As the Fastnet Film Festival swings into action tomorrow, we took the chance to rewind our thoughts to the films that inspired in our youth.
Actor Chris O’Dowd’s favourite is Dirty Dancing. “I think I saw the movie, for the first time, when I was around five. I grew up with three older sisters, who, first of all, forced me to watch it, and later I enjoyed watching it with them. They brought me over to the dark side of chick-flick-dom,” he said. “If you can’t watch a girl in a beautiful lake jump into a man’s outstretched hands and understand romance, then I just don’t get you.”
When the American Film Institute invited 1,500 leaders of the film community to choose the 100 greatest movies, the results threw up a few surprises. Based on the selections of screenwriters, directors, actors, producers, cinematographers, editors, executives, historians and critics, the No 1 movie was Citizen Kane. Directed and produced by, (and starring), Orson Welles in 1941 when he was 25, it remains the top choice of most ‘best of’ lists of the past 50 years.
It is followed by Casablanca (1942), The Godfather (1972), Raging Bull (1980), Singin’ In The Rain (1952), Gone With The Wind (1939), Lawrence Of Arabia (1962), Schindler’s List (1993), Vertigo (1958) and The Wizard Of Oz (1939). One statistic stands out — seven of these movies were made more than 50 years ago, making a salient case for those who claim the ‘golden age’ of cinema ended in the early ’60s.
“I have so many favourite films, it’s almost impossible to narrow it to just one. Many people, for instance, claim to hate the third Godfather film, where Michael Corleone finally meets his end, but, I always thought, looking at it as an older man, it’s the best of the trilogy. It’s a masterpiece. But, really, if forced to choose my all-time great, it would have to be The Third Man — the adaptation of the famous Graham Greene novel, starring the magnificent Orson Welles and the equally wonderful Trevor Howard.
It’s the look of the film that stays with you — a black-and-white film, of course, set in post-war Vienna, and with the most incredible lighting of any film I’ve ever seen.
Orson Welles, as Harry Lime, one of the most fascinating, and repulsive, characters ever conceived for cinema. The story, the lighting, the period setting — The Third Man is truly a masterpiece that never fails to pull me in from the very first frame, no matter how many times I see it.”
“My favourite movie of all time would have to be Jurassic Park. It was one of the first movies I ever saw and the trip to see it at the cinema is one of my earliest memories. At the time it was actually quite a scary experience and I still remember my mother had to take me out of the cinema to calm me down when the velociraptors started chasing the kids around the kitchen. Since then, I have probably watched it at least ten times and I still enjoy it every time. All through my childhood, I had a total fascination with the movie. It was just so incredible to see this world of realistic and believable dinosaurs. I got totally wrapped up in it and, for a while, I thought I wanted to be a palaeontologist. I guess the reasons I love the movie so much are because it’s based on a very interesting premise, it’s a great story, full of action and excitement, it’s visually incredible and the soundtrack is fantastic.”
“The Princess Bride, because it’s the perfect fairytale for grown-ups. Nothing like a bit of revenge and true love, involving giants, evil princes and reformed pirates. And I love the immortal line “hello… My name in Inigo Montoya... you killed my father. Prepare to die.”
“I have a few favourites, but one is Jack Nicholson’s As Good As It Gets. It never fails to make me laugh. Probably because I have a friend who is as insulting as Melvin.”
Easy. It has to be Dead Poets Society. It reminds me of my school days, when we had the freedom to be idealistic, make mistakes, and life was full of wide possibilities. It was an exciting time in my life. Also, they don’t get enough credit, but teachers shape us more than we admit, and there is one particular teacher who I remember, who has made a lasting impression on me. I wonder, do they ever realise the positive impact they make on all the children they teach? I’m sure everyone has at least one teacher, tutor, or mentor who means a lot to them. If you say “oh, captain, my captain,” people who’ve seen the film will smile immediately. I like that.”
* Corona Fastnet Short Film Festival, Schull, May 22-26