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In the first of my series of articles discussing the films that defined my life, I covered the first ten years of my time on planet Earth. In this second article I find myself blessed with an abundance of quality movies from the eighties and nineties, many of which rank among my favourite films of all time. These films came along at a time when I was really beginning to discover my love of cinema and before home video was as readily available as it is today. It’s was a kind of ‘golden age’ for me, so let’s press on with ‘My Life in Film’ part two.

1986: Big Trouble in Little China

1986 was a cracking year, with Manhunter, Highlander, The Fly, The Golden Child, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Transformers: The Movie, Labyrinth and, of course, Aliens all among my favourites (I even had a soft spot for Howard the Duck as a kid). While it was a close run thing with Aliens, John Carpenter’s Big Trouble in Little China emerged victorious in the race for the top spot. I frikkin’ love this film, which was years ahead of its time on its release. Forget Carter and Lee; give me Burton and Chi any day! I'm so happy it's coming to Blu-ray!

My Life in Film: Part Two

1987: RoboCop

Once again, this was another great year for film. During the course of compiling the lists for these articles I realised that I really love movies made in the eighties, and in 1987 I was almost in my teens and starting to take a greater interest in more adult cinema (no not porn, yet). Some of my favourites include The Lost Boys, Near Dark, Predator, Full Metal Jacket, Hellraiser, The Running Man, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3 and Withnail and I, but the rust-proof rozza emerged victorious. When I was a kid I loved the film because it was rated '18', extremely violent and had giant fekkin’ robots, but as I've matured I've come to appreciate the satirical elements. I've spent considerably more than a dollar buying different versions of this one over the years!

My Life in Film: Part Two

Die Hard

This year also featured its share of cool movies, such as Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Coming to America (back when Eddie Murphy was funny), They Live, Hellbound: Hellraiser II, Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and The Naked Gun. However, it was Bruce Willis' cocky John McClane that was the subject of many Monday morning discussions in school. Violent, funny, and Alan Rickman playing a chap called Hans Gruber. What more could an adolescent want? I still love the film and just recently picked it up on Blu-ray, although it's not the greatest disc going.

My Life in Film: Part Two

1989: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Make no mistake, 1989 was the year of Batman. You couldn't go anywhere without bumping into some sort of advert for Tim Burton's film. Even so, it's not my choice for '89. I briefly toyed with the notion of picking Back to the Future Part II because Marty McFly hasn't yet featured in the top spot, but then it occurred to me that I'm not really a huge fan of the series. I like them well enough, but they aren't on regular rotation in my house. So in the end I fell back on my other favourite, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Okay, so it's no Raiders, but I really enjoyed Indy's penultimate romp.

My Life in Film: Part Two

1990: Goodfellas

Initially I thought this was going to be a tough one, but it actually wasn't. Although it tussled with Total Recall for a short while, Martin Scorsese's crime drama is so freakin' good that it just had to earn the top spot. It’s probably the film that convinced me that gangster movies are cool and made me give classics like The Godfather a chance. Other favourites from this year include Die Hard 2: Die Harder, Back to the Future Part III, Gremlins 2: The New Batch, RoboCop 2 (hey, I like it) and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (at the time, during the height of 'Turtlemania').

My Life in Film: Part Two

1991: Terminator 2: Jugment Day

1991 is a bit of an odd year in that I don’t really remember many films, probably because of the utter dominance of James Cameron’s second instalment of the Terminator franchise. Although I personally prefer the original film, I can remember being incredibly excited by the brief glimpses of the liquid metal T-1000 that I saw on late-night movie shows (usually hosted by Casey Kasum), and the Guns ‘n’ Roses tie-in video was a major bonus as well. Other films I came to enjoy over the years include the Scorsese remake of Cape Fear and Demme’s The Silence of the Lambs. Oh, and who can forget the excellence of Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey?

