Citizen Kane. The Godfather Trilogy. Shawshank Redemption. Anything cooked up by Hitchcock. All are movies that will continue to make any Two Door Cinema Club-listening, kooky hairstyle-having, name-dropping, Michael Cera-loving film buff moist until the end of time. But that’s not what this post is about if you hadn’t already guessed by the title.
See that metaphorical barrel? These films done scraped the bottom of it so hard they passed through it and struck the Earth’s core – and that’s precisely the reason why we bloody love them. Check ‘em out.
The Wicker Man (2006 remake)
Now hear me out, people, hear me the fuck out. I love this film. I love it with a kind of guilty, painful love that one might feel in the stolen throes of passion of an extra-marital affair (in this metaphor, my husband is the 1973 original film starring Christopher Lee and my bit on the side is Tom Hiddleston – stop trying to fight it, Tom, it’s going to happen eventually).
I first saw the original Wicker Man film when I was 15, having made a list of all the scariest things I reckoned I could stomach from the list of 100 Scariest Moments from a Channel 4 show of the same name. I love scary films, although not gory films; there’s a huge difference between terror and horror, and in my opinion it’s much, much harder to create a sense of genuine terror than it is to horrify someone with gallons of blood, but that’s purely my take on it. The Wicker Man catered to many of the things that interested a teenage me, including cults, folk culture and all-island orgies. Okay maybe not that last one. Or maybe especially that last one. I watched that film and got creeped the hell out. If you haven’t watched it, you need to – it’s an important film for anyone interested in films to watch. The way the atmosphere builds throughout the film from the moment Sergeant Howie arrives on the island to the heartbreaking final scene, it’s an absolutely masterpiece.
And then Nicolas Cage came along. And he did this.
I’ve scoured Youtube for the collection of clips that best represents that genius of this film, and this was it. I should hate it because it’s so bad, but I love it because it’s so funny, and it never stops being funny. I’ve probably seen the remake more times than the original, which should be a terrible thing to say but I can’t help it, and as I type this post I feel the need to go and watch it again. Nicolas Cage isn’t even that bad of an actor, but I get the feeling that one day he was sitting at the table, casually eating his breakfast when he suddenly stood up, launched his glass of orange juice at his long-suffering wife/girlfriend (who gives a shit which?), tipped the table over and then held his hands up, saying “I’m done. It’s time to give the people want they want – me, starring in films that I take far too seriously, that audiences will remember as the various stages of my descent into complete insanity”. So thanks for the prolonged mental breakdown, Nic. I’m loving every minute.
National Treasure (2004)
Pretty sure this wasn’t intended to be a Nicolas Cage related post…but who knows what’ll happen. Before you all pity my film choice, my favourite films are Some Like it Hot and Back to the Future. Ok? I’m not shoving this film in my favourites list I just have a soft spot for it. I don’t know what it is. It’s a ridiculous plot. Ridiculous. And not just the inevitable romance between Cage and Diane Kruger. But I find myself warming to Cage, Kruger (cos why wouldn’t I?) and Justin Bartha. The plot involves no thought. None whatsoever. Making it super easy background watching – probably signs of growing up in this age.
I think a lot of my sympathy with this film comes from my first viewing. I had just started uni and made two really good friends in my uni house (no halls at my uni). One of them had this film, we watched it, while doing research, on facebook, anything else involving laptops or drinking really – standard university life – and found it entertaining. Since then, this film has become a reminder of my time at uni and my time with those two girls. (Other films include The Hangover, The Proposal, 17 Again, Iron Man, Harry Potter. We’re classy girls.) So, as with those films, this will always hold a little spot in my heart.
Next reason, it’s a whole film about history. I love history. I like that I’m “learning” about American History watching this. (Stuff about the Declaration of Independence and Liberty Bell. Not Freemasons stuff.) No-one in this film is made to feel like a lesser person from being passionate about history. Yes, most of them are TOO passionate but the film still treats knowledge and intelligence as a good thing.
