Last week's Star Wars related top five got me thinking about my all time favourite films. It's a pretty easy list. The top four have been set in stone for some time. I thought film number five was pretty solid too, but now I come to write about it I'm not so certain.
1. Reservoir Dogs (1992) Dir. Quentin Tarantino
I'm pretty sure I only went to see this film because it had been banned. I remember Barry Norman giving it a glowing review and hinting at all sorts of things that sounded edgy and exciting. I had to drag a mate along as it wasn't the sort of movie my girlfriend was keen to see and, typically, we arrived late, walking in during the opening "Madonna" monologue and wondering what we'd missed. I love the way the film is put together; the sparseness of the main warehouse scenes, the snippets of what had led to that point and the gradual development of the characters involved. It doesn't even disappoint at the finish, a brilliant Mexican stand-off followed by an emotional end for Mr Orange and Mr White.
2. Fargo (1996) Dir. Joel & Ethan Coen
Lured in by the appearance of Steve Buscemi this was, I think, my first Coen Brothers movie. I'm a big fan of all their work now but this remains my favourite. It's got a gentle pace that gives the viewer time to take in the nuances of the film without sacrificing any of the pull from the plot. The scene that sticks in my mind is still Buscemi being fed into the wood chipper by Peter Stormare but many of the film's best moments involve very little happening at all. Brilliant performances from William H. Macy and Frances McDormand and some great cameos from other Coen regulars.
3. Pulp Fiction (1994) Dir. Quentin Tarantino
Tarantino has made a big impression on me. I feel like I've been there from the start and despite a gradual decline in quality he is still one of my favourite directors. "Pulp Fiction" is good enough to stake a claim for the number one spot, as do all of my top four. It has a more complex plot than "Reservoir Dogs" but that doesn't detract from the pace and thrill of the story. It contains more brilliant dialogue from the pen of Mr T and pulls off some neat cinematic tricks along the way as it jumps between time and location to magnificent effect.
4. Star Wars (1977) Dir. George Lucas
"Star Wars" is a film intrinsically linked with my childhood. I have vivid memories of my Mum taking me and my best pal to Kingston to see it. I can remember the Bus journey there, in the silence of contained excitement, and the bus journey home with our noisy discussion of the best bits. I remember talking about the scene where the Jawas capture R2D2, how brilliant light sabres were and the spectacular finale with the X-Wing squadrons. I went on to swap Star Wars bubble gum cards at school (still have the full Blue and Red set!) and got a Star Wars duvet and pillow case for Christmas that year. If you could get something with Star Wars printed on it (pencils, lunch boxes, pants) then I probably had it. I've seen it more times than I can count and still love it now.
5. Blade Runner (1981) Dir. Ridley Scott
For a long time "The Godfather" has taken this final spot and it remains a a fantastic film, it's just not one I've felt the urge to watch again very often. "Blade Runner" appeared some four years after "Star Wars" and offered me a sci-fi film with a bit of gritty reality thrown in. A sign I was growing up and much more appropriate, I thought, for a teenage boy to be into. It was darker and moodier than any sci-fi I'd seen before and revelled in the ambiguity of it's plot.