Guilty Pleasures

Funny how guilt and pleasure seem to be such natural bedfellows. Coming up to Easter, the shop windows are full of fluffy chicks and chocolate and for anyone who’s given anything up for Lent, it’s nearly the end of 40 days of abstinence. Though for anyone who meant to give something up for Lent but ended up succumbing to temptation, this could be a time of wrestling with a guilty conscience. And some of us wrestle daily with a guilty conscience whatever the season, because however hard you try there’s always a list of things as long as your arm that you should have, could have, ought to have done by now.

But Easter is traditionally a time of rebirth and renewal – it’s nearly spring and a time to kick back for a while and give ourselves a bit of slack after a long hard winter. And maybe eat some chocolate eggs while we’re at it. So it’s natural that we think about guilty pleasures!


The thing is, we started a film club because there are so many fantastic films that you just don’t get the chance to see outside the multiplex – all the arty, culty, forgotten and “foreign-language” films that we love and wanted to share – and though there’s never enough time, we hope we will bring you more of those. But when we have our planning meetings (which are the best fun) we nearly always end up with ideas for our cinematic guilty pleasures….

You all know what these are. Yours might not be the same as ours but we all have them. The kind of film that doesn’t necessarily show up on the critical lists of “Greatest ever” films but we still love them.

Films we loved when we were kids – or teenagers – films we can sing along to – or make us laugh – or remind us of a great holiday – or because we have a weird crush on one of the actors – or because they just strike a chord somehow. Films we love even though they are stunningly politically incorrect and we don’t normally approve of that sort of thing. Or because of some utterly random reason it’s impossible to explain.

Here are some of ours:

  • The Poseidon Adventure – because it’s awesome!
  • The Big Easy – because it’s so sexy
  • Betty Blue – sexy and French!
  • We’re No Angels – Sean Penn and Robert de Niro gurning away as crooks turned priests!
  • “Stardust” and “That’ll be the Day”, 1970s David Essex films
  • “I love you to Death” with Joan Plowright as an Italian Mamma. Say what??
  • “Victor Victoria” – glorious slapstick camp
  • Hairspray (the original, it goes without saying) and practically any other John Waters movie
  • Labyrinth (suddenly having a revival now that David Bowie is hip again)
  • Luc Besson’s “Subway” and for that matter, “Highlander”, also starring the really rather rubbish but cute in his day Christopher Lambert
  • “What About Bob?”
  • Basket Case – a film that put the “low” into low budget
  • The Richard Gere remake of “Breathless” – sacrilege unchained!
  • Cat People (both versions but the Nastasja Kinski version is obvs a bit more guiltworthy than the Jaques Tourneur, plus has a wonderful 80s synth soundtrack)
  • Desperately Seeking Susan
  • National Lampoon’s Animal House
  • John Hughes Brat-pack movies: Pretty in Pink, St Elmo’s Fire, The Breakfast Club

…….oh, we could go on and on. You will probably have your own list, dear reader, the kind that tempts you to phone in sick, switch off your mobile and lie on the settee with a fluffy blanket eating buttered toast when these come on TV. We’d love to hear your favourites, promise we won’t laugh! Well, only a little bit.

It just happens that our next screening will examine the idea of guilty pleasures from the perspective of the Catholic church, although the film itself (“Viridiana”) is definitely on the “best of” lists. There will be plenty more to say about this in the next few weeks. But in the meantime: spring may be round the corner but there’s still snow outside! So put that to-do list away, slow down, plump up the duvet, stick a glug of brandy in the cocoa and snuggle up to your favourite cinematic guilty pleasure. Go on, you know you want to…

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Mike Atkins says:

    My guilty pleasure is not a particular film, but taking the afternoon off and sitting in an empty cinema seeing something obscure before most people. I used to spend the fortnight of the London Film Festival leaving work on the stroke of noon and heading up to the smoke for anything up to four films in one day. I would come out mixing the plots up but exhilarated and exhausted. My favourite screenings were the surprise films – at least the anticipation until it turned out to be Johnny Mnemonic. I still came back for more. It’s become quite popular nowadays and the films are more mainstream which lessens the appeal for me. I guess the first surprise film I saw hooked me – “Night on Earth” a classic cult film if ever there was one.

  2. magiclanternjen says:

    Oh I love Night on Earth too….and have wondered how we could screen it in a taxi without blowing the meter!
    Though we could get more film clubber on a bus. Mike…waht do you reckon? A bit of a magical mystery tour on your number 20?

  3. Mike Atkins says:

    With the Beatles on the support bill and a sheet strung from the windows of a double decker and a midnight start – oh I’m awake again. Get the bus first and I’ll gladly park it anywhere you like

  4. We’re working on it….

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