A night of chaos and bewilderment at The 94th Academy Awards.

I have watched the Academy Awards every year since the mid-90s, but I have never seen anything quite like the shitstorm that was served up 10 hours ago. This was TV at its most out of control, yet most watchable. I have no doubts there will be executives somewhere claiming it to have been a success, but for us the fans, oh God no.

The controversy and general uneasiness started before anyone stepped foot on a red carpet. The decision to relegate 8 categories from the live show to be recorded prior to the main event then edited seamlessly into the main show was a decision that was as disrespectful to the artists as it was misjudged. The reasoning behind the decision was an attempt to trim the run-time of the overall broadcast……….well that went well, the show ultimately clocked in longer than the last 2 broadcasts.

The snubbing of the categories was one thing, but artistic decisions after artistic decisions were at times baffling. To celebrate James Bond’s 60th anniversary, they played a montage that looked like it had been put together by some 16-year-old YouTuber, but perhaps more bizarrely, the segment was introduced by skateboarder Tony Hawk and two other sporting icons who I didn’t recognise. Who were these guys supposed to appeal to? A younger audience? Tony Hawk is older than me. Could they not have found ANYONE with a connection to the actual films? Just like to point out that Dame Judi Dench and Javier Bardem were sat in the audience, even Rami Malek was in the building, as he came out to present later. Very odd. In the same vein, there was a tribute to the 50th anniversary of The Godfather. Another montage, but this time accompanied by music from Sean P Diddy Coombs, because as anyone who has seen The Godfather will testify, the wrap soundtrack really finishes it off. Francis Ford Coppola, Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino came onto the stage which was a nice touch, but neither DeNiro, who less we forget wasn’t even in the first Godfather, nor Pacino said anything. They might as well have been holograms. There was also a rather bizarre White Men Can’t Jump reunion. I appreciate the film is 30 years old, but lots of films are 30 years old this year, so why that one?

If the tributes were misguided that was nothing compared to the fabled Fans Favourites that allowed the always trustworthy folk of Twitter to vote for the fan’s favourite film from last year and the greatest cinematic moment ever. What we ended up within last year’s favourite film was not Spider-Man (which the producers clearly set this up for), not Dune, not No Time to Die, no the Twitterati voted for Zack Snyder’s Army of the Dead, which about 4 people saw.

Better still, ask yourself what is the greatest Cinematic moment ever, maybe Gene Kelly dancing in the rain, maybe the opening scene in Star Wars, maybe George Bailey running through a snow-covered Bedford Falls, maybe E.T and Elliot flying past a giant moon. No the greatest Cinematic moment ever, according to last night’s Oscar broadcast was The Flash starting to run fast in Zack Snyder’s Justice League, well-done everyone, that was so worth reducing Best Editing to an advert break.

The awfulness didn’t stop there. The In Memoriam segment is always a highlight for me, not in a depressive way but due to the fact that usually among all the razzamatazz, it is a couple of minutes of quiet reflection where we pay our respects to the legends who have sadly left us in the past year. In the UK, the broadcast kept cutting out so sadly, we missed Tyler Perry’s tribute to Sidney Poitier, however worse was to come. Someone, somewhere deemed it appropriate during the In Memoriam segment to have a large, brightly dressed gospel choir, singing and dancing to Spirit in the Sky as the names and faces appeared on the screen in the distance. Most of the people you couldn’t see as they focussed more on the dancers. It was another awful moment.

Now onto the hosts. I for one was pleased that we had hosts back after a couple of years without. The Academy decided that they would have 3 hosts, Amy Schumer, Wanda Sykes and Regina Hall. I thought Schumer was fine generally, the slightly edgy roasting of the celebs was in keeping with ceremonies in the past (more about roasting going wrong in a moment). Wanda Sykes was actually pretty good, I liked the trip around the Academy museum, again hosts have always done wacky things like this. However, a major duff note was Regina Hall’s COVID test gag. Her inappropriate touching of both Josh Brolin and Jason Momoa was probably intended well but if either Brolin or Momoa had touched and frisked Hall in the same manner then a lawsuit and public outrage would have been imminent. I appreciate it was done for laughs but we can’t have it one way and not the other.

Finally, I come to THE moment, the moment that everyone involved in, I have no doubt deeply regrets now. What upset me most, and it did upset me actually, about the incident is that it took the shine off all the winners that had gone before and definitely cast a dark cloud over those who were named, Smith included, winners after the incident. How to ruin the most sought after moment of your career, by a moment of madness, by Will Smith. What perhaps is most disturbing looking at the incident as an outsider is the swiftness of the switch. Chris Rock’s joke was indeed in bad taste, but Will was happily laughing along, then within the space of 10 seconds, he was there slapping Chris Rock. At that point I thought it was staged, the slap at first glance didn’t look real, then the swearing started, and the whole atmosphere changed in an instant.

As i do every year, I make notes as we go along, which award it is and who is presenting and then who is the winner. I’ve looked back at my notes this morning and they stop at the words Chris Rock. I just didn’t write anything after that as I was a little bit numb, I couldn’t quite believe what I was seeing. Will Smith was 15 minutes away from the moment in his career he had craved since “doin’ some b’ball outside a school”, and he completely broke character. The Will Smith brand lay in astonishing pieces.

My heart genuinely goes out to the people who received awards straight after the incident, namely Questlove for the brilliant Summer of Soul documentary. His speech shamefully cut due to the ongoing shock on screen.

At this point, one can only assume that producer Will Packer, whose controversial approach to the ceremony now lay in tatters, left the building. Thankfully a semblance of normality returned to proceedings. Friends and advisers surrounded Smith to calm him and prepare him for the inevitability of his Best Actor win. On stage Hollywood royalty such as Kevin Costner, Samuel L Jackson, Uma Thurman, John Travolta and Sir Anthony Hopkins brought some control and calmness to proceedings. the Pulp Fiction triumvirate awarded Smith his Oscar. Smith’s acceptance speech will go down in Academy Award history but like a lot of this ceremony, not necessarily for the right reasons. A tearful Smith recounting, how he is there to protect his family, like Richard Williams the character that had finally won him his Oscar. The speech seemed to go on for an age, it was uncomfortable viewing. I have followed Smith’s career since those West Philly days and in my mind, if anyone was ready to make an Oscar acceptance speech for the ages it was Will Smith. I was right, but not how I expected it to be.

The biggest downside to the incident is that it’s what the ceremony will be remembered for, when in fact what it should have been remembered for was the wonderful, inspiring acceptance speeches of some truly worthy winners. Troy Kotsur, Ariana DeBose and Kenneth Branagh fortunately, got their statues before the Smith/Rock debacle but poor Jessica Chastain who made a beautiful speech for a wonderful performance was all lost in the heated mire. Finally, CODA was a worthy Best Picture winner, but by this point, everyone just wanted to get out of there.

I will say this though, a true highlight of the entire night was reserved for the end. Lady Gaga and a wheelchair-bound Liza Minnelli presenting Best Picture. As Lady Gaga asked the audience to watch the nominees she bent down to Minnelli who was struggling with the autocue to whisper “I’ve got you”, Minnelli responded with a simple “I know” and with that the most dysfunctional and disastrous Academy Award ceremony came to a beautifully sweet end, giving cause to hope that the ceremony will be back next year and it will be done right.

Finally, my suggestions for a successful Academy Award ceremony.

  1. One host, they can be edgy but know the audience

2. Have a diverse number of presenters but they MUST be best known for working in the film industry

3. Show clips of all nominees work, ALL OF THEM

4. PRESENT ALL 23 CATEGORIES LIVE

5. Never, ever, ever talk about the Fan Favourites again…………………ever

6. Make this a celebration of the movies, leave the celebrity out in the street.

The rewatch – my ultimate movie comfort zone

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 600x200

Back in February 2021, I wrote a blog about how I planned to keep on top of all my streaming services and re-watches that I had to include, you can read about this plan here. I think I stuck to that plan for about a month and I lost where I was up to and it all became too much effort. Film watching should be fun and exciting, not regimented. However one thing hasn’t changed as we continue on the global battle of the Pandemic, I still very much need, even on hot summer days, the warm comfort blanket of a re-watch.

I have a friend who once said to me, “I’ve never seen the same film twice, what would be the point, I know what happens”. You could say that such logic is difficult to argue with, a joke is never as funny the second time you hear it. However unless you are blessed with an Eidetic memory or a razor-sharp attention span, neither of which I have, then there is potentially so much that can be missed on an original and solo watch.

We all have that one film that began your obsession with film, it’s well documented that for me it was Star Wars (1977) when I saw it at Bolton’s Canon Cinema in about 1982 as a giddy 4-year-old. The thought of that magical experience being a one-off is as strange to me as the person who proudly announces that they have seen Star Wars (1977) 382 times. The thing is in life, we tend to do the things that make you happy, here is where the power of the rewatch comes in.

I currently, thanks to the wonderful Letterboxd app have a watchlist with about 520 films on it. If I don’t add anything further to it, I reckon there is a good 4 or 5 years worth of new film watching right there. During lockdown I have averaged about 5 films a week, this number will seriously reduce when normality kicks in and my part-time voluntary job of dad’s taxi starts up again, running my brood of freeloading, tax-dodging kids to their various clubs.

Still, even watching 2 films a week would mean I would get through my 520 films quicker than 5 years, right? No, because I don’t want to just watch new films, I want to re-watch the films that make me feel warm and cosy inside, and that to me is just as important.

So you're telling me That you're watching the same thing you've watched a  million times over again?!?!?! - So You're Telling me | Meme Generator

I’m sure that most of us work hard in everyday life, whether that be in employment or family issues, we all have a purpose. Most of us will sit down on a Friday night and just want to have the sofa consume us. Yes, you could watch the Netflix premiere, or the movie on Prime that everyone is talking about, but its Friday, I don’t want to have to think………… I’m watching Aliens (1986) again and quite frankly I don’t give a shit. I’ve earned this, I’ve earned the privilege to be transported to the faraway World that is LV-426, I don’t really, with respect, want to have to figure out whether Benedict and Bronco Henry actually had a thing, I want somebody to wake up Hicks whilst taking an express elevator to hell.

I’m about to show my age here without actually mentioning it, but there is an Urban Dictionary term, FOMO, which my teenage kids advise me means, fear of missing out. I feel a lot of amateur film reviewers, and by amateur I mean those who are not paid (like me), not those who are no good (erm also me), on Social Media have an unquenchable thirst to see every film as soon as it’s released and get that review out there. I can’t afford, either with time or money, to go to the cinema as often as I would love to, which means that I do have to plan my Cinema trips quite far in advance, therefore it does tend to be the bigger, more mainstream films. I’m ok with that, I’m not ashamed to exalt to all and sundry that I adore franchise cinema, I count watching Lando blowing up the death star in Return of the Jedi (1983), the first time you see the Brachiosaurs in Jurassic Park(1993) and the Portals scene in Avengers Endgame (2019) in a cinema as 3 of the highlights of my film-watching life. It does mean though that I don’t get to see as many of the critically acclaimed, more independent films that everyone else does unless they are on Netflix etc.

Too Many Movies, Too Little Time |

This brings me round sharply to the Friday night conundrum? We all have an infinite time in our lives, and when it comes to films, how can we seriously judge or comment on a film if we have never seen it. Therefore if you want to be part of the discussion then you need to keep up. Where is the benefit to watching Jaws(1975) for the 500th time when The Tragedy of Macbeth (2021) is there staring at you from Apple TV+?

Well, I have no doubt that The Tragedy of Macbeth (2021) is a sumptuous film that will be very worth the 2 hours I will invest in it, but I work hard, I earn my rewards, and my reward at the end of a hectic week is to leave my brain in the hallway and watch Brody mention to Quint that the realisation has just hit him that the 2 berth is not going to be sufficient. I will get to Denzel’s interpretation of the Scottish play, and I’m pretty sure I will enjoy it, (love me a bit of Billy Shakes), but that’s not for a Friday night with a Dairy Milk and tube of Pringles.

Falling asleep while watching tv wide awake 15 minutes later while lying in  bed - Scumbag Brain - quickmeme

There is of course more to the rewatch than just a film seen dozens of times that is a warm comfort to you. Sometimes a rewatch can open your eyes and see a film completely differently, occasionally a previously dismissed film can reward you by allowing you to see it in a new light, (Spielberg’s A.I (2001) a great example of this) and on occasions, it can confirm what you first thought (Oh God, so sorry everyone, but Blade Runner (1982) for me).

As a devoted Spielbergian, I watch his films on a loop, interspersed with everything else. It takes a couple of years to get through his entire back catalogue, and after I next watch West Side Story (2021), I’ll go back to Duel (1972) again. Now you might be thinking, what a waste of time, and maybe you’re right, but I consider Spielberg to be an artist first and foremost, I think he is the F****n Mozart of the Cinematic world, and I personally enjoy studying in detail his films, so its never a waste of time, in fact, it is my go-to security blanket for films. Take Close Encounters (1977), for example, every time I watch that film, and I do cheat a little bit and watch it more than once a year, I always spot something I have not noticed before. It may be a little detail, but there is always something. I don’t think that is a waste of time at all, it’s what makes me happy, and that is what life is about.

During the Pandemic, I have tried to push my boundaries somewhat. I have watched a lot of films that even maybe two or three years ago I wouldn’t have entertained. Mark Kermode, who is probably my favourite film critic, once said when referring to why he watched A Serbian Film (2010) he stated that if you want to be a film critic, you have to watch everything, otherwise you are just playing at it. Now as stated above I don’t have the resources to watch everything, but I am trying to push my comfort zones and challenge myself. In the last 12 months, I have watched Irreversible (2002), Audition (1999), Bone Tomahawk (2015) and Titane (2021). I have to say I got an enormous amount from all of them. Some were extremely tough to watch, but it opened up my eyes to the possibilities of cinema, and I’m almost halfway to 90. However, none of these films are begging me for a rewatch, if truth be known, I would be a lot more excited to watch Three Men and a Baby (1987) again than Irreversible, yet from an artistic point of view there is no comparison.

To quote Billy Shakes again, there’s the rub, there few better feelings for a film fan than to see a new film at the cinema or wherever and it to blow your mind, to the point where you can think of nothing else you would rather watch, its special when that happens and has probably happened to me 5 or 6 times in my life. But occasionally, it is ok to turn away from the rat race of new content overload and to settle down and stick the Police Academy boxset on.