My Life in Film: Part Two

1992: Reservoir Dogs

I think 1992 was probably the year I really started to take an interest in films beyond just watching them on VHS at the weekends. I started going to the cinema a lot more regularly, and I also started watching a wider variety of films. I remember the first time I saw Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs was on a bootleg video at some random party that I ended up at. I only saw the first ten minutes or so, but I got my hands on a copy of the tape some time later and watched it to death. I can also remember piling (somewhat dangerously) a group of friends into the back of my truck and heading off to the new multiplex to watch a midnight screening. I think it's fair to say that it was Reservoir Dogs that made cinema 'cool' for me. Having said that, I also enjoyed a film called Braindead by a little-known Kiwi director called Peter Jackson.

My Life in Film: Part Two

1993: True Romance

Yes, in the early nineties I, like so many others, had a hard-on for Tarantino films (even if he didn't actually direct them). I really love Tony Scott's version of True Romance, which is quite clearly from a Tarantino script, but with Scott’s own spin on things. This is probably the last thing I remember Christian Slater being any good in, and I pretty much fell in love with Patricia Arquette (even more so than in the third Elm Street film). Then of course there was the fantastic face-off between Christopher Walken and Dennis Hopper, which still ranks as one of my favourite moments in film. 1993 was undoubtedly the year of Jurassic Park, so that has to get a mention, but Scott's film is the winner here. I also have fond memories of Groundhog Day, Rising Sun and So I Married an Axe Murderer.

My Life in Film: Part Two

1994: The Shawshank Redemption

1994 brought some of my all-time favourites, from the low-budget Clerks and The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, through to big-budget action like Speed and True Lies. However, there can be no denying that this was the year of Tarantino. I had become a big fan of Reservoir Dogs by way of the aforementioned VHS copy, Natural Born Killers provided a lot of publicity due to his involvement, and Pulp Fiction was winning awards and glowing reviews all over. Oh yes, I think it's fair to say that Quentin had a good year. However, it is the emotional prison drama of Shawshank that has gone on to become one of my favourite films of all time, and so it gets the top spot over Pulp Fiction. Oh, I can't move on without mentioning both Léon and Wes Craven's New Nightmare, which are still firm favourites.

My Life in Film: Part Two

1995: The Usual Suspects

For me, 1995 wasn't a hugely memorable year in films. Sure, there were classics like Se7en, Heat and Casino, along with Outbreak, Twelve Monkeys and the guilty pleasure of Lord of Illusions, but I had to think long and hard about which films represented my favourite. It was then that I realised I had completely forgotten that The Usual Suspects was released in '95, which pretty much saved me from having to chose a film I like rather than one I love. Great characters, great performances and that twist ending—brilliant. Oh, and I realise that Toy Story isn’t on the list, but that’s because I haven’t seen it in years and regarded it as a ‘kids’ film for a long time. I also want to mention Leaving Las Vegas, not because it’s a personal favourite, but because it left an impression and is probably the last film in which Nic Cage didn’t suck.

My Life in Film: Part Two

1996: The Frighteners

The final year in this list had its fair share of enjoyable movies, what with the release of Fargo, Independence Day (which was probably the biggest event of the year), Trainspotting, Star Trek: First Contact and From Dusk Till Dawn, but the top spot goes to Peter Jackson’s horror-comedy. This might seem like an odd choice, but the film holds some very special memories for me. On the very first night I moved into my own home, I bought some beer, rented The Frighteners, and watched it in a living room full of unpacked boxes. It reminds me of being young, with all the freedoms and responsibilities that went with having my own place for the very first time.

My Life in Film: Part Two
Well, there you have it, that’s the next ten years of my life over and done with. I really enjoyed writing this part of my list because it took me back to a time when I was actually old enough to remember seeing some of my favourites at the cinema, rather than discovering them on home video much later in life. This is actually quite a bittersweet feeling, because although I have very fond memories of those times, I also miss the freedom I had at that age (I didn't have to worry about grown-up things like careers and mortgages). Still, I hope you enjoyed this second trip down memory lane and will join me in part three. Once again, please feel free to share your own favourites.

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