Simon’s Favourite Films that don’t include Spielberg

First, please accept my humble apologies for the late arrival of this week’s podcast. This is entirely my fault. It should have been released today (Friday) but it had to be censored, again, because I was inappropriate, again.

Whilst repenting in sackcloth and ashes, Sam has suggested I whet your appetites for the upcoming part two on our “Favourite” versus “Greatest” films discussion by elaborating on my personal favourite films, which isn’t touched on as much in the podcast itself.

However, rather than do this in a straightforward manner, I’ve decided to present you with a top five personal favourite films that excludes the following: No Steven Spielberg. No George Lucas. No Back to the Future. No The Lord of the Rings. This allows for a more interesting top five that isn’t dominated by childhood nostalgia (or in the case of The Lord of the Rings, adult nostalgia for films of a book I discovered as a child). I’m not including David Lean’s Great Expectations either, because I talk about that at length in the podcast.

So without further ado, here are the top five, with a few reductive comments:

The Godfather (1972) – Being a gangster may be illegal, immoral and murderous, but it’s also rather cool. Besides, Michael Corleone is doing all this for the good of his family, right? Oh, and those family gatherings are a blast.

The Godfather Part II (1974) – Being a gangster may be illegal, immoral and murderous, but… No, wait it isn’t cool. I mean, you get lots of power, but I’m not entirely convinced what Michael Corleone is doing is for the good of his family after all. I don’t think I’m meant to be convinced either. Even those family gatherings have turned sour, and are full of bitterness and recrimination.

The Lives of Others (2006) – Anyone who says “if you’ve done nothing wrong you’ve got nothing to fear” should be forced to watch this. Afterwards, they should try looking me in the eye and saying it with a straight face.

The Remains of the Day (1993) – “You must take good care of yourself, Mrs. Benn... You must try to do all you can to make these years happy ones for yourself and for your husband. We may never meet again, Mrs. Benn. That is why I am permitting myself to be so personal, if you will forgive me.” Coming from Anthony Hopkins’s absurdly, comically, tragically repressed butler Stevens, this is one of the most quietly devastating, utterly heart-breaking speeches in the history of cinema.

Witness (1985) – One of my strange childhood hang-ups is that I don’t trust people with beards but no moustaches, probably because people who sport that look in films are often proved untrustworthy. Unless they are Amish, in which case they can be expected to display the kind of heroic pacifism seen here, in one of Peter Weir’s best films, which features Harrison Ford’s best-ever performance.

And there you have it. With any luck, part two of this delayed podcast will be with you on or around this Monday. Once again, sorry for the delay.

samantha stephen