We live in a World where increasingly we are told that we are wrong to like certain things, that filmmakers and actors should be ashamed of the films that they have spent 2-3 years putting together in the vain attempt to entertain people. This attitude is all kinds of wrong. Let people like what they like, it is no-one else’s business if I want to sing the praises of Howard the Duck (1986) as opposed to the virtues of Nomadland (2020).

Life is way too short to worry what others might think of your preferences. And with that I’m off to watch Close Encounters (1977) again, that watchlist isn’t going anywhere, and right now I need to see some mashed potato modelling.

About me

My name is Dominic Holder and I like to promote the beauty and wonder of Cinema in my writing. I spend a lot of time promoting the power of Cinema as a tool of wellbeing to anyone and everyone. I love all kinds of films but in particular, I am a devoted fan of Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, John Williams, Star Wars, Disney and Marvel. My love of Cinema stems from a trip as a 4-year-old to local cinema in Bolton to watch a Star Wars/Empire Strikes Back double bill, it was the first in a series of life-changing moments, I knew from the moment the Imperial Star Destroyer engulfed the screen at the start of  A New Hope I was hooked. Thankfully nearly 40 years later I still get excited and still find escapism and happiness within this wonderful medium.

You can follow me on Twitter @DomHolder and read some of my reviews on Letterboxd at letterboxd.com/DomH

You can read more of my blogs on Film at www.dominicholder.wordpress.com

The 93rd Academy Awards, a night like no other.

Oscars 2021: What's Next For Chloe Zhao, Daniel Kaluuya and Other 2021 Oscar  Winners - Flipboard

10th February 2020, approximately 4am UK time and history is made as Parasite becomes the first film not in the English language to win the prestigious Best Picture Academy Award. A night of celebration that now seems a lifetime ago.

It is fair to say that the last 14 months or so have been strange, every day life has changed in ways none of us would have foreseen when Parasite won. During the past year and a bit I have often been reminded that it isn’t just us “normal” people who have been effected by the Pandemic, but the rich, famous and adulated stars who we mistakenly believe sit in their ivory towers oblivious to the struggles of every day life. Further proof if needed arrived in what can only be described as THE oddest Academy Award ceremony I have ever witnessed.

There were people who said that under the circumstances the ceremony shouldn’t even take place this year, but perhaps due to those very circumstances, it was more important than ever to host the event, even if it was going to take a radically different format to what we know, and as became the night progressed, love about the Academy Awards. Pandemic or not some of the artistic decisions on show tonight by event director Steven Soderbergh were baffling and awkward, but an interesting night nonetheless.

Oscar predictions: Will every Best Picture nominee win an award? - GoldDerby

The Nominees

The main personal sticking point this year was that unlike most years I have not managed to see the majority of the nominated films. I usually at the very least get the Best Picture nominees watched, but this year I managed just 4 out of the 8, some of them such as The Father is not released in the UK until July so it has been hard this year. Again circumstances put of every ones control dictate that somewhat. The point is I went into the ceremony rather blind and therefore I can’t really say whether the winners were the best choice out of the nominees or not, however Anthony Hopkins must be career-best sensational to be picked above Chadwick Boseman, (one of the night’s true surprises).

The Ceremony

In the last couple of years, pre-COVID the Academy Awards has managed quite nicely without a designated host. I can’t help thinking that last night would have massively benefitted from having a host, someone who could keep a handle on proceedings, and give the audience the impression that at least one person knew what was going on.

The main issues were a lack of cohesion, a feeling that things were being made up on the huff, someone was insuring that all the boxes were ticked but weren’t entirely convinced of the order they should have been ticked in. Alex Zane who gamely presented Sky’s coverage would announce the upcoming award only for that not to happen when returning to the station. It was all a bit messy.

As for the awards themselves, a quite frankly baffling decision was made to rarely show any clips when announcing nominees. In a year when it is well documented that audiences are not as familiar or had opportunity to see some of the nominated films, to help with context you would have thought they would have shown clips. Every Oscar ceremony I can remember had clips of the artists work to admire. Instead we had those awkward moments where a presenter is gushing about the nominees work and the nominee has to look into the camera whilst they are being gushed about. It was similar to when people sing you Happy Birthday, you never know where to look when that is happening.

Maybe to compensate for the lack of clips, all acceptance speeches were allowed to run for their entirety, which was very nice, but……………………in some cases I think I would rather have had the clips. I know it is a moment of a lifetime but you know if you give some people an inch etc. With no clips, montages (I really missed celebratory montages) or musical numbers the ceremony still managed to almost hit the 4 hour mark. I’m not entirely sure how.

The setting was interesting but with no live audience and unless nominated, none of the A-List celebs there it all felt a little bit flat, a bit like the 2017 East Midlands local, small Business awards that I helped organise.

I’m not massively into celeb culture but I do love the glitz and glamour of Oscar night, seeing some of the classic actors making rare public appearances, the opening monologues, the montages that more than often than not truly celebrate an aspect of Cinema. Perhaps for obvious reasons these were not there, but I have to say I did miss them. The random pop songs that seemed to accompany presenters and winners onto and off the stage gave it a kind of BAFTA feel, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I want the Oscars to feel special.

Then we got to the In Memoriam section. Without being over dour I always look forward to this segment as it is a time to quietly reflect on those who have contributed so much to our love of Cinema who have sadly passed. However this time they raced through it as if everyone had somewhere more important to be. Double Academy Award Winner. 104 year old Olivia de Havilland was passed over so quickly it was all rather disrespectful, even more so when you consider the show had just dedicated 10 mins to a cringeworthy music quiz.

As for the quiz, which culminated in Glenn Close twerking, it was rightly or wrongly the only time that this ceremony dared to drop its guard and have a little bit of fun. The problem it wasn’t that fun and just raised the volume slightly of the awkward (bored) laughs that had sprinkled through the auditorium from the start. I did genuinely think at first that the broadcasters had forgotten to go to an ad break and this was being broadcast unbeknownst to the participants.

Bryan Cranston presented the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award from the Dolby Theatre, the current traditional home of the Oscars. I found it quite moving seeing the place and we can but hope that the Ceremony next year is back there.

The final headscratcher was the running order. We had Best Director awarded in the first hour which I didn’t mind, but the Best Picture surely should always be the final award. It’s what the ceremony builds up to and this year it was brought forward to be before the Lead Actor and Actress awards. An odd idea was made worse when the ceremony ended on a damp squib as Anthony Hopkins winning Best Actor wasn’t there or even in London on Zoom and the ceremony that had struggled to keep people engaged took one last gasp before completely dying on its arse.

The Best Picture award surely is the culmination of the evenings celebration, more often than not taking into account all the elements that have gone before it. It was like they had forgotten about the Lead acting categories.

The Winners

I don’t mean to be negative, the Academy Awards is one of my favourite nights of the year, and I’m really pleased that there was any kind of ceremony at all, but a lot of didn’t work for me.

Like I said at the starter I haven’t seen a lot of the films so I can’t really judge whether they would match my personal choices. However I am thrilled for Daniel Kaluuya, who went onto make one of the most out of control Oscar acceptance speeches of modern times. I would have liked to have seen Chadwick Boseman (Ma Rainey’s was one of the films I have seen), but delighted for Anthony Hopkins. I haven’t seen The Father yet but I feel Hopkins has been overlooked in previous years so delighted he has been recognised.

I haven’t seen Nomadland (hopefully will this week) but it can only be a good thing that Chloe Zhao won Best Director. It still total shite that only 2 women in 93 YEARS have ever won this award. With each ground-breaking moment, think Halle Berry with Monsters Ball, you hope that that will open the floodgates a bit more. Lets hope that, unlike the Leading Actress category has proved since, that Ms Zhao’s door remains wide open for all females to be allowed to compete at the highest level.

Frances McDormand was perhaps a surprise winner, but now joins an incredibly exclusive club of 3 Acting Academy Awards. A lady who probably preferred the low key of this ceremony. She is all about the work and is a roll model that all young people should look up to. What a professional, what an actress. I look forward to watching Nomadland this coming weekend.

Overall, I am delighted and thrilled that they were able to get any kind of show together this year. I did enjoy it, at the end of the day, it was still the Oscars, lets hope that the 94th Academy Awards can throw caution to the wind and make it the spectacle that I’ve always enjoyed.

About me

My name is Dominic Holder and I like to promote the beauty and wonder of Cinema in my writing. I spend a lot of time promoting the power of Cinema as a tool of wellbeing to anyone and everyone. I love all kinds of films but in particular, I am a devoted fan of Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, John Williams, Star Wars, Disney and Marvel. My love of Cinema stems from a trip as a 4-year-old to local cinema in Bolton to watch a Star Wars/Empire Strikes Back double bill, it was the first in a series of life-changing moments, I knew from the moment the Imperial Star Destroyer engulfed the screen at the start of  A New Hope I was hooked. Thankfully nearly 40 years later I still get excited and still find escapism and happiness within this wonderful medium.

You can follow me on Twitter @DomHolder and read some of my reviews on Letterboxd at letterboxd.com/DomH

You can read more of my blogs on Film at www.dominicholder.wordpress.com

I want to watch ALL the films

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 600x200

Yes that’s right, every last one of them. One of the least expected symptoms of lockdown that I have experienced is what I refer to as “Watchlist anxiety”. With so many streaming services just a touch of a button away and the lack of anything else to do, other than having an arm wrestle with some guy called Barry over a toilet roll in Tesco, I started to build up some watchlists. Before I knew it, it was massively out of control.

It’s time for some stats

Thinking Math GIF

Now according to Google there are thought to have been approximately 500000 films made. A rather ambitious estimate is that I have seen around 2000 individual films, which is 0.4% of them, so its clear I have some catching up to do. In fact if I was to watch one film a day it would take me a more than likely unachievable 1369 years to watch them all. That is if I watch one a day, which has only really been possible since lockdown. In my normal life I reckon I probably get through about 150 films a year, so I’m looking at around 4000 years to complete. But the other problem is, people keep making films, and I think it would be unreasonable for them to stop just to allow me to catch up.

Kevin Feige: “Guys we’re not going to make any more films for the MCU because Dom has still got 498,000 films to watch, so we’re gonna hang fire so he can catch up”.

The other issue is of course, and I know I’m not the only one here, but I love a good re-watch. I am of course a Spielberg nut, but throw in the MCU and Star Wars and there is at least 60 films there that I have to watch on a regular basis, and the true rub here is, I have to watch them in order, oh yes, if you’re going to do something you have to do it right.

Me: Hey guys I see you’re watching Empire of the Sun

Friend: Yeah that’s right

Me: So what did you guys think of The Color Purple, it’s great isn’t it?

Friend: erm, well we haven’t watched that one yet

Me:

Samuel L Jackson What GIF by Coming to America

The rewatches are my comfort blankets, as much as I love watching new stuff and getting that buzz from new films when they really hit you, I want to go back and watch every Spielberg from Duel (watched again this morning, it is Spielberg day, see below) and watch how his filmmaking changes over the years, likewise the MCU from IronMan onwards, it feels odd to me that you would just select one at random, or maybe I’m just odd.

The Plan

Planning GIF by memecandy

I have a number of subscriptions, Netflix, Disney + and for now anyway, Sky Cinema through Now TV. On top of this I have an extensive DVD/Blu-Ray collection and I tape (its always tape, I’m a child of the 80s) stuff off the TV like Film4 and TCM. Away from the subscriptions I love collections. As already stated I have to watch Spielberg in order, the MCU in order, Star Wars in order and believe it or not I have also in the past 12 months thrown PIXAR and the Disney Classics into the mix, and I haven’t even mentioned Bond yet. The anxiety is caused by making sure I am getting the most out of my subscriptions and also not neglecting my slightly unhealthy fandom.

Therefore I have come up with a rota, a 15 day cycle if you will. A chaos organiser, an anxiety destroyer, and overwhelming overwhelmer.

Courteney Cox Thats Not Even A Word GIF

Day 1 – Netflix – this will invariably be a new film. Yes there is plenty of stuff I have seen before that may be fun to watch, but primarily I need to use it for the new stuff. Netflix is the bully of the group though, as it is the place most likely to pique my interest with new stuff so may shove some of the other days out of the way.

Day 2 – Now TV – I only have this for 6 months, and is quite limiting on what I haven’t seen, although there should be enough to tide me over

Day 3 – Planner – So this is my Sky box, films recorded from places like TCM. This is always a good day as invariably it is a classic film that I have never seen before.

Day 4 – Disney Plus – Now here is the problem, if I take out all the Disney classic cartoons, the PIXAR, Star Wars and the MCU, take out the Documentary’s and all the shorts there are currently still 324 films on Disney Plus, a remarkable amount of those I haven’t seen. I made the decision the other day to start at the top (they do a handy A-Z) and work my through them, so I watched Kirk Douglas in 20000 Leagues Under the Sea, one of the 498K ticked off, you see it works…………… yes I will consider therapy.

Recent news broke that Disney Plus was launching its Star service for more grown up viewers and at least another 250 films on that. At my current rate that is about 5 years worth of watching on its own.

tom hanks comedy GIF by RETRO-FIEND

Day 5 BBC iPlayer/Kanopy – The BBC iPlayer has some fantastic classic cinema on there and Kanopy is a new service for me. It is free because I work for a University and it has a huge library of everything from World Cinema to early cinema, just this week I watched Plan 9 from Outer Space and looking forward to revisiting the Chaplin back catalogue that is on there.

Day 6 – Spielberg day. I don’t care how many times I have watched them all before, I never get bored. Close Encounters of the Third Kind for example, I have to watch that film 2 or 3 times a year and I always notice something new when I watch it. In a World where we need to do things that benefits our wellbeing, then watch what you like…………as long as its in order.

Day 7 – DVD/Blu-ray – I have to justify the collection, it is apparently taking up valuable shelf space, and cupboard space, and wardrobe space, oh and loft space. I have to be seen to be taking that 5 step walk across the living room to the shelf to be selecting one. I have to be careful though, this is the ultimate rewatch policed area

Wife: I don’t know why you have all of them, I bet you only watch about 4 of them

Me: That’s not true, I watch them all, an equal amount (never sounded more unconvincing)

Wife: I can clearly see your Aliens blu-ray in your hand, right this second, and I know you watched that the other night because I heard you say “somebody wake up Hicks” from the other room

Me: I was just putting it back (easily beat the previous level of sounding unconvincing)

Wife: Yeah whatever, by the way I hate that I know that it is an Aliens blu-ray.

