Not including this old chestnut
It’s almost that time, sixth formers, when you’re not sixth formers any more. You’re students. Bloody students, with your late night pizzas and your zany hairstyles. Whatever family values you’ve been brought up with will go puffing up in a big cloud of marijuana smoke, as you spend the first term re-inventing yourself as a beatnik, then the next two and a half/three years avoiding whichever people you met in the first few weeks, when you weren’t whispy-bearded, and you hadn’t yet immersed yourself in Kerouac. If you’re a girl, exactly the same applies, but substitute the whispy beard with big thick curly hair, and Kerouac with 60s girl groups and “important” photography. Good luck with it all, and whatever happens, make sure that you own at least one of these iconic images above your bed… which is probably just a mattress on the floor, yeah?
1. Bob Marley (with spliff)
It’s very important that you like Bob Marley, because everything about him is/was student-friendly. He made nice music that you can bounce around to without needing to exert too much energy, some of his songs will be quotable during heartbreak – “no woman no cry, man – no woman no cry” – and the man loved smoking great big cigarettes with pot in them. And fine, you might not like pot now, but give it a few weeks, and you’ll be munching through the stuff with a trustafarian called Stig at a “party” by a lava lamp. Friends for life, man.
2. Easy Rider
Dude, why can’t we just forget about all this Capitalism and oppression, and bike around the planet? Out there on the open road, living off the land. If, for one minute, everyone could forget about killing each other, put their guns down, and smoke some weed, all the planet’s woes would vanish over night. Yeah broseph, that’s what Bin Laden should do – just have a big fat spliff. Then everyone would just chill out, and be, like, stoned. NB. In Easy Rider they get killed in the end.
3. Barack Obama
You’re a student, you’re political. Whenever anyone even mentions George W Bush, you look to the heavens, muttering something about what an idiot he was. What was he again? A Republican? Or was he a Democrat? Or a mixture of the two, like a Republicrat? Whatever way Bush’s political pendulum hung, thank goodness for Barack Obama, who’s come along at just the right time to prove that lots of Americans aren’t really racists. Or, at least, not publicly. Now simply inform your new friends of your impressive political awareness with a very well-placed poster.
4. The Kiss
You’ve been living at home for so long, with your silly football posters, and your suppressed sexual awareness, so now it’s time to break out and show the world that sometimes you like to feel erotic. Something arty like The Kiss should just about tread the thin line between sophistication and pornography with aplomb. Because it’s black and white. And you could even use it as a seduction tool by casually asking a visiting girl if the picture gives her any ideas. Anything at all. No?
5. Taxi Driver
Without your old school pals around, you know what it’s like to feel alone. You’ve been to a Starbucks, pretending to read a book, wondering if anyone will ever bother talking to you. You’re just like Travis Bickle. He was an outsider, he was misunderstood. He wanted to kill pimps. Hence, a fitting homage to his post-traumatic loneliness should hang in your communal lounge as a reminder of the entire afternoon that you spent feeling unloved.
6. The Beatles
It was a close call between The Beatles and Bob Dylan, but the 1960s act to associate yourself with in those early days should really be The Fab Four. With their recent upsurge in popularity, they make for a rather safer bet if you want to make friends. Plus, should you use their output as a chronological soundtrack of your university experience, you’ll start smiley-faced and clean cut, you’ll then go through a weird drugs phase, then have the entire experience destroyed by a nosy girlfriend/boyfriend. Sounds about right.
7. Betty Blue
Yes, secretly you love anything with Will Smith in it, and you can’t wait for the next Ben Stiller vehicle, but for goodness sake, don’t actually admit that. You’re a student now. You’re favourite films are mainly foreign – like City of God, La Haine, Betty Blue (above), anything by Pedro Almodovar, and lots of German 1980s art-house that no one really understands. You particularly like the use of sexual intercourse as a metaphor in Betty Blue. Hence the massive poster.
8. Take Me To Your Dealer
Hey man, you even been to a lecture in the last four weeks? Of course not, you’ve been sitting at home fashioning fizzy drinks bottles into massive over-elaborate marijuana smoking devices. Oh yeah, and eating toast. Loads of toast. Nice warm slices of toast with jam on them. God jam’s nice. Man, if Osama Bin Laden could just sit down with some toast, all the planet’s problems would vanish. Yeah man. Toast. You also own an Easy Rider poster (see 2).
It was another tight call, this time for the 1990s film of choice – with Pulp Fiction also a very popular one. However, we went for this one, because it’s Scottish and a bit grotty, which gives it that important edge. Plus there’s the song about “lager, lager, lager” which you can sing along to at student raves, which will start cheerfully and enthusiastically, and end up with you sitting in the corner of a spinning room slowly regurgitating crisps onto your top, before finally going fully projectile on the way out.
