The Courier: 30 days of film - day 11

Today our writers give us their favourite films from genres they don't usually like.

multiple writers
25th April 2020
We all have our favourite genres. Some like horror, some sci-fi or comedy. Genres allow us to categorize films together & genre conventions help us decide which films to spend the time & money seeing at the cinema. However, at the end of the day film is an art form & as such is highly subjective. Every now & then we catch a film that defy our expectations & that we, to our great surprise & pleasure, find ourselves loving. Today our writers celebrate those movies they loved from genres they normally avoid.

Shanghai Noon (2000)

I enjoy watching films from most genres, especially Horror, Action, and Comedy, but I'm really not a huge fan of Western movies. Every time a Western film is on TV every Saturday afternoon I've never been able to sit down and enjoy them. Except for Shanghai Noon. However, Shanghai Noon isn't your ordinary Western movie where Clint Eastwood and John Wayne save the day. It's more of a Western classic and comedy mix, combining great fight scenes with humour - making it a Western-comedy.

Starring Jackie Chan, Owen Wilson, and Lucy Liu, set in the 1880s, the film follows Chon Wang (Jackie Chan), as he travels to the Wild West in order to save a kidnapped princess (Lucy Liu), where he teams up with train robber Roy O'Bannon (Owen Wilson) in order to rescue her and take on the Chinese slave trader holding her captive. The scenes between Chon Wong and Roy O'Bannon are hilarious and as they buddy up and become a duo the two work well together. From the sensational fight scenes with Jackie Chan's martial arts skills to Owen Wilson's laid-back, cheating, con artist character Roy, it makes for a very funny light-hearted film.

Amy Harris


It Follows (2014)

I hate horror films. I have great respect for them and think they often don’t get the respect they deserve. But I hate horror films and for a very simple reason: I’m a wuss. They scare me and while I understand that’s the whole point, I can’t hack it. This film however was something else. I’m convinced I didn’t blink throughout the entire thing. It was carefully crafted and unnerving with intelligent writing that made it impossible to disengage for even a second. It was a film that certainly stayed with me, one I carried around and was looking over my shoulder constantly. Everything I ordinarily hate about horror films I loved in this.

Eve Ducker


Midsommar (2019)

It's not that horror is my least favourite genre, but it's the one I probably watch the least. Horror as a genre is extremely hard to write for, so if a horror film is good it's amazing, whilst the majority of them are awful.

Saying that, I love Midsommar. I'm sure most people have seen it but I'll briefly describe the plot if not. Basically, a girl called Dani and her boyfriend Christian are invited to a Sweedish festival that only happens every 90 years, where the rituals are a bit...disturbing to say the least. I really don't want the spoil the plot so I've made it as vague as possible.

However, I love how the film gradually builds up in its horror aspects, and then just completely goes off-the-wall. The film doesn't shy away from showing the gruesome aspects of the story, and isn't too cliche whilst doing so. I hate when horror films use too many jump scares and lose the plot amongst the horror conventional gimmicks, but Midsommar doesn't do that. All of the horror aspects are integral to the plot, and the more times you watch the film the more you noticed about it. It doesn't lose its impact on a second or third viewing (whilst most horrors do in my opinion, once you know the jump-scare beats there's not much else in the plot - cough, The Woman in Black). Midsommar is well thought out, thought-provoking and genuinely disturbing to watch.

The effects are good, the costumes are beautiful and the acting is stellar - Florence Pugh was completely snubbed. Oh, and the ending? Wonderful. I can't really ask for more from a film.

Sophie Hicks


As a person who’s still scared of the dark sometimes, I do not enjoy horror films at all. Seriously, I’ve seen maybe five in my lifetime. Although Midsommar is not your classic horror film, it’s scary and tense and brilliant! 

What’s happening here is not going to make you jump constantly in your seat, it’s about anticipation. Oh! You’re not ready for the weirdness that ensues but the beautiful scenery will keep your eyes glued to the screen, for sure. I think I like it because it messes with your brain, whilst showing you flowers and meadows.

It’s about the need for a community, understanding and grief – ok, maybe that last one is not something we want right now. However, it’s more about the release of all the pain trapped inside Florence Pugh’s character. By now, I think we all need a bit of that freedom from constant tension, so why not try it the Ari Aster way?

