Day 2 of the challenge! Today our writers recommend films that begin with the first letter of their name.
The Lighthouse (2019)
The first film that popped into my mind that began with the letter ‘L’ was of course, Marvel’s Logan. However, I resisted the urge to write 100-200 words on my favourite superhero movie because a) there’s a day dedicated to just that, b) I’d definitely need more than 100-200 words and c) I didn’t really feel like crying again. For that reason, I chose The Lighthouse (we’re all going to disregard definite articles for this challenge okay).
Directed and produced by one of my favourite directors Robert Eggers, starring Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe, The Lighthouse possibly one of the best films I’ve ever watched in my lifetime. From the very beginning I toppled head over heels in love with this film and never once wanted it to end. The performances are outstanding (especially Dafoe, hot damn HIS FACE), the black and white photography is gorgeous and the story is filthy, delicious and horrific. This movie puts you through a gaslighting experience and having re-watched it a few days ago out of lockdown boredom, I still don’t really know what was real and what wasn’t.
If I have one complaint, I really wish the ending was better but this film is perfect in that it makes you feel uneasy, it makes you uncomfortable. Please go watch it, especially if your name starts with an L!
Misery is a psychological horror film directed by Rob Reiner based on a 1987 Stephen King novel of the same name. It stars James Caan as Paul Sheldon, a famous author of a loved series of novels wanting to move past the series and go on to further his career, and Kathy Bates as Annie Wilkes, a nurse who is “the number one fan” of Paul’s novel series. After Paul’s car crashes in a blizzard while he is returning to New York, Annie Wilkes finds him in the snowstorm and brings him to her remote house to nurse him back to health. However, after letting her read the manuscript for the last novel in the series where he kills off the protagonist Misery Chastain, he discovers that Annie is more psychotic then she lets on and doesn’t exactly plan on letting him go when he gets better. The majority of the film takes place in Annie’s cabin with just her and Paul on screen, so the stellar performances of both Caan and Bates really carry the film. It leaves you terrified for Paul the entire movie, and certain scenes (the hobbling) stick in your mind long after you’ve watched the film. It’s an unforgettably perfect psychological thriller, but really just the fact that it’s a King adaptation should get you excited to watch it.
When I thought of films that started with S, despite iconic films such as Scream (1996), Se7en (1995) or Shrek (2001), my brain instantly went to Stardust.
Stardust is a film that people either adore or haven’t heard of. Stardust is a fantasy-romance-comedy-adventure, I guess, and has everything you want from a movie. If you aren’t aware of the plot, it follows the adventure of Tristan Thorn (Charlie Cox) when Victoria agrees to wed him if he retrieves a falling star. However, when he goes beyond Wall (quite literally a wall) to Stormhold, he sees that the star is actually a woman called Yvaine. It sounds crazy, but it’s wonderful.
There are many different side plots to this film which really make the world of Stormhold feel real, giving it depth. For instance, a succession crisis adventure plot where sons of the dying King of Stormhold try to find a ruby hidden by their father, so they can secure the throne for themselves. Robert De Niro is also a cross-dressing pirate in another side-quest. Oh, and some witches are also on the hunt for Yvaine because stars have the ability to live youthfully forever. Somehow, despite how crazy the side plots feel, they all link together and add different dynamics in the film, so it never feels boring or too slowly-paced.
I won’t spoil what happens in the film or its twists and turns, but I absolutely adore this film. The film really has a heart and can make me audibly aw, cry and laugh. It’s The Princess Bride for the 2000s, and everyone should watch it.
The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
Wes Anderson is one of the best directors in Hollywood at the moment so it’s a happy coincidence that one of his best films, The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014), starts with the same letter as my name. Okay, yes, I am ignoring the The. Anderson has directed several fantastic movies, both live-action and animated with Moonrise Kingdom (2012) and Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)but it is probably his hotel-oriented masterpiece that made him a household name. And it’s no surprise why. This film feels like a culmination of all his previous works and lessons he learned making them. In typical Anderson fashion, the film is shot beautifully with tons of symmetry and contrasting colours. The cast is probably one of the, if not the best, put on screen with the likes of Ralph Fiennes, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Adrian Brody, and Saoirse Ronan just to name a few. If you’ve only ever seen one Wes Anderson film chances are this is it and if you haven’t, I can’t think of a better one to recommend. And with his next film, The French Dispatch, set to release August 28th it’s a great time to start loving Wes Anderson.
I know this is a big claim, but Psycho may be one of the few perfect movies. At least for me. Equal parts thrilling and horrifying, Psycho paved the way for both psychological thriller and slasher genres, both of which would go on to include some of my favourite films, such as Scream (1996).
