Spitfire's Top Ten Movies

We asked everyone in the office for their favourite film... Here's what they chose, and why!

Whip It

Jess McLeish

My favourite film is Whip It. Mostly for sentimental reasons, really. It’s the film that got me hooked on roller derby! My local Blockbuster was having a closing down sale and I went in to treat myself after working hard on my dissertation. I was initially intrigued by the prospect of Drew Barrymore as Director and it looked like a definite ‘zone out in front of the TV’ film. Little did I know that it would inspire me to join an absolutely insane, all-female, full contact sport on skates! I love the soundtrack and listened to it over and over again for about a year. Randall Poster is one of my favourite Music Supervisors and this film definitely started that love affair! To say this film had a big impact on my life, would be an understatement!

The Conversation

Christian Henson

For anyone who works in audio this has to be close to the top of the pile. Coppola shot this in-between the two Godfathers, so he was ‘on form’ and it stars Gene Hackman who to my knowledge has never turned in a poor performance (and revisited the role 24 years later in Enemy Of The State). The film opens with a noisy town square in San Francisco. A pair of lovers walk amongst the crowd having a seemingly benign conversation, but as the opening sequence unfolds it is clear what we’re hearing is being recorded by four surveillance mics. The rest of the film centres around Harry Caul (Hackman) piecing the conversation together and slowly getting dragged more and more into the unfolding thriller. Whilst the story is gripping, and Hackman’s portrayal of an anti hero a tour de force, for me what I love is the 1970s gadgets and a portrait of a seedier, dirtier, and more dangerous America of the 1970s. It is also Harrison Ford’s first film, he was absurdly good looking in 1974.

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

Stanley Gabriel

I think it's my favourite film as it was the first Wes Anderson I’d seen, and instantly fell in love with the art style and the music, who knew acoustic Portuguese covers of David Bowie could sound that good! Mothersbaugh’s score for it was great as well, I think its the Ping Island cue that goes from casiotone-style sequencers and drum machines to full orchestra being the highlight. Plus its got Bill Murray in it.

The Horse Whisperer

Sue Chellew

Having grown up around horses I've always been fascinated by the art of horse whispering so my favourite film has to be The Horse Whisperer.  Based on a book inspired by Buck Brannaman, the zen master of the horse world, it tells the story of a tragic accident involving a young girl & her horse Pilgrim. The horse is badly scarred by the experience but the girls mother is determined not to give up on him.  She leaves her career behind to take Pilgrim to a 'Horse Whisperer' in Montana who works not only with the horse but the mother and daughter to repair their trust in each other.  Despite the rather gory beginning it is a lovely heart warming story.

Withnail and I

Paul Thomson

Withnail and I is writer/director Bruce Robinson’s autobiographical masterpiece. From Richard E. Grants magnificent first ever film performance (a teetotal playing an alcoholic) to Paul McGann’s neurotic actor on the edge, and the ever wonderful Richard Griffiths as flamboyant and lecherous Uncle Monty. The script is full of quotable lines, and you can see why George Harrison immediately agreed to fund the production after reading a draft. The music is sublime, from the selections of Hendrix, The Beatles, King Curtis’ version of A Whiter Shade of Pale, and the beautiful, evocative melancholy of David Dundas and Rick Wentworth’s score. In short – this is one of the most perfect pieces of work ever committed to film from every perspective. WATCH IT NOW!

Forrest Gump

Oliver Patrice Weder

My choice has certainly a nostalgic reason, as this was pretty much the first ‘real movie’ I can remember having watched as a young boy. The biographical story is very easy to follow, yet it refers to very serious and impactful happenings throughout our history. What must have captured me is the light-footed and positive (some say stupid) approach of Forrest Gump towards those events (war, drugs, love etc.) which makes this film absolutely timeless and it’s more applicable now than ever. The concept is already set with the opening scene, where the camera follows a feather, accompanied by Silvestri’s beautiful, child-like melody, which he then picks up and carefully put it in-between the pages of his book. 

During his adventures, Forrest Gump is attended by amazing source music from the 60s and 70s, which also represented my father’s vinyl collection and one of my musical inclinations to this day. On top of that, as a good film should, it makes you cry of laughter but also of sadness. Just an overall beautiful piece of art which I could and will watch again and again.

The Big Lebowski

James Bellamy

"Hey, careful, man, there's a beverage here!". 

Released in 1998, The Coen Brothers' The Big Lebowski became an instant and eminently quotable classic. I watched it in one unforgettable week of back-to-back trashy (and pre-multiplex) cinema alongside Alex Proyas' Dark City and John McNaughton's Wild Things. It's a rambling story of mistaken identity, kidnap, cocktails, bowling and lots and lots of finely crafted swearing. There's not a dud performance anywhere, with perfectly judged turns from Philip Seymour Hoffman, Julianne Moore, Steve Buscemi, John Turturro, Tara Reid and Peter Stormare fleshing out Jeff Bridges and John Goodman's central characters, permanently stoned layabout "The Dude" and unhinged Vietnam vet Walter Sobchak. Hell, even Flea is in it!

The soundtrack effortlessly evokes the spirit of LA. The Eagles and Creedence Clearwater Revival even make it into the script ("I hate the f*&king Eagles!"). And what a script! I defy anyone to make this into a bad film (OK, perhaps not you Michael Bay). 

This film reminds me of a being young, playing in a band, driving around London in my first car, parties with friends and song after song after song. Watch it while you're still young.

In Bruges

Harnek Mudhar

"Guilt-stricken after a job gone wrong, hitman Ray and his partner await orders from their ruthless boss in Bruges, Belgium, the last place in the world Ray wants to be." 

Written and directed by Martin McDonagh, on the surface In Bruges seems like an off-beat, quirky, dark comedy mingled with the grittiness of a 'gangster' film, and on the surface I suppose it is. You can take 'In Bruges' at face value, and walk away from it thinking, "that was a good film," which is precisely what I did the first time round. It was only when my brother questioned me on what the film was really about that I did a double take. On the second viewing it became a different film. The imagery, the camerawork, the score, the dialogue, the acting; everything had a purpose, beyond telling Ray’s story. It all came together to create something bigger than the sum of its parts. Martin McDonagh crafted a film that examined how it feels to be stuck in a state of purgatory, not knowing when or even if their judgement will come, let alone what that judgement might be. Maybe on some level, it’s a feeling we can all relate to? By seeing the film beyond the things that were happening on screen, I became more emotionally connected to the characters, more so than any film I’d seen before. In Bruges was the film that made me stop looking at films, and start looking through them.

Ghost In the Shell

Lawrence Shahid

Most people are aware of Ghost In The Shell and know it as a Sci-Fi Anime classic.

However it is also a great thought piece about personal identity, consciousness and the potential dangers of a society tied closely to technology.

Along with these themes are some beautiful animation, great set pieces and an amazing soundtrack which features a haunting choral sung in an ancient Japanese language.

The film has been a big influence to a lot of creators, including the Wachowskis, and with today's advancements in AI and human augmentation, we may soon be facing some of the issues brought up in the film.

Her

Tom Howe

In his fourth film, Spike Jonze imagines a relationship with an operating system. Layered with incredible music by Arcade Fire and design by Geoff McFetridge, it’s my favourite depiction of the future to date.