Kaleem Aftab

Kaleem Aftab

Writer, the Independent, the National, Interview
UK
Voted in the critics poll

Voted for:

Bande à part 1964 Jean-Luc Godard
Blue Velvet 1986 David Lynch
Do The Right Thing 1989 Spike Lee
dolce vita, La 1960 Federico Fellini
Downfall Reworked for YouTube Oliver Hirschbiegel
Outsiders, The 1983 Francis Ford Coppola
Pakeezah 1972 Kamal Amrohi
Psycho 1960 Alfred Hitchcock
Raging Bull 1980 Martin Scorsese
Sweet Smell of Success 1957 Alexander Mackendrick

Comments

In the end I’ve chosen the films that had the biggest influence on my love for cinema as it was impossible to choose the greatest films. I had more than 35 films on that list. Most of them I watched for the first time on video cassette in the years immediately after my dad brought home a VCR in 1986. Before that moment I hardly watched a film at all. I can’t remember why, or how it got into my head, but I always imagined Jean-Luc Godard was cool from a young age, and when I saw Band à part I was finally proved right. It’s packed with perfect screen moments: the run through the Louvre; the hypnotic dance sequence, which I once tried to recreate when performing for some friends; and of course two guys and a girl. I’ll never forget Dennis Hopper scaring the shit out of me to Roy Orbison’s In Dreams in Blue Velvet, or how beautiful Isabella Rossellini seemed, even as I watched through the slits of my fingers. It remains the only film that can still send chills down my spine no matter how many times I see it. Do The Right Thing was the film to see when I was 15. It had all the things that seemed to affect my life at the time: racism, music and a desire for cool trainers. It defined the era and introduced me to New York. I’ll even admit that the first time I saw it I was too young to really appreciate how good it is, and of course it was the film that got me intrigued by Spike Lee. It’s only one moment in Oliver Hirschbiegel’s Downfall, yet Bruno Ganz’s performance as Hitler is so brilliant in showing his disgust at the failure of Steiner to attack the allies that the scene has been used and abused by legions of internet users around the world, replacing the orignal subtitles to comment on current affairs – it’s the gift that won’t stop giving. My favourite iteration is Plankhead’s 2010 version of the scene, about the reaction to the scenes being removed from the internet: it shows a complete corporate misunderstanding of how audiences were helping to bring an arthouse German film to worldwide attention. Of course, changing the subtitles is an old joke – mistranslations have been a staple of comedians for years – but it doesn’t stop the original internet mash-up from being funny and is probably the single scene I’ve watched the most in the last decade. For that alone it makes the list. There are so many reasons I love La dolce vita that I don’t know where to start – my friends calling me Marcello after a particular successful night out in Italy is definitely the most personal and worst of them. More pertinently, it has the greatest performance from my favourite actor of all time. Pakeezah was the one film in my parents’ catalogue of Indian films that I would watch happily time and time again as a youngster. I didn’t even realise how great it was until I saw some other Bollywood hits and became better versed in musicals from all over the world. For the soundtrack alone (which I regularly play on my iPhone) it would get into any ‘best of’ lists; add to that its perfect dance sequences, a heartbreaking melodramatic tale of family strive and the perfect depiction of how nurture can outdo nature, and before you can sing ‘Chalo Dildar Chalo’ I’m investing in the dreams of a prostitute. It was hard to choose one Alfred Hitchcock film but Psycho was the first one that I saw, and for that alone it beats out Vertigo, Rear Window and North by Northwest. It’s simply too hard to choose between them on anything but irrational grounds. Films and sport are two of my greatest loves but sadly the combination on the silver screen usually gives me the same sense of sadness I get when watching Fulham lose at Craven Cottage. Raging Bull avoids all the sporting clichés that usually make sporting movies a bore. It tells the story of two brothers who don’t know whether to love each other or hit each other – De Niro and Pesci at their electrifying best. Someone once said to me that it’s odd if Sweet Smell of Success makes you want to be a journalist – if only I had realised that the reality it would be all the hassles without the power. Alexandra Mckendrick