My Favourite Films (Part 1)

I have seen hundreds of films in my life, some I have hated, many I have loved but there are a few that have always stuck in my mind. So here is part 1 that covers 2 films that have influenced or inspired me. There is no order – or best film overall. All the films are equal,

220px-Badlands_movie_posterBadlands (1973) – This is the film that changed my life. A big statement. After watching Terrence Malik’s The Thin Red Line (1998) that I loved, I wanted to watch more films he had made. I chose Badlands to start and I was in Awe.

The film was wonderfully shot and explores an intriguing relationship between the young are loved up Holly (Sissy Spacek) and the brooding delinquent, Kit played by Martin Sheen. The love story is  juxtaposed to the growing violence and anger in Kit, lashing out to the world around him. Martin Sheen’s performance as Kit is mesmerizing and it is worth watching just for that alone.

I also loved the ending of the film, as there is a role reversal; Kit – whom is confident and sure of himself from the start – seems child like and naive to the fate that awaits him. Whilst Holly is less innocent having witnessed and participated in some of Kit’s crimes – as well as betraying Kit for her own sake.

After I watched the film I knew what I wanted to do with my life, although I am not there yet, I always think back to when I first watched this film to remind me of my dream. I only hope I ever make at least one film that is only a fraction as good.

Blade_Runner_posterBlade Runner (1982) – Arguably one of the best science fiction film ever made. The film still resonates today and has relevance for the future – probably one of the reasons why it still so popular – as it deals with the implications of technology on the environment and society. But it is also an examination of humanity and what it means to be ‘human’.

For me another major success of the film is the world it created – LA in 2019 – it felt tangible and was full vivid of details that dragged the audience in. When watching the film, you wanted to reach out and touch it as it looked ‘real’ and ‘dirty’. The bright neon signs, the rain hammering down – that help creates the paranoia that haunts the film – adds to the atmosphere of this futuristic metropolis.

I would love to make a film like this one day – I love the world and potential of a tech noir. But more importantly I want to make films that can work on many levels and make an audience think and question their own lives or world.

I think the question of whether Deckard is a replicant or not, should not have been answered (in various interviews since it release). I think it would have better to leave the audience to make their own minds up rather than giving commentary. I don’t know how this will impact the sequel, but we will leave that to when Blade Runner 2049 (2017) is released in a couple of months time.



Locarno 70 – A few films to note

Out of all the films I watched the festival, I have picked out 3 that I think are worth mentioning and that I recommend everyone watch. A few other films of note are, Chien 2017) with Vanessa Paradis and Severina (2017).

There were also many films I did not get chance to watch and I will be trying to watch these in the near future – any way I can.

Iceman (2017)
– Germany / Italy / Austria – On a glacier in Alps, the remains of a neolithic man from over 5000 years ago were discovered. No one knows how he got there, but this is his story! The film proves that cinema can transcend boundaries as you do not need spoken words to tell a story – the film is actually has dialogue in an early form of the Rhateic language. The film is driven forward by the amazing performance of the ‘Iceman’. There are also well crafted actions scenes that do not detract but rather enhance the drama. I won’t divulge any details of the plot but I highly recommend this film.

cocote-official-pictureCocote (2017) – Dominican Republic / Argentina / Germany – Alberto returns home to attend the funeral of his murdered father. With different beliefs to the rest of his family, Alberto struggles to reconcile his feelings with the rituals performed to honour his father that are not part of his own faith. The film shows how the even in parts of the world where ‘civilisation’ has arrived that old traditions and beliefs continue and there is an uneasy relationship between the ‘old’ and ‘new’. The film has some unique visuals and the sound recording is amazing and very atmospheric.

