, as they all are obviously desperate for him to succeed.  The fact that Jackie’s joy is so short lived brings us smack back down to Earth, emphasising what Billy is escaping, and how lucky he is to get out.

(It’s the first 5 minutes you want.)

3. Armageddon Goodbye

I think this might have been the first film to really make me cry.  I know that it tops the list of films tha make most men cry too, and I bet I don’t even have to tell you what scene I’m talking about.

I can flick to this film while I’m watching anything else on TV and the effect will be almost instant.  From here to the end of the movie is a cry fest for me.  I’ve only managed to get through it dry eyed once, thanks to two friends (you know who you are) continually checking to see if I was crying yet.

I always think Ben Affleck has had a bit of a rough deal when it comes to criticism, but he’s pretty good in this movie.

2. “You died on a Saturday morning.”

Everything that happens in Forrest Gump is about him trying to get back to Jenny, which makes the ending all the more heartbreaking.  Tom Hanks is fantastic as ever, and the dialogue is simple but effective.  I love the final scene where he sits on the stump watching the school bus leave, because we know he is probably going to sit there all day waiting for Little Forrest to come back home.

(Start from 2:15)

1. “They fought like Scotsmen, and won their freedom.”

As I’ve said before, I can honestly only watch Braveheart once a year.  I know that there are huge embellishments in this movie, but it is still essentially a true story.  I’ve been to Bannockburn and I’ve been to the Wallace memorial; they are both incredible places.  The part of this scene that always gets me is Robert the Bruce’s voiceover telling what happened to Wallace’s body, because that part at least is true, and shows just how ruthless the monarchy used to be when it came to so-called traitors.

Despite being hugely outnumbered, with no resources and having just watched their leader being brutally tortured, the remains of his army still stood against the English.  God I wish I was Scottish!  James Horner’s score is absolutely magical.  It holds all of the power of this scene.

Hope I didn’t depress you all! I promise my next post will be more upbeat.  Meanwhile if you want to share you’re favourite weepies please do.

Interestingly, 3 of these movies made it into my Desert Island Discs picks.  Guess we all need a good cry to keep us going.

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Movies that couldn’t survive without their lead actor

Posted on July 25, 2010. Filed under: Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Some movie characters are iconic.  In some cases the reason for that is more to do with the actor playing the role than the character itself.  There will always be parts that you couldn’t imagine anyone else playing, but arguably some characters are so wrapped up in the identity of the actor that they would be entirely different with someone else in the costume.

The character who I think fulfils this most of all is Captain Jack Sparrow.  Just try to imagine any other actor playing that role.  Can’t do it can you?

Legend has it that Johnny Depp turned up to the audition in that costume, complete with make up, accent and real gold teeth.  Without Sparrow there is no Pirates of the Caribbean and I would argue without Depp there is no Sparrow.  The movie was a real risk-taker, with the appeal of pirate movies long dead and many people  wondering if a film based on a little known ride, made by Disney but not strictly for kids, could make it. Then Jack staggered on to the screen and everyone was hooked.  The whole movie hinges on that one iconic character; a point backed up by the fact that he is the only returner (except Gibbs) in the upcoming fourth movie.  Sparrow is now as famous, if not more so, than Long John Silver or Captain Hook and I really don’t think the movies would have done even half as well without Depp at the helm (bad pun not entirely intended).

Another character who I think is intertwined with the actor playing it is Iron Man.  He basically is Robert Downey Jr.  When he was announced as the man stepping into the suit it seemed a strange choice but it’s turned out to be a career defining role.  I’m not saying that no one else could play Iron Man, because I can think of a few other people who probably could, but I think the characterisation would be very different, as the writers have clearly put a lot of RDJ into Stark.

It’s not just faces on screen either.  Imagine Disney’s Aladdin without Robin Williams voicing the genie.  Doesn’t work does it?  And I’d put a strong case for the fact that Woody and Tom Hanks fit so well together that Toy Story would be a different movie without him.

Pretty much anything in Jim Carrey’s early career is entirely dependent on him too.  Obviously a lot of that is down to parts being written for him, but can you really picture Ace Ventura or The Mask in the hands of someone else?

There is only one incidence I can think of where the same character played by two different actors has an equal impact on the movie, and that’s The Joker.  Jack Nicholson in Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman completely owned the movie and was put down as the definitive Joker.  Or so we thought. Fast forward 19 years and Heath Ledger brings something completely new to the table which has audiences and critics alike lost for words playing a huge part in the success of The Dark Knight.

Usually we think of movies as making or breaking the career of actors, but it works both ways.  One  performance can lift a mediocre movie to a whole new level, or just as easily bring it crashing down.