is probably one of the world’s most underrated directors. The Outsiders is not even Francis Ford Coppola’s best film, yet it’s the movie I’ve seen the most times, and I can probably still quote every line. How much I wanted to be Dallas Winston. Matt Dillon seemed so cool. Alas, they do say, one should never meet your heroes. In the end I’ve chosen the films that had the biggest influence on my love for cinema as it was impossible to choose the greatest films. I had more than 35 films on that list. Most of them I watched for the first time on video cassette in the years immediately after my dad brought home a VCR in 1986. Before that moment I hardly watched a film at all. I can’t remember why, or how it got into my head, but I always imagined Jean-Luc Godard was cool from a young age, and when I saw Band à part I was finally proved right. It’s packed with perfect screen moments: the run through the Louvre; the hypnotic dance sequence, which I once tried to recreate when performing for some friends; and of course two guys and a girl. I’ll never forget Dennis Hopper scaring the shit out of me to Roy Orbison’s In Dreams in Blue Velvet, or how beautiful Isabella Rossellini seemed, even as I watched through the slits of my fingers. It remains the only film that can still send chills down my spine no matter how many times I see it. Do The Right Thing was the film to see when I was 15. It had all the things that seemed to affect my life at the time: racism, music and a desire for cool trainers. It defined the era and introduced me to New York. I’ll even admit that the first time I saw it I was too young to really appreciate how good it is, and of course it was the film that got me intrigued by Spike Lee. It’s only one moment in Oliver Hirschbiegel’s Downfall, yet Bruno Ganz’s performance as Hitler is so brilliant in showing his disgust at the failure of Steiner to attack the allies that the scene has been used and abused by legions of internet users around the world, replacing the orignal subtitles to comment on current affairs – it’s the gift that won’t stop giving. My favourite iteration is Plankhead’s 2010 version of the scene, about the reaction to the scenes being removed from the internet: it shows a complete corporate misunderstanding of how audiences were helping to bring an arthouse German film to worldwide attention. Of course, changing the subtitles is an old joke – mistranslations have been a staple of comedians for years – but it doesn’t stop the original internet mash-up from being funny and is probably the single scene I’ve watched the most in the last decade. For that alone it makes the list. There are so many reasons I love La dolce vita that I don’t know where to start – my friends calling me Marcello after a particular successful night out in Italy is definitely the most personal and worst of them. More pertinently, it has the greatest performance from my favourite actor of all time. Pakeezah was the one film in my parents’ catalogue of Indian films that I would watch happily time and time again as a youngster. I didn’t even realise how great it was until I saw some other Bollywood hits and became better versed in musicals from all over the world. For the soundtrack alone (which I regularly play on my iPhone) it would get into any ‘best of’ lists; add to that its perfect dance sequences, a heartbreaking melodramatic tale of family strive and the perfect depiction of how nurture can outdo nature, and before you can sing ‘Chalo Dildar Chalo’ I’m investing in the dreams of a prostitute. It was hard to choose one Alfred Hitchcock film but Psycho was the first one that I saw, and for that alone it beats out Vertigo, Rear Window and North by Northwest. It’s simply too hard to choose between them on anything but irrational grounds. Films and sport are two of my greatest loves but sadly the combination on the silver screen usually gives me the same sense of sadness I get when watching Fulham lose at Craven Cottage. Raging Bull avoids all the sporting clichés that usually make sporting movies a bore. It tells the story of two brothers who don’t know whether to love each other or hit each other – De Niro and Pesci at their electrifying best. Someone once said to me that it’s odd if Sweet Smell of Success makes you want to be a journalist – if only I had realised that the reality it would be all the hassles without the power. Alexandra Mckendrick is probably one of the world’s most underrated directors. The Outsiders is not even Francis Ford Coppola’s best film, yet it’s the movie I’ve seen the most times, and