10. Tennis Girl
Ah yes, the iconic Tennis Girl – a poster for all ages. Once a staple in bachelor pads, it now has something of a kitsch/ironic appeal that would go down very well with your new friends, with their skinny jeans, tatty pumps, and limp, almost hollow, arms that can barely muster the strength to raise the 50p pint of snakebite to their thin, hungry mouths. You want to form a band together called Vibegeist, or Toby and The Sunshine. Your first song’s going to be about how you fell in love with a girl in a cafe while you were just doing something really normal, like eating a bacon sandwich. God, real life can be so DEEP.
One very excellent film just missed out…
Critics seem to have a strange relationship with Quentin Tarantino, and his latest film, Inglorious Basterds, already looks to have split opinions right down the middle. But here in the gigantic Interestment offices which overlook a lake, we love him. He literally hasn’t made a bad film, nor has he fallen into the trap of making the same kind of movie over and over again. Jackie Brown received lukewarm reviews for not being anything like Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill hardly set anyone’s trousers alight – except ours. And Death Proof was entirely panned, but, honestly, it’s an excellent film, as any fan of old exploitation/slasher movies will attest to. He’s a master of any genre he deems worthy of a toe-dip, so with that in mind, we spent hours sifting through footage to find the four scenes that wholly befit our devotion. It was a tough process…
1. Pulp Fiction, Breakfast Scene
No doubt about it, Pulp Fiction is his masterpiece, so coming up with a single scene was emotional. The Christopher Walken “watch” monologue very nearly made the cut, as did the opening diner scene, the drugs overdose, and Harvey Keitel as The Wolf. But in the end, we simply had to go with Samuel L Jackson’s finest cinematic hour, as two heavies set about scaring the hell out of some very nerdy criminals eating a fast food breakfast. WARNING: contains scripture.
2. Kill Bill, The Bride versus Crazy 88’s
A fantastic martial arts epic, Kill Bill was another with plenty of scenes to choose from, pretty much all of them extremely violent. The final fight with Bill himself – who recently died in a weird penis-related incident – just missed out, as we went for her blood-soaked frenzy against the Crazy 88 instead. It’s almost impossible to watch without whooping.
3. Death Proof, Lapdance and Crash
For those yet to see it, watch Death Proof. It’s all there – a slow build up of tension, sudden gory deaths, a magnificent car chase, Kurt Russell putting in one of his all-time great performances – which is saying a lot for the man who was in The Thing and Escape from New York. Plus this, the wonderfully hip, yet slightly creepy lapdance scene, followed by exactly what-happened-next.
4. Jackie Brown, Intro
Tarantino is the master of the title sequence, and it was a seriously close call coming up with our favourite. Reservoir Dogs‘ slow-walk-brick-wall intro was literally pipped at the last second by the airport arrival in Jackie Brown. And for one reason only – Bobby Womack. Great song, supercool opening, the legendary Pam Grier. The film promises much, and delivers!
Reservoir Dogs Trailer
Some very popular ones didn’t make the cut…
While the actors lounge around in bed with models, or fill in the gaps between takes by embarking on wild drug sprees or talking to dead-eyed maniacs like Tom Cruise about Scientology, the real heroes are the guys behind the scenes, making sure that a movie fits with the amazing vision in their mind’s eye. Namely the directors. The ones who never had the correct quota of gorgeous looks and intense stage presence to make it in front of camera, so instead became visionaries. In many cases, the director’s name can take top billing away from the stars, so it was a merciless task whittling the list down to our favourite four. Some massive heroes didn’t get a look in, including: John Landis, Woody Allen, Martin Scorcese, Spike Lee, Russ Meyer, Sidney Lumet, Steven Spielberg, George Romero, and Stanley Kubrick. In the end, we went with these guys…
1. Alfred Hitchcock
The greatest man ever to come out of Leytonstone, and that includes David Beckham. It’s almost impossible to think of a mediocre Hitchcock film. At his peak – which ran roughly from the mid-1930s to the early 1960s – he churned out classic after classic, including The 39 Steps, Rear Window, Vertigo, North by Northwest, Psycho, The Birds, Rope, Dial M for Murder. The list is absolutely gargantuan. The greatest film maker of all time, even though he looked a bit like the nodding dog from those insurance ads.
2. John Carpenter
A brilliant horror director, we like John Carpenter for lots of reasons, one of which being that he likes to put “John Carpenter’s…” before the actual title of many of his movies. We like that because directors don’t often get the recognition they deserve. And we like him for classics like Halloween, The Fog, The Thing, Christine, which were some of the creepiest films of the late 70s and early 80s. Plus we like his extravagant use of synthesizers in his films, and the fact that he often cast Kurt Russell – a criminally underrated actor – in the lead roles. He keeps David Cronenberg off the top four.
3. Quentin Tarantino
Ever since Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, Tarantino appears to receive mixed reviews for pretty much all of his releases. This is probably because he set a very high standard early on, and critics being critics, they like to criticise. But it’s often missing the point that his films are never less than entertaining, stylish, and hip. Jackie Brown was fantastically good, Kill Bill looked glorious, and Death Proof – which got a bit of a panning – was a wonderful cap doff to exploitation films. We haven’t seen Inglorious Basterds yet. He keeps the likes of Russ Meyer, George Romero and Spike Lee out of contention.