I don’t know how other people feel, but the first half of Psycho is weirdly relaxing for me. Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) steals $40,000 from a client of the real-estate firm that she works out, driving as far away from Arizona as she can to start a new life. Despite the little tensions that she’ll be caught in the act, it’s an oddly satisfying experience to watch the great escape from mundanity.
Then Marion meets Norman Bates. The dramatic chain of events, equipped with chilling noir cinematography and haunted-house set-pieces, is some of the most exciting cinema that has ever been captured on film.
Of course, the performances of Janet Leigh and Anthony Perkins couldn’t be oversold. Leigh balances cunning with compassion, Perkins kindred with disturbed. Moreover, the mayhem exists beyond reason, making Psycho a raw and visceral must-watch.
H. I’ve got my pick of the lot. Halloween. Hostel. The whole Harry Potter franchise. And I went for… Heathers. Okay, the musical nerd in me won this time. After being pushed by my theatre friends at college to expand my taste beyond Hamilton and La La Land – and after a trip to LA where we even visited the school where they shot the film, I finally listened to Heathers. And oh god, was I missing out. And having been obsessed with the soundtrack for just over a year, I finally watched the 1989 original film at uni – shouting ‘I’VE BEEN THERE!!’ at my laptop a lot.
First things first? The two are so different – and certain parts of the film definitely haven’t aged well. But I loved it; film Veronica felt more independent, and JD had a much stronger (and scarier) screen presence. Whilst I always thought I would miss the intensity of emotion that songs like Seventeen and the somewhat odd but albeit effective Freeze Your Brain gave to the characters – I really didn’t miss them watching the film. Heathers (the film) isn’t full of your ‘normal’ teenagers, and that’s what makes it brilliant.
Groundhog Day (1993)
I’m surpassing all expectations here: the film I have chosen doesn’t start with just the same letter as my name but the same first TWO letters.
I feel quite embarrassed to say that I only watched Groundhog Day for the first time this year, but it really was worth the wait. While not being quite as laugh-out-loud funny as I had first anticipated, the film is worthy of its status as a modern classic – and hopefully its legacy has made up for Bill Murray being bitten by a groundhog twice during filming.
The film centres around an ideology of “be yourself!”, “make every day matter!” and “treat people with respect!”, but this for me was not the lingering effect of the film. Instead, I had Sonny and Cher’s “I Got You Babe” stuck in my head for weeks on end. The plot is great, but the soundtrack is fantastic – and Punxsutawney is a brilliant word.
I would like to end with a compilation of fun fact thanks to my friends at Wikipedia. Despite Punxsutawney being a real town, the film was actually shot in Woodstock, Illinois because Punxsutawney “didn’t have a town centre that looked good on camera”, and its remote location made it more difficult to film there. The Tip Top Café was merely a set created for the film, but after the movie’s great success became apparent it turned into an actual restaurant, the Tip Top Bistro (I’m not sure how often Bill Murray frequents it, though). And Punxsutawney Phil wasn’t actually just one groundhog, but was played by a series of groundhogs, collectively known as Scooter.
Taxi Driver (1976)
Taxi Driver would be the quintessential Scorsese film – its post-Vietnam War New York setting, a Robert De Niro lead role, the scummy underworld of the city – were it a mob movie. But Taxi Driver is something a little different. Belonging to the genre I like to call “lonely young man descends into madness” (catchier title pending) Taxi Driver follows insomniac Travis Bickle (the eponymous driver, played by De Niro) in his search for meaning in a city rife with violence, corruption, and prostitution.
To discuss Bickle at length would reveal too much of the plot, but it’s interesting to consider if he’s a sympathetic protagonist or not. Arguably the most important support character is New York itself; many of the scenes could not take place anywhere but the porn cinemas, brothels, and late-night diners of pre-glamour Manhattan. The graphic violence and grime are underscored by Bernard Herrman’s sleazy and jazzy soundtrack.
Like in so many of his other films, Scorsese manages to create an experience that is visually striking, with quotable dialogue (“You talking to me?”), and provocative characters and plot. Regularly taking top spots in ‘best films of all time’ lists – though you may choose to take these rankings with a pinch of salt – Taxi Driver is a film about vigilantism, one that Joker (2019) owes a lot to, that is unavoidable for any film fan interested in what drives acts of incredible violence.
St. Trinian’s (2007)
The reason I always enjoy watching St. Trinian’s is because, despite the all girls school being far removed from my experience of education, there is somehow something for everyone to relate to in it. The categories of girls, from The Emos to The Posh Totties, makes everyone subconsciously wonder which category they fit into; it is like a low-key Buzzfeed Quiz.