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The 12 films of Christmas, Part Three: Christmas Eve!

Posted on December 24, 2009. Filed under: Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Here we are with the third and final part of my 12 films of Christmas. The deckies are up, the presents are wrapped, the turkey’s defrosting and there’s only one thing left to do; get in those final few films to really get you in the mood!

Before I get going, a quick reminder of the 12 so far:

12. The Nightmare Before Christmas
11. Die Hard
10. Edward Scissorhands
9. Love Actually
8. The Grinch
7. Home Alone
6. Miracle on 34th Street
5. The Santa Clause

Onto the top 4 then. Here’s my recommendations for what to watch on Christmas Eve and one for Christmas Day.

A Muppet Christmas Carol

OK, so I have a confession to make. I’ve cheated and already watched this one.  Christmas just isn’t Christmas without the Muppets. As I’ve said to Caz, as far as I’m concerned this is the definitive version of the Dickens classic (although I haven’t seen the newest offering.)  For starters Michael Caine sings in it!  All the music is great and the puppets are woven seamlessly into the human cast to make what is actually a very truthful rendition of the classic Christmas tale.  Although I do blame Jim Henson for my misguided belief that there were two Marley brothers (and that Scrooge’s first job was in a rubber chicken factory :P)

At some point during Christmas you have to see a version of A Christmas Carol. And if you’re me, this is the one you’re reaching for.

Getting into the evening now with: The Snowman

When I rule the world I’m passing a law that says everyone has to watch this on Christmas Eve.  It’s only 26 minutes long, there’s barely any speaking in it and the ending is one of the most heartbreaking on screen, but it is Christmas for me.  Howard Blake’s score is iconic, as is the animation, and for me as well as (probably) hundreds of other children it used to be the last thing I’d watch before I went to bed on Christmas Eve.  In the last couple of years however, it’s been replaced by my next choice…

Possibly a controversial one here…: The Polar Express

This was one of the first pioneers into the world of 3D cinema and therefore has some rollercoaster train rides to make the most of the effects and some slightly strange looking animation for which it’s got a bit of stick over the last few years. I’ve recently said I’m not that into the whole 3D thing (…until I see Avatar…) so you might be wondering what it’s doing at the top of my list. Let me explain.

I have never seen this film in 3D.  In fact the whole 3D thing only came to my attention because I was looking into the rollercoaster scenes.  So when I saw this film I wasn’t judging it on visual effects but on the story.  True, the animation of the people is a little off, mainly because it’s layered over actual performances, but I kinda like the fact that you can just about recognise Tom Hanks in each of the 6 characters he portrays.  I also think the plot is original and perfect for Christmas Eve.  Again, the idea of people not believing in Santa is used a lot this time of year, but the train for non-believers is a new one, and the juxtaposition between the different children works well.  My favourite theme in the movie though is the bells, such an essential part of the whole Santa image and used cleverly in this film.

If you haven’t seen it (or heard of it) I can’t recommend it more. It’s become a staple of our family Christmas, one which I will definitely be watching tonight.

So, that’s Christmas Eve sorted. Off to bed now or Santa wont come.  I have one more film for you, to watch tomorrow after your turkey.  In a way it’s a predictable choice, although you might not recognise it at first…

My Christmas Day film is: Chicken Run!

Is there anything more British than Aardman animation? When the rest of the world was wowing with CGI and the first of the Pixar sensations, Nick Park got out the plasticine and started building.

Chicken Run is a great film, full of dry humour, an awesome voice cast (Mel Gibson, Jane Horrocks, Miranda Richardson, Timothy Spall) and fun for all the family.  It’s great for any occasion, so why Christmas? Simple.

Chicken Run is The Great Escape, possible the most watched film at Christmas. Only it’s the less boring, less depressing, far more fun version of the same story, which in my opinion is infinitely better for you while you try to work out if you have any space left for that green triangle Quality Street.  Steve McQueen and his motorbike might be what most people reach for on Christmas Day, but I’ll take a rooster on a tricycle any day.

And that’s it. Christmas wrapped up in 12 great movies. All that’s left to say is Merry Christmas to all of you! I hope you all have a great time with whatever you’re doing.

I’ll be back in the New Year for this blog’s first birthday.

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Quote of the Day

Posted on May 18, 2009. Filed under: Quote of the Day | Tags: , , |

Not a hard one to guess.  I watched this beautiful film last night-I would give it a post but I don’t think I’ve really got anything to say that hasn’t already been said.

“-Lieutenant Dan, what are you doing here?
I’m here to try out my sea legs.
But you ain’t got no legs, Lieutenant Dan.
Yes… yes, I know that. You wrote me a letter, you idiot! “

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