Anna Marczynska


La La Land (2016)

I hate musicals. I hate them with a passion. I don't understand why every single line has to be sung - where is the dialogue? It makes the story messy and confusing. It is also extremely unrealistic in that people will just break out in song while walking down the street or at a restaurant. No. It doesn't happen unless you're Sophie Hicks and a social singer. Yet, despite my hatred for musicals, I do like to listen to the soundtracks and I do appreciate the odd musical such as High School Musical (2006), Grease (1978), The Sound of Music (1965) and of course La La Land.

Firstly, the songs in La La Land aren't overdone in that I'm sat there hating it - they make sense and they come at a good interval between one song and another that there's room for the dialogue and the plot to develop. I also just adore Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone - they're both brilliant actors and truly bring the chemistry and the romance to the screen in a way that will, without a doubt, make you cry.

The colours and the scenery and aesthetic of this film is also breathtaking. The scene on the bench? You almost don't watch Stone and Gosling as you're taken aback by the beauty of the surroundings. Also, the parallels in this movie between the opening scenes and the ending scenes...even the parallels in the subtle background music are astounding. You almost don't notice until a second or third watch but it makes you notice how much work and effort was put into creating this film.

While I may hate musicals with an absolute passion, I will always appreciate the brilliancy of La La Land.

Lucy Lillystone


Much to my girlfriend’s dismay, I am about as romantic as a brick wall. As a result, I’m not overly keen on romance films. But I don’t hate them. That honour is reserved exclusively to musicals. Movies where people just break into song and dance randomly aren’t fun, they’re distracting from the actual story and just feel like filler. I made sure to avoid romantic musicals like the plague as it combined my two least favourite genres in a way that would almost certainly be trauma-inducing. But after watching, and loving, the brilliant Whiplash (2014) I thought I’d bite the bullet and watch another of Damien Chazelle’s films, La La Land (2016). When I sat down to watch it, I braced for the worst.

But surprisingly, despite all the romance and musical outbursts, I actually quite enjoyed this film. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone are excellent in the lead. Watching them struggle to accomplish their respective goals, and relationship, was real and relatable thanks to great chemistry and writing. The cinematography was also fantastic with several excellent shots and an impressive colour pallet. The final part and shot of the film are some of the best cinema I’ve ever seen making for a melancholy viewing and love letter to Hollywood. I don’t love this film and I don’t see myself rewatching it any time soon but it’s a testament to how good it was that I don’t mind it and could sit through it. It’s a good film and should definitely be checked out at least once.

Now excuse me while I go burn yet another copy of Hair Spray (2007).

George Bell


Carrie (1976)

I scare way too easily. So horror films are always a questionable choice for me. But did I watch Crimson Peak (2015) just because Tom Hiddleston was in it? Yes. Did I go to the horror-all-nighter at Tyneside cinema just to see Carrie for the first timeat one in the morning? Yes. Honestly, sometimes I don’t understand myself.

After being thoroughly spooked by the Shining twins and a Carrie look-a-like, aptly covered in fake blood – I watched Carrie. And everything was going fine! Sure, some parts of the film haven’t aged well, and it can feel a bit male-gazey but I wasn’t scared! I was enjoying the film! Don’t know what I was worried about.

And then her hand came out of the grave and I felt my heart leap out of my chest.

Carrie was, all-in-all, an enjoyable film. Can't say I've been rushing back to watch it again, but it did make me realise that maybe this whole horror genre isn't so bad. It was just a good thing I wasn’t holding the popcorn.  

Harriet Metcalfe


Coraline (2009)

I do not like horror. I can’t sleep at night anyway; I don’t understand why anyone would want to watch something that makes that worse.

Ok, Coraline is a very clearly made-up kids animation film, but try telling that to nine-year-old me, and also maybe current me who is still slightly terrified that one day she’s going to wake up to someone attempting to sew buttons into her eyes. This is the only scary film I can remember seeing that has actually brought some enjoyment, in its gorgeous animation and interesting character relationships, alongside jump-scares and general creepiness. Fine, I’m a wuss, but watch the ‘horror trailer’ for this on YouTube and tell me you don’t look twice at every button you see for at least a few minutes afterwards.

Leonie Bellini

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