The Courier: 30 days of film challenge - day 23

For today's challenge our writers pick a film from a director who has since died

multiple writers
7th May 2020
Gosford Park (2001) - Robert Altman

Gosford Park was directed by Robert Altman (1925–2006), who also directed The Gingerbread Man, Cookie's Fortune, Dr. T & the Women, and The Company. He was nominated for 7 Oscars and won 66 other awards. Including a Golden Globe, a BAFTA, an Academy Award, Berlin International Film Festival award, and Cannes Film Festival award.

My favourite work of his is Gosford Park. I was first introduced in my teenage years, as it was one of my grandma's and mum's favourite movies, so it didn't take long for them to recommend the film. I have a huge love for period drama films so it's no surprise that I enjoy watching a film such as Gosford Park.

Gosford Park is set in 1932 at an old-fashioned English country house where a weekend shooting party is taking place. Following a murder the lives and secrets of upstairs guests and downstairs servants are revealed as they investigate.

It's a great film that has a mix of both the sophisticated Downton Abbey and mystery of Clue. Then the incredible ensemble cast, with Eileen Atkins, Bob Balaban, Alan Bates, Charles Dance, Stephen Fry, Michael Gambon, Richard E. Grant, Derek Jacobi, Kelly Macdonald, Helen Mirren, Jeremy Northam, Clive Owen, Ryan Phillippe, Maggie Smith, Kristin Scott Thomas, and Emily Watson. You can't complain when there are that many impressive actors.

Amy Harris

The Princess Diaries (2001) - Gary Marshall

I was going to write this about John Hughes, because of course, it's John Hughes. However, I figured everyone would be writing about John Hughes, Stanley Kubrick or Alfred Hitchcock. So here I am, and I stumbled upon the fact that the director of The Princess Diaries, Garry Marshall, died in 2016. He also directed Pretty Woman (1990), the 90s classic starring Julia Roberts, but my trash brain wants to discuss The Princess Diaries.

Don't get confused between The Princess Diaries and The Princess Bride (1987), despite both being equally iconic. Although, the line "My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father- prepare to die!" would be amazing in this film too. The Princess Bride stars Anne Hathaway as Mia Thermopolis, who finds out from her grandmother (Julie Andrews) that she is the only heir to the kingdom of Genovia. It then becomes the story of the nerdy unpopular girl who turns into a Princess, and has to decide whether she wants to follow the line of succession, or renounce it.

This movie is so cheesy, if it was a pizza the cheese would all just congeal and fall off. But, this is such an uplifting, 'don't really have to think about it' film that I've ended up watching probably more times than what is socially acceptable. It's the classic story of the teen girl who becomes popular and loses herself along the way, but it works.

This film isn't perfect, it arguably isn't even that good. The acting is questionable at best, and the frankly, the directing decisions are too. The script feels clunky in places, and it's quite funny to watch Julie Andrews struggle to work with the script. Also, this film pretends that Anne Hathaway isn't pretty before the makeover scene, but it's clearly still just the beautiful Anne Hathaway. Oh, and you'd think the Queen would have more security than a guy called Joe who wears an earring and a leather jacket. However, this film has a charm that you can't escape, and that's why it's so beloved.

The sequel, however? Oh God. It does have Chris Pine in it though!

Sophie Hicks

True Romance (1993) - Tony Scott

Don’t let the title fool you into thinking you’re watching a rom-com. Directed by Tony Scott and written by Quentin Tarantino, True Romance (1993) follows Clarence (Christian Slater), a comic-book lover who must go on the run from the Mafia with prostitute Alabama (Patricia Arquette) after he murders and steals drugs from her pimp. Now a cult classic, True Romance is just as violent as you would expect a film written by Tarantino to be, seeped in pop culture references as Clarence and Alabama embark on a Bonnie and Clyde-type plot.

Although a box office failure, True Romance has since gained a cult following and has been the inspiration behind music such as The 1975’s hit song “Robbers”. The film also sees early roles for stars such as Gary Oldman, sporting dreadlocks and a glass eye, and Brad Pitt as a stoner who can’t leave the couch. Although brief roles, both characters set the film in motion as Clarence and Alabama encounter the drug lords who want them dead. Although a violent thriller, True Romance portrays an unconventional love story which is likely to stay with you long after your first watch.

Kate Dunkerton

Rebel Without A Cause (1955) - Nicholas Ray

One of my favourite films ever, Rebel Without a Cause is probably best known because of James Dean and that red jacket. But one things for sure; Nicholas Ray made one of the most iconic films in cinema history. Even if it only got more popular because of Mia and Seb's slightly illegal visit to the Griffith observatory after their failed attempt to watch it in the cinema.

