Frances McDormand is chased around a dark apartment in the dieing scenes of ’Blood Simple’, with no idea why. The man chasing her nevertheless has been intricately involved in her life spiraling out of control. The story of ‘Blood Simple’ one of murder and betrayal is simply executed with brilliant moments of tension and dark humour. The unbearable silence between Mc Dormand being broken by a news paper being flung at the door is one of those moments that no amount of scripting or description could describe the effectiveness of. It is a cinematic moment. The dark shadowy surrounds match perfectly the poor people skills shown by the characters, who slowly self destruct through their lies. An excellent noir-ish thriller.
9. 'Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark'
Taking inspiration from shows and movies that filled their childhoods Steven Spielberg and George Lucas delivered in Raiders of the Lost Ark an icon of cinema, a thrill ride rarely matched and the trilogy of films that umbrellas my time spent loving film. Little can be said that hasn’t already at this point about the fun in these films. For me, as I have delved more into the making of these films, reading of the friendship of Lucas and Spielberg, Harrison Ford being second choice for the role and great moments such as River Phoenix being whipped on the chin in ‘The Last Crusade‘, bringing a scar on Ford’s chin from a carpentry accident into the story, all add to the mythos of these films.
8. ‘Manhattan Murder Mystery’
I always knew of Woody Allen, I truly discovered him with ‘Manhattan Murder Mystery’, which it turns out was the original concept for ‘Annie Hall’ before that movie went down the route of neurotic relationship analysis. Introducing me to this revelatory world of sarcastic and self-deprecatory humour as well as my constant favourite - murder mystery, the film was tailor designed for my tastes. Of course I have come across, ’the early funny ones’ and also have enjoyed the recent output which barely manage a theatrical release, ’Manhattan Murder Mystery’ was just the right side of accessible for my fragile young mind and a cross section of bitter sweet observation and farce that I’ve grown to love. ‘Bullets over Broadway‘, also deserves a special mention, firstly for being hilarious and secondly for introducing me to John Cusack.
7. Charlie Kauffman Charlie Kauffman admits he has difficulty finishing his stories, so as a sly nod to this at the end of ‘Adaptation’ he lets the story rip free descending into a chase a world away from the film we have been watching. Until now we have been following the story of a writer (Nicholas Cage) suffering from writers block who has trouble adapting the novel ‘The Black Orchid‘. Charlie Kauffman turned the story of his own frustration of adapting the real world novel ‘The Black Orchid’ into the premise of a film. Staying true to real life we see his character as played by Cage wander around the soundstage of ‘Being John Malcovich’, with scenes seen being acted out, a film Kauffman had just completed. I could watch and wallow forever in the intelligence and humour of this film. The mind of Kauffman bowls me over. Adding a twin brother to the mix, with Chris Cooper and Meryl Streep the characters of a story within a story, there are layers of enjoyment at play in this film. The more I thought about this film as I wrote about it, the more I wanted to throw it in the DVD player.
6. 'Superman Returns'
I was lucky enough to see this movie, opening weekend on an IMAX screen with 20 minutes or so in 3D in Auckland, New Zealand. I followed minutely every step of the making of this film, as a fan of Superman I waited with all the anticipation of a Star Wars fanatic or some other zealot I would normally laugh at. A new entry into the Superman film canon, the first in 19 years was an 'event' for me in every sense of the word. The film thankfully lived up to my expectations, though of course praise for it was not universal. The film was an ode to the Christopher Reeve films, imbuing an old world sense of romance and adventure. The world of Superman successfully recreated, one which will hopefully be enhanced in the next movie, capitalising on the potential of the character.