I’ve been thinking recently about the influences that have helped shape me as a writer since I began trying to do it seriously, over <cough> twenty-five <cough> years ago. I’d like to share with you the books and films that have made their mark on me. Interestingly (or not, depending on your point of view), much of the media I consider gold star stuff has little, if anything, to do with the genre I tend to favour when I have ideas for novels and short stories. I tend to consider this as an advantage. Obviously I treat my horror darlings with reverence. I’d say that an all-inclusive top ten would contain at least five great horror films – Don’t Look Now, Alien, The Wicker Man, King Kong (1933, natch) and, towering above them all, The Shining, which is quite possibly my all-time number one. My interpretation of what is a horror film will differ from yours, of course. I think Alien is a horror film, for example. Others will see it as a science fiction film. There might even be those who make a case for it as an erotic drama…
A writer, even one with a (spit, sneer) genre bent, should have an omnivorous diet. That said, though there are some films I love to death (the Nolan Batman films, The Lord of the Rings, pretty much anything by Pixar… Toy Story 3 <sob>) this is an animation- and trilogy-free list.
10 – BARRY LYNDON* (1975)
Just… phenomenal. Like nothing I’ve ever seen. Stanley Kubrick is my favourite director (my youngest son’s middle name is Stanley). Ryan O’Neal I’d caught before in, um, What’s Up Doc? (actually, not bad), A Bridge Too Far and The Driver. The film chronicles Barry Lyndon’s rise and fall from loveable Irish rogue to tragic physical wreck. Barry Lyndon is languorous and lyrical and decadent and it DOES NOT GIVE A STUFF. The night-time indoor shots are jaw-dropping. Apparently Kubrick used super-fast lenses developed by NASA to shoot scenes lit only by candles. If you haven’t seen it, set aside three hours of your life and wallow in a gorgeously-shot epic, but know this: with Kubrick’s passing, no studio will ever dare make a film like this ever again.
* Obviously this is a list that has changed frequently over the years and also isn’t particularly in ascending order… After I post the No. 1 film I’ll also add a catch-all ‘Bubbling Under’ post that will list all the other films I admire.