Staff A-Z of Films: F is For… (Pt.1)

F is for First Blood (1982) – dir. Ted Kotcheff
I was really wracking my brains trying to come up with an F-Film, then I checked the list. It happens that a lot of my very favourite films begin with the letter F, including two that I claimed were “My favourite film of all time” at various points, but only when badgered for an answer. (Do real people really have a favourite anything of all time?) These “all time” tops were The Fly and Faces. Faces has some of the most exquisitely natural performances I’ve ever been blessed to see and The Fly has a scene where Geena Davis gives birth to a giant maggot… but, I really really need to tell you about the original Rambo film, First Blood.
The film is about Vietnam veteran, John Rambo, who in searching for his friends returned from the war, finds them prematurely dead in an uncaring America. He is bullied by small town police who he escapes and is then pursued by. It is a simple film dealing with big themes of authority, responsibility, freedom, societal constraint, and wilderness. Stallone is perfect for this role, part everyman, part fearsome force of nature, part wounded animal. 
firstblood1The film’s thrust mirrors that of the song Born In The USA by Bruce Springsteen, and like Springsteen the film is very populist whilst not pandering. For the reasons that a Springsteen song will always hold me tighter than a meandering ramble by Bob Dylan, I believe First Blood is an infinitely stronger film than The Deer Hunter, arguably its closest and more critically acclaimed rival.
 Born In The USA – Nebraska recording video.

First Blood’s reputation as an elegant and sensitive film is ruined by its sequels. James Cameron, the blame is at your feet, and not just for this. Mr Cameron made a series of weak action movie sequels to a string of amazing original films, sparking them into awful movie franchises. Aliens was a saccharine bloodbath that followed the nuanced terror of Alien. Rambo: First Blood part II, (arguably the dumbest title ever) reduces meaning, style, content, …basically everything except the body count, until you are left with a dulled-out nothing of a feature in which even the endless killing is completely flat. Just when you’re starting to believe he is doing all this out of some kind of demented malice you realise even his own films aren’t safe, and he runs the terrible formula on Terminator. I concede his original is a solid sci-fi horror which he proceeds to pump full of Disney morality for a horrendous joke of a follow on. 
fargo14F is for Fargo (1996)

This quirky and darkly funny thriller is the brainchild of Joel and Ethan Coen. Set in the locations of Brainerd, Minnesota and Fargo, North Dakota it tells the tale of a ransom gone horribly wrong.

William H Macy plays car sales man Jerry Lundegaard, who due to financial difficulties decides that he can make some good money by having his wife kidnapped…! His plan is to pay his hired kidnappers, played by the brilliant Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare, $80, 000 but tell his wealthy father-in-law that they have requested a cool one million dollars. However, this being a Coen brother’s film, things don’t go quite the way Jerry had planned.

fargo09As with many of their films, the Coen brothers deliver a clever, twisted thriller with moments of brilliant dark humour, helped fantastically by William H Macy, Frances McDormand, Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare whom are all on excellent form. Bare in mind this film isn’t for the faint of heart or for viewers looking for a light comedy. But if you don’t mind the odd bit of blood and strong language then this film really is a must… Just a quick word of warning, if you’re planning on using a wood chipper soon after watching this film, you might want to do some other house hold chores. Trust me!


fugitiveThe Fugitive (1993)

I know, I know… every one over the age of 20 has probably seen this film and it really doesn’t need recommending, but I don’t think you can possibly have an A to Z list of film recommendations and not include it…

If you’re one of a unique band of people whom have not watched this film with delight then allow me to give you a brief over view…

Starring Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones, it centres on Ford’s character Dr Richard Kimble coming home one night to his house to find his wife being brutally attacked and murdered in their home. During the fight between Kimble and the assailant, the assailant escapes into the night and Kimble is left to pick up the pieces. Sadly for him things go for bad to worse and he is subsequently the main suspect in the crime. Faced with no alibi, he’s found wrongfully guilty and sentenced to life in prison and death row… Then just when things couldn’t get any worse for Kimble, he finds himself in an explosive bus accident when a fellow inmate attempts to flee the prison bus en-route to the jail. Seizing his chance, Kimble decides to make a bid for freedom and to try to clear his name and bring his wife’s killers to justice. I know… exciting eh? Well just when you think it couldn’t get any better, in steps Tommy lee Jones as US Marshal Samuel Gerard who is assigned the task of bringing in the now fugitive Dr Kimble at all costs. Let the chase commence…

fugitive-740If you really have not seen this film then I can assure you it’s a Saturday night must. Although rated 15 at the time, I think most of us would agree that now it would be a 12 rating and actually quite good fun if you’re looking for a family film looking for some edge of your seat thriller action. Enjoy!


MSDFADO EC034Falling Down (1993)

What else can I say but Falling Down….

If you’ve ever had a day that you wish would just end and everything and anyone is making it worse than this may, or may not as the case may be, the film for you…

It’s a simple story of one man, played by Michael Douglas, who finally reaches breaking point on his morning commute to work and decides he has had enough with it all and simply wants out and to spend time with his young daughter now living with his estranged wife. As he walks away from his car after snapping, his day simply goes from bad to really really really bad as he finds himself in an attempted mugging, forced to walk through gangland territory, missing the breakfast menu in a fast food restaurant for being 2 minutes after they have stopped serving and well you get the point…

large-falling-down-blu-ray9As twisted and dark as it is brilliant, Michael Douglas doesn’t let up as the simple white-collar worker who has finally had enough of being on the bottom rung of society. His portrayal of frustration and anger at the way modern society has become is attention grabbing to say the least and in some ways reflects how many of us have felt at some point in our lives, especially with the way we move through life almost too quickly for our own good. (Just FYI the fast food restaurant scene alone makes the film worth watching…!)

BEN SAYS F IS ALSO FOR:fight-clubFight Club (1999)

The first rule about fight club is you “don’t talk about fight club”

So I wont…. (But please watch it! Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, Helena Bonham Carter and Meat Loaf… what more could you want?!?)


Full-Metal-Jacket-006Full Metal Jacket (1987)

Produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick, this film follows a group of US marines in training in 1967, during the Vietnam War. Its central characters, Privates “Joker”, “Cowboy” and “Pyle”, become the main three protagonists in this very dark and bleak war film.

As the recruits go through week by week training under the demoralizing and often brilliantly crass and blunt Gunner Sergeant Hartman, we see how their innocence and spirit are slowly dwindled down, forcing them to question their own morality. For many, Kubrick’s portrayal of military life showed how it was far from glamorous to say the least, (compared to Top Gun made only a couple of years prior) and that he, Kubrick, wanted audiences to understand what it was like being a young G.I. in 1960’s America in war they knew little about. In fact, Kubrick’s want for realism was a major factor in casting the actors, namely actor R. Lee Ermey, who played drill instructor Gunnery Sergeant Hartman. For Ermey was himself a former Marine and real life Marine drill instructor! (Which also may explain most of the ad-libbing he does when confronting his trainees!!) As the film continues and their training completed they are then sent off to Vietnam in 1968 where they learn very quickly how little they are prepared for such a horrific and violent conflict. As humorous as it is dark, Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket touches on the dark physique that often goes hand in hand with war. Yet despite the dark moments, Kubrick manages to weave in moments of humour into otherwise deeply dark scenes that many other directors have tried and failed to do. So for that reason, Full Metal Jacket is regarded as one of the 100 films you must see before you die…

Other F films I recommend:

The Fighter

Family Guy Series and their take on Star Wars.

Fifth Element


easy_rider poster