The-Big-SickThe Big Sick (2017) – USA – The winner, the Prix du Public UBS, this films embodies why the Grande Piazza is so special. The film connected with everyone in the audience so well that everyone was laughing at the jokes from this romantic comedy. It created the most uplifting and amazing atmosphere – that cannot be reproduced from watching a film online (the film was actually made with Amazon Studios) or probably in most cinemas. The best way to describe this film is as the American East is East (1999). The film tells the story of a Pakistani-American immigrant, Kumali, who want to be a comedian who falls in love with an American girl. His family, want him to marry a muslim. There are lots of jokes (such as the mother arrange potential brides to “drop by” to meet Kumali, moments that are really touching. This is also an important film as it’s probably the first main stream American film that does not feature a Muslim as an ‘enemy’ of America, reflecting more the realties of life in America for muslims.


Well…its been a while…

Well its been a few months! Sorry, work and has life has been crazy but things are returning to normal slowly. Anyway, apart from being crazy busy at work I have been on holiday in Switzerland for the Locarno Festival – the 70 anniversary of the Locarno Film Festival (Locarno70). I had a fantastic time. I was able to relax properly and enjoyed watching lots of great films…

20841966_10154845946212688_4122086112163730134_nThis year I stayed in Ascona rather than Lugano. This meant I did not have a 1 hour train commute to and from the festival each day and meant I could see more – at my own pace. But what was also a motivation was the hotel I booked and the view I had from my room – overlooking Lake Maggiore. It was a breathtaking view to wake up to each morning!

Ascona is a beautiful town, it is like small Mediterranean coastal town with cobbled steers, gelato, tiny bars and cafe’s – in the mountains. It reminds me of Tossa De Mar and Cadaqués.


20770441_10154845946222688_2747503763437009173_nIt was only a 30 minute walk from Locarno – or a 10 minute bus ride. It was very peaceful and relaxing and this helped me think about a few things and has allowed me to identify some things that I need and want to do in the near future. The weather was not perfect this year (unlike like last year) and there were a number of days where it rained or there were some heavy thunder storms. This was an experience – but also a lot of fun!

20799255_10154845951987688_5289653511893006791_nThe film festival was great. I mostly watch the international program, as I like to see as many different films from around the world as possible and there were some great films. I also love watching films in the Piazza Grande, as the atmosphere is phenomenal – especially when a film is well received by the whole audience. For me, the Piazza Grande is the ultimate litmus test for a film, 9000 people – the majority from the general public – all with different background (nationality, faith, ideology). When a film is good, language does not matter; as the story transcends all these differences and boundaries to make the audience laugh, cry or think.


Among the starts to attend were the talented Adrien Brody (actor, The Pianist (2002), José Luis Alcaine (cinematographer, Jamón Jamón (1992). Producer Michel Merkt (Toni Erdmann (2016), Jean-Marie Straub (french filmmaker), probably the biggest start in Bollywood Irrfan Khan (actor, to many to list!), the amazing Golshifteh Farahani (actress, Rosewater (2014) and the stunning (and secret crush of mine) Vanessa Paradis (french actress and singer, Heartbreaker (2010) were just a few of the stars to and big names to make an appearance at the festival this year. Those guests and starts who received an award or whom spoke, all gave inspiring message of hope – for a world that currently feels dark and cruel. I will speak about some of the films I watched and liked in another post.


20953052_10154845947472688_583494900671217153_nAs this was also a holiday I took a day trip by train up into the mountains to the town of Engelberg went up by cable car to Mount Titlis (3020m up anyway). I love the view from the top of a mountain especially when the ground below is covered in clouds. On the way back I stopped off in the city of Luzern again and spent a couple of hours exploring the back streets of this beautiful city – and the chocolate and cake shops!

To end my holiday, I took a short coach trip to the amazing Valle Verzasca (photo below), a small alpine valley carved by 1000’s of years of glacier action, where at the village of  Lavertezzo lying on the River Verzasca has pools of  icy cool emerald-green water for swimming and rocks for soaking in the sun rays. It truly is one of the most beautiful places on earth, and probably as close to anything that could be described as a Garden of Eden in Europe.20841757_10154845952412688_4512175671973038365_n

I definitely plan on going back next summer but probably will only go for a long weekend to enjoy the film festival and few days relaxation. I cannot recommend enough to anyone who loves cinema, to at least experience Locarno once in your life. It is a truly amazing festival that will open your eyes to new ways of telling stories, new stars and new thinking.