What’s your favourite film? I was posed this question the other day, last night to be exact. I have been posed it multiple times in the past by the same person, and various other people, and without fail I always react the same way: “oooo gosh, I have no idea”. As a former film student and self proclaimed film lover, I’m extremely embarrassed by this answer; I thought I was getting better with my indecisiveness, clearly not. Problem is, I like so many films for so many different, personal and technical reasons – how do you choose just ONE? Please, decisive people, teach me your ways! I’m sick of having an existential crisis every day! Anyway, in an attempt to curve this debilitating issue, I thought I’d try narrow down at least 3 films that I totally adore. So without further ado, here are my “top 3” (maybe… I still haven’t decided yet) favourite films and why I like them.
The Breakfast Club, John Hughes – 1985
We’re starting off this trio with quite possibly one of the most cliché answers I could’ve given. I’m pretty sure every film student or wannabe film buff says that The Breakfast Club is one of the greatest films of all time – trouble is, we’re not wrong. I hate to say it and lean into the pretentious film stereotype I seem to have built around myself but, I adore this film. I remember watching it for the first time a few years back by myself when I was home alone, and it has stuck with me ever since. The premise of The Breakfast Club is not all that surprising, if anything it’s a very predictable film; five aggressively different high school kids find themselves in Saturday detention, as the silence and their growing restlessness draws in, their social group barriers break down and they bond over their emotional hang ups. It’s not filled with crazy revelations or plot twists, you won’t feel your jaw hit the floor, but its candour hooked me straight away. It’s not about the revelations, they’re not intended to be groundbreaking. The Breakfast Club is a humble film, steered by teen relatability and the oppressive, restrictive nature of school when you’re young. It’s simplicity bleeds into the script; it feels as if it was written by the characters in the film, for the kids of that era, right down to the egotistical, untouchable, prick-ish attitude of the teacher that hangs over them like a prison guard. I really believe that such a film could not be made today, not just because of the generational changes, but because you just cannot recreate the raw naivety that is possesses.
The Grand Budapest Hotel, Wes Anderson – 2014
This was the first Wes Anderson film I saw in the cinema, right back when I was just dipping my little toes into the world of “real” cinema (I was traditionally late to the party). I’m not sure where to even begin with describing this literal masterpiece, you read how I just described The Breakfast Club – don’t hold your breath, this is going to go down like a lead balloon. *ahem* … The Grand Budapest Hotel follows a convoluted story of which I’m genuinely unable to fully sum up in a simple sentence without dragging this out for days on end, or, into it’s very own blog post. The story recounts the tale of the aforementioned hotels demise, its legendary (and uptight) concierge (M. Gustave) and the new devoted lobby boy (Zero). Intrigue, adventure, friendship, tragedy, romance, suspense – this film covers it all in the most artistic, light-hearted, but ultimately bittersweet way. Anderson’s directing style is simply awe inspiring, meticulously composed, each and every shot is designed for the most perceptive observer. It’s not just a film, it’s a full universe, a peek into his brilliant mind, created so painstakingly detailed that on first glance you may think was entirely real. It is storytelling at its finest and one of the most visually stunning pieces of cinema I have seen (so, just like all his other creations, no surprise there). One of my favourite elements of this particular film of his though, happens to be the changing aspect ratios to show the different time periods; technical moments like these are so rare in cinematography nowadays, and I’m such a lil b*tch for it. It’s a film I could personally watch over and over again and not get bored, and I bet each time you’d notice something you previously didn’t. Oh, and the cast is insanely good. Ralph Fiennes? Willem Dafoe? Jeff Goldblum? Yes. Yes. Yes. Just go watch it.
Baby Driver, Edgar Wright – 2017
Now it’s all well and good having a visually stunning film, that’s difficult enough, but pair that with the use of a cleverly chosen soundtrack, ugh, it’s literal goose bumps all round. In the Baby Driver universe, all actions are influenced by beats, whether you can hear it or not. Baby (yes, that’s his name “B-A-B-Y, Baby”), chooses a track from one of his many Ipods and the world moves with it – whether that’s a bystander escaping the scene, gun shots, or some simple graffiti on a wall, music is the DNA of this films brilliance. After a car accident when he was a child left him with tinnitus, Baby spends his life with earphones glued (not literally) to his ears, blasting music to drown out the ringing. He now acts as a getaway driver for a man named Doc, who he once robbed, to pay his dues. The casting is brilliant, Ansel Elgort truly excels as Baby – a soft spoken, stoic faced badass with an innocent heart – I can’t imagine him embodied as anyone else. At its core Baby Driver is an action/thriller, recalling the acts of criminals and classic “bad guys” alike, oh, and a good old car chase (or two), but it doesn’t feel like that when you’re watching it. It plays out more like a music video, scattered with unnoticed details many would glaze over during the first viewing. But for those keen eyes, it is a truly fascinating story to watch unfold. The coffee run scene (you’ll know what I’m talking about if you’ve seen it) stuck in my head for weeks after I left the cinema, I remember walking into my film class the next day ready to burst. Luckily I was met by my film tutor who had just the same amount of enthusiasm, and together we gushed about it as a class for an embarrassing amount of time – we were so cool.
So there you have it, a brief summary of 3 of my favourite films – I hope I didn’t bore your socks off (quick, pull your socks back up again, you look like a fool). No, I’m still not any closer to deciding on one true favourite. Who knows, maybe I just haven’t found the film that owns the top spot yet…
Keep shining, see you next time (and I probably will do this again soon, I have a lot of films to choose from)