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I’ve been going through my collection of material – something I do every once in a while – and came across these little film synopses you find below. In the past, each of my course participants would get one to read out loud and for the others to guess. Simple little exercise, but I’m always relieved that there is at least a little common cultural ground we share, even if only some classic movies we all seem to have seen.
Nowadays I sometimes feel this experience vanishing. There is so much out there, how can we possibly have seen the same things or read the same books. In educational circles, this used to be, or maybe still is, the debate on what school kids should read or have read when they leave school – the canon discussion. I personally feel that there is certain literature everyone should have read, and there are films I recommend to have seen, or to see if you haven’t already. That’s the reason I am such a fan of bucket lists. And even though I am not completely happy with the one on my wall (Top 250 movies – I think I will have to create one of my own), I like the conversations that unfold whenever we do talk about it. (There is a web page that counts for you…)
Back to my little exerpts:
Two American college students are on a walking tour in the North and are attacked by a werewolf. One is killed, the other is mauled. The werewolf is killed but reverts to its human form, and the local townspeople are unwilling to acknowledge its existence. The surviving student begins to have nightmares of hunting on four feet at first but then finds that his friend and other recent victims appear to him, demanding that he commit suicide to release them from their curse, being trapped between worlds because of their unnatural deaths.
(You might be surprised by the werewolf theme that some might consider more trivial than culturally uplifting. However, I was always fascinated by the ubiquitousness of these mythical creatures in our arts like werewolves, vampires, dragons, unicorns and the like, and find that they definitely deserve the label ‘classic’.)
Shocked by the death of a dear friend he finds out about in the local newspaper, writer Gordie Lachance takes a trip down memory lane to the time when he was twelve.
Back in Oregon in the hot summer of 1959, he and his three close friends, Chris, Teddy and Vern, set out on a life-changing adventure. The news about the discovery of the body of a 12-year-old boy sparked an exciting interest in the group of friends to follow the train tracks and become the town’s heroes by finding the missing boy’s body. Unfortunately, however, so did the local tough Ace Merrill and his gang of bullies. Sometimes, growing up can be hard, nevertheless, finding true friends can be even harder.
Off the coast of Oregon, in the quiet coastal town of Antonio Bay, the residents are making preparations to celebrate the island community’s centenary of its foundation. However, a past injustice along with a terrible secret hidden deep within the town’s roots lies over the it.
During the days leading to the celebrations a thick and livid mist gradually envelops the town. Hair-raising tales of ancient mariners, who were lost in the waters, start to haunt the inhabitants. An entire century ago, a despicable act was committed. Now, the dreadful spirits of the dead have returned, craving revenge. Is there something evil hiding in the mist?
When word reaches two elderly best friends that someone in their tiny Irish village has won the national lottery, they go to great lengths to find the winner so they can share the wealth. When they discover the “lucky” winner, a good friend of theirs, they find he has died of shock upon discovering his win. Not wanting the money to go to waste, the village enters a pact to pretend he is still alive by having another man pose as him, and then to divide the money between them.
Marion Crane is a Phoenix, Arizona working girl fed up with having to sneak away during lunch breaks to meet her lover, Sam Loomis, who cannot get married because most of his money goes towards alimony. One Friday, Marion’s employer asks her to take forty thousand dollars in cash to a local bank for deposit. Desperate to make a change in her life, she impulsively leaves town with the money, determined to start a new life with Sam in California. As night falls and a heavy rain obscures the road ahead of her, Marion turns off the main highway. Exhausted from the long drive and the stress of her criminal act, she decides to spend the night at a motel. The motel is run by a peculiar young man dominated by his invalid mother. After he fixes Marion a light dinner, she goes back to her room for a shower….
Set almost entirely in London, England during five frantic weeks before Christmas, the story follows a web-like pattern of inter-related, loosely related and unrelated stories of a dozen or more various individuals with their love lives, or lack of them. The central character is the new bachelor Prime Minister David, who cannot express his growing feelings for his new personal assistant Natalie, David’s older sister Karen, who slowly grows aware of her husband Harry’s flirtation with an office worker named Mia. Karen’s friend Daniel is a recently widowed writer whose eleven-year-old son Sam asks for love advice about a girl on whom he has a crush. Meanwhile, Jamie, another writer, leaves his girlfriend after catching her cheating on him and travels to France to write a novel….
Answers (not in the right order)
Stand by me, is a 1986 American coming-of-age film directed by Rob Reiner and based on Stephen King’s 1982 novella The Body, with a title derived from Ben E. King’s song. The film stars Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, and Jerry O’Connell. In Stand by Me, four boys in 1959 Castle Rock, Oregon, go on a hike to find the dead body of a missing boy.
The Fog is a 1980 American supernatural horror film directed by John Carpenter, who also co-wrote the screenplay and created the music for the film. It stars Adrienne Barbeau, Jamie Lee Curtis, Tom Atkins, Janet Leigh and Hal Holbrook. It tells the story of a strange, glowing fog that sweeps over a small coastal town in California…
An American Werewolf in London is a 1981 horror comedy film written and directed by John Landis and starring David Naughton, Jenny Agutter, and Griffin Dunne. The film tells the story of two American students who are attacked by a werewolf while on a backpacking holiday in England.
Psycho is a 1960 American psychological horror film directed and produced by Alfred Hitchcock, and written by Joseph Stefano. It stars Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, John Gavin, Vera Miles, and Martin Balsam, and was based on the 1959 novel of the same name by Robert Bloch. The film centers on an encounter between a secretary, Marion Crane, who ends up at a secluded motel after stealing money from her employer, and the motel’s owner-manager, Norman Bates, and its aftermath.
Love Actually is a 2003 British Christmas-themed romantic comedy film written and directed by Richard Curtis. It features an ensemble cast, composed predominantly of British actors, many of whom had worked with Curtis in previous film and television projects: Hugh Grant, Dame Emma Thompson, Alan Rickmann, Heike Makatsch, Liam Neeson, Colin Firth among them.
Waking Ned Devine is a 1998 comedy film directed by Kirk Jones and starring Ian Bannen, David Kelly, and Fionnula Flanagan. Kelly was nominated for a Screen Actors’ Guild award for his role as Michael O’Sullivan. The story is set in Ireland but was filmed in the nearby Isle of Man.