Five films that I can always watch

As a Freelance Film Director for hire, there are literally hundreds and hundreds of films that have influenced me one way or another.  And not just films, great TV, or documentaries, music videos and even great advertising too has impacted my visual style and the look and feel of things I direct.  Some of these influences will be lodged in my subconscious, and some are up front.

Among the influences that are upfront will be from some of my favourite films.  I could easily put together a list of 100 or 200 hundred films that I love, that grab me, that appeal to me, that make up my filmic influences.

Some films stay with you (often from childhood) these films are core influencing films, the things that shaped you as a director. These films often never get old. For me, the following five films have played a big part in my influences.

Full Metal Jacket

Full Metal Jacket–Stanley Kubrick (a giant) most people agree that Stanley was operating on a level way beyond most directors of his era, and his work continues to be a massive influence in cinema.  He was a clever man, sometimes cynical,  he liked to retain control on all aspects of his films.

Full Metal Jacket is THE Vietnam movie, and it also maybe the film about a boots on the ground war. It’s a film that shows the training of men who will invade and kill the natives of a foreign country, so far away from their own.

It’s a brutal film, but also, at times, a hilarious one. Visually, a Vietnamese city was created in London, and Kubrick used his customary small crews to shoot, and just keep shooting, Kubrick picked scabs and looking for insight beyond the obvious.  This isn’t just a war movie, it’s a film ABOUT WAR. The film looks at the insanity, the absurd and the fear and the death.  It’s a highly intelligent film–about Love and Hate, and how neither had a place in ‘Nam.

The Empire Strikes Back

I grew up with Star Wars, but Empire Strikes Back takes it to the next level. The film is a joy, in story terms, and in how it was shot.  A globe trotting crew, the use of stop motion, practical effects, old school matte painting.  A joy to look at.

But it doesn’t forget the characters, performances and romance of the series.  All play better in this film than in the first. Ford, Fisher and Hamill are more relaxed here and fill out their characters a lot better.

All in all its the film that inspired a generation and we should thank Lucas, Kershner and don’t forget the behind-the-scenes team (like Phil Tippett) who made this magic happen.

To Live and Die in L.A.

This is a film that looks amazing  like ‘The American Friend’ listed below, this film was shot by cameraman Robbie Muller–his use of lighting was a massive influence on me.  It’s a tough, nonstop cop picture by the director of The French Connection.  Dirty cops, ruthless but stylish villains. The film was a box office bomb at the time, but its reputation has built through the years.

Look how the action is shot, not a frame wasted, brutalist, brutal and beautiful.

The American Friend

Bruno Ganz was always a joy to watch, combine his sensitive performance with Robbie Muller’s photography and throw in a globetrotting thriller plot, with a sideline in looking at how American film has stolen our eyes in Europe. I can dip in and out of it now, each frame a lovely pregnant picture filled with longing.

Wenders shoots Europe like an American director and he shoots his American films like a European.  It’s as much about film itself as it is about the characters.

It’s a film that can teach you to see.

Grosse Pointe Blank

Funny, great dialogue, surprising action, and superb music.  A touching love story that kind of sneaks up on you (no it doesn’t, we drove here). It’s also a summation of 80s and 90s romance clichés, which it rapidly shoots holes through.

It’s a much greater film than many realise, and it’s funny.    

As well as being a freelance film director for hire, Matthew has also enjoyed a long career as a scriptwriter for hire, and UK script consultant. He’s written for most of the UK soaps, including writing award-winning episodes of Emmerdale, Eastenders, Hollyoaks and Family Affairs and has been BAFTA shortlisted and Royal Television Society nominated as a scriptwriter.

You can find some of his broadcast credits on the IMDb You can find out more about Matthew’s work as a director here.

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