I can probably still quote every line. How much I wanted to be Dallas Winston. Matt Dillon seemed so cool. Alas, they do say, one should never meet your heroes. In the end I’ve chosen the films that had the biggest influence on my love for cinema as it was impossible to choose the greatest films. I had more than 35 films on that list. Most of them I watched for the first time on video cassette in the years immediately after my dad brought home a VCR in 1986. Before that moment I hardly watched a film at all. I can’t remember why, or how it got into my head, but I always imagined Jean-Luc Godard was cool from a young age, and when I saw Band à part I was finally proved right. It’s packed with perfect screen moments: the run through the Louvre; the hypnotic dance sequence, which I once tried to recreate when performing for some friends; and of course two guys and a girl. I’ll never forget Dennis Hopper scaring the shit out of me to Roy Orbison’s In Dreams in Blue Velvet, or how beautiful Isabella Rossellini seemed, even as I watched through the slits of my fingers. It remains the only film that can still send chills down my spine no matter how many times I see it. Do The Right Thing was the film to see when I was 15. It had all the things that seemed to affect my life at the time: racism, music and a desire for cool trainers. It defined the era and introduced me to New York. I’ll even admit that the first time I saw it I was too young to really appreciate how good it is, and of course it was the film that got me intrigued by Spike Lee. It’s only one moment in Oliver Hirschbiegel’s Downfall, yet Bruno Ganz’s performance as Hitler is so brilliant in showing his disgust at the failure of Steiner to attack the allies that the scene has been used and abused by legions of internet users around the world, replacing the orignal subtitles to comment on current affairs – it’s the gift that won’t stop giving. My favourite iteration is Plankhead’s 2010 version of the scene, about the reaction to the scenes being removed from the internet: it shows a complete corporate misunderstanding of how audiences were helping to bring an arthouse German film to worldwide attention. Of course, changing the subtitles is an old joke – mistranslations have been a staple of comedians for years – but it doesn’t stop the original internet mash-up from being funny and is probably the single scene I’ve watched the most in the last decade. For that alone it makes the list. There are so many reasons I love La dolce vita that I don’t know where to start – my friends calling me Marcello after a particular successful night out in Italy is definitely the most personal and worst of them. More pertinently, it has the greatest performance from my favourite actor of all time. Pakeezah was the one film in my parents’ catalogue of Indian films that I would watch happily time and time again as a youngster. I didn’t even realise how great it was until I saw some other Bollywood hits and became better versed in musicals from all over the world. For the soundtrack alone (which I regularly play on my iPhone) it would get into any ‘best of’ lists; add to that its perfect dance sequences, a heartbreaking melodramatic tale of family strive and the perfect depiction of how nurture can outdo nature, and before you can sing ‘Chalo Dildar Chalo’ I’m investing in the dreams of a prostitute. It was hard to choose one Alfred Hitchcock film but Psycho was the first one that I saw, and for that alone it beats out Vertigo, Rear Window and North by Northwest. It’s simply too hard to choose between them on anything but irrational grounds. Films and sport are two of my greatest loves but sadly the combination on the silver screen usually gives me the same sense of sadness I get when watching Fulham lose at Craven Cottage. Raging Bull avoids all the sporting clichés that usually make sporting movies a bore. It tells the story of two brothers who don’t know whether to love each other or hit each other – De Niro and Pesci at their electrifying best. Someone once said to me that it’s odd if Sweet Smell of Success makes you want to be a journalist – if only I had realised that the reality it would be all the hassles without the power. Alexandra Mckendrick is probably one of the world’s most underrated directors. The Outsiders is not even Francis Ford Coppola’s best film, yet it’s the movie I’ve seen the most times, and I can probably still quote every line. How much I wanted to be Dallas Winston. Matt Dillon seemed so cool. Alas, they do say, one should never meet your heroes.