Image result for Large dvd collection
Not mine by the way.

Day 8 – Google Play – I have this other account where I don’t own the physical media and they aren’t often on streaming services so I have them on here, e.g. Tim Burton’s Batman (still my favourite Batman film) so once again to justify my outlay the Google Play account gets a turn. Like a kid who has just asked for Roblox vouchers, I actually asked for Google Play vouchers for Christmas just so I could add to the collection,

Animated GIF

Day 9 – Amazon Prime – My least favourite of the streaming services, however occasionally good things turn up on there, such as Fellini’s 8 1/2 and the black and white version of Parasite. I just keep it for the free delivery of the Blu-rays really.

Day 10 – MCU – Again back to the collections, and so I don’t get distracted in my one man, doomed to failure, mission of getting through the Disney Plus back catalogue, a separate day for the MCU.

Day 11 – PIXAR – this is of course followed by PIXAR for the same reason as the MCU, which brings me neatly onto

Day 12 – Disney Classics – There’s 56 of these bad boys so that’s 2 years work right there, assuming I don’t miss a cycle. I wonder if my daughter will still want to watch these with me when she is 55 years old and we’re just getting to Moana.

Day 13 – Bond – I can take or leave Bond if I’m brutally honest but I do own them all on DVD/Blu-ray and similar to Spielberg and the MCU it would be nice to watch them all in order. Anthology you say, ah pish. In fact I think there are some that I have never seen so there we go, I can watch a franchise and chip away at that outstanding 498k. Besides with No Time to Die delayed again, I have time to get up to speed with this James Bond chap.

Day 14 – Film Docs – This can be anything from the monumental Empire of Dreams to a making of doc on a DVD that I have never watched. I always claim to never have the time to watch the extras, well there you go…….BUILT IT INTO THE SCHEDULE!!!!

aint nobody got time for that GIF

Day 15- Star Wars – It’s where it all started, the obsession of Cinema and film is right there in those 2 words. I love all 11 films and I don’t really care how often I see them. They are like old friends, they are my childhood, they are my adulthood and I think we are very fortunate to live in a time when we have almost unlimited access to them.

That’s it that’s the plan, pretty cool eh? If this all sounds a little OCDish then please note that this is very much tongue in cheek, but film fans are notoriously about order, whether that is how you file your DVDs to what order to watch films in. There are entire websites dedicated to the order the Star Wars films should be watched in.

We live in a time when we have never had it so good, regarding access to films, but the amount of times I have sat for an hour just scrolling through streaming services procrastinating over whether to watch Willow for the 80th time or take a punt on The Apple Dumpling Gang (it’s on the list, oh yeah!), when in fact a little bit of order can make that decision for me. If I added up the time I spent scrolling, well that’s probably 20 films or one Lord of the Rings, right there.

futuristic technology GIF
Me arriving for opening night of No Time to Die in 3390

So by the year 3390 I should have caught up, of course by then Cinema will be a totally immersive experience, but I’m sure, Tom Cruise will be making Mission Impossible 83 live from Alpha Centauri and there will be a new Spiderman reboot in the works and there will still be the financial toss up between some pick n mix or a villa in Marbella, rest assured I’m somewhere there will be a watchlist that will require some detailed plan of action

About me

My name is Dominic Holder and I like to promote the beauty and wonder of Cinema in my writing. I spend a lot of time promoting the power of Cinema as a tool of wellbeing to anyone and everyone. I love all kinds of films but in particular, I am a devoted fan of Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, John Williams, Star Wars, Disney and Marvel. My love of Cinema stems from a trip as a 4-year-old to local cinema in Bolton to watch a Star Wars/Empire Strikes Back double bill, it was the first in a series of life-changing moments, I knew from the moment the Imperial Star Destroyer engulfed the screen at the start of  A New Hope I was hooked. Thankfully nearly 40 years later I still get excited and still find escapism and happiness within this wonderful medium.

You can follow me on Twitter @DomHolder and read some of my reviews on Letterboxd at letterboxd.com/DomH

You can read more of my blogs on Film at www.dominicholder.wordpress.com

2021, the year to try to enjoy films again

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 600x200

This is a blog that I have pondered putting together for some months now and a new year led me to think that now may well be the right time. I spend, probably too much, time on Social Media because I adore watching films and I like talking about them. My hope was that I would find many like minded people, on Twitter in particular. Twitter is a place where I have very few followers who know me personally so I could be somewhat anonymous, a wry stranger who would occasionally drop into a conversation uninvited and deliver a line of Shakespearean wit and then disappear, leaving the gang of merry tweeters to wonder who the humourous stranger was that had just interrupted their discussion on Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

Fortunately, there are many such people on Twitter, who find and take great comfort in this dazzling of artistic mediums. They generally appear to share my love and fascination with the World of Cinema, appreciating the beauty and skill involved in every frame of celluloid (or whatever the digital equivalent is). Films have always been about escapism, they have been a comfort blanket when the World has thrown crap in my general direction. “There are always movies” I would be heard to yell, after Liverpool got thumped at home, or a school exam had been failed brilliantly, or mum had decided tonight would be the night for the infamous fish pie.* Films were there to take the burden of life’s pressures from me. They were like a friend. If life appeared to be filled with excrement, stick on Back to the Future, watch Indy get chased down by a bolder, watch the Ghostbusters cross the streams, watch the three men sing the little lady to sleep with a rap song, within minutes the World would be right again.

Does anyone know the lyrics to the three men rap? (I love the song but  can't find the lyrics anywhere) - Three Men and a baby/Little Lady Answers  - Fanpop
Hey Mary, did you brush your teeth?

What I didn’t expect from my trips to Twitterland was to be encountered by the dark side. There is a popular # called #FilmTwitter which if you use at the start or end of one of your tweets will notify it to large parts of the film fan community on Twitter and hopefully start a fun conversation. However, what this hashtag does more often than not is similar to when that dude opens the puzzle box at the start of Hellraiser, it unleashes the Cenobite dwellers of Film Twitter. These are the people who hate everything, the people who’s childhoods have been ruined more times than those of us who used to watch every episode of Rolf’s Cartoon Time.

There is a more sinister side to the FilmTwitter dark troopers, and that is that their hatred now has a platform, and in most occasions a pseudonym or anonymous platform for them to spout their views. Now before I go any further, I am not for one minute suggesting that people are not allowed to dislike a film, or for that matter comment on it explaining why they don’t, of course they are. If everyone in the World liked the same things then it would be quite boring, however we would also probably be now onto Three Men and a gaggle of Great Grandkids (not sure that title would clear the censors but whatever).

The problem we have now is that people love a “like”, a “retweet” a “share”, it’s what makes the unpopular popular, and the best way to do that, is to launch into a film and let it (a piece of art designed to entertain, lest we forget) have it with two Uzi 9 millimeters.

There is an unfair phrase banded around that nobody hates Star Wars more than Star Wars fans. This all came about after the release of Rian Johnson’s Episode VIII The Last Jedi in 2018. Now personally, I thought it was fantastic, and here is why. I thought it dared to be different, I thought it wanted to tell a new story, with familiar characters in a Universe that had from day one embraced diversity and shown that regardless of who or what you are you can become all you are meant to be. As Yoda famously uttered in Empire Strikes Back “judge me by my size do you?”. The online response to this film (again piece of art designed primarily to entertain) was quite frightening. Again, I must reiterate, you don’t have to like a film, whether that be Star Wars, Jaws or Police Academy 7, it is perfectly ok to not like a film. But this wasn’t a dislike, this was pure hatred.

Here comes that sinister side, I was mentioning earlier. Some people hated this film so much that they PAID to watch it several times just to build up the evidence, just to back up their arguments. I followed one Twitter user who knew The Last Jedi to the most finite detail, that can only be achieved by studying the film, like a scholar of Shakespeare would. He knew so much about this film, more than I (someone who loved it) hadn’t even noticed. He knew everything about it, and hated it. There was a teeny tiny part of me that admired his dedication to his loathing, but generally I actually felt quite sorry for him. Not because he didn’t like the film, like I said perfectly entitled to that, but he seemed to be dedicating every minute to attempting to destroy this film, with every bead of energy he could muster.

STAR WARS EPISODE 8: THE LAST JEDI – US Wall Movie Poster Print - 30cm x  43cm / 12 Inches x 17 Inches VIII: Amazon.co.uk: Kitchen & Home

Now obviously he was never going to succeed, he was a nameless faceless keyboard warrior, but he obviously felt it was important enough to him to do all of this. He launched an online petition (he wasn’t the only one) to get Episode VIII officially removed from the Star Wars cannon. This was pure dedication. The reason I felt sorry for him was, I couldn’t help thinking, what a waste of time and energy, why make yourself this miserable. Why not watch something you do like and put that amount of time and energy into promoting that film so that more people can see it? By constantly going on about Star Wars either in a positive or negative way you arouse the interest of people who are yet to see it.

The repetition doesn’t help either, there is always one joker who thinks, when asked which is his favourite of the 4 Indiana Jones, that they are the first person to come up with the not very witty response “pah, not sure what you mean there are only 3 films to me (smug face, smug face). Toxic fandoms, they achieve nothing. Actually that is not strictly true, crying, basement dwelling man babies managed to force Daisy Ridley and Kellie Marie Tran off social media, bleating on about ruined childhoods like some entitled toddler who has been told to turn Paw Patrol off as its past bedtime.

The other sinister side of Social Media is that there are films that no-one has even seen yet that are apparently awful. Steven Spielberg is due to release a re-imagination of West Side Story in December 2021 (delayed from 2020). This is a film that is designed for Twitter to tear it apart before even so much of a trailer has been seen.

So here is the thing. Lets make 2021 the year that we just get back to why we are interested in Movies in the first place, and that is to be entertained. We don’t need to think too deeply about them, they are there to take people away from their every day lives and offer some escapism. Yes of course they are there to make money and obviously there are a lot of films about social realism and other such issues, but they are still films and the primary aim is to entertain as an artform.

Think back to the first time you saw the Star Destroyer, engulf the big screen at the start of Star Wars, or when Marty realised what the serious shit he would experience at 88mph was, or when Sally inspired half the patrons in a New York deli to order what ever she was having, or when Cap heard a distant radio signal informing him that help was “on your left”.

Think about Donald O’Connor singing Make em’ Laugh, Harold Lloyd hanging precariously from a clock face, Charlie Chaplin making bread rolls dance, Mary Poppins inventing words like Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, or Michael telling Fredo that he knew it was him, or Red walking across the beach to meet Andy, or Brody’s realisation that a bigger boat was required, or Buzz flying with Woody in Toy Story, or Axel Foley disarming an unmarked Police car with a banana, and Ripley advising the Alien Queen to step away.

Making 'Em Laugh Till You Hurt - OZY | A Modern Media Company
To Infinity and Beyond: My love for Toy Story – Pop Cultural Studies
Does Jack Latvala keep falling for the banana-in-the-tailpipe trick so he  can be CFO?

These are all magic moments that have been revered for decades. We are now at a stage where we are not allowed to enjoy such things, because ultimately waxing lyrically about things doesn’t get any likes, or retweets, it doesn’t get any attention.

Movies are a wondrous thing, the artform of my generation. They give out hope, they give credible diverse roll models. It’s time to stop trying so hard to find fault and just let yourself go. Life is way to short to be this angry about everything.

If you are the sort of person who finds fault in most films, then my guess is that its not the films that are the problem……….it’s you.

Here’s to a wonderful year of Cinema in 2021. If you let it, it could be the best ever.

About me

My name is Dominic Holder and I like to promote the beauty and wonder of Cinema in my writing. I spend a lot of time promoting the power of Cinema as a tool of wellbeing to anyone and everyone. I love all kinds of films but in particular, I am a devoted fan of Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, John Williams, Star Wars, Disney and Marvel. My love of Cinema stems from a trip as a 4-year-old to local cinema in Bolton to watch a Star Wars/Empire Strikes Back double bill, it was the first in a series of life-changing moments, I knew from the moment the Imperial Star Destroyer engulfed the screen at the start of  A New Hope I was hooked. Thankfully nearly 40 years later I still get excited and still find escapism and happiness within this wonderful medium.

You can follow me on Twitter @DomHolder and read some of my reviews on Letterboxd at letterboxd.com/DomH

You can read more of my blogs on Film at www.dominicholder.wordpress.com

*my mums is a phenomenal cook, just the fish pie really never again.

The magical Cinema

Cannon Bolton in Bolton, GB - Cinema Treasures

The rain was coming down heavier now, big old fat rain, the rain that only comes in the summer. The bus had gotten stuck in traffic, the film started in less than 10 minutes, with any luck I would only miss the adverts and trailers. The Bolton Cannon Cinema was showing Star Wars, the original cut as well, for the first time in over 30 years and it was for one night only. I half expected the queue to go half way back into town, like in the days pre-multiplex.

The traffic was not improving, so I decided to make a run for it. It couldn’t have been more than half a mile away. I begged the driver to let me off before the next stop, he grumpily agreed. The rain was lashing down now, I lept over lake size puddles, didn’t fancy sitting for 2 hours with soggy feet no matter how much I wanted to see the film.

I rounded the corner and there it was the old faithful, The Cannon Cinema in Bolton.

I was relieved but at the same time slightly surprised that there was no queue. Counting my luck I dashed into the foyer, checking my watch. I breathlessly stammered to the old man in the ticket office, “One for Star Wars please…….it hasn’t started has it?” With a wink and a smile that almost suggested don’t be silly we were waiting for you, the old man shook his head “No, you are just in time, go right in”.

I walked up the long dark enticing corridor and up a flight of stairs. At the top of the stairs I was actually in the auditorium, with the beautifully imposing giant red curtain bathing the whole room with a glowing expectation. This was my heaven, but it was a strangely quiet heaven. In fact I was the only person in the room. Had I come to the wrong screen?