The comedy aspect of Rupert Everett playing the headteacher, who tries to flirt with the Education Minister, Colin Firth, leaves you with no end of laughing. You simultaneously are disgusted by the whole concept of the school and cliques, and yet so want to be a part of the tight bond between the school girls, and this uncertainty is what creates the charm of St Trinians (as well as the fact that the theme tune will stay in your mind for a long time after listening to it, no matter how hard you try to forget it).
American Psycho (2000)
It took me a while to pick a movie that started with an A, but once I thought of this one, I knew it was right. It took me at least three watches of American Pyscho to truly understand what the hell was going on. Directed by Mary Harron and starring Christian Bale, this movie merges horror and satire in the best way. Patrick Bateman desperately tries to hide his psychopathic urges from his co-workers, and we watch as he slowly looses his grip on reality (though you can argue that he didn’t have that to begin with). People argue that the film didn’t quite capture the same level of satire that was present in the original novel (written by Brett Easton Ellis), but I think Bale’s portrayal of Bateman saves it. He is absolutely chilling from start to finish.
It’s incredibly violent, as you’d expect. I remember that it shocked me the first time I’d watched it. It’s also somehow quite funny, and the characters hook you into the story. The ending still baffles viewers, even myself. But it’s definitely one of those movies that should be on everyone’s film bucket list.
Addams Family Values (1993)
There are quite a number of films beginning with A, so it was a real task picking which one I like most. There is Aladdin, Anastasia, Aftermath and then all of the Avengers films. However, after a lot of pondering I came to one of my ultimate favourites beginning with A: Addams Family Values. An American comedy from 1993 where the Addams Family, an atypical family, try to save their uncle Fester from his serial killer gold-digger wife Debbie.
It’s an unusual film with dark humour and a family who is outlandish yet bewitching. It’s a film that is capable of making torture, murder, serial killers and arson humorous and light-hearted. It isn’t often that you find the sequel to a film is better than the original, however, Addams Family Values ticks all those boxes.
The sequel, stares Anjelica Huston, Raul Julia, Christopher Lloyd, Christina Ricci and Joan Cusack. A great cast for an unusual and freakish yet comical plot.
All About Eve (1950)
So I’ve broken the rules here slightly but this film was too good to miss out on writing about. This classic 1950s film is filled with ambitious, often villainous women making it not only fiercely feminist but also a formidable story. The queen that is Bette Davis plays Margo the veteran film star whose light is being slowly stolen by her conniving assistant Eve (Anne Baxter). Not only is it a great film because of its 14 academy award nominations or its 2.9 million dollars in box office; its true greatness stems from its ability to stay just as powerfully relevant today. Some of the speeches have a freshness of coming straight from the scripts of Fleabag. The power that this film has had for me (despite the fear that I was named after the villain of a film), is insurmountable.
La Haine (1995)
I feel like you end up hating everything you studied at school, for me at least because being forced to read out loud as a shy 15-year-old apparently ruins Lord of the Flies permanently. Thankfully this is not the case for La Haine, which remains both tragic and funny, and still makes me jump on its billionth rewatch. Telling the story of three friends from the housing projects in suburban Paris the day after a riot, the film perfectly captures their boredom and anger, as well as humour, while the tension of the violent situation gradually mounts. The worst part is that the strikingly realist depictions of police brutality, racism, government austerity, and life on the margins of society unfortunately still seem equally relevant today.
Charlotte’s Web (2006)
When the prompt is ‘a film you like that starts with the first letter of your name’ and you’re a C-baby the world is your oyster. Turns out, lots of films start with ‘C’, and even the ‘Ch’ sound has more than its fair share of class film titles. But, let’s be honest, when your name is Charlotte, you kinda have to talk about Charlotte’s Web.
I’m not going to pretend it’s my number one film EVER but come on, it’s a classic. I remember watching it when I was pretty young and at first being a bit freaked out that I shared my name with a spider – who likes spiders at age 6? But I was a big animal lover and the cast of farmyard animals had me sold. The film is based on the 1952 novel of the same name and follows a baby pig, Wilbur, through his adorable piglet-hood getting up to hijinks with his little girl owner. Disaster strikes as he matures (ain’t no micropigs here) and his owner sadly has to give him up to a farmer relative to be EATEN FOR CHRISTMAS DINNER! The audacity.
Luckily, good old Miss Charlotte the spider steps in to save him, weaving intricate webs that read affirmations such as ‘Some pig’, ‘Terrific’ and ‘Radiant’ to convince the humans that Wilbur is worth keeping. I’m pretty sure the web writing is the main thing I can remember, but it does give me nice warm fuzzy feelings thinking about this childhood film. Worth a watch, especially if your name is Charlotte, in my humble opinion.
Last modified: 17th April 2020