I am a film buff, without shame, and I tend to love classic American films and few others.
Here I write of some of the films I carry in my heart and mind. Films I watch and feel I am alive.
Properly the first film that carry me away was “The Wizard of Oz”. As a child, it terrified me, but it made me watch despite my fear. That film is part of me, I watch at different ages, different mental spaces, and always adore it.
My prostituted self was able to cry at “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”, as she struggled to imagined that there was hope.
I watch “The Railway Children”, and allow myself to believe that childhood could be happy and one big adventure. It was a warm blanket round as I chose to ignore my pain and confusion.
I loved Disney, especially “Dumbo” and “The Aristocats”, they feed my love for jazz, I adore swing. Disney give me laughter, and an interest in art. In Disney I could remember I was a child.
As I grow, I grow towards crime, film noir, horror and some French films. I wanted style in films, I wanted actors who played the role not just themselves – I wanted to be carried away from my own reality.
When I saw “The Postman Always Rings Twice”, I knew I had enter an adult film, and god did I love. To be honest, if all I could have one film this is the one film.
First, my breath was taken away from me in the scenes of unbridled sexuality of Lana Turner and John Garfield. Each time I see that, I think the film is going to melt. The danger of their lust grasp my heart, and I let myself flow into it.
But I love that there is no escape but death in the world of the film noir.
I became hooked onto film noir, it fitted into my world view. A world where no-one could be trusted. A world where betrayal was normal. A world where greed made everyone ugly.
I saw “Chinatown” and saw corruption, incest, greed and violence going unpunished, and the “good guys” left with guilt and the inability to make real change, and I thought there a world I can understand.
There not many great modern film noir but “Chinatown” is one, and maybe “Body Heat”.
I saw “The Maltese Falcon” and felt my love affair with films grow. Never had I see a film that is as close to perfection as “The Maltese Falcon”. It never put a foot wrong, I will never be bored of watching it.
As I turn to crime, I watched Hitchcock, and turn to loving thrillers with pace.
I think my favourite Hitchcock is “North By Northwest”, it is such a smooth chase. And I love the humour of Hitchcock.
I have a taste for musical, music surrounded my life.
“West Side Story” I know by heart, I have performed in it twice, and me and my sister would act it out in our bedroom. I always wanted to be Anita, but as the youngest I had to be Maria who I had no patience for.
My mother taught jazz dance, and she always felt “West Side Story” had the best dancing of any film. I always the opening dance scene grabs me in the gut and my heart. I adore the savagery of the dancing, the beauty in the passion.
I carry with me the scenes of “America” and “Keep It Cool”, as how dance is not soppy, not afraid to face hard issues. Dance is show of life, nothing more, nothing less.
And the near-rape of Anita is more powerful because it is stylised. In it’s detachment and closeness to a savage will, it is more shocking than realism which often just fall back on simple porn imagery.
But I loved joyful musical, as an adult their simple optimism made me remember life could be good.
“Meet Me In St Louis” is the musical I carry in my heart. It was my grandmother’s favourite musical, it reminded of her childhood in Denver at the beginning of the last century.
I have a soft spot for Judy Garland, especially in the Minnelli films. I like to be carry away to another time, another place – a place where weeping over a song is ok.
As I weep during “Wish Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”, I know my tears are not about Judy Garland, not about a designer family. My tears are for all the years my family was stolen from me, all the Christmases that were polluted by abuse.
I weep that I nearly forgot I was innocence, forgot I deserve to be happy, forgot life could be about wonder not pain.
These are a small selection of films that give the will to live.
There many more, and I know there are always films I have not seen that will find my heart.
Films are good to escape into. But sometimes, they have the power to give back life when it seemed all hope has gone.