Saturday, 26 February 2005

The greatest films in the world... ever!

On a recent company meal out (you know the sort of thing, where you give up your leisure time to socialise with people you're normally paid to hang out with) I found myself in something of a conversational conundrum. After copious amounts of wine and beer, the conversation descended into the kind of pseudo-serious debate that I thought I had left behind at university, many years ago. The subject? What is the best film of all time...

To me, this was patently a ludicrous subject. How can anyone, by any objective measure, identify a single "best" film? I think a few of my colleagues were in agreement, but alcohol was flowing in such Bacchanalian quantities that, whilst waiting for dessert, we went around the table and everyone named their favourite film.

Surprises? None of the men named any "Godfather" films, or "Raging Bull". "Citizen Kane" didn't get a mention. Neither did any of the films that you would expect people of my age range (late-20s/early-30s) to have grown up with, like Star Wars or ET, though Back To The Future was acknowledged. In fact, very few films made prior to 1990 were cited, with the exception of "It's A Wonderful Life" and "Gone With The Wind". As the act of going round the table made its inevitable way towards me, I began to wonder if people were actually naming their favourite film or just the first good film that came to mind, or even whether they were trying to score pretension-points by naming an obscure or arty film. As for me, I went for "Cape Fear" in the end, and was surprised to be asked by a number of people whether that was the Gregory Peck/Robert Mitchum original or the Nick Nolte/Robert DeNiro remake. Much as I enjoy the original, I went for the remake (stunning performances from all four leads, amazing quotable dialogue, terrific camerawork...).

The next morning, to distract myself from my hangover, I reconsidered my choice. It turns out I have lots of favourite films, of different genres or for different moods. Sometimes a film doesn't even have to be especially good to make my shortlist - it need only evoke a warm memory of the first time I saw it. Anyway, to draw this ramble to a close, here's a random selection of films I heartily endorse (in alphabetical order only) for the aforementioned variety of reasons. My favourites? Well, some... but ask me again in a year or two and I'll probably come up with a quite different selection...

Tuesday, 22 February 2005

'Blogging on...

Everybody else is blogging, so why shouldn't I? Well, one reason would be that most blogs are poorly written and interminably boring, and mine will almost certainly be no exception. I'm not going to let that stop me though, so apologies in advance.

Of course, another reason is that most blogs either turn into personal diatribes against someone or something, or peter out after a few days/weeks/months. With this in mind, I promise to:
  • restrict this blog to thoughts, observations and recommendations
  • not try to write every day so that I quickly get bored and abandon the whole thing
  • do my best to be at least remotely interesting to other people

So, an observation. Is it just me or are British weathermen so worried about being blamed for something that they issue "severe weather" warnings at the drop of a hat? Maybe they're all worried about being the next Michael Fish (UK weatherman who famously assured the nation that the hurricane of October 1987 wouldn't hit - he's been taking stick for that ever since). Last night, our meteorological friends were warning of 4cm of snow overnight. Where is it then? I awoke to the merest dusting of the white stuff, so light that it reminded me of icing sugar atop a Victoria sponge cake. No day off work for me then... As an aside, the unexpected clemency of the snowfall didn't stop two cars coming together right outside my house this morning. How easy it is to be caught out by an ungritted road.

Right, enough of that. Just got time to squeeze in a quick recommendation. One of the most useful things I learnt at university was how to spin a pen around my thumb (I know, it was some course). You can learn how to do this too, by visiting - trust me, once you start you'll never hold a pen in the same way again...