Before I had time to contemplate, the projector at the back of the room spluttered into life, launching a beam of God light across the cavernous room onto a ginormous red velvet curtain, which almost on queue parted like the the red sea, revealing a 30-45 foot Cinema screen. I moved to a red velvet chair and perched on the edge as the projector clicked into top gear. The familiar site of the Fox searchlight blazed onto the screen with the accompanying fanfare. The screen momentarily went dark and then the following appeared in light blue writing.

A Long Time Ago in a Galaxy Far, Far Away… | Level Up | by Chris White |  Geek Family Media | Medium

As if a giant fan powered by a thousand trumpets suddenly burst into life forcing me back into my chair the yellow stencilled logo of Star Wars shot across the screen.

  1. Star Wars (1977)
Star Wars Movie Posters | Original Vintage Movie Posters | FilmArt Gallery

As soon as the yellow Star Wars logo disappeared off into the galaxy followed by that oh so familiar yellow text backstory, I sat back into the chair in anticipation for one of the most seminal moments of my life. The following minute of big screen action would give birth to my lifelong addiction to Cinema. Tantive IV raced across the screen being attacked by an invisible foe. Of course it was only momentarily invisible as the old dusty theatre began to rumble and shake as the Imperial Star Destroyer loomed into view. This scene remains as breath-taking now as it was when first viewed as giddy child sat on a chair not too dissimilar to the one I was on now.

I was instantly transported back to my 5 year old self, giddy with excitement. I must have seen Star Wars 50 times. It was my go to VHS during damp School holidays, it was the stuff of my once fervent imagination. The time literally rushed by, I had subconsciously been mouthing along with the dialogue, I knew this film word for word. I had completely forgotten that I was on my own.

The film was approaching its conclusion, General Dondonna had just briefed the rebel troops for their impending attack on the Death Star, Luke and Han had exchanged words about how much the Rebels could use Han, but he had debts to pay off and to be honest the mission was purely a suicide one. Luke climbed into his X-Wing, put on his helmet and then, right on queue a black seat belt shot across my lap and fixed itself to the other side of the chair. Instantly a control panel appeared in front of me, I had a sudden feeling of plummeting through space.

“ARRGGHHHH” I yelled into the void

“Red 5 are you ok?” a voice came from within my headset

“Hello, who, what, Red 5…..me?” I jabbered frantically

“I just lost my starboard engine, get set up to start your attack run” the voice in my head said

“What the hell………I don’t know how to fly one of these things” before I knew it the X-Wing that I was somehow in control of plummeted at great speed and into an all too familiar trench. “Woahhhhh” I shouted as I grabbed the steering controls in front of me. I had two other fighters on either side of me, I assumed these to be Biggs and Wedge. I knew it wasn’t going to end well for either of them. A screen in front of me showed that enemy fighters were closing in. Wedge took a hit and had to bail out, going against the script slightly I didn’t tell him that was ok, if anything I thought it a little bit cowardly.

We carried on down the trench, Biggs was explaining that he would keep the fighters away from me long enough to do what I needed to do, which at this precise moment was desperately go to the toilet. Biggs inevitably met his doom in a shower of explosion. It was just me now, being chased by 3 imperial fighters, one of which was being piloted by a long lost family member maybe.

Without a clue what to do, I felt my time was up. Just then one of the three fighters exploded and a second one lost control and flew into a wall, at the same time knocking the middle guy, the leader spinning out into space. A voice came over the headset

“You’re all clear kid, now lets blow this thing and go home”

“Erm…….ok, er quick question, how do I do that? I asked

“What?” came the slightly put out reply

“Well you see I have never been in one of these things before, and there was very little training so I’m kind of just pleased I’m keeping it in a straight line at the moment”

After a long pause the voice said “Can’t you just use the force or some shit like that?

“Well, you see I was just watching a film and not really sure what is going on”

“You see that red button on the end of the steering wheel?”

“Yes”

“Just press it…..jeez”

I did what the voice told me to and sure enough two proton torpedoes fired out from the gun turrets of my X-Wing, I pulled back on the steering mechanism which lifted me out of the trench and back towards the deepest space. Behind me I heard (which is odd for Space) an enormous explosion that threw me back into my seat. At that precise moment I was back in the standard red velvet chair, Han and Luke were on screen receiving their medals, not sure why Luke was getting one, I’d done all the hard work. I always watch the end titles of any film I watch, I always have. I always thought it was important to look at every name, not just the stars, but every name of every person who had dedicated their time and dedication to making a piece of entertainment, designed to make people smile. All of these names belonged to individuals with greater talent than I could ever dream of.

2. Mary Poppins (1964)

See the Original 'Mary Poppins' and Have Hot Chocolate at Darien Library on  Wednesday, Dec 26 - DarieniteDarienite

Star Wars had finished the screen was now blank. I sat there is stunned silence. What had just happened? What was this place? I had heard of immersive cinema before, but had never been thrown so helplessly ill-prepared straight into the heart of the action. I had just flown an X-Wing, I had just destroyed the Death Star and this was no simulator, I had actually done it. Just as the enormity of it all started to hit me, the projector behind me began to splutter into life again, am I going to be thrown straight into the Empire Strikes Back, which would be partly cool, but also the thought of being attacked by a Wampa, crashing my X-Wing into a swamp or for that matter losing my right hand suddenly had me desperately needing the toilet again.

However it wasn’t the Empire Strikes Back, I was now facing a blue screen with the words Walt Disney presents, closely followed by the words Mary Poppins. Now Mary Poppins was another one of my favourite films growing up, however unlike Star Wars, I had to keep that a secret until I reached adulthood through fear of the playground beatings that come with such a revelation. It was a film that always reminded me of Christmas, probably because it was on BBC 1 every year throughout the 1980s. I had always loved the songs, and the mixture of live action and animation used to blow my mind as a kid (it still does to be honest).

With my experience of watching Star Wars very much fresh in my mind, I did start to wonder whether the same would happen again with Mary Poppins. Even if it did, there was nothing much to fear here surely, I could jump on a carousel if I had to, I would quite happily have a tea party on the ceiling if called upon. Nearly 90 mins and I still haven’t been called, maybe my Star Wars experience was just down to too much cheese before bedtime or some off meat in a sandwich I ate earlier, and I was actually just here to watch and enjoy.

We were now on the rooftops of London and Bert is currently dancing Stepping Time “wiv all iz pals”. Bert continuously shouts instruction to his jolly friends such as “over the rooftops, Step in Time” and his friends would dance over the rooftops. After a magical section of daredevil choreography, Bert approached the screen and shouted “Mary Poppins, Step in Time”. All the dancers on the screen stopped. Bert looking puzzled said again “Mary Poppins, Step in Time”, still nothing. “Come on Mary, Step in Time” – Bert lent a bit closer and through a forced smile and gritted teeth said “You’re holding the film up”. Oh shit. He’s talking to me, but he must be wrong I am a man, I don’t know how to dance, I looked down and saw I was wearing a red velvet floor length coat, covered in soot. I stood up and caught myself in a rooftop window. I was a woman, quite fit one actually, but that’s beside the point.

Mary Poppins | Comédie musicale, Ramoneur, Acteur disney

“Come on Mary, Step in Time” Bert urged, almost pleadingly.

“Its’s ok you carry on, I’ll just watch thanks” I sheepishly responded with a plum English accent that shocked me more than suddenly flying an X-Wing, and pulled away, but there was no getting away. Bert’s chimney sweep friends gathered around me and started their dance again, with me in the middle. I suddenly found myself tapping along, and before I knew I was kicking my knees up in perfect time, it was getting close to my crowning moment, the mid-air twirls, I was going to go for it, this was going to be brilliant. I launched into the twirls. In the film Mary spins at least a dozen times, I knew I could do better and proper went for it. On the 20th spin I started to feel a bit sick, I came crashing down to the rooftop but in fact I landed once again in the velvet chair. Bert and his pals took turns to waltz past the screen, each of them doffing their caps to me as they went by.

The film carried on as if nothing had happened. Dame Julie Andrews was now back on screen where I had moments earlier been. I was starting to think that I was having some sort of psychotic episode, but a strangely enjoyable one.

3. Raider of the Lost Ark (1981)

Raiders of the Lost Ark - Paddock Picturehouse

Mary flew away after the wind changed and Mr Banks had learned the lesson that it was more important to spend time with your kids and that money wasn’t everything, I tried to comprehend what had happened to me in the last couple of hours. Was I done now, was I free to go? I hoped not but also feared what would possibly appear next. I didn’t have to wait long. As if someone who knew me was orchestrating all of this from somewhere the Paramount logo appeared on the big screen and then dissolved into the actual mountain. I started to sweat, but it wasn’t a nervous sweat it was brought on by the incredibly heat I was now experiencing, there was a buzz of insects and in the distance the howls of monkey’s dominated the Cinema. Of course I wasn’t in the cinema was I, that’s right, I was in a Peruvian jungle, wearing a fedora with a bullwhip by my side.

Now under any normal circumstances being dressed as Indiana Jones would be awesome, but I wasn’t stood in my living room anymore or in the father/son fancy dress competition at the work summer fair (he was Short Round). I was stood in the Peruvian jungle in front of a rather cobweb filled temple with my rather useless and even more treacherous colleague Satipo. I let out a huge puff of the cheeks. “Ok then lets do this” I reluctantly say and trudged through the entrance.

Satipo stops me to inform that a couple of large spiders are on my back “Ah well, you just wait till you see what is on your back” I inform him with a touch of snark. True to form he turns to realise he has the entire cast of Arachnophobia crawling his personage. We approach the beam of light. I should let him walk into it really as the conniving git is only going to stitch me up later anyway. I’m nice, I don’t do that. We swing across the gap and enter the chamber with the golden idol at the end. Satipo doesn’t know what I know and assumes there is nothing to fear here. Now according to the script I’m supposed to stop him, but sod it

“Yeah go ahead, fetch the gold statue for me”. Satipo gives me a look that suggests I’m not supposed to say that.

“Are you sure Senor?”

“Yeah, it be right” I respond.

Reluctantly Satipo sets off. Two steps in he triggers the booby trap and smack, a poison dart straight through his face.

“Oh dear, nevermind” I say to his lifeless body “I’ll go get it”. Balancing carefully along the cracks I reached the altar and carefully replace the idol with a handy bag of sand that I seemed to suddenly have on me. As the temple begins to slowly implode, i dash through the chamber dodging the poison darts, leap over the chasm and slide under the slowly closing door. I get under the door a bit too easily so I quickly throw the whip through again just so I can swiftly retrieve it before the door crashes to the ground. I have a little giggle at how cool all of this is.

It was at that point that the rocks above my head started to shift, of course the rolling bolder, again the first thought was, this is very cool, I’ll run away from it but maybe throw in a little stumble along the way. Then I thought, these Hovitos are genius’s getting that thing to stay up there in the World’s most elaborate booby trap. However I really should have just got on with it. The bolder was there heading right for me. It was actually a lot faster than it looked. “Oh shit” I turned and pegged it as fast as I could but it was constantly catching me, this was going to be close. I saw the cave entrance and dived full length through a cloud of cobwebs and landed at the feet of the seriously pissed off Hovitos. However I wasn’t at their feet, in fact I was now face down on the floor of the Cinema.

Gathering my bearings I turned to look at the big screen as Indy, now in the more suitable guise of Harrison Ford was heading across the field, with the Hovitos in hot pursuit, yelling to his friend Jack to start the engine. I climbed back into the seat, as Indy’s adventures played out in front of me. A feeling of exhiliration swept through me. A few hours ago, I had blown up the Death Star, danced on a London rooftop with a bunch of chimney sweeps and had now just been Indiana Jones. I never wanted this to end. Talk about your best day ever.

4. Toy Story 3 (2010)

Toy Story 3: The Gang's All Here (Video 2010) - IMDb

As the Ark of the Covenant is wheeled away to be looked after by “top men” I relax in my seat. I should be tired but I’m anything but, I am packed full of nervous tension, what will happen next? I didn’t have to wait long.

Oh fantastic, the Disney castle had just appeared on the screen, but hang on, whatever this is, how am i going to be transported into it. The familiar blue sky with white ice cream clouds appears, it’s Toy Story 3, one of the finest films of the past decade. Script perfection and narrative storytelling has never seemed so effortless, its a work of wonder from the start. The film progresses along at a steady rate, but we are approaching the films climax and I have not been transported yet, then I start to develop an uneasy feeling, I take a quick glance around the Cinema, quickly turn to the screen and shout, to no-one in particular

“the furnace scene!”

I could hear a creaking above me, I looked up at the cavernous ceiling just as a large metal object crashed down onto my face. All was dark, all was quiet, I could still hear the film playing in the background. Slinky Dog was calling out Buzz’s name, he strangely seemed to be getting closer. Then I felt somebody pulling my hands and I slid out from underneath whatever it was (turns out it was a big TV) that had pinned me and came face to face with red haired cowgirl Jesse.

“Buzz are you ok?”

There you go I was Buzz Lightyear and I was in the trash conveyor belt. As we approached the metal crusher at the end of the conveyor belt the call to grab something magnetic to rise to the magnified ceiling went up. Quickly grabbing a discarded lunch box I shot to the ceiling with my new friends. Of course the complete tosser of a bear Lotso abandoned us as we headed straight for the furnace. As the conveyor belt reached it summit we toppled into the mass of discarded metal and headed slowly towards our fiery grave. Despite our best efforts, the game was up, this was it. My friend Woody reached across and grabbed my arm, we shared a moment, a moment of friendship, a moment of togetherness.

I have always fancied the idea of being a writer, but never in my wildest imagination could I possibly write anything with the emotional wallop of what was happening to me now. My plastic arm was starting to gently bubble as we edged ever closer to the PIXAR equivalent of Dante’s Inferno.

As the impending doom approached, a saviour from above arrived as the claw from heaven reached into the down and plucked us all to safety.

I was soon back in my chair. I had just been a cartoon character, bizarrely this one had felt the most real. As the end titles played across the screen, I finally began to feel exhaustion consume me, both physically and mentally.

As the PIXAR lamp jumped across the screen for one final time, the red curtain cruised across the screen and the house lights came on.

