Today it’s films. This is hard. I like films, and there are a lot I liked to watch once but wouldn’t watch again, even though they were good. And the ones I’ve seen numerous times, like Grease and Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure are ones that are throwbacks to a very young me and aren’t really what I’d class to be ‘great films’.
So I’m going to get them out of the way first – the ten films I’ve watched over and over again. I make no apologies that these are from my teenage years, on the whole, and they date me. I don’t care.
1. The Lost Boys. I watched this over and over. I know all the words. It’s like Twilight but with vampires who were dangerous and not wet. Robert Pattinson does nothing for me. Kiefer Sutherland was one naughty vampire with great fashion sense. So I thought then. Dianne Wiest always plays a great mum, and she always reminds me a bit of my mum. Corey Haim was classic. His hysteria, his ‘fashion sense’, his one liners. His reaction to his brother’s vampiric state: “You wait til Mom finds out, bud…” – genius.
But then I know most of the film inside out. Maggots, Michael. You’re eating maggots. How do they taste? This is only one of the lines from the film that have made it into my day-to-day discussions. I can’t eat noodles or rice without quoting David. That must make me very annoying indeed. All this, though, and a bloody good soundtrack. Echo and the Bunnymen’s rendition of People are Strange is very, very good indeed. It’d be in my top ten covers.
I watched this at the old Mayfair cinema in Whitefield – and I’ll even hazard a guess there was some impromptu snogging on the back row.
2. The Outsiders. This movie is a who’s who of Brat Pack acting. Patrick Swayze, Rob Lowe, Tom Cruise, Emilio Estevez, Ralph Macchio, Matt Dillon. I know all of this inside out as well. I always cry when Johnny Cade dies and I always cry when Matt Dillon goes loco. I even read Gone with the Wind and Robert Frost after this. That’s what this movie did. It introduced me to the delights of Vivien Leigh. I think all teenagers should watch it. It’s a great movie, even if it is old. My favourite moment as a teacher (and there are many) was when I overheard two little lovely but semi-literate hooligans whispering ‘if you were in this book, would you be a Greaser or a Soc?’ to each other. They both agreed they’d be Greasers. That’s why I loved those boys. That and the bit when I was reading and I started getting a wobbly voice, one of them said, in a very manly voice: ‘would you like me to take over the reading, Miss?’
Boys, even Greasers, are lovely, mostly.
It’s funny that so much stuff from the early eighties is a throwback to the late 50s and early 60s. And Grease is one of those things. When I was 8, I was in Mr Parkes’ class. He read us ‘Danny the Champion of the World’ and let us put our heads on the desk to listen to him. He had two pictures, one of John Travolta and one of Olivia Newton-John. He was cool and therefore those images were cool too. And there’s just no way that Grease is ever uncool. John Travolta might be old and fat now, but he was utterly adorable as Danny. There’s never been a Danny like him. It’s another movie where I know most of the words, all of the songs, and it’s great that Jake can play it on the bass guitar. I think he loves Grease too. And Danny when he’s doing Greased Lightning. Oh. I would. I so would.
And from Frenchie to Marty Maraschino (what a great name!) to Jan and Rizzo, those Pink Ladies were the business. They were so cool, in fact, that we all dressed up as the Pink Ladies for my sister’s hen do.
4. Silence of the Lambs. Has ever a film been so mis-quoted, or so quoted? Can anybody eat fava beans? Can anyone drink a chianti without making some joke about it? Still, it’s genius. Jodie Foster is great and Anthony Hopkins, the crazy gentlemanly psychopath serial killer. Why not? I just wish they hadn’t messed with the ending of Hannibal. Is it really so unbelievable that Clarice would be attracted to Hannibal? And these two just get in the way of the rest of the plot. I only have say ‘roomy!’ now, or ‘it puts the lotion in the basket or else it gets the hose again’… it’s quintessential craziness. And as part of my gothic literature course in 1992, I got to study this marvellous book alongside Iain Banks’ The Wasp Factory. Now that’s a genius bit of craziness too.
