Being John Malkovich

Spike Jonze

2000

A self-pitying puppeteer discovers a portal into the actor John Malkovich. What’s so likeable about this film is it doesn’t point to its own oddness; it just gets on with it. Decades earlier, Kafka and Saramago used similar techniques to look at the self but they weren’t half as funny.

Withnail & I

Bruce Robinson

1987

Two unemployed actors, who always look like they’ve been crying, decide to escape the death of 1960s London by going on holiday by mistake. Considering it’s set in a highly specific time this sad farce has aged well and acts as a bridge between Ealing comedies and the Coen Brothers.

I Kill Giants

Anders Walter

2018

This is a family friendly melancholic fantasy about a lonely, independent girl who appears to be saving her town from giants. Although obvious, quirky-by-numbers and as manipulative as a charity advert it’s a kind film and could still appeal to any sensitive 13yr old who hasn’t seen A Monster Calls.

Synecdoche, New York

Charlie Kaufman

2008

Philip Seymour Hoffman is a troubled theatre director who creates a decades long, city-sized play about himself. Bizarrely, some critics called this postmodern, moving, and at times hilarious, film a vanity piece. That’s like saying Frozen is a bad film for having ice in it. It’s a film about everyone.

The Sunshine Boys

Herbert Ross

1975

Neil Simon’s wonderful script is a tribute to vaudeville and friendship. Cantankerous Walter Matthau is persuaded to do one last gig with his double-act partner George Burns. It’s odd to feel sentimental for something unknown to you. I’ll never get over not being an 80yr old New York Jewish comedian.

8 ½

Federico Fellini

1963

An Italian film director loses himself in fantasy and dreamlike sentiment as he tries to escape his director’s block. 8 ½ features in many professional film critics’ lists of masterpieces and you can still see its influence. Pretty much every film about an indulged artist is a thank you note.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula

Francis Ford Coppola

1992

The most frustrating horror film ever made. It could have been brilliant: the music, the costumes…the look of the thing. The gothic enormity of the greatest villain since the devil is here, along with the Hollywoodian affection for the subject but it always feels ludicrous and why Keanu Reeves? Why?