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Some directors make a big noise about a new film.  As such even casual film fans can identify them as the director of certain films.  Doug Liman is not one of these directors, he is the quiet man who lets his films speak for themselves, that is why he is the director you didn’t know that you loved, many people wouldn’t recognise him as  the director of many of his biggest films.  Is this because he hasn’t made any good films?  Clearly not, he has made a few good films and three or four great ones. 

Doug Liman made his breakthrough with his second feature, the often imitated Swingers (1996).  Based on a script from first time writer Jon Favreau, it isn’t a perfect film, its far less polished than we have come to expect from Liman, but the shakyness adds to the charm.  It was also the breakthrough film for Favreau as an actor, and his co star Vince Vaughn. Swingers

Next up is my personal favourite of Liman’s movies, Go (1999).  Katie Holmes, Sarah Polley, Timothy Olyphant, William Fichtner, and Taye Diggs may now be household names, but back in 1999, they were all relatively unknown.  With three overlapping stories on the streets of LA, comparisons to Pulp Fiction were inevitable.  But this is a more down to earth, a realistic LA inhabited by people we all recognise, without the glow of Michael Mann or the pop culture cool of Quentin Tarantino.  Directed with fun and confidence it was one of the best films of a very strong year. Go

Everyone knows that Paul Greengrass is the brilliant auteur director behind the Bourne movies, many forget the first, and my favourite of the series The Bourne Identity (2002) was directed by Doug Liman.  Liman had to do all the heavy lifting to introduce and position the character, something he does with ease and confidence.   The casting of Matt Damon and Franka Potente was inspired and nothing short of perfect.  The action scenes were a revelation making it one of the most influential films of the genre since Die Hard. The Bourne Identity

A more lightweight take on the genre Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005) may not be a masterpiece, but it is good fun and worth watching for the chemistry between Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.  Jumper (2008) is silly and disposable, but it’s good fun, and better than the book on which it is based.  The true life thriller Fair Game (2010) lacks the excitement and flair to make it a great film, but it is a good and underrated one with fantastic performances. Mr & Mrs Smith Jumper Fair Game

What is the best Sci-Fi movie of the decade?  That’s a question for another day but the conversation must include the sublime Edge of Tomorrow (2014).  The tricky time-loop story is handled with ease and invention.  The action is amazing.  But best of all, the cast led by Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt is fantastic.  Cruise has fun playing against type as an initially cowardly character.  Blunt is an unlikely but brilliant action star.  I am really looking forward to the recently confirmed sequel: Live Die Repeat and Repeat. Edge of Tomorrow

Currently on general release in the UK and due for a North American release next week, American Made (2017) reteams star Tom Cruise with Liman.  A sometimes comic take on the true story of Barry Seal, a pilot who simultaneously worked for the CIA and Pablo Escobar during the war on drugs of the 70’s and 80’s.  Not the best film from either director or star, but with the fun and charisma you expect from both.  I don’t expect to see it on many “best of” lists at the end of the year, but I do think most people who sees it to enjoy it. American Made

If I haven’t convinced you, go and watch: Go, The Bourne Identity and Edge of Tomorrow and you, like me will be looking out for Doug Liman’s next movie with a certain sense of excitement. 

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The New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles, California is a world famous “revival houses”.  Its legend is helped by the fact it is owned by Quentin Tarantino.  He purchased the 1920’s building that includes the cinema in 2007 to save it from redevelopment but acted more as a landlord than proprietor, until now.  The director had always vowed to show double features in 35mm, but has now taken it a stage further and has taken over programming and will be showing double features from his own  35mm private collection.  I’m sure he will show some of his own movies from time to time, but what would he pair them with?  Here are my ideas:

Reservoir Dogs  (1992) and The Killing (1956)

Three films are often credited with influencing Reservoir Dogs: Ringo Lam’s City on Fire (1987) (undercover cop and the suits), Joseph Sargent’s The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974) (the Mr [insert colour here] names) and Stanley Kubrick’s The Killing (the overall plot).  All great films but I am going with my favourite and possibly the least well know, The Killing.Reservoir Dogs  and The Killing

