Film Editor Rhys Lloyd-Jones takes us through deepest, darkest Peru to swinging, dystopian London in a journey through his film favourites
From a young age, I had trouble with shutting up and sitting still. Armed to the teeth with whatever I could wrap my pudgy hands on, I would waddle and roll around wherever I was, desperate to explore, escape, who knows. From the moment of my first words, I decided that my new found skill of vocal communication must not be wasted. I would grunt, giggle and poorly sing anything I could express. To my parents’ exasperation, I was simply annoying. Adorable, I am sure, but no doubt annoying. So how to shut me up? My parents elected not put me in a wicker basket and send me downstream, but something had to be done. Give me a book? No, I’d try and make it into a hat. Give me a toy? Nope, I’d decided that everything was edible, even plastic. Keep me tied up in a shed? My mum wasn’t enthusiastic on that idea. Sorry Dad, but no dice.
With the wicker basket looming ever closer, my parents were granted a lucky reprieve. It seemed the one glorious way to keep me quiet, to sit me still, were moving pictures. I’d launch into a full blow by blow verbal replay afterwards, but movies kept me quiet for the runtime. I’d sit happily in front of the TV and watch the colours and shapes with wild eye fascination. For my entire childhood, I was bombarded with these wonderful images I came to know as films.
So for twenty years, I’ve remained a fidgety individual, yet movies have remained my crutch. It is my wholly engrossing, engaging escape that never seems to fail. Films have shaped me as a person. In my education, my degree, yet also my personal life. My dad and I have designated cinema trips as our favourite bonding time, relishing the anticipation on the journey to, and the celebration or commiseration on the journey back. All my close friends share, or tolerate, my giddy love for the cinema and have to had to watch me excitedly bound through the doors of Cineworld at least twenty times a year.
So what are my favourite films? Absolutely no idea. Really. They change monthly. But if I had to pick? These are some of my personal picks. These may not be the best films I’ve ever seen, but they’ve always been close to my heart:
5. Paddington 2
I’ve always loved bears. And this is a bear in a duffel coat who shares my affinity for sandwiches. Paddington 2 is the most delightful, uplifting joy that modern cinema has to offer. It is cheeky, charming and life affirming. Whilst its predecessor is a triumph in its own right, the sequel doubles down on everything, from the colourful aesthetic, hilarious performances and the sheer cuteness of this wonderful bear. Whilst the returning cast is on top form, Paddington 2 also sports one of the best villains ever put to film; Hugh Grant as Phoenix Buchanan, a washed up west end star who plots to steal London’s hidden treasure. Grant is clearly having the time of his life with this theatrical foe and it is truly one of the most engaging screen performances I have ever seen. Paddington 2 embraces its endearing tone and sets out such an unapologetically good time, it is impossible to keep yourself from smiling throughout. And, I must reiterate, this is a bear, in a duffel coat. That is amazing.
The coming-of-age genre is a personal favourite of mine, yet this one blows the rest out of the water. Richard Ayoade’s directorial debut is an understated gem that is as soft and gentle as a fire on an autumnal night. It is witty and often heart wrenching, yet it is imbued with a soulful spirit that rings through the foundations of this unexpected delight. Submarine follows Oliver Tate (Craig Roberts), a welsh schoolboy, who falls head over heels for his enigmatic classmate. Ayoade parallels Oliver and his burgeoning romance with his parents, whose love life is crumbling around them. The thematic duality is tinged with sadness, yet this film finds the hope amongst the heartache in both sets of relationships. Ayoade proves himself as a masterful director, utilising a smoky red and crisp golden colour palette and visual oceanic themes to gorgeous effect. Soothingly soundtracked by Alex Turner of the Arctic Monkeys, Submarine contextualises coming of age within Swansea, a coastal welsh city. Being Welsh, this locale familiarity was a surprisingly more touching than I’d expected, as the experiences felt far more intimate and personal. Submarine is funny and moving in equal measure, and it is a film I can not recommend highly enough.
3. The Indiana Jones Trilogy
Have you ever looked at your history teacher and thought ‘well, yeah, but I bet you’ve never had a fist fight with a Nazi under a moving plane or discovered the holy grail with Sean Connery.’ Unfortunately, the Indiana Jones trilogy has set an unbeatable bar for the academic scholars of the world to live up to. The sheer excitement and adrenaline of the whip-snapping franchise delights me as much now as it did as a child. Harrison Ford remains unmatched for screen charisma, and it’s his snarky, gruff archaeology professor who carries this franchise across three (yes, three), sometimes rocky, but ultimately brilliant thrill-rides. The action set pieces are still some of the most inventive, well-choreographed scenes put to film by the masterful Steven Spielberg, yet Indiana Jones is buoyed by its irascible humour and the notable character flaws which sets it apart from the hyper-masculine counterparts of the action genre. Indy isn’t a brooding law-keeper or a violent maniac, he’s a museum aficionado who just can’t stand the Nazis. If that isn’t a hero, I don’t know what is.
2. A Clockwork Orange
Sometimes cinema can cause a visceral reaction, a physical sensation that reverberates through your body. The opening theme of A Clockwork Orange rang through my bones and raised my hair on end. From beginning to end, Stanley Kubrick stages an aesthetically radiant and tonally macabre delve into Alex DeLarge (Malcolm McDowell), a teenager devoid of empathy, who appreciates high culture and ultra violence. A Clockwork Orange is often grotesque, yet never gratuitously so. The themes of individuality and state control are treated with an unusual balance of irreverence and thoughtfulness, a contrast highlighted in the mismatch between the glorious musical symphony and sadistic cruelty shown on screen. The story is simple, yet efficient, bringing down a character of such intense charisma, to broken shell of his former self. This is a greek tragedy, of morality, betrayal and redemption, set in a psychedelically reimagined London. A Clockwork Orange is a dystopian masterpiece that handles its subject matter effortlessly, whilst best displaying Kubrick’s talent for direction.
1. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
For the record, any Edgar Wright could take its place into my film favourites, yet whilst the Cornetto Trilogy holds a dear place in my heart, it is the neon comic book wonder that is Scott Pilgrim vs. the World that nabs the top spot. Edgar Wright, adapting Bryan Lee O’ Malley’s pulpy graphic novel, electrifies the screen with flashy direction and breathtaking visuals. Scott Pilgrim is the defining film of the student generation, a pessimistic, stylish romance, punctuated by grunge rock and bare knuckle brawling. Helmed by the innocence of a top form Michael Cera, Wright navigates each of the seven evil exes with brash, bold showstoppers that remain iconic in recent cinema. The script is tight, compact and bitingly funny, and each of the cast set the bar for a run at greatest film ensemble. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World embraces what Cinema at its best can be; really, really fun. Grab your bass guitar, grab a stack of bread and tuck into the film that seems to get better with every subsequent rewatch. There’s no catch with this one, it is simply an unforgettable good time of the absolute highest standard.