Like a lot of people I was saddened by the untimely death of John Hughes. I am the right age to have seen his films when they came out – though many I actually caught later. But when I saw online the way people were talking about him, how important some of the films were and how they captured a certain part of their youth I started thinking about other directors that make me feel that way. In particular I started thinking about who I would’ve thought of my favourite director a decade or so ago.
It’s tempting to say someone like Ridley Scott. He directed Alien and Bladerunner – the later being my ‘official’ favourite movie for years (until I finally realised that whilst good it wasn’t that good, it was just one of the first I’d seen that created a new world so effectively and completely). He also directed some other good movies like Someone to Watch Over Me or Thelma and Louise. I don’t really go for his big epics but I enjoyed Gladiator and at the other end of the scale, Matchstick Men is a lesser known one of his well worth checking out.
Woody Allen might be another choice. Sleeper is one of my favourite comedies of all time. Until a few years ago I would always catch his new movies and always find something to enjoy. But there became something of the stamp collector about watching his movies. I was more interested in being a completist than the films per se.
But there’s one director whose body of work seems to contain more of my favourite movies than any other and it’s a name that always slightly surprises me because I don’t tend to think of him as a great director. Of course it’s Rob Reiner – otherwise that’d be a rubbish title (maybe it is anyway).
Reiner has three films that would make my top 10, probably top 5, including my real absolute favourite. Those are
- When Harry Met Sally – still the benchmark by which I measure romcoms, because it’s genuinely funny and romantic at the same time.
- This is Spinal Tap – the DVD cover says “possibly the funniest film of all time” – hard to argue with that.
- The Princess Bride – this is my number one film. Why? Well it really does have it all – it’s funny, romantic, action-adventure, childlike without being childish, endlessly quotable – so of course in answer to why I should have just said: “Are you kidding:? Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles…“
But those are just the top three. When I look over the list that comes up when I IMDB him there are several more that are real gems that are important to me personally or just really great movies – The Sure Thing, Stand By Me, Misery, A Few Good Men, The American President.
I can’t say he’s done much recently that I’ve really cared for Alex and Emma, and Rumour Has It were amiable but forgettable – but anyone who’s made those eight films I mention above, heck the man who made Princess Bride alone, doesn’t have anything left to prove in my book.