I find Bartha completely winning as the nerdy sarcastic computer guy. He’s the Seth Green character from The Italian Job. (Yes, I kinda like the film. I am much cooler than this post is making me seem.) He is the everyman who is there to have the super-smart people explain things too. Except once. When he gets to explain things to them. But, despite all this, he is invaluable to the team. They wouldn’t be able to steal the Declaration of Independence without him. Ergo, he is a plot necessity. And prettier than Cage to look at.
His best moments from the film and the sequel (according to someone on youtube):
Then there’s Kruger’s navy blue ball gown that I would love to wear for just 20 minutes. This film is very interesting in terms of costume design because it involves sourced, constructed and shopped clothing. Contemporary costume design is the least understood and the most difficult to create. These actors have not shown up to set in their own clothes. The characters each have their costumes designed for them by Judianna Makovsky, who also designed National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets, Pleasantville, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and The Hunger Games. Please visit Clothes on Film for the analysis of National Treasure‘s costumes. (I will constantly be plugging this website. I love it.)
So, revel in this film’s insanity. Not just Jon Voight’s ridiculous wig at the beginning. Enjoy Sean Bean’s great turn as a villain (and he doesn’t die!), Cage’s over the top characterisation, Harvey Keitel’s brief appearance as an FBI agent, Kruger’s dress, Bartha’s one-liners, and just don’t take it too seriously.
Just wait until National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets.
Digimon: The Movie (2000)
When Digimon first came onto the scene I hated it with a passion. As a kid I was a Pokemon nut: collected the cards, watched the TV show, even dressed up as Misty for a talent show (I’m a natural red head, didn’t ya know). So when I heard there was this new show about collecting weird animals with powers that WASN’T Pokemon I flipped the eff out.
But after drying my tears with my Beanie Baby (a lobster called Pierre or summat) I actually watched the show and loved it. Not just because all the Digimon were cool – Agumon, Gomamon, Birdmon, Youaretheweakestlinkgoodbyemon – but the characters weren’t perfect. Each of them had difficult home lives: Izzy was adopted, Matt and his younger brother TK lived with different parents, Tai’s father was absent; which struck a chord with an awkward seven year old me.
Then I became obsessed with the show, tuned in religiously, bought some playing cards etc. So when I saw the trailer for the movie I nearly wet myself. I seriously think I did a bit.
As an adult it’s still a great film to me. I’ve seen it seven times – no lie – can quote it almost verbatim – no lie – and watching it again is as familiar as going back to a place you loved as a child. The jokes are simple but hilarious, and the soundtrack is bloody awesome.
Exhibit B – done especially for the film I might add
As for the illustration – well it wasn’t Studio Ghibli but it was Digimon and therefore perfect.
Sadly the show has moved on to other characters who are moody and infinitely less barmy and I’ve lost interest. But this film is still one of my absolute favourites and I ain’t ashamed to say so.
Transporter 2 (2005)
This film was ridiculous from start to finish. First of all, the plot was silly: a driver for some spoilt nine-to-twelve year old boy gets caught up in biological warfare as he tries to stop a virus being made and sold to Columbian drug lords, or something like that, it’s hard to tell: the concept gets drowned in a sea of explosions and flying noodle kicks. Secondly, the characters were one-dimensional. I usually like characters to have some substance to them, but if they run around in their underwear and stilettos and have a tattoo unnecessarily close to their vaj then it’s best not to expect too much.
And thirdly, the dialogue is weak, man. There are too many cheesy one-liners in this film to count, but after I managed to stop laughing I picked out a couple:
“You really want to play superhero, don’t you? Well, let’s see if you can fly!”
“Sorry, I have an appointment. I don’t like to be late.”
“Well would you rather be late…or dead?”
But it’s the crazy action scenes that make it enjoyable. Jason Statham is an action hero, a seriously good action hero, and it’s so much fun to watch him chasing after a bus while on a speedboat (in the road) or whacking the bad guys in the gonads with a fire hose (you can watch the nut-cracking here, at about 5 mins 55 sec):
The third film (which I actually paid to see at the cinema) was just as terrible but not in a good way, so it’s a shame that it ended on a bum note. But I secretly hope they make a fourth, where Frank is working in a restaurant as a chef: “There’s too much pepper in this croque monsieur. And just like the eggs that made it, someone’s going to get beat with a whisk.”