Pulp Fiction (1994) and Go (1999)

There are so many films I could pair with Pulp fiction, I am going with Doug Liman’s Go.  The narrative structure is different to the one used in Pulp Fiction but does use a group of intertwined stories in a similar way.  For all the films that have influenced Tarantino, it is nice to include a film that is most probably influenced by him.Pulp Fiction and Go

Jackie Brown (1997) and Nikita (1990)

The obvious choice, Out of Sight (1998), both are based on Elmore Leonard novels and even feature a shared character Ray Nicolette (Michael Keaton).   However I am going for Nikita, a very different film but with a similar thread, both films are about woman who get drawn into worlds that they don’t want to be in.Jackie Brown and Nikita

Kill Bill: Vol. 1  (2003) and Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004)

I am not going to pair these films with anything , instead I am going to put them together the way they should have been originally, as one film.Kill Bill Vol 1 and Kill Bill Vol 2

Death Proof  (2007) and Doomsday (2008)

Death Proof started life out as part of the  Grindhouse project and therefore already has a paired film, Planet Terror.  My first thought for a paired film was the movie it most directly references Vanishing Point (1971), but I went a different way, of recent films Neil Marshall’s Doomsday is the film that best captures the exploitation cinema vibe that Tarantino was looking for in Grindhouse.Death Proof  and Doomsday

Inglourious Basterds  (2009) and Casablanca (1942)

I considered various movies: resistance films, Flame and Citron (2008) or Black Book (2006), WWII behind enemy lines story Saving Private Ryan (1998) or ludicrous comedy Tropic Thunder (2008), however I went with Casablanca (1942) for no particular reason, I could just see these very different WWII movies working together.Inglourious Basterds and Casablanca

Django Unchained (2012) and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)

The obvious choice Django (1966) (original Django, Franco Nero has a cameo in unchained) but when you strip away the themes of Django Unchained you are left with a buddy movie disguised as a western and the best buddy movie disguised as a western has to be Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.Django Unchained and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

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With a rating of 89% on Rotten Tomatoes and 8.1 out of 10 on IMDB it is safe to say Edge of Tomorrow (2014) has been well received. This has been met with surprise as it is directed by Doug Liman. I really can’t see the negative reaction to Liman; his TV production credits may divide opinion but his flexography is beyond solid:edge of tomorrow

Fair Game (2010) was a solid, well made thriller, it was alitle pedestrian but on the other hand it was really well acted.
Jumper (2008) was lightweight and uneven but ultimately fun and actually an improvement of the source novel, whose execution never lived up to its concept.fair game

 Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005), Many people couldn’t get beyond the hype of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie on screen together. If you get beyond this it is both fun and funny.mr and mrs smith

The Bourne Identity (2002) Paul Greengrass gets all the credit for his two Bourne movies, however they couldn’t exist without the introduction and exposition of The Bourne Identity. This however is unfair on Doug Liman, in most ways, his film is an equal to its sequels, it is also the film in the trilogy that I actually enjoy watching most and have seen the most times.the bourne identity

Go (1999) In 2012 I hosted a Blogathon called My Movie Year. It asked for participants to pick their favourite movie year and back it up with their five favourite films from that year. I picked 1999: Fight Club, The Matrix, Eyes Wide Shut, The Straight Story and Go. as a collection of intertwined stories it is second only to Pulp Fiction. The cast includes Sarah Polley, Timothy Olyphant and William Fichtner, three of the most talented and underrated actors around. I love this film.Go

Swingers (1996) It would be easy to condemn Liman for launching the career of Vince Vaughn, however he is actually really good in this, his breakthrough film. it was also the breakthrough film for writer and co star Jon Favreau who went on to direct the first two Iron Man movies.Swingers

Give the guy a break and like my wait with anticipation for his next film, given his varied career to date, I have no idea what it might be.