5. Avengers Endgame (2019)

Avengers Endgame POSTER Glossy Premium Borderless Movie Poster of Various  Sizes (POSTER - A2 size 23.4 x 16.5 Inch / 594 x 420 mm, Endgame (V1)):  Amazon.co.uk: Kitchen & Home

I collected my thoughts and headed out towards the foyer which was now in total darkness, there was an orange glow coming through the glass square on the front door to the cinema, the smell of destruction wafted through the main door which appeared now to be hanging on by the edge of its hinges. As I approached the door, those hinges gave up the fight and door crashed to the floor.

The rain had stopped, that was for sure, but where the building opposite once stood was the remains of it, reduced to a pile of rubble, with the four corners still sticking out of the ground. In front of me I can see the scorched remains of those corners flames still licking the sides of them the sky is filled with thick dense smoke. What the hell has happened here?

The ground began to shake as a figure approached from within the smog. A giant of a man at least 10 feet tall, he had a bald head and a chin that resembled a purple nutsack. As the giant came into view, i realised that he was not alone. Appearing alongside him was hundreds, no actually thousands of extras, all of whom looked like they didn’t want to ask me any questions, just to tear me apart. I was severely outnumbered, the coward in me suggested I just turned around and run back into the Cinema. The coward won, I turned with the sole intention of sprinting back in to the Cinema, closing the door and hiding under my completely inadequate red velvet chair. Small problem, when I turned round the Cinema had gone, replaced by, you guessed it a huge pile of rubble.

I turned back to look at my soon to be arriving assailant, he was getting close. I suddenly heard a strange gust of wind, out of the corner of my eye I saw something hurtling towards me at great speed, it was coming right for my face. I instinctively put up my hand, with a clanging thump I caught the steel handle of a very familiar hammer. Purple guy was still edging closer to me, as were his hoardes of angry followers. My first thought was “there is something awfully familiar about all of this”. That thought was interrupted by a radio signal that simply said four words “Captain…….on your left”.

To the left of me a bright orange portal appeared, sparking into life like a Catherine Wheel on Bonfire Night. From within it walked T’Challa, Black Panther in all his regal glory flanked by Okoye and Shuri. Over head, strangely accompanied by Alan Silvestri’s rousing score flew Falcon. More and more of the Portals began to appear, heroes were appearing to help me against the purple gonad who was facing me. Spiderman, Dr Strange, the Guardians of the Galaxy, Antman, Zammo from Grange Hill and the entire cast of Rentaghost all arrived in a blaze of glory. Within moments an army had formed that was a match for the opposition. The musical score had reached its climax, there was only one thing left to do. As once again the familiar hammer flew straight towards me, I called all to arms

“Avengers!!!” – thump the hammer landed perfectly in my grasp……..

This blog has been written as part of the “Five-Films Forever” blogathon challenge, created by the brilliant Claire Packer owner of the Cinematic Delights blog page https://cinematicdelights.com/

More details on the Blogathon can be found here:

Claire can be found on Twitter as @C_Packer (https://twitter.com/C_Packer) and catch her reviews at https://letterboxd.com/C_Packer/

About me

My name is Dominic Holder and I like to promote the beauty and wonder of Cinema in my writing. I spend a lot of time promoting the power of Cinema as a tool of wellbeing to anyone and everyone. I love all kinds of films but in particular, I am a devoted fan of Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, John Williams, Star Wars, Disney and Marvel. My love of Cinema stems from a trip as a 4-year-old to local cinema in Bolton to watch a Star Wars/Empire Strikes Back double bill, it was the first in a series of life-changing moments, I knew from the moment the Imperial Star Destroyer engulfed the screen at the start of  A New Hope I was hooked. Thankfully nearly 40 years later I still get excited and still find escapism and happiness within this wonderful medium.

You can follow me on Twitter @DomHolder and read some of my reviews on Letterboxd at letterboxd.com/DomH

You can read more of my blogs on Film at www.dominicholder.wordpress.com

Who is the main villain in Jaws

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 600x200

Jaws is often tricky for me to write about, because it is quite difficult to find an angle or idea on it that hasn’t been covered several times before. I could write a review of the film, but I’ve done that before and besides everyone who has a passing interest in the film will have read plenty of reviews and seen the film several times.

Therefore I thought I would write a few thoughts on who I consider to be the main antagonist of the film. In my mind there are three main candidates and I’m going to take a look at them all here.

1. Bruce the Shark

Original Jaws Shark Restored for Museum of Motion Pictures – /Film

It is a very simplistic view to blame all of the events in Jaws on the shark, but surely he is just going about his daily business being a carnivorous animal that is on the hunt for his lunch and dinner. The fact he stumbles across a beach with a bunch of people who like to spend their time splashing around in the water, therefore attracting his attention is just an added bonus for Bruce. It’s kind of like a free all you can eat buffet and lets be honest there isn’t a person reading this who wouldn’t go back for seconds if confronted with tressel tables full of pork pies and chicken legs, so lets back off Bruce for doing what comes naturally.

Film journalist Mark Kermode famously said that Jaws is not about a shark, it is a tale of masculinity and relationships. He was maybe referring to the the fact that the shark is a mere subplot to what is going on around them. I don’t think that’s true and is a little unfair on our Bruce, who like I said was just doing what sharks do. It doesn’t discriminate, it is not out for revenge (that comes later in film 4) it is just looking after itself. My feeling about the shark in Jaws is that it actually, in a strange quirk of fate becomes one of the heroes in the end, and I’ll explain why a little bit later.

2. Mayor Vaughn

Mayor Larry Vaughn | Fear world Wiki | Fandom

Mayor Vaughn is your typical politician, he constantly has one eye more on the bottom line than on the safety and wellbeing of the public he has been elected to serve. Mayor Vaughn is quite a prescient character these days, particularly when you consider how governments have handled the management of the Coronavirus, desperately trying to balance the economy against health. So much so that Mayor Vaughn has found himself unwittingly at the mercies of many an internet meme creator over the past year, as the similarities between his crusade to keep the beaches open through fear of loss of income is mirrored by a number of todays politicians who perhaps have struggled to see the bigger picture.

Personally I think what makes Vaughn a bigger villain is that he makes all the same mistakes again in Jaws 2. He may be misguided and uneducated in the first film but surely there is no real excuse for his actions in the 2nd film. I’m always annoyed in Jaws 2 when Vaughn and fellow rich git Peterson kick off about Brody being in the observation tower at the beach. Surely a beach that has had a number of shark attacks in the past couple of years would have some kind of patrol.

Vaughn is a coward and isn’t strong willed enough to be considered the true villain of the piece. In the first film he goes from an exuberant outgoing town representative to a shaking, chain smoking nervous wreck, which makes his stupidity in the second film even more gauling.

3. Quint

Was Captain Quint from Jaws Based on a Real Person?

Now here me out on this one. I love Jaws, I think it is a phenomenal film, no questions asked about that, but I have to be honest it doesn’t make my Spielberg top 10, and that is down to one person, Mr Quint. I appreciate that he is a fan favourite and Robert Shaw’s performance is brilliant, but I just can’t stand him.

Quint is an arrogant bully, he is also a bit of a know it all who takes great pleasure in putting people in their place. It starts out with him interrupting the town meeting by running his fingernails down the blackboard, I mean honestly who does that? He then refers to the shark as a bird, and talks whilst eating.

We next meet him teasing Hooper in the boat yard, although Hooper stands his ground by tying the perfect bowline knot much to Quint’s frustration. It is Quint’s idea to head out into the deep ocean to catch the shark, despite all the attacks thus far occurring close to shore. Once out in the deep blue, his constant nip-picking of Hooper from the way he drives the boat to how he spends his spare time is teasing bordering on nasty. He always has to get one up on the crew, in particular Hooper.

Hooper: That’s twenty footer

Quint: Twenty-five

Oh come on how do you know that just by looking at him, you cantankerous old barnacle. It’s not just Hooper who gets it from Quint. He continuously teases Brody about his wife and then in a moment of complete shithousery smashes up the boat radio. Well thanks a lot.

I’m going out on a limb here and saying I think the true villain of Jaws is Quint. He is cold and calculated and has no redeeming qualities about him, and now I turn to the hero of the piece, the aforementioned Bruce, who decides like me, he’s had enough of him, so decides to have him for lunch. For me it’s a bit like when the T-Rex spoils the raptor party at the end of Jurassic Park, it’s a moment of triumph and applause for this naturally trained killer, a punch the air moment if ever there was one.

About me

My name is Dominic Holder and I like to promote the beauty and wonder of Cinema in my writing. I spend a lot of time promoting the power of Cinema as a tool of wellbeing to anyone and everyone. I love all kinds of films but in particular, I am a devoted fan of Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, John Williams, Star Wars, Disney and Marvel. My love of Cinema stems from a trip as a 4-year-old to local cinema in Bolton to watch a Star Wars/Empire Strikes Back double bill, it was the first in a series of life-changing moments, I knew from the moment the Imperial Star Destroyer engulfed the screen at the start of  A New Hope I was hooked. Thankfully nearly 40 years later I still get excited and still find escapism and happiness within this wonderful medium.

You can follow me on Twitter @DomHolder and read some of my reviews on Letterboxd at letterboxd.com/DomH

You can read more of my blogs on Film at www.dominicholder.wordpress.com

Does Spielberg ever wear sweatpants? A look at hero worship.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 600x200

Following on from my recent series of Spielberg Top 10 blogs, I have decided to write some pieces on perceptions and pre-conceived ideas that the general public has on people in the spotlight, from hero worship to hatred. Is it rational to not watch a film just because Jack Black is in it, or do you wear your rose tinted glasses when ever news breaks of a new Julia Roberts film? Does it go further than that, where does fantasy and reality end?

Before I go any further, I am not a Psychologist and everything that follows will be merely my opinion. Secondly, I have not really ever met any famous people, I met Benedict Wong (Wong in Dr Strange) at Em-Con last year, he was a decent bloke, from Salford no less……..I’m sure he kept the photo. I certainly don’t know any famous people personally so my opinion of any of them is based purely on their public persona or the impressions I have built up on them through their work or interviews etc.

Now take my friend Benedict for example. He was at a fan convention in Nottingham, signing autographs and taking selfies (for a small charge of course), but basically he was being paid to be nice and for my two minute chat with him and the photo he took with me and my son, he seemed a perfectly normal bloke, who just happened to have what is perceived as a glamourous and exciting job. Now for all I know when I walked away, he may have turned to his agent and said “don’t let anyone like that loser come near me again, bloody Mancunians thinking they know me….” etc. I’m sure he didn’t, but how do I know?

No description available.
Me and that rather splendid Benedict Wong at EM-Con. Btw he’s the one on the left.

As anyone who knows me will tell you, I’m a bit of a fan of Steven Spielberg, I think the guy is the Greatest Living Film Director, and possibly the greatest ever, if reading this, you don’t need to agree with that, it is a subjective opinion. I have not, sadly ever had the opportunity to meet Mr Spielberg, and quite frankly, I’m 99% sure that I never will. Spielberg makes films that have connected with me, they have comforted me when feeling low, they have excited me and made me marvel at the sheer audacity and wonder of them. There is a tendency to think therefore, we must like the same things, ergo, I reckon we’d get on really well if we met for dinner. Now before anyone starts filing restraining orders, the truth is he is just doing a job, when he finishes his work for that day, he goes home to his wife and family, they may even stop on the way for Pukka Pie and Chips because they can’t be bothered to cook that night. Does he ever wake up on a Saturday and lounge around in his joggers watching Saturday kitchen whilst aimlessly scrolling through Twitter (basically my Saturday mornings)? Ok he probably doesn’t but neither is he likely to be being carried round on a velvet throne waiting for today’s fresh catch of the day to be served to him on a silver platter by harp playing cherubs.

No matter how much some fans would like to think it, he cannot walk on water. Here’s the thing, whenever you read an interview from anyone who has ever worked with Steven Spielberg they all gush about how wonderful and generous he is as a man, a director and an overall human being. You could argue, who in Hollywood would not want to work on the next Steven Spielberg film, they’re hardly going to bad mouth him are they? But overall his public persona means we have no reason to doubt that he is in fact an all round decent guy, but who reading this can honestly know for sure?

I try not to live my life cynically, but we live in a Social Media driven world these days where it appears everyone is fair game for shots to be aimed at. There is always someone willing to sling the mud, anonymous keyboard warriors who chase the likes, the ticks, the retweets. Why say nice things about somebody who is already venerated globally, that’s not interesting? Let’s find some dirt on them, and if we can’t do that, well we shall make it up, and with each passing day we are faced with questions around what is true about individuals, individuals who apparently gave up their right to any kind of private life the moment they decided to display their talent to the World. I’m sure they all do normal things

20+ Best Famous People Doing Normal Stuff images | famous people, people,  famous
Christian Slater filling his car with petrol. Why is he having to do that himself one may ask?

Tom Cruise is maybe as reviled as he is revered. Everyone has an opinion on him, from ultra focussed professional, to crazy religious nut. The truth is only a handful of people will really know the real Tom, but fans and detractors will claim they do know him, based on the work he presents and the public persona he has put out to the World. You hear it quite often on Internet forums “Oh Tom Cruise is proper weird”, oh, know him personally do you? The flip side to this, is that there will be fans of Mr Cruise who will not have a bad word said about him.

Famous people often don’t help themselves here, occasionally making ill-advised comments or declaring undying love for someone, using a talk show sofa as a trampoline to emphasise ones love. Granted this is not normal behaviour, but how much is artificial, how much is rehearsed, we are not at liberty to know. Cruise is a big enough star to be able to deal with flack that will have come from what at the time was probably a calculated risky move, he has a loyal fanbase who would pretty much forgive him anything.

I’m not for one minute suggesting that all “stars” are clean as a whistle, they wouldn’t be human if they didn’t have flaws, but the fact is we don’t know them personally and probably never will, so should we have them on these unreasonable pedestals, would the reality only disappoint us?

keanu doing things on Twitter: "keanu reeves grocery shopping… "
Here is Keanu Reeves who appears to be pushing his own shopping trolley, what the hell?

Many years ago I read an interview with Harrison Ford who had just been voted “World’s Sexiest Man” by a magazine. He was asked by the interviewer how he felt about that. Ford responded by saying that it meant nothing, as none of the people who voted for him knew him personally and if they did they probably wouldn’t find him particularly sexy at all. Harrison Ford has a reputation for being a bit of a grumpy old man, how about the fact that he might just be an incredibly guarded, private man, who sees his profession as a job as opposed to someone who expects the world to worship at his feet. He actually might be the life and soul of the party, we will probably never know, in fact the only thing we know about Ford for sure is that he is pretty bad at landing planes.

