I feel ashamed that one project for my maternity leave was watching lots of films (secondary to main project of raising a child) and I have managed to write about precisely none of them. The problem with reporting back is it's just a list of things - I watched this and this and this, and it was good/bad/indifferent and that seems a bit poor. But the world is swimming in lists of films, my tuppenceworth is as good as anyone else's. So, as the viewing comes grinding to a halt I'll try to make sense of the last 6 months.

  1. I watched a lot of films, sometimes 2 or 3 a day. When I had Tommy there was a lot of staying up during the night, and a lot of zombiefication during the day when I just wanted something to look at, so in the months leading up to Danny's arrival I saved up films off TCM or Sky Cinema 1 or Channel 4. They tend to specialise in the kind of films I like.
  2. I studied Film & TV for two years so have a bit of a hatred for films you "should" watch. I'd rather watch Caddyshack than Battleship Potemkin.
  3. I am very partisan when it comes to films, which also makes me a bit sheepish writing about them. If there's some actor I love who has two lines in it, I'm happy. If there's someone I can't stand (I think Nicolas Cage is the only one where this applies) I will hate it with a passion that knows no bounds. So what I like has nothing to do with quality. I'm not saying these are good films, just that I like them.
  4. I am also quite biased about entire genres of films: Westerns, gangster films, war films, anything with aliens or elves, musicals, horror, on a bad day anything in black and white or in foreign - all out.
  5. I am partial to: British films of the 1960s and 70s; kitchen sink dramas and TV spinoffs (love a TV spinoff); American films of the 60s and early 70s, particularly anything with Walter Matthau/Jack Lemmon; modern American indie; psychedelia; anything with a band in it, real or fictional; sci-fi which doesn't feature aliens or elves; anything about work or offices; anything about adolescents or misfits, anything in airports or Central Park.
  6. I like Neil Simon, Powell & Pressburger, Woodfall Films, Ealing comedies, Leonard Rossiter, Terry-Thomas, Ian Carmichael, Rodney Bewes, Margaret Rutherford, Roger Livesey, Tom Courteney, Alec Guiness, Alastair Sim, Albert Finney, Terence Stamp, David Hemmings, Peter Sellers, John le Mesurier, Irene Handl, Alan Alda, Alan Arkin, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Ben Stiller, Jerry Stiller, Parker Posey, Janeane Garofalo, Paul Rubens. That should do for starters.
  7. There is a complicated Top Trumps-style system where something I like can trump something I don't like and vice versa, so sometimes points 4-6 do not apply.

This said I'm ready to write about some films now on the understanding that they're just that, lists. Not in depth film criticism, just totally superficial, biased reportage. I'm hoping that if I mention some films (they kind of fall into groups) you, the reader, will be able to suggest other things in a similar vein and it will help to make connections. I'll start working on it next week.

What a fabulous roll call of British cinema greats. Each of those names is loaded with affection and poignancy.

Have you read Shepperton Babylon by Matthew Sweet? Highly recommended. I think it was serialised on Channel 4.


I kept missing that on Channel 4 but I'll look out for the book. Thanks for the tip.

I thought I was alone in hating Nicholas Cage. He seems entirely mis-cast for every role he's ever been in (except Peggy Sue Got Married and Raising Arizona).

Hi Gareth. That's reassuring. Raising Arizona is the only thing I can stick him in. Adaptation was my worst nightmare - two of him. I hated that film.

Second vote for Shepperton Babylon.

Top trumps variant: how many of Anne's favourites can you find in a single film? I score three for Brothers in Law.

Anne's taste is artier than she lets on. One of the reasons that I was watching Norman McLaren films down the Tate Modern last week was because he was a featured 'like' a couple of years back. Experimental but funny, fresh and playful as well. Does 'playful' trump 'arty'?

Well what do you know - I'm off work for the day (in preparation for our week off in Cornwall) and what do I find on TCM - Margaret Rurtherford in all her glory in 'Murder, She Said' (and no Spud her outfit is not the one that she parades around your dreams in !). As for films at Tate Modern did you see this : http://www.tate.org.uk/servlet/CollectionDisplays?roomid=3657 thoroughly recommend this it's amazing - I sat transfixed through this several times.

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