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If I had been asked what my movie year was I would have said 1999. It includes two of my all time favourite movies (Fight Club and Run Lola Run) as well as having around ten great films not just the five I set down as a prerequisite for inclusion. But then I asked this question of others and started doubting my own choice, there is a slight snag, on closer inspection Run Lola Run, although released to most of the world in ‘99 is actually a ‘98 film, and after Fight Club and The Matrix, there may be another eight great films but are they all time classics? I have spent the last week looking at other great years but just keep coming back to 1999. It possibly helps that all the chosen films are ones I saw in the cinema on there original release and are not things I discovered over time.

Fight Club: what more is there to say about Fight Club, it is a supremely well made movie that works on every level from a simply enjoyable movie through to a timely or even prophetic satire. The more times you see it, the more you get out of it that is why it stands up as one of my all time favourite movies. It remains the best work for director David Fincher and stars Edward Norton and Brad Pitt.

The Matrix: 1999 was supposed to be all about the Star Wars prequels but lets be honest Jar Jar fucking Binks wasn’t the only problem with The Phantom Menace. Fortunately, there was another sci-fi movie that not only was it a great film but also influenced and even changed the genre for ever, we are still seeing the effects of it today. Written and directed by The Wachowski Brothers, The Matrix is problebly the biggest thing to happen in Sci-Fi since the original Star Wars.

Go: on the surface, Go is just another teen slacker movie but it goes so much further than that, with a great structure involving three intertwined stories there is something for everyone to relate to. I can think of no way the movie could be improved, that is how good it is. On top of all that, the cast includes Sarah Polley, Timothy Olyphant and William Fichtner, three of the most talented and underrated actors around.

Eyes Wide Shut: the auteur Stanley Kubrick was hardly what you would call prolific, when his final film Eyes Wide Shut came out it was more than a decade after his previous work Full Metal Jacket. As different and as good as any of his previous movies it has been unfairly overlooked in recent years, having watched it again recently I am happy to report it has aged well and is a truly great film.

The Straight Story: For David Lynch to make such a conventional movie almost feels subversive, the fact he does it so well reminds us what a great director he is. Both embracing and twisting the conventions of the road movie. Richard Farnsworth’s subtle performance is amazing earning him a best actor Oscar nomination two decades after his best supporting actor nod

Bonus film:

Run Lola Run (1998) as mentioned above Run Lola Run is really a 1998 movie, but as most of the world didn’t get it until 1999 I have added it to my ‘99 list. Essentially telling the same twenty minute story three times but changing depending on the decisions the protagonists take. The film that gave director Tom Tykwer and stars Franka Potente and Moritz Bleibtreu internationally recognition has so much going on and so much to offer that it has been hugely influential.

Click HERE to find out what years everyone else picked.

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I’m not sure the 90’s is the best decade for movies but it is certainly consistent! Without any padding to make up the numbers every year of the decade has at least five great films to be in contention.

1990: Nikita, Wild at Heart, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, Miller’s Crossing, Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!

1991: Point Break, The Silence of the Lambs, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Cape Fear, Delicatessen

1992: Reservoir Dogs, Unforgiven, Batman Returns, Army of Darkness, Hard Boiled 

1993: Army of Darkness, Three Colours: Blue, Schindler’s List, Dazed and Confused, True Romance

1994: Pulp Fiction, The Shawshank Redemption, Leon, Three Colours: Red, Ed Wood

1995: Heat, Se7en, Twelve Monkeys, Before Sunrise, The City of Lost Children

1996: Bound, Crash, The English Patient, Pusher, Romeo + Juliet

1997: L.A. Confidential, Jackie Brown, The Ice Storm (forget Wushu and gay cowboys, this is Ang Lee‘s best film), Cube, The Fifth Element

1998: Saving Private Ryan, Run Lola Run, Blade, The Big Lebowski, American History X

1999: Fight Club, The Matrix, Go, Eyes Wide Shut, The Straight Story

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