When evidence is clearly more than idle internet gossip, where do you as the consumer draw the line? In the last few years, and not before time, the #Metoo movement has moved into the public arena, some established stars with huge followings have pretty much seen their careers ended (and rightly so) as a result of allegations. Do we as the public have to make a stand against this by not watching a film, that’s success or access to us is largely down to money that Harvey Weinstein invested? Do we throw our copies of American Beauty into the bin because Kevin Spacey starred, or do we appreciate that thousands of good people put their hearts and souls into making that film, and Spacey was just a small element of it.

The 21st Century so far with the birth of social media and reality TV has led to enough manipulation of the psyche to make one imagine that George Orwell is still operating things from a distance as an omnipotent puppet master. Reality TV is designed primarily to be as far away from reality as possible, whilst creating the illusion that it is entirely attainable for the average person. Win X-Factor and you will have a pop career that will make you a global superstar with the longevity of the Beatles, when in reality the fame in most cases lasts slightly less than Andy Warhol will have predicted. Big Brother was initially realised as a social experiment, now a freak show designed to have 10 strangers argue and come to blows in an unescapable TV set, nobody wants to see people getting along.

Social Media is a different animal itself. People need to keep very much at arms length, what is reality and what is being shown as the norm. I am a regular Twitter user, and through it I have had many fantastic and inspiring discussions about movies and the power and the sense of wellbeing that movies and cinema bring to these people. Bizarrely I am quite a private person and the majority of people I interact regularly with on Twitter I don’t know personally and with respect, I have no real desire to meet and get to know personally. There are obviously some people on Social Media that I don’t fully understand, like the guy who hated ALL of the Marvel movies but had seen every one of them (you would have thought they would get the point after the first few) or the guy who saw The Last Jedi 10 times just to be sure he hated it as much as he thought he did. I’m glad to say I don’t have the time, energy or desire to spend that much time and money on things that didn’t agree with me, which is probably one of the reasons why I only have about 400 followers on Twitter despite over 10 years of hilarious and knowledgable tweeting (tsk tsk).

That’s the whole point though, nobody anymore wants to hear nice things, or the things that you enjoy, where is the fun in that? Get out there and be the bigger person, what the world needs more of now, is some guys refusing to watch an all female Ghostbusters (brilliant by the way) because it ruined their childhood, but then telling their Twitter followers why it ruined their childhood. They don’t need to actually watch the film to state that opinion, it’s an all female Ghostbusters, it’s bound to be rubbish, women aren’t funny, they certainly can’t catch ghosts………….

I am writing this piece a couple of weeks after it was announced that Steven Spielberg’s upcoming West Side Story has (alongside many other films) been delayed until at least December 2021 due to the ongoing impacts of COVID 19. Now this is a film I am obviously extremely excited about, one of my favourite musicals being directed by my favourite director, so the delay is a disappointing but to be fair understandable setback. This is a film, however that is designed almost by its very inception, to be destroyed on social media before anyone has even seen a trailer. I am big enough and long enough in the tooth to admit if the film, when I eventually see it, doesn’t land, I will say so, but we live in a world where even if it is the greatest film ever made there will be naysayers who probably won’t even watch it but hate it anyway. I’m not one of those who feel Spielberg can’t do any wrong, 1941 anyone, but I will at least reserve judgment until I’ve seen it.

Forrest Gump drives down electric avenue | Metro News
What the heck is going on here? Tom Hanks appears to be driving his own car. That can’t be right?

Which brings me full circle to this idea of hero worship. If I was ever fortunate enough to meet Mr Spielberg, I think I would say thank you. That thank you would be for the hours of entertainment he has provided through his imagination and skills as film maker. I am a fan, I’ve described myself, as a devoted Spielbergian, but he is not a hero. He is a man who is very, very talented at what he does, but he’s not physically saving lives, he is trying to make the World a slightly happier place by putting his abilities to good use. He, along with the majority of celebrities (I like to think) have what is seen as an unusual profession but deep down are normal people.

I remember last year returning home from watching Avengers Endgame with my son, it was a Sunday and we sat down to our weekly Sunday roast dinner, and my son asked me “hey, do you think Robert Downey Jnr is sat having a Sunday roast with his family?” My answer was “Well, why would he not be?” He is by all sense and purpose a family man who probably when not filming has a fair bit of time on his hands so why would they not do the “normal” things in life.

Maybe it’s time for us all to take a step back and just enjoy the art, just appreciate that for those 2 hours they are attempting to entertain. That in itself is a gift and I’m truly grateful for it. If I was to ever meet Mr Spielberg that is what I would thank him for.

About me

My name is Dominic Holder and I like to promote the beauty and wonder of Cinema in my writing. I spend a lot of time promoting the power of Cinema as a tool of wellbeing to anyone and everyone. I love all kinds of films but in particular, I am a devoted fan of Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, John Williams, Star Wars, Disney and Marvel. My love of Cinema stems from a trip as a 4-year-old to local cinema in Bolton to watch a Star Wars/Empire Strikes Back double bill, it was the first in a series of life-changing moments, I knew from the moment the Imperial Star Destroyer engulfed the screen at the start of  A New Hope I was hooked. Thankfully nearly 40 years later I still get excited and still find escapism and happiness within this wonderful medium.

You can follow me on Twitter @DomHolder and read some of my reviews on Letterboxd at letterboxd.com/DomH

You can read more of my blogs on Film at www.dominicholder.wordpress.com

The overseer: Spielberg’s Top 10 Production credits

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 600x200

Hi folks and welcome to my latest top 10. I’m going a little bit left field and looking at the Top 10 films where Spielberg hasn’t directed but has been credited as Producer or Executive Producer. One of the attractions of Spielberg to me growing up, was even if he wasn’t in the directors chair he seemed to be involved in the majority of films that I enjoyed growing up.

With over 170 Production credits to his name, putting a Top 10 wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be at first. I immediately discounted any that he had directed, and obviously ignored the dozens currently on his announced slate on IMDB. I have also culled a few more by not looking at sequels, however this still left me with a plethora of options. So I decided to go with the heart and not the head on this one, which means quality productions such as the Coen’s True Grit are left off and also there is the omission of crowd favourites Innerspace and The Money Pit which would have been 11 and 12th respectively if I had too.

One further caveat is that I haven’t seen all the films on the list so I may have missed some of your favourites that I’m not too familiar with. So without further ado, here is the Top 10 list of my favourite Spielberg Production credits.

10. Twister (1996) Dir: Jan De Bont

After the stresses and strains of the emotional experience of Schindler’s List, Spielberg was taking an unprecedented 4 year break from the Director’s chair. He was, however, very much keeping his head in the game with his Producers hat on, with a variety of TV shows, the hilarious and anarchic Animaniacs and the rather damp squib (pun very much intended) Seaquest DSV. Movie wise is was a mixed bag, including the fun and sprightly Caspar (which again just missed this list) and the cringeworthy Flintstones (Steven Spielrock anyone???).

1996 was a summer of big blockbuster action films, with Roland Emmerich’s fantastic Independence Day leading the way, Michael Bay showing considerable restraint, by his standards anyway, with the ridiculously entertaining The Rock and we met Ethan Hunt for the first time as Mission Impossible burst onto our screens via the Channel Tunnel.

Crashing into the 2nd place in the Box Office chart that summer was Twister, a film about a group of storm chasers battling to find the Big one in the American midwest. With spectacular, Academy Award nominated visual effects (it lost out to Independence Day), the film actually touches on a number of Spielbergian themes, our group of Chasers are all Science nerds, there are broken relationships, there is the destruction of small town America, it is all there. The script is a bit hokey, but whoever watches films like this for Shakespearean delivery, this is a perfect Sunday afternoon movie.

9. *Batteries Not Included (1987) Dir. Matthew Robbins

batteries not included (1987) - Photo Gallery - IMDb

I watched this again recently and to be fair it has aged, but what we have here is a simple tale of triumph over adversity and an enormous sense of a community coming together to beat the odds, which are traditional Spielberg themes.

The film is anchored by a beautiful pair of leading performances from Jessica Tandy as the dementia suffering Faye and the dazzling Hume Cronyn who plays her steadfast husband Frank. Originally conceived as a story to be included in Spielberg’s Amazing Stories, the idea had enough legs to be made into a full length film.

It’s a charming tale, with plenty of 1980s schmaltz, that tales off slightly in the final act. A film that still appeals to all ages, the adults will enjoy the nostaglia, and the youngsters will giggle at the alien antics.

Worth noting also that *Batteries Not Included was the screenwriting debut of Pixar legend Brad Bird who would go on to direct The Incredibles and also some of the later Mission Impossible franchise. I wouldn’t be too surprised if the bigwigs at Pixar didn’t get a large portion of their ideas for 2008’s UP from the set up here as there are plenty of shared themes, not least the last house standing setting.

8. Poltergeist (1982) Dir. Tobe Hooper

Steven Spielberg actually directed Poltergeist, crew member confirms | The  Independent

Yeah I know, Spielberg directed Poltergeist, yadder, yadder, yadder. Erm, no he didn’t, and to constantly claim that he did is quite offensive to Tobe Hooper. Yes Spielberg was by all accounts a very hands on Producer, and a number of themes smack of Spielberg, not least the Suburban setting, the dysfunctional family, the young children in peril etc, but those are just the headlines and this is Hooper’s film.

Despite the setting and the family dynamic, the characters, in particular the adults don’t really fit the Spielberg mould of the time. The Freelings are pot smoking ex-hippies, trying to hold onto their youth, whilst they can, (one fan theory I read was that the whole plot was imagined by Diane whilst high off the pot!!). The reliance on effects that are now quite dated, again doesn’t appear to fit in the practical mentalities of Spielberg at the time, i.e. E.T, Raiders etc.

Poltergeist has some terrific setpieces and the most terrifying clown this side of IT, and is again one of those films that nostalgia has been kind too, and it makes this list because Steven Spielberg produced it, not directed it.

7. Deep Impact (1998) Dir Mimi Leder

Casting de Deep Impact (1998) - SensCritique

1998 was the year of Twin film battles, where films with similar themes go head to head. In animation we had Dreamworks Antz, facing off against Pixar’s A Bug’s Life, Peter Weir’s The Truman Show up against Ron Howards Ed TV, and Spielberg’s own Saving Private Ryan and Terrence Malicks The Thin Red Line.

As far as audiences were concerned however, the biggest battle was the fight to save the Earth in two films about cataclysmic asteroids are set to crash into and destroy Earth films. Winning this particular box office battle was Michael Bay’s, Bruce Willis starring preposterous (even for an asteroid film) Armageddon, which inexplicably was only held off the number 1 spot for the year by Titanic.

Personally, I always thought from viewing both Armageddon and Deep Impact that the Mimi Leder film was superior, in every way, from the science involved to the script, (Armageddon’s is so hilariously bad, its actually quite fun). The main difference between the two, is that Deep Impact has very little if any testosterone and with Leder at the helm why would there be, there is a seriousness with the situation, we are drawn into the characters, we care for them, we want them to succeed. We don’t really give a toss about Bruce and his neanderthal mates.

Deep Impact is a classic Friday night movie, with a fabulous ensemble cast, who all contribute. Booking the trend somewhat of 90s action flicks and in complete contrast to Armageddon’s gung ho, if there is a lead in Deep Impact then it is surely the excellent Tea Leoni’s determined journalist, who more than holds her own alongside Morgan Freeman (playing the President we all wish they had now), Robert Duval’s seasoned Astronaut and an early role for Elijah Wood.

Armageddon may have triumphed at the box office but there is no doubt which is the superior film.

6. Men In Black (1997) Dir. Barry Sonnenfeld

Men in Black' Was the Last Movie of Its Kind | Hollywood Reporter

Probably the film in the list that had the least input from Spielberg, here very much Executive Producing through Amblin, however that is no reason not to include it. Very loosely based on the early 1990s comics by the same name, (the films are considerably lighter in tone than the comics), Men in Black deals with a fictious Government agency who deal with extra-terrestrial life that lives, generally in perfect harmony with humans on Earth, the catch being, that humans don’t know about due to the MiB organisation.

The first and by some considerable distance the best of the series is helped by a brilliant double act, taking the buddy movie to new heights. We have the seasoned old pro, the craggy faced Tommy Lee Jones, playing it straight as die throughout, alongside the cocky new recruit, an at the top of his game Will Smith. The chemistry between the two leads is fantastic and it is a shame that they have struggled somewhat to replicate that in the lacklustre sequels that followed.

Once more the effects are really good and Sonnenfeld demonstrates some of his Gothic tendencies that he employed so well in his Addams Family films in the early 90s.

Men In Black was a box-office monster, helped in no small part to the star wattage of Biggest Star in the Galaxy at the time Will Smith, it helped that he had an absolute banger of a theme tune to accompany it, but this film would have been nothing without Jones’s, sardonic and occasionally moving performance.

5. Gremlins (1984) Dir. Joe Dante

Gremlins - info and ticket booking, Bristol | Watershed

There are three rules that you have to follow if you’re going to take care of your Mogwai, it becomes apparent quite quickly that they are all utter balls. We all know about the nonsense of not eating after midnight, I mean when does that end, can you book a table at the breakfast buffet or is there a certain time you have to reach before you can kick back with a croissant. There’s also the issue of time zones but lets not go there. But what about never getting them wet, through fear of multiplication, yet at one point the hoard of Gremlins are clearly seen walking through snow with no ill effect. Then there is the fear of bright lights, which a bit like when you ask your teenage kids whether they heard you ask them to empty the dishwasher, depends on what mood they are in at the time, for example the Gremlins seem ok in the lighted kitchen when they are helping themselves to the cake mix.

Now lets not be an old fuddy duddy about this, these glaring plotholes are part of pop culture folklore and are very much a part of the appeal of this perennial festive classic. Mixing extreme lightness, carol singing Gremlins, break dancing Gremlins, even Snow White singalong Gremlins, with terrifying darkness, the chainsaw attack, the grizzly water fountain finale and worst of all the reason why Kate doesn’t celebrate Christmas, we have a film that at one point you think the whole family could enjoy and the next would make an interesting double bill with Driller Killer.

