Jennifer's favourite films

As you can probably tell from comparing the length of this page to the length of my bookshelf page, films are not really "my thing" :-)

Things I don't like about films:

  1. I tend to find them quite slow compared to books. (mind you I read fast.)

  2. The way so many films resort to blatantly contrived manoeuvres to forward the plot in the desired direction, as opposed to setting up a situation that would naturally allow an interesting story to unfold. So I'm sitting there going "Well THAT wouldn't happen!" or "well they just wouldn't DO that would they?" or "Why don't they just ASK each other what's going on like any sensible person would?". Etc.etc.

  3. The predictability of most films so you can guess half an hour in advance "Well she's obviously going to end up with him, and the other one's going to get jealous" or "They're obviously gonna crash the car" or "He's obviously gonna turn out to be a baddy". Etc.Etc. And the stereotypes of people and relationships.

  4. The use of music in a crashingly blatant, heavy-handed, manipulative, unsubtle way to signal and evoke the emotions that the audience is now supposed to be having.

Of course given this initial lack of expectation that any films will be any good, I don't watch films at all that often, and I'm sure I've completely missed some good ones.

But! Here are some that I did watch and really liked.

(Rather than putting in detailed credits myself I'm adding links to the Internet Movie Database so you can look up for yourself who directed, who was in the film etc.)

Rumble Fish
I loved the way this story turns around the relationship between the older brother and the younger brother and their past... it also has music (by Stewart Copeland (sp?) of Police drumming fame) which seems to me to suit the flavour of the film perfectly. quite understated if you know what I mean.
IMDb link for Rumble Fish
Sex, lies and videotape
Some of the pleasure in this one is an element of classic "people getting what they deserve", which is arguably a bit predictable in the sense of being a staple of storytelling, but the themes and circumstances of the plot are unusual enough to be unpredictable. Everyone's fate can be seen to unfold from their own behaviour - no annoying spurious contrivances. The acting is excellent and the 2 women are enjoyably beautiful.
IMDb link for S L & V
Honest, decent and true
I don't think I've discovered anyone else who's seen this one. It was made for TV in the 'eighties. There isn't one central plot - it's a collage of shifting relationships among about 7 or 8 people, set against the background of an advertising agency.
I read an article in the Radio Times about it at the time explaining how there hadn't been a script - all the actors worked with the director first to develop their character, and then they improvised around some ideas for scenes, and when it came to filming, the director would just remind them of a few key elements in the scene. The result of this was some extraordinarily convincing acting and some extraordinarily convincing moments of plot. I remember waking up the next morning and thinking about it and wishing I could watch it all over again right then.
IMDb link for H D & T
This is Spinal Tap
Somewhat of a legend by now, this film follows the fall and rise of an originally-fictional rock band. (I say originally because since the film, the band has actually played some real gigs.) Its legendary status was gained by sheer accuracy in epitomising some classic themes of rock - the great and miserable gigs, the "musical differences", the managerial eccentricity, the album cover controversy, and of course the band's ambivalence about the lead singer's girlfriend. The film is a string of glorious moments where almost all the humour is of the "ouch so true!" variety. Some great acting too - some of the best moments are the expressions of people in the background of a scene as they react to what's being said.
IMDb link for This is Spinal Tap
(Last updated: 2 December 2000.)

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