With dear old Barry Norman reminiscing over his favourite films, I was prompted to think of a few of my own favourites. To narrow it down I thought about those with a strong crime element, in various guises.
I tend to be a very ‘visual’ writer, perhaps because of my background in tv scriptwriting, in any event I find that certain films have had as deep an impact as some of my favourite books. The ones listed below certainly did…
So here’s 5 I would thoroughly recommend. If you haven’t seen any particular one of these then go and get the DVD, you won’t regret it. All these were made by masters of the art of film-making….
1. One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest – unparalleled ensemble performances from the likes of Louise Fletcher, Danny DeVito, Brad Dourif, Sidney Lassick and many others… and, of course, Jack Nicholson at his finest, as the mad or bad Randle P McMurphy. Still the only film that has had me laughing out loud one minute and reduced to tears the next.
2. Blue Velvet – a brilliant portrayal of good and evil. Sometimes tense, sometimes surreal, from white picket fences and singing birds, to crazed and sordid villains just around the block. A crime fiction tale with so much added spice that you need a cooling raita to go with it. One of the most atmospheric films you’ll ever experience, but then David Lynch started off with Eraserhead, so we shouldn’t be surprised.
3. Fargo – Another take on the crime fiction tale, which just shows what you can do when you mix dark deeds with original and believable characters. In my humble opinion the Coen brothers at their peak. Top class performances all round, cracking script, and a special mention for Marge… surely one of the most creatively original detectives to ever appear on screen. A very clever film, tense one minute, amusing the next.
4. L.A. Confidential – adaptation of James Ellroy’s novel, a sophisticated thriller. Call it ‘noir’, call it what you will, but it’s the sparkling script and well drawn characters that really make it. Themes of ‘truth’ resonate throughout and there’s a clever play with the Hollywood escort look-a-likes. There’s also one particularly memorable scene with the police chief, where you are totally taken aback by the story shift. Guy Pearce surprised many with his top class performance, along with Danny DeVito, Kevin Spacey and Russell Crowe, who were all perfectly cast… yes even RC!
5. Usual Suspects – One of the few films that you really do have to watch twice to fully appreciate its brilliance. It may seem hackneyed looking back now, but when Kevin Spacey acts out the final few scenes there are so many enjoyable pay-offs. If by any chance you haven’t seen it, it might even help to freeze-frame a few particular shots. Still can’t quite get my head around the fact that Kobayashi is also now the name of a Formula One racing driver. He and Keyser Soze will live forever in the memory…
‘Kiss and Tell’ by TJ Cooke – http://amzn.to/WZbNPp