When I was 9 I went to see The Return of the Jedi. I'd already seen the first two on television and VHS respectively, but this was the first time I'd really been inside a cinema. The Cannon in Stockton was a classic old cinema; the queue began outside, there was an ice cream vendor inside, the adverts were all for shops "just around the corner from THIS cinema" and if you really wanted to, you could even sit at the back and smoke........
About 120 minutes later I was completely hooked and ever since I have been a huge fan of anything and everything to do with film. For a time I even had a party trick where I could name the director and main actors of any film you cared to mention, only once failing completely to get the answer (thanks, Clerks).
You might wonder why I am writing a blog about films and not English grammar? Well, this is my passion and I thought you might like to get to know me a little before you book a session with me :-) Besides, if I can inspire you to watch just one of these films in the original language, I will have succeded in my goal of improving your English! Watching films in English is a wonderful tool to advance! You will be challenged by words you never heard, accents that are difficult to understand and actors that speak so fast or slurred you will have a hard time understanding them! While this might not sound like much fun, it is actually a great strategy for improving your English. The pictures will help you to understand the context and the various accents and speeds will prepare you for real life negotiations and other conversations. Wondering why he or she used this word or that tense instead of another will make you question what you know and thus advance your English! I often recommend this strategy to my customers.
Having said that, the films I am writing about are not chosen with my customers in mind. My idea here is to do nothing more than write about films that made a specific impression on me. Films that I can watch over and over again, that left my jaw on the cinema floor, that make me smile when I rewatch them alongside my children.
So the films won't necessarily be famous, but then, maybe if you haven't seen them, my blog might inspire you to do so!
I often used to try and create a Top Ten list, but this almost always excluded a film that most people believed should be on. As such, instead of a top ten in the traditional sense, I decided to make a 'favourite ten', the films that I have enjoyed again and again for the last thirty to forty years. So Shawshank Redemption, one of the best films I have ever seen, is not on the list, while Police Academy, which clearly isn't, is. (Don't worry, The Godfather remains :)
So to begin this blog, I'm going to address the ten films that I love more than any others, up to this point. They include comedies, crime movies (my favourite genre, but also the one that has produced the most rubbish!) and even a superhero movie and cartoon. I hope you enjoy. Let's begin.......
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
The second of the Indiana Jones films, and my favourite. Not because it's better than Raiders of the Lost Ark; it isn't. It's extremely dark, violent, and certainly not for children. And that's exactly why I loved it so much. I couldn't believe that my parents knew what my brother was taking me to see!
Set before Raiders of the Lost Ark, the film joins Indy in Shanghai, and introduces you to his sidekick and bodyguard, Shortround. From there a wonderful set piece involving a plane, an inflatable boat and lots of screaming lands our heroes in India, where he agrees to help some villagers recover their lost children whilst, as always, having one eye on the valuable antiquities also possibly there for the discovering!
Throughout the film there are stylistic flourishes that the director, Steven Spielberg is now famous for. The expansive shots, the exciting music, the many jokes. Harrison Ford is wonderful as Jones, a role that superseded even Han Solo as his most defining (at 79, he has just completed the fifth!) and you root for him all the way. Kate Capshaw provides great foil as the singer Willy Scott, completely out of her depth and desperate for a telephone to call her agent, and Ke Huy Quan is fantastic as Short Round. As a young boy, he represents our window into Indy's world and also our fantasies (how cool it would be to kick butt alongside Indy!)
So why is it in my favourites' list? It's not as good as Raiders, and it's even arguable that Last Crusade is better (Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is awful). The answer is simple.
I will never forget the excitement of going to the cinema with him. And Temple of Doom was the first of those trips. Ever since, every time I've watched it, the knowledge of this history never fails to bring a warm smile to my face.
Number 1 on my favourite films' list; Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
'Fortune and glory, kid. Fortune and glory.'