I always find the start of the New Year a bit strange. You’ve built so many high hopes for the year, made your resolutions, started making plans, decided you want to completely change the way you do everything. And then January 1st rolls around and it just feels like any other day. In fact, if you’re like me, it feels like a day where you need to drink gallons of orange juice and lie in bed to exorcise your hangover. The very, very New bit of the New Year can leave you feeling a bit…lacklustre. It might be a bit hard to get motivated, or you might be easing yourself in gently.
Then of course there’s the fact that both Christmas and any New Year’s celebrations are now officially dead and buried. You might have spent months planning them, and suddenly it’s all in the past, and all you’ve got left are heaps of out of focus photos and a red wine stain on your carpet. It’s highly likely you might feel just the tiniest bit down as the New Year dawns. Now you’ve actually got to start doing those Resolutions, instead of just whacking them optimistically down on paper. Days with nothing to do stretch out, but it’s still getting dark early. Maybe you’re going back to school, university or work. That 2000 word essay you’ve put off is due next week. You’ve got to do your tax return. You really must join the gym.
With that in mind, I’ve popped together a list of my favourite ‘misery-busting’ films. They might not be what you’d find on a standard Top 10 Happy Films list, but they work for me. Some are uplifting, some are just pure comedy, and some feature Catherine Deneuve kissing a woman and singing. Actually, that’s just one. Read on to find out which. Anyway, with the nights still dark and the year still very much newborn, why not update your Lovefilm list with some of the following:
- Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – There was no question that this was going to be the keystone of my list. In my opinion, FBDO is not only my favourite film of all time, but the perfect film to watch when you’re feeling a bit ‘at odds’ with life. Every time I see it, I fall a bit more in love with Ferris and his limitless optimism. Not just a John Hughes 80s corker, but a film with a message to put across too: make sure you stop what you’re doing and enjoy yourself once in a while, or life might just pass you by.
Best moment: a competitive choice, as there are so many. For me though, Ferris’s first conversation with Cameron, over the phone, makes me giggle every time. Listen out for the way the score changes between a Hawaiian style tune for Ferris and pure music of doom for Cameron. ‘When Moses was in Egypt’s land, let my Cameron gooooo……’ Oh, and obviously the parade scene:
2. Son of Rambow – I watched this for the first time the other night, and I had no idea whether it would end well or in a way that would traumatically scar me for life. Luckily it was the former. Centring around two boys from different backgrounds who become ‘blood brothers’ and make their own film, inspired by Rambo. Both young leads are fantastic, and it made me want to be a young boy in the 80s (something I’d have previously thought quite hard to achieve.) The shots themselves are beautiful – often as visually appealing as a Sofia Coppolla film – an odd comparison, but as a sweeping generalisation I find female directors often exhibit more visual flare in films. Also look out for a fantastically British Ed Westwick.
Best moment: again, so many. But it’s a tie for me between any shot involving French exchange student Didier Revol, and the rave-like party in the sixth form common room.
3. 8 Femmes (8 Women) – A film by Francois Ozon that sadly went a bit under the UK radar. It might be because it’s such a spectacularly French film that us Brits might have found it a little bizarre and somewhat disjointed. A pastiche of a 1950s murder mystery set in a country house, the film features everyone from Virginie Ledoyen to Catherine Deneuve, and one of my favourite Gallic actresses, Isabelle Huppert. The film gets camper and camper before your very eyes, and features all your favourite French actresses singing various popular French hits. It really does have to be seen to be believed. Seeing Catherine Deneuve grappling with a woman on the floor will stay in your head, whether you’re a straight man, a straight woman, a gay man, or a lesbian.
Best moment: The dance routine that the youngest member of the household (Ludivine Sagnier) performs in her pajamas, to the song ‘Papa t’es plus dans l’coup’ – see below.
4. Clueless – Another girlie entry, and one that I must admit I know most of the words to. You can’t beat this modern update of Jane Austen’s Emma, and as far as I’m concerned, this was the original teen movie, and the best. It certainly has more heart that most of the films made within this genre in the noughties. Alicia Silverstone is perfectly cast as the cheerful yet initially rather spoilt teenager who really does want the best for everyone around her.
Best moment: The brief exchange between Cher’s father and her ‘date’ for the night, Christian. ‘What’s with you, kid? You think the death of Sammy Davis Jr left an opening in the Rat Pack?’
5. Wayne’s World – an antidote to my previous two girlie films. I’ve been watching Wayne’s World since I was about 8, and I haven’t got bored of it yet. From the infamous Bohemian Rhapsody car journey at the start to closing minutes of the film, this is a cinematic classic. I dare you to watch it and feel miserable (it’s impossible). And then I dare you to go round talking in 90s slang for the rest of the week.
Best moment: Anything involving Wayne’s ex girlfriend Stacey, but really, most moments are ‘right on’.
N.B. If you’re a Wayne’s World fanatic like me, why not come along to the ‘Schwing Along’ at the Prince Charles Cinema, just off Leicester Square? Tickets are £12.50, and include entry to a ’90s grunge party’ – dressing up strongly encourage – and the film itself. Click here to check it out, and maybe I’ll see you there: http://princecharlescinema.com/events/events.php?seasonanchor=wayne
6. Sixty Six – Another one where you have no idea if it’ll end well or in total carnage. The premise is this: a boy is planning his Bar Mitzvah, which ends up clashing with the England World Cup final. He dreams of the perfect event, and spends hours sorting out things like place settings. Absolutely made by the young lead of the film, look out for scenes where he tests ‘cocktails’ out on his brother. Also features the spectacular Helena Bonham-Carter in one of her trademark ‘slightly batty mother’ roles.
Best moment: unquestionably, the end. I’m not giving away any more than that, so you’ll have to watch it.
7. Let’s Make Love – I was always going to feature a Marilyn Monroe film in any list of misery-busting movies. Monroe is absolutely luminous on any screen, but ‘Let’s Make Love’ trumped ‘Some Like it Hot’ in this list for me. Firstly, I like to mostly stay off the beaten track with my film choices, and secondly because it’s such an undeservedly overlooked film. A high-powered French businessman (Yves Montand) is planning on shutting down a local community theatre in New York. He goes down to visit it, and sees Monroe performing, and falls for her straight away, naturally. While he’s sitting there watching her, a director plucks him up, assuming he’s here to audition for the show….as an impersonation of himself. He gets the part. Hilarity ensues. It also features the Niles Crane of the 50s and 60s, Tony Randall. Ahead of its time in many ways, I really do recommend this.
Best moment: A tie between the dance number for ‘Specialization’ (Marilyn at her best), and the scene where Yves Montand hires some experts to teach him to dance and sing. The experts are Gene Kelly and Bing Crosby.
8. Easy Virtue – Without a doubt, one of my favourite films of recent years. It’s one of those typically English, PG Wodehousian, big country house romps. Son of the household returns home with an American bride (Jessica Biel). And not just any American bride, a racing driver with a rather murky romantic past at that. Jessica Biel is my hero in this film, and perfect in the role. An icy Kristin Scott-Thomas reigns supreme, with Colin Firth as her rather put-upon husband. Another part comedy, part musical entry, but a great one to watch if you find yourself feeling a bit of an outsider.
Best moment: The dance scene near the end. You’ll be completely and utterly on Biel’s side.