5. Strange Brew. You’re either in this cult classic fan club or else you’ve never seen it. It’s pure genius. I love it because it’s a pastiche of Hamlet and they’re two odd Rosencrantzes and Guildernsterns. I love it because of the jokes. I love it for the steam roller moment and I love it for the Omega Man beginning. I love it for the line ‘you can’t split pleas… two bowls of split pleas to go…’ and Doug when he’s talking about going to prison. Bob asks him where he’ll be… ‘In the cafeteria, selling smokes’. And the line ‘if I didn’t have puke breath, I’d kiss you.’
In fact, there are too many very, very funny lines in this. I love it because the coolest people in the world know about this film and it’s so unknown. It’s probably got all the jokes in that Bill and Ted stole. And then it still had a few for Wayne’s World. If there are two goofy men, it’s probably just a pastiche of this film. Plus, I have a small crush on the Mackenzie brothers. There. I’ve said it.
6. Rebel without a Cause.
I don’t know whether it was the poster company Athena that made me love James Dean with my whole heart, or whether it was Affleck’s Palace in Manchester, but I loved him. Again, I think it was an 80s revival kind of a thing. Sal Mineo was adorable. I wore odd socks in homage to him for weeks. But it was James who won my heart. I’ve got about 10 or so biographies about him. Yes, I was that little teenage girl who loved a boy who’d gone off the rails. Story of my life.
7. The Breakfast Club. I think it’s one of those questions all girls should have to answer… were you a Molly Ringwald or an Ally Sheedy? Miss Popular or Miss Weird? I was of the Ally Sheedy variety – down to the dark hair, the long fringe and the black clothes. And the boys all split up pretty well, too. Were you a jock, an outsider or a nerd? This is teen angst at its best and its worst. Unlike the film, though, we knew that even a detention couldn’t break the social barriers between the jocks and the nerds, the Miss Populars and the Miss Individuals. I don’t think I ever fell out of love with Molly Ringwald’s boots in this film. Most teenagers don’t feel very good about themselves, and this film isn’t your typical teenage despair film. They all leave that room happy, having got one up on the teacher, and even though you know, come Monday, that things will be back to normal, it’s still nice for a little while.
8. Pretty in Pink. You know, I know and she knows that she should have gone for Duckie. Biggest love-gone-wrong story ever. I’ve never been an Andrew McCarthy fan. He’s too drippy, ordinary and fey for my liking. Duckie, though. Oh. How I love strange boys in tight trousers. I like that Pretty in Pink was called Rose Bonbon in French. I also loved Iona’s record shop, Trax, which is an epic kind of record shop. I’d have loved to have worked there. I don’t think I consciously modelled myself on Iona, but I feel more and more like her as I grow older. I’ve got three John Hughes movies on this list, and it’s no surprise. I don’t think a director/producer had such a track record with teen movies as he did – genius.
9. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off… because what girl didn’t want a boyfriend like Ferris? Sometimes, I deliberately channel the economics teacher who always asks his unresponsive class ‘Anyone? Anyone?’ before answering the question himself. Plus, Ferris is fun. And cute. I’d have liked to have had a boyfriend like Ferris.
10. 10 things I Hate About You. Favourite Shakespeare Play + Julia Stiles + Heath Ledger + I want you to want me. Genius.
Now, don’t beat me for the fact these are all American. I could have added Maurice and I cried buckets and buckets when I watched this at the Cornerhouse as a little 14 year old. Love’s still love, no matter who the lovers are. I thought it was one of the saddest stories I’d ever read, and then ever seen. Mostly, English film seemed to be in the Merchant&Ivory camp or like Kes. I’d also make no excuses for having Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure on there – as that’s as much a part of my growing up as The Lost Boys. Grosse Pointe Blank would be on there too, no doubt. This is definitely not a list of great films, just a list of films I’ve seen many, many times – mainly because I was too young to know better! Then there are films like Thelma and Louise which I’ve also watched lots of times, too. Far too may to pick just ten! And then Pump Up The Volume.