I’m sure Gremlins was made with one eye firmly on the merchandising potential and this has often raised questions at to who this film is aimed at. What is undoubted is that it is hilarious and at times scary as hell. A sequel, which many devotees prefer to the original, I’m not one of them, arrived 5 years later and was more a satirical look at movie sequels and merchandising tie-ins. The original though is a black comedy that has landed itself firmly in the pop culture lexicon for the past 30 plus years. Still to this day, despite it’s obvious nonsensical plot, it is tremendous entertainment and Christmas just isn’t Christmas without it.

4. Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) – Robert Zemeckis

15 Things You Might Not Know About Who Framed Roger Rabbit | Mental Floss

Ok, the mixing of live action and animation was nothing new in 1988, Disney themselves had been making films since the early 1940s in this format, however films that had placed an animated lead character alongside a human lead were few and far between and seen as little more than a gimmick.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit is in all sense an purposes a Film-Noir with a Looney Tunes, technicolour back drop. From the hilarious prologue short cartoon “somethin’s Cookin” starring Roger and the (we found soon after) hard drinking, womanising Baby Herman we have the tone set, for one of the most innovative blockbusters of the 80s.

There are plenty of elements of this film that perhaps are aimed at an older audience, for example one of the scariest villains of any childhood with the horrific Judge Doom, and of course the Femme Fatale who quite frankly will have many of the male and female audience questioning their sanity.

Technically magnificent, it still very much holds up today. Bob Hoskins is brilliant as the cynical, grieving, hard drinking Eddie who has a particular dislike for Toons, but the true star of the show is Zemeckis, who never lets get away from its noir routes.

3. Super 8 (2011) Dir. J.J Abrams

J. J. Abrams's 'Super 8' Zooms In on a Dark Secret - Review - The New York  Times

It is no secret how much of an influence Spielberg has been on the career of J.J Abrams, and in 2011, Abrams made Super 8, his love-letter homage to Spielberg, in this quite brilliant science-fiction tale. This is the entry in the Top 10 that is probably the least talked about, and has largely been forgotten by the film community, which is a crying shame as I would say it is easily in my Top 10 movies of the last decade.

It’s all here in this one, clear references to E.T, and The Goonies from Spielberg’s back catalogue, with touches of Stand By Me and even Alien, it is sci-fi, action mixed with nostaglia all set in a nice Spielberg inspired Suburban community.

Led by a sparking young cast the film is told from their point of view as they try to solve the riddles of the mysterious goings on that follow a train crash in their town. The friends agree to get together to help make a horror movie using a Super 8 camera, a further nod to Spielberg’s own childhood, and over time they bond. The film is a thrill ride in the traditional Spielberg way, at times it is genuinely scary and at other points, deeply moving, the main character has recently lost his mother in a workplace accident, the absent parent a recurrent Spielberg theme.

A film about friendship, a film about belonging, this is more than just a kids monster movie. It’s legacy lives on with the Netflix produced, and majorly Spielberg inspired Stranger Things.

2. The Goonies (1985) Dir. Richard Donner

The Goonies' cast: Where are they now? % | Gallery | Wonderwall.com

In 1985 Spielberg was taking his first real steps into Directing films, aimed more at critical acclaim that box office receipts, with his adaptation of Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. Having been dismissed a nothing more than a popcorn peddler, a PT Barnum figure if you will, by many a critic, Spielberg decided to focus on what was deemed more grown up material.

Thankfully, it didn’t mean that he had lost his sense of humour or his desire to be involved in wholesome family entertainment. Whereas the Color Purple dealt with themes of domestic abuse, incest and segregation, in 1985 he produced two of the most iconic 80s films that were as far away from the above as possible (actually may be not the incest, but we’ll come back to that later in the blog).

The Goonies is one of those rare breed of films, where you would be pushed really hard to find anyone who has anything bad to say about it. It is a very simple of tale of friendship and adventure, a real kids adventure film that has spanned the generations, from people like myself who loved it since its release, to my parents who were delighted at the time that there was a film that wasn’t a cartoon or involved galaxy’s far far away to entertain the kids, and now my children who watch it now and can’t comprehend that it was made 35 years ago.

And that there is the point, The Goonies is timeless, it is so fresh it could have been made last week. Perfectly cast from the noble Sean Astin as self appointed leader, to 80s icon Corey Feldman as the most punchable but still likeable Goonie, Mouth. Then there is my favourite, Ke Huy Quan, fresh from playing Indy’s card playing best mate, as the inventive James Bond fanatic Data, and of course the Pop Culture icon, Jeff Cohen’s Chunk, who’s confession scene is possibly the finest moment in the whole of 80s cinema.

The tomboyish Martha Plimpton playing the sarcastic Steph, a pre-Thanos Josh Brolin playing the tough older brother, and every schoolboys crush Kerry Green as cheerleader Andy round out one of the most likeable casts of any film.

Terrific pantomime villain support comes from Anne Ramsay, Robert Davi and a young Joe Pantoliano as the criminal Fratellis, add to the brilliance of this simple piece of entertainment.

You don’t hear of anyone stating they don’t like The Goonies, because there is nothing not to like. I would question anyone who disagrees with that probably doesn’t like films at all, but for a film about a bunch of kids looking for buried pirate treasure (btw didn’t know the name One-Eyed Willy was a bit dubious when I was a kid……….ah innocence) to still be this endearingly popular 35 years on is an absolute credit to everyone involved. Now about that incest……..

1.Back to the Future (1985) Dir. Robert Zemeckis

FXRant: "Back to the Future," Einstein Jump

Ok we’ll get to that shortly. Back to the Future could well be the perfect film. It is entirely possible that no film made before or since has resonated or landed in the pop culture psyche as much. Similar to the Goonies it is one of those films that everyone has seen, and everyone, even none film fans get a little smile on their face if you mention it.

When I was growing up in the 80s and as was often the way in Manchester, school holidays were often dominated by bad weather, and my older brother and I had a stock pile of films recorded from the BBC and ITV that would regularly be watched almost on loop. There was obviously the Star Wars trilogy, the aformentioned The Goonies and of course Back to the Future, possibly the most quotable film for me and my brother.

What is often overlooked with Back to the Future is the perfection that is it’s screenplay. My brother now lives in America and it dawned on me during a recent WhatsApp video call just how much we quote the film in general conversation, and I’m not just talking about the “Great Scott’s” of this world I’m talking the more subtle lines. For example, if my brother is wearing something a bit unusual, I will say “and what are you wearing Dave?” which Marty mutters to his brother Dave who is inexplicably wearing a business suit in the altered future………my brother is not called Dave.

My brother and I used to cook lunch during the School holidays and he would often jokingly throw in the line “Damn it Man, I sliced my hand” in honour of Marvin Berry cutting his hand trying to open the boot of his car whilst the keys were locked inside, or if one of us was playing music at an annoying volume, the other walk into their room, and say “hold it fellas, I’m sorry you’re just too damn loud”.

It’s little things like this that make this film special to everyone who has had the pleasure of seeing it. Similar to the Goonies, it is incredibly fresh and could have been made last week. Led by Michael J Fox as Marty McFly, nobody my age (I was 8 when the film was released) had ever seen anyone cooler than Marty. He was the most awesome character growing up and is probably still my favourite now when all said and done.

Are there issues? Well you could argue that the mother/son incestuous connotations is a little Oedipal, and some may today question the friendship between Marty and Doc, but from a story telling point of view it is brilliantly done and in the case of Marty and Lorraine, (played by another 80s icon the simply stunning Lea Thompson), is resolved carefully without too much cringe.

Worth noting also that Back to the Future has my number 1 punch the air moment when George, a suitably awkward Crispin Glover, finally stands up to Biff, quite possibly the greatest screen bully ever, played with dotable menace by Thomas Wilson. It still gets a cheer to this day.

Back to the Future was followed up by two quick fire sequels in 1989 and 1990 and, despite never truly hitting the heights of the original, are fantastic watches, and may well be the second and third part of the most complete trilogy. Pray tell nobody gets the insane idea to reboot, remake or simply go back in time to update the original. Some things are best left well alone.

About me

My name is Dominic Holder and I like to promote the beauty and wonder of Cinema in my writing. I spend a lot of time promoting the power of Cinema as a tool of wellbeing to anyone and everyone. I love all kinds of films but in particular I am a devoted fan of Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, John Williams, Star Wars, Disney and Marvel. My love of Cinema stems from a trip as a 4 year old to local cinema in Bolton to watch a Star Wars/Empire Strikes Back double bill, it was the first in a series of life changing moments, I knew from the moment the Imperial Star Destroyer engulfed the screen at the start of  A New Hope I was hooked. Thankfully nearly 40 years later I still get excited and still find escapism and happiness within this wonderful medium.

You can follow me on Twitter @DomHolder and read some of my reviews on Letterboxd at letterboxd.com/DomH

You can read more of my blogs on Film at www.dominicholder.wordpress.com

The cheers: Spielberg’s Top 10 crowd pleasing moments

Following on from my recent blog about the most nerve shredding moments in Spielberg’s back catalogue which you can read here, I thought I would take a look at the moments that most fans of Spielberg look for in his films, moments where elation and rejoicing lead to punch the air instances, that allow the audience to give little cheers or even rapturous rounds of applause, even when you are watching it in your lounge alone.

This top 10 is a mixture of individual shots, or carefully choreographed setpieces, but each one makes you thrilled to be watching and helps build the understanding that the main purpose of any film is to entertain. Quite frankly this could have been a Top 100 list (maybe I’ll do that one day) but I have narrowed it down to the following 10. As always, there will be some of your favourites that I haven’t included, but that is why God invented the comment function on blogs. I’ve also tried to not include scenes that I have talked about in previous blogs, so no beach scene from Jaws or opening scene from Raiders here. I hope you enjoy the choices that I have picked regardless.

10. Spyder Search – Minority Report (2002)

In a previous top 10 I have praised the brilliance of the opening scene of Minority Report, but the other stand out scene in a film full of stand out scenes is the building search by the robotic Spyders that are unleashed to take retinal scans of all the occupants of the building as they search for the “on the run” John Anderton who is hidden away in the building after a rather grimy eye operation.

This scene almost sneaked into my nail shredding top 10, but what moved it to this one was because despite moving towards the edge of our seats, we marvel at the genius of the filmmaking on display. Firstly we have the robotic, futuristic spyders that scamper across the screen like a herd of genetically enhanced futuristic cousins of the supporting cast of the Spielberg produced Arachnophobia. Secondly, we can marvel at Janusz Kaminski being at the very top of his game as he glides his camera around the staircase at the entrance, to a sensational tracking shots from above the invisible roof staring down into the individual departments. The attention to detail here is staggering as Tom Cruise’s Anderton hides, from the more animalistic than robotic Spyders, submerged in an ice bath only to have his cover blown by the tiniest air bubble that leaves Anderton’s nostril and slowly almost silently impacts on the surface.

It’s Spielberg being playful, it’s Spielberg being fluid in his direction, there are no quick cuts or edits here and as an audience we sit an applaud the audacity of the scene from its simple premise to it’s peerless execution.

9. The Vote – Lincoln (2012)

The first of the genuine punch the air moments of this countdown, the vote on whether to approve the thirteenth amendment of the US constitution, that if passed would abolish slavery and involuntary servitude. In what is possibly Spielberg’s most dialogue heavy film, with lengthy but always intriguing monologue upon monologue extolling the virtues of the argument on both sides, we are left in no doubt that this is going to be tight decision.

As anyone who knows their history, will know the outcome of the vote, so similar to the conundrum facing Ron Howard with Apollo 13, or to a lesser extent James Cameron with Titanic, the challenge here is to make a widely known outcome remain in the balance. Spielberg manages this by never really letting the audience in on the running total, by painting the moral dilemma across the faces of all those who’s role it is to cast a vote. Of course the outcome is a success but the feeling of euphoria as the final count is announced is sensational, hell even Tommy Lee Jones cracks a smile.

8. Mine Cart Chase – Temple of Doom

The Top Ten Greatest Indiana Jones Scenes - Part 3 | Page 3

Bit of a marmite film in Spielberg’s filmography, over the years it appears that people really love it or really dislike it, there isn’t much middle ground. However, one thing pretty much all fans agree on is the rip-roaring mine cart chase in Pankot Palace’s rather spacious basement.

After avoiding turning to the Dark Side and rescuing Willie from a burning pit, our intrepid hero joins up with Short Round and Willie and attempts to escape the dungeon like mine that has housed all the villagers children. Indy manages to battle his way through henchman upon henchman, and manages to avoid being attacked via Voodoo and eventually overcome a big dude on the worlds slowest conveyor belt (Aldi would not be impressed).

Once that is out of the way, he swings on a conveniently placed chain, knocking more henchman off the platform towards a watery grave, and lands perfectly in the mine cart with Short Round and Willie. (Btw, that whole swinging sequence…..awesome). Choosing to ignore the good advice to take the left tunnel, Indy sets off on a ride that would have the queues backing up at Alton Towers. They are once again pursued by a bunch of foolhardy goons, who really should have known what was down the tunnel and therefore known it wasn’t going to end well.

Sure enough a handy railway sleeper in place the travelling morons are catapulted off the track and into the strangely lava filled abyss (are they in a volcano, what’s going on here?). Still our triumvirate press on, but another gang of idiots is in pursuit, and they try and steal Short Round. Another pesky trip hazard puts pay to them and all is clear, phew.

Only the problem is there’s a bit missing from the track, should have took the left tunnel Indy, and unlike Keanu driving his bomb ridden bus there is no one to put a mysterious little ramp to assist with clearing the canyon. Fortunately Indy and co are on a bit of downslope and manage to perform the perfect launch and landing you know as if it was all in a days work. Fantastic stuff, oh and then the breaks fail, and Indy teaches us all why it is so important to have a good pair of walking boots if going searching for fortune and glory. Hanging onto the out of control cart using his Karimor’s as a breaking mechanism, Indy brings the cart to a halt inches away from the crash barriers, getting some scorch burns in the process.

Yes they made it. Slight issue though, you see whilst Indy and co were having fun on the ride, colossal git Molaram decided to send a dam’s worth of water down the track to flush them out. Will they escape the torrent, you bet they will.

