Phew! ‘U’ is really hard. I had my top choice in mind, and ended up sticking with it. But there’s not much to leave for you, except a couple of obvious ones. Good luck with ‘U’!
I don’t laugh at many American comedians in films, no secret there. Adam Sandler leaves me cold, and though I might occasionally grin at Ben Stiller, that’s a stretch too. I have never watched ‘The Hangover’ films, and failed to raise a chuckle at anything involving Owen Wilson. Even ‘Dumb and Dumber’ left me checking the weather reports, for something more interesting. And don’t get me started on the legion of ‘buddy’ comedies. OK, I did laugh at ‘Bridesmaids’ (2011). A little bit.
One American comedian who always made me laugh was John Candy. Something about his smile, maybe his huge bulk, but he got to me every time. So, my first choice today is ‘Uncle Buck’ (1989). This can be watched over and over, never losing its charm or appeal as far as I am concerned. When he died, we lost a real comedy talent. I won’t bother to describe it, as you must have seen it. And if you haven’t, it’s because you don’t want to.
Another comedy film, this time starring ‘proper’ actors. Sometimes, a madcap comedy-drama works so well, it is irresistible. This was the case with ‘Used Cars’ (1980) Kurt Russell heads up a great cast, alongside Jack Warden, and Deborah Harmon. Warden plays two parts, as feuding brothers running very different car dealerships opposite each other. Russel is the pushy young salesman working for the less successful brother, determined to save his boss’s failing business. With some great set pieces, and credible performances all round, this is as enjoyable as it gets in that genre.
A dark thriller with more twists and turns than you can shake a stick at. An excellent plot, with really good performances from a crop of solid stars, and competent direction from Oliver Stone. Mix that together, and you get ‘U-Turn’ (1997). With Sean Penn in the lead as Bobby Cooper, perhaps the man with the unluckiest life ever committed to film, we see him fall foul of a chain of events that starts with his car breaking down in a small town in Arizona. He is attracted to the sexy wife of a local man, setting the scene for some very bad things to happen. Everyone in this film is worth watching, and they are all so good in it too. Nick Nolte, Billy Bob Thornton, Jennifer Lopez, John Voigt, Powers Boothe, Claire Danes, Joaquin Phoenix. Now that’s what I call a cast list! And music from Ennio Morricone too.
It’s a cracker.
I often write about Scarlett Johansson on this blog. I confess that I could happily watch her just standing up. Or lying down. OK, she appeals to me, that’s obvious. Fortunately, she can act too. In this film, she isn’t required to do much acting, just to represent a strange figure from another world. So maybe anyone would have done? Not at all, because she was born to play the compelling alien presence in the wonderful ‘Under The Skin’ (2013). She can act without talking, using expressions and body language to convey the weirdness of a creature inhabiting the form of an attractive young woman. This unique and unusual film is just amazing to behold. All thanks to her.
A pretty obvious top pick, but I wasn’t about to let it go. Sorry. An ensemble cast, one of the best ideas in decades, a snappy script, great visuals, and a mind-bending plot. And Benicio del Toro as the wonderfully-named Fred Fenster. Yes, it doesn’t get any better than ‘The Usual Suspects’ (1995). You also get the brilliant Chazz Palminteri, one man who surely deserves to be a bigger star, and the British legend Pete Postlethwaite, in one of his most unusual roles. To pile on the greatness, Kevin Spacey delivers his poised performance as Verbal, and also guarantees one of the best endings I have ever seen. If you have never seen this fantastic crime thriller, wait no longer. Watch it.
Who is KEYSER SOZE?