10 films every director needs to see – Matthew Cooper Director

I’m on my third week of post production on my second feature film as a director – ‘At The Mountains of Madness’ a moody little horror film based on the story by H.P. Lovecraft.  This is my second horror feature film as a director and this week, as I’m knee deep in horror, I’ve decided to list ten films that directors need to see – which are out of the horror or sci-fi genre.  A palette cleanser if you will…

These films aren’t in any order and are the first ten that came into my mind.  I’ve also avoided the usual films and directors that I talk about a lot.

The Last Detail – What a script! And what performances by all the cast.  Director Hal Ashby doesn’t get in the way of Jack Nicholson turning in the best performance of his life. A funny, sad and ultimately tragic tale, a road trip, not much happens but we learn everything about three sailors, two taking the third to the brig (prison).  It’s a shitty detail.

The Taking of Pelham 1,2,3 – one of the best heist movies ever made, when a group of colour coded professionals take over a subway train and ransom the occupants. The city of New York is a character we meet the Mayor, chief of police and these odd guys called transit cops, lead by a deadpan Walter Matthau.  It’s tense, funny, rousing and has one of the best scores of the 70s.  It’s also one of those films that shows a dirty run down 70s New York, a city on the skids reluctant to pay.   The remake is nowhere near the original

The Commitments – the best let’s start a band movie. Great characters, very funny, good music, but what it captures best is the feeling of aspiring to be something beyond the norm, and the bittersweet worry that it won’t go anywhere or last.  But better to be an unemployed sax player than an unemployed pipe fitter, right?

Breaking Away and Gregory’s Girl – the two best films about growing up.  One set in Glasgow, the other in Indiana. They both share the same spirit.

Margin Call – yes, it’s about the financial crash, but it focuses on the impact on one  company and one set of employees. It’s an eye opener and feels realistic and well researched. All employers will fuck you over eventually, but in this case, they fuck over the entire financial system too.

Bad Company – a western for young people.  But a REAL western never the less. Jeff Bridges and Barry Brown are cast as the two aspiring outlaws, and things don’t go well for them at all. Will they live, and survive the multiple ways young men could die in the west?  You must see it yourself.  Great original score too.

Hard Times / The Streetfigher – known under two different titles.  This depression era set tale of bare knuckle boxing is a top film by Walter Hill.  You’ve got James Coburn and Charles Bronson, which is all you’ll ever need.  It’s gritty and tough and you’d expect nothing less.

Black Book – Paul Verhoeven is simply one of the best directors still working.  He’s still very underrated by many.  Check out Black Book, shocking, rousing, engrossing and a film that will be talked about for years to come.

Bad Day At Black Rock – Spencer Tracy arrives in a small town looking for someone, it’s clear the town has a dirty secret.  The question is, will Spenser get out alive.  Ripe for a remake, outstanding actors, locations and camerawork (I didn’t count more than two or three close-ups in the entire film). It still stands up today.

As well as being a freelance film director for hire, Matthew has also enjoyed a long career as a script writer for hire 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 script writer.

Matthew’s directorial debut, the rubber reality horror thriller Markham was released in 2020

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

Comments are closed.