Dean plays Jim Stark (no relation to Tony that I know of, though), a troubled teen moving to a new town who, as you can guess, causes trouble. Befriending Plato (Sal Mineo) and falling for the already taken Judy (Natalie Wood), Stark makes enemies beyond his parents. Made in 1955 there's some parts that obviously haven't aged well, but Ray's portrayal of teenage desire for freedom is still amazing today.

Harriet Metcalfe

Silence Of The Lambs (1993) - Jonathan Demme

Being a doctor is one of the most important jobs, especially at the moment. Going above and beyond to save lives is truly commendable and anyone who is a doctor should be proud of that title.

Unless of course, your name is Dr. Hannibal Lecter.

I never realised until today while looking for a fil that the director behind one of my favourite films, The Silence of the Lambs (1991), Jonathan Demme had sadly passed away in 2017. I was shocked, to say the least but at least I thankfully now have the opportunity to talk about this masterpiece for which he won the academy award for best director.

The Silence of the Lambs is by far Antony Hopkins's best performance to date and is what earned him his Academy Award for best actor. His portrayal as Hannibal Lecter is one of the most iconic in the medium and for being one of the best villains ever. Sure, Mad Mikkelsen did brilliant in the Hannibal tv show but Hopkins's performance is just unbeatable with his creepy unrelenting stare (throughout the film he hardly blinks which just makes this all the more effective) and all the little ways he made the character his own. Of course, the film isn’t just about Hannibal as Buffalo Bill and Clarice Starling are also brilliant characters, even if they are overshadowed by Hopkins.

It was sad to learn that this brilliant director died, but I am truly grateful for the films he left behind and I hope his legacy is remembered for many years to come.

George Bell

La Dolce Vita (1960) - Federico Fellini

It really is the sweet life when you defined Italian Neorealism, went down in world cinema history and your name is Federico Fellini. This film following the life of a news reporter in Rome is a classic of the 1960s and beyond. The titular character battles with his wife’s drug overdoses, climbing in his career and dealing with an unruly movie star. This film portrays Rome in the most romantic way while also highlighting the difficulties the Italian people were facing post Mussolini rule. It looks at both sides of Italian life in the most intimate of ways, only one of the reasons it’s such a classic today. The glorious story is another reason this film is held in such high regard as Fellini plays with his audience really drawing them into the lives of the characters.

This film is so rich with symbols and hidden meanings that not only is it a wonderful story but is also full of lessons from and for the characters. While inviting us into the beautiful black and white romance of Rome, Fellini also opens us up and makes this film mean so much more and that is why it is my pick for today.

Eve Ducker

Scream (1996) - Wes Craven

For day 23, I really thought that I was going to have to talk about some Alfred Hitchcock film (I hate pretty much all of them). So when I did a deep google and found that Wes Craven was dead, I knew I had to choose Scream for day 23. Rest in peace Wes Craven, an absolute master of the horror genre.

Scream was literally the first horror movie I ever watched and it scared the living shit out of me while also making me extremely interested in the horror genre. This man is responsible for revolutionising the horror genre not just once, but twice. He is responsible for making me become a horror fan. Craven warps and subverts multiple genres to mash it into an insane whole. The final Mansion sequence works because of its blend of actual horror cliches and uniquely crafted riffs, sliding together as each character is interweaving within the large and ominous house.

I don't really have much more to say that critics haven't already said except that the durability of this film, especially given today's completely over-saturated horror market stems from Craven's playful, voyeuristic work with violence and the gorgeous cinematography.

I hope one day ghostface calls me from outside my house and quizzes me on random knowledge too.

Lucy Lillystone

The Fruit Machine (1988) - Phillip Saville

I haven’t seen any other of director Phillip Saville’s films, who died in 2016, and I watched this one sort of by accident, on the cosy red sofas of the BFI Mediateque.

The Fruit Machine tells the story of two young gay boys on the run from a killer and the police, but I was pleasantly surprised by how it evaded the stereotypes of a typical crime-thriller, instead featuring extended comedic drag scenes, romance, and some strange but actually quite moving fantasy scenes set in an aquarium. It has a fast-paced plot but leaves space for the tender and changing relationship between the two characters, exploring 80’s Brighton, Liverpool and London as the boys get more tensely wound up in danger.

The film is charming in its complete strangeness, and Phillip Saville a “pioneer” of English film-making; the whole thing is on YouTube, if you’re looking for something a little different, vaguely confusing, but wholly enjoyable.

Leonie Bellini

Source: YouTube
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