Joking aside, what we have here is Spielberg at his frenetic best. The action is fast and furious but we are never in doubt as to where we are up to, the quick cut editing that is often in play in modern action cinema is not here, the kinetic energy is such that we as an audience are transported onto that mine cart, it’s a pure thrill ride and for me the highlight of the film.

7. The first task – Ready Player One

Ready Player One': 16 Key Differences Between Book and Movie | IndieWire

There are people who claim that Spielberg doesn’t make exciting films anymore. In the past 10 years we have been treated to political grandstanding in the script heavy Lincoln, the worthy and noble War Horse and the Espionage thriller Bridge of Spies. Critics started to wonder whether this famed popcorn peddler had finally moved on, or maybe worse, even lost his touch on how to entertain the masses. His attempts at family friendly films such as The Adventures of Tintin (more on that soon) and The BFG had been technically wonderful but had struggled to find a huge audience. Some times even the best have to mine their back catalogue and so here we have it, Ready Player One, described by this very blogger as a Greatest Hits film from Spielberg.

That was my first reaction to seeing it at the cinema and like all Greatest Hits albums, you know all the tracks and you can sing along happily and it makes you think of times touched with nostalgia and warmth, but there is nothing new there.

On repeat viewings, (and Ready Player One hugely benefits from repeat viewing), it becomes clear that the film is so much more than just a glorified compilation album. This is Spielberg properly letting his hair down, you could argue he has not had as much fun since he introduced the world to DNA created dinosaurs on Isla Nublar.

This is never more demonstrated than the completion of the first task, where Spielberg throws enough pop culture references and Easter Eggs to keep even the most nostalgia cynic among the audience interested. Whether it an appearance from an old favourite, the T-Rex, to the rampaging Kong, we are treated to 5 minutes of breathtaking action, packed with thrills and spills. What’s most impressive in this sequence considering it was made at the height of MCU/DC battlegrounds, once again the editing is tight without ever being disorientating or confusing. Demonstrating a clear eye for detail their is no need to cut every half second, Spielberg once again shows that trust the audience, give them a chance to take in as much as possible and do it with enough bravado to want to watch it over and over again.

6. Trip through Bagghar – Tintin

The Adventures of Tintin

Spielberg’s first all encompassing trip into Motion Capture is the not talked about enough “The Adventures of Tintin, the Secret of the Unicorn”. Yet another Spielberg that rewards repeat viewings as the level of detail here is quite phenomenal.

A film that is often described as an animated Indiana Jones films, the comparisons are fair and should be taken as a massive compliment. The scene pictured above where Tintin and Captain Haddock pursue the evil Red Rackham is a flashback to the motorbike and side car chase from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade where dad and Indy clumsily fight off the German soldiers.

The scene in question, is a chase through the town of Bagghar which culminates with a quite staggering 5 minute single shot taking into account crumbling buildings, sliding buildings, raging rivers, rascally birds of prey and the money shot to end all money shots, a ride down an telephone wire desperately holding onto the remaining front wheel of the motorbike.

There is so much going on here, but once again you are never in doubt where the action is up to and it is a perfect demonstration of how motion capture can be used to astonishing effect. In a film packed full of beautiful moments and clever imagery, we have a scene that would not have looked out of place in one of our favourite Archaeologists films.

5. The Caravan on the Cliff – Jurassic Park:The Lost World

Shame Files Podcast: The Lost World: Jurassic Park | Cinedelphia

By the time The Lost World was released, everyone who had a passing interest in dinosaurs had probably seen Jurassic Park and marvelled at the CGI creations that still astonish today. The problem facing Spielberg on this sequel, a film that he has since admitted he made somewhat on auto-pilot, was how do you create that sense of wonder again? Unfortunately that moment never truly arrives, it’s more “oh look dinosaurs again…cool” rather than, Sam Neil’s eyes perfectly capturing the thoughts and reactions of the first film.

Before I go any further, I have to say that I actually enjoy lots of The Lost World, in particular one scene that I think is just phenomenal, namely the caravan on the cliff. Vince Vaughan and Julianne Moore are trying to fix the broken leg of an infant Tyrannosaur in the caravan before mum and dad notice that they are missing.

This scene actually starts with one of Spielberg’s funniest visual gags as Jeff Goldblum’s Dr Malcolm descends from the High Hide without gripping the rope properly.

We are then treated to an ominous overhead rustling of trees shot, as Malcolm (showing no sign of injury from his 50 foot plummet) joins Sarah and Nick in the caravan just as mum turns up………oh and she is not happy. The first indication that she is a tad vexed is a quite brilliant shot of a jeep being tossed over the side of the cliff like you would perhaps flick at annoying bug who maybe encroaching on your dinner. The parenting team of T-Rexs are suddenly there, giving a dual aspect threat on either side of the caravan, but they don’t attack. That’s because they know their infant is in there. It’s one of Spielberg’s less obvious depictions of a family dynamic, but the power is all there.

A few threatening nudges of the caravan that spells out the consequences if their young is not returned make the human trio see sense and attempt to return the offspring to the parents, once this has been done, the T-Rex’s retreat, but only to shelter their traumatised youngster. They are not going to let this kidnapping go unpunished.

“HANG ON TO SOMETHING!!” yell Nick and Ian in unison, well that is the understatement of the year as mum and dad open a giant can of dino whoopass on the caravan and push it gradually towards the cliff edge. Now this is double trailer so the delays and red herrings here are spectacular, as the first half of the caravan heads for the abyss it is caught by the heavier end, however Sarah can’t hold on and plummets presumably to a watery death, but she is stopped by the safety glass of the caravan………………which slowly but surely begins to crack under her weight.

Just in time, Ian catches Sarah just as falling equipment smashes the window. Left dangling in mid-air the T-Rex’s nip off, presumably for a coffee and hob-nob, and our trio have Eddie (the always great Richard Schiff) turn up to help them out of the stricken caravan. He manages to tie a rope around a tree (very Nedry-esq) and lower it for the trio to clamber onto. Realising the top half is now starting to slide on the mud towards the cliff top, Eddie attaches the caravan to the tow-cable on the front of his jeep and puts all power into the rear wheel drive and begins slowly but surely to pull the caravans back onto the cliff top.

Problem is coffee break is now over and mum and dad come back to complete their work, which is bad news for everyone, in particular Eddie, who despite the hob nobs is made short work of by Mr and Mrs Rex. Of course with Eddie out of the way there is no-one to control the Jeep which means the Jeep is now going to also make a swift exit in the only direction that it can, towards the cliff top taking the caravans with it with one of Spielberg’s most exhilarating shots.

It’s a shame in many ways that the film never really matches up to that 10 minutes, but when a film has such an outstanding scenes that appears to be several leagues higher than the rest of it, there is a tendency to dismiss everything that came before or after it, which actually does The Lost World a disservice as there is lots to enjoy throughout. However as stated at the start of this entry, despite this thrilling breathtaking scene, it misses that one breathtaking moment, which brings me sneakily onto the next entry.

4. The Brachiosaur reveal – Jurassic Park

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom's Lack of Wonder is Deliberate and Important  | by Edward Punales | Medium

The secret of a truly great cinematic moment is when it can still make you gasp in wonder, maybe get a lump in your throat or punch the air in sheer delight no matter how many times you have seen that moment. Think about the first time you saw the Death Star Destroyer streak across the starry sky, at the start of Star Wars, or Josh Baskin dancing on the floor piano in Big, or George laying out Biff in Back to the Future in one punch. These are moments that made us all fall in love with cinema and why we come back for more constantly, and also lead the passion for repeat viewings.

If people reading this can think back to the very first time they saw Jurassic Park, especially if you watched it on its original cinematic release, you will no doubt remember the gasp, and definitely in the screening I was in back in 1993, the cries of “woah” and believe it or not the small ripple of applause as we suddenly knew what Alan Grant had gone all wide eyed about as the beautiful, majestic Brachiosaur strode gracefully across the meadows of Jurassic Park.

I’m just going to pause slightly now, for dramatic effect. Seriously just think of that moment when you first saw that. In a film of outstanding set pieces, this moment of tranquility is the stand out moment for me. It makes me want to weep thinking about it, it makes me want to grab my kids and sit them in front of it and say “Watch this!!!” (they’ve all been made to sit through before of course). . I want to thank John Williams for having the good sense to drop the score completely from the approaching Jeep to the first site of the dinosaur. I want to thank Dennis Muren and his team for producing such a moment and Gary Rydstrom for having the beautiful sound configuration. But most of all It makes me want to say thank you to Steven Spielberg for believing and realising such a vision from the pages of Michael Crichton’s book. It is moments like this why we return to films over and over and put our faith in the power of Cinema to thrill and excite people, and at times like this it is more vital than ever for people to enjoy such perfection.

3. The Truck Chase – Raiders

Raider's of the Lost Ark: The Truck Chase | Cappa Toons!

In a film that was prepared and storyboarded down to the last spec of dust there is sensational set piece after sensational set piece. In a previous top 10 I ranked the iconic opening scene as Spielberg’s number 1 movie opening, here in the top 10 crowd pleasing moments I pick my favourite scene from Raiders for number 3, but rest assured this could have been higher if written on another day.

A scene perfectly choreographed, a scene that demonstrates practical stunt work of the highest standards that looks as fresh today as it did almost 40 years ago when made. It’s also an endearing scene for the characterisation of Indy, proof if proof were needed that this was no superhero, this was once again an ordinary man in an extraordinary situation, (yes I appreciate he was only there because he wanted to be but still you get the point). From the moment that the trucks icon begins to bend under the weight of Indy we know that he is going to have to improvise to get out of this mess.

Of course, somebody like Tony Stark would have a built in gadget or some on the way from a distant A.I but Indy just has his strength and his whip, oh and his hat which remarkably he keeps hold of, even when making the perilous journey under the truck and then being dragged behind it holding onto the trusty whip, I suppose when a hat fits, a hat fits.

Similar to the Mine Cart chase from Temple of Doom, or even the chase through Bagghar in Tintin, we have a clear idea of who is where and what is happening. A lot of the credit must go to Michael Kahn and his editing team for keeping such a tight reign on proceedings.

It’s also a scene that helps demonstrates that the villains of the piece are not over the top demonic beasts, they to are fallible humans who have no answer to Indy’s attempts to ram them off the road.

In a scene packed with swing and counter swing I think my favourite part is when Indy is dragged behind the truck, it’s a moment that I still cheer enthusiastically today as if I’m watching Liverpool come from 3-0 down to beat Barcelona in the Champions League Semi-Final (if people don’t know what I’m talking about well take a look at this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7HldRlTZj_g)

Indy may not have completely won the day with this scene, but the reason it is such a crowd pleaser is that it is a scene not only of excitement but one of hope, we all love to see the bad guys get a bit of beating and if nothing else this scene helps reassure that perhaps everything is going to be ok……as long as whatever we do, we don’t look at it.

2. E.T and Elliot take flight

E.T. the extra-terrestrial - ET - Steven Spielberg - Character profile -  Writeups.org

One of the most iconic images of Cinema for that there is absolutely no doubt, but it is the moment 35 seconds prior to this that is the true moment of unadulterated joy. Elliot with E.T as his passenger rides through the woods and comes to what he believes to be a dead-end. Not so as E.T uses his kinetic powers to take control and speeds off into the mist heading straight for the cliff edge (more cliff edges), and then it happens……just as they are about to plunge into the chasm they take off, with John Williams’s iconic Flying theme hitting the perfect musical cue for company.

Away they soar above the trees, the glorious, luscious trees, with their bustling wildlife and the endless possibilities of uninhibited adventure, this is every childs dream and Steven Spielberg captured it perfectly. It is best summed up, when moments after the iconic trip in front of the moon, Elliot lets out a triumphant cheer, yes Elliot we are with you all the way, this is just wonderful.

There really isn’t an awful lot more I can say about this scene, that hasn’t been said numerous times before, but once again it is an absolute gift of a scene and one that it is very difficult to imagine modern cinema without it.

1. The Mothership lands – CE3K

SYFY - Close Encounters of the Third Kind: Joe Alves interview | Close  Encounters of the Third Kind was supposed to have flying aliens and other  design secrets

Whenever I have been asked in the past, what is about Spielberg that makes you such a fan, the first thing I mention is the last 30 minutes of Close Encounters of the Third Kind. I feel if there is anyone who wishes to know what Spielberg has to offer the world I would show them this.

I don’t think Close Encounters is Spielberg’s best made film but I have made no secret over the years that it is my personal favourite (and we all know there is some insanely good competition). I also think thematically it is the quintessential Spielberg film. It’s all here, ordinary man in extraordinary situation, a difficult and testing family lives, including the ubiquitous absent parenting. There is also the child eyes looking with wonder at what is often a scary world for adults. There is the music, perfectly put together by the maestro, and then there is the magic and wonder, the light show, the star lit skies, the shooting stars, it is all there, it is Spielberg summed up in 2 and a bit hours.

However, nothing comes close to the last 30 minutes. Almost balletic in its execution, dialogue is at an absolute minimum as humans and aliens communicate through light and music. We watch events unfold, like Roy (played with childlike enthusiasm by Richard Dreyfuss) with a huge grins on our faces, praying that this is actually happening. We are treated to a visit from 3 sentry spaceships sent on ahead, who perform a dance like joust above the humans before retreating from whence they came.

This is just the appetiser to the main course, which arrives in a cacophony of rumble and yet more dazzling light shows as the mother-ship, with the size and look of a small city arrives and descends onto the landing strip. There then follows the music and light spectacular, which if real would have been one of the finest classical music concerts ever. It is truly breathtaking and I absolutely love it.

What makes it interesting now is that it has been described by some as quite a dour ending, with Roy abandoning his family to follow his dreams, in fact Spielberg has been quoted as saying he would struggle to make such an ending if he made it today. Due to studio pressure, Spielberg went back to Close Encounters in 1980 and added extra scenes including the interior of the mother-ship, which isn’t as bad as people claim it is, it just doesn’t really add anything.

I was recently asked to list my film choices for a film version of Desert Island Discs and it will be no surprise to any of you who have read this far that Close Encounters was the number one pick. The brilliance of Spielberg is that is left with any one of his films, I would be kept entertained during my time there, but Close Encounters will always be my go to.

Thanks for reading