Thursday, October 2, 2008

Top Ten Movies Set in London

Narrowing the endless list of London based films down to ten was made a bit easier by selecting only movies I have actually seen and liked. So this is a pretty personal list, filled with my own tastes and fancies. All are easy enough to find and if you haven't seen them, or haven't seen them in a while, think about giving one or two a look.

10. A Clockwork Orange-Stanley Kubrick's Sci Fi horror movie starring sci fi actor Malcolm McDonald, who doesn't like Sci Fi fans. Anyway, its a story of the near future where everything is BAD. It's one of those movies you should see once, but really never bother seeing again.

9. The Elephant Man-Well, the movie had John Hurt playing part of John Merrick and I really liked the version with David Bowie. But this was a brilliant movie as well. A nice dark Victorian London with lots darkness and lots of misunderstandings. Shot in black and white in an area of London near Tower Bridge, The Elephant Man is heart breaking and creepy at the same time.

8. An American Werewolf in London-they just don't make them like this any more. The effects of a man turning into a wolf were state of the art at the time, and are still pretty impressive. It's the story of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. One of a handful of John Landis movies that made everyone think he was going to be the Next Spielberg.

7. Naked-the story of a homeless man and no one that loved him. Mike Leigh film about the gritty and dark side of London and how one misanthropic fellow spends a few days on the streets of London. It is a violent and pointless story which features a nice cameo by a Security Guard who is pining away for a woman he has been spying on from the office building where he works.

6. Richard III-One of the only good Alternate Reality Shakespeare films, this one set in a 1930s London ruled by a fascist dictator. It is an amazing film on a number of levels. Ian McKellan makes a great evil ruler and my favorite scene is when his jeep won't start and he yells-A horse, a horse, My Kingdom for a horse-and a solider rides up on a motorcycle and replies-You may have my horse. I just always loved that bit of silliness.

5. Sliding Doors-Gwyneth Paltrow in a sci fi flick where nothing makes sense if you miss the first ten minutes-and barely makes sense if you catch the first ten minutes. It's the story of Choices and what happens when we enter a door instead of exiting it. Is it better to know all, or not know anything? Ignorance is bliss-or is it?

4. 28 Days Later-there is something wonderful about seeing the empty street of London in this zombie style horror movie. There is blood and gore to the max and Infection can happen from a single drop of blood. Die, die, everyone die. The story of the end of the world, or at least the end of London. This was a great movie and it had incredible effects.

3. The Hours-the hyper tragic story of two people destined for a bad end. Nicole Kidman in one of the best of her many strange roles. I was deeply effected by this film because I was so like the little boy who never wanted to be away from his mother. Maybe all children never want to be away from their moms, but I could relate to the tragic child's desperation. I'm sure Virginia Woolf shows up in London here somewhere. Again, a great film, but I only needed to see it once.

2. My Fair Lady-the story of a poor flower girl who moves into a London mansion with a couple of odd old men who teach her how to speak properly. The sets and costumes are wonderful, the songs are some of the best ever written, and the cast is pretty much perfect. Julie Andrews didn't get the part as she was busy making another great London set movie-Mary Poppins. But I think Audrey Hepburn was perfect and could never really imagine the film version of My Fair Lady with Julie Andrews as Eliza Doolittle.

1. Notting Hill-hands down my favorite London movie, despite the fact that it has the most over-rated actress of her time, Julia Roberts, in the lead. Hugh Grant is a sappy business man who owns a bookshop that only sells travel books. It says something about the cost of living in London that Hugh's character can't afford to live on his own. This is one of the best casts I have ever seen in a movie and one of the rare movies made during my time of going to the movies that I can watch over and over again.

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