4. John Hughes
John Hughes has directed just eight films, six of them are: Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Weird Science, Ferris Beuller’s Day Off, Trains Planes and Automobiles, and Uncle Buck. That is a phenomenal strike rate for amazing movies. All six were essential 1980s viewing. The man introduced the world to Molly Ringwald, John Candy, and the brilliant fictional town of Shermer, Illinois. All the while looking like a man who counts staples to liven up his day. His other two films were She’s Having a Baby and Curly Sue, fact fans. Both appalling.
Some really great ones just missed out
What a decade, the 1990s. It came directly after the 1980s, and featured a gigantic backlash against massive earrings, AIDS, and big feathery haircuts. Instead, everyone just necked magic mushrooms and sat around pretending to be from Manchester. That’s right, Manchester. Or as it was known then, Madchester. Because everyone was mad for it. And the cinema was a whole different kettle of fish too. You couldn’t smoke down the left hand side anymore, and shiny films like Mannequin were replaced by intense social studies like Boogie Nights, Falling Down, and Edward Scissorhands. It was a magnificent decade for films, so coming up with the four that most encapsulate it was a very emotional, sometimes heartbreaking exercise. Die Hard 2, The Big Lebowski, Scream, Basic Instinct, Jacob’s Ladder, and Goodfellas all fell at the very last hurdle. Our top four ended up looking like this…
1. Point Break
One of the finest films ever made, this has it all – big waves, bank jobs, Gary Busey, and Keanu Reeves career peaking throughout. It is amazing. Reeves plays a young FBI agent attempting to infiltrate a gang of bank robbers lead by the peerless Patrick Swayze, who is on dynamic form as Keanu’s male crush, Bodhi – a big blonde man who fears nothing, not even his own watery death. “If you want the ultimate, you’ve got to be willing to pay the ultimate price – it’s not tragic to die doing what you love,” he deadpans at a beach party, sort of killing the vibe.
2. Groundhog Day
Of many fine Bill Murray performances, this is the finest. The tale of a man reliving the same day over and over again, it features Bill descending into madness, before realising his deep inner love for Andie MacDowell. It’s beautiful, and hilarious, as he goes about correcting his mistakes, killing himself, robbing people, and – presumably – spending three or four days slowly explaining to MacDowell how annoying she is. The comedy of the decade, just above Kingpin.
3. Pulp Fiction
Without a doubt, this is one of the greatest cinema films ever made – by which we mean, it should be watched in the cinema. It was a close call, with Reservoir Dogs, True Romance and Jackie Brown all super-excellent films, but in Tarantino’s strongest decade, this was his real masterpiece. In a single stroke, he managed to dig up Travolta’s career rotting remains from a Hollywood roadside, as well as make Samuel L Jackson the coolest man on the planet. It also just keeps Goodfellas off the top four, as the best ensemble film of the decade.
The high point of Elizabeth Berkley’s career, this is one of the most preposterous films ever – and one of the most fantastic. Berkley plays a lapdancer climbing the Vegas showgirl ladder, selling little bits of her soul along the way, as well as thrashing around sexually in a swimming pool in the greatest intercourse scene ever filmed. It just beats Basic Instinct – another tale of lust and deception – to the fourth spot. An underrated gem.
Enormous wave surfing
Before Quentin Tarantino, going to the cinema was considered a punishment, often used as a threat to kids who wouldn’t finish their vegetables. At the time all film releases were AIDS or cancer lectures, always fronted by straight faced borons like Tom Hanks or Jodie Foster. It was awful. Then along came Quentin with Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, and suddenly everyone walked in slow motion to funk tracks – wicked. Hence, when we found out he was turning 46 today, we knew we had to get him a present. We put on suits and headed to a diner to discuss it, and things got extremely heated. It boiled down to a toss up between a collection of Elvis fridge magnets, or a video of a surfer performing the impossible. In the end we got him both. Happy Birthday Tarantino!
He even swore when he lost, bless him
Much as we love him, Samuel L Jackson is not the most flexible actor we have ever seen. He can do the shouty shouty thing better than anyone else, and when he wants to play it cool, he’s very good at that too. Hence, when he snaffles the right part, he’s unbeatable. Three great Jackson performances include Do The Right Thing, Jungle Fever, and, of course, Pulp Fiction – the film that made him a bankable international star. He played Jules Winnfield, a tough hitman with a Soul Glow afro, and his monologue from Ezekiel 25:17 was so excellent that he looked a shoo-in for the Best Supporting Actor statuette in 1994. But no, it wasn’t to be. Instead, he lost out to Martin Landau’s over-the-top performance in Ed Wood – a film not even half as good. A shameful decision by the Academy. The actor demonstrated his disapproval by clearly saying “ahh, fuck” when the winner was announced. Good on him.
You probably know his Pulp Fiction act by heart, so why not take a second to enjoy his equally impressive Jungle Fever performance after the jump…