A Life in Film, Chris Marsh

Chris joined the CFS committee earlier this year after a call for people to join the Chiltern Film Society film committee.

I moved to Chesham from Bristol in 2009 and quickly fell in love with the vibrant and passionate community spirit.  After my move, one of the first things I did was to find out where the nearest cinema was and was relieved when I discovered that there was one just down the road!  Imagine my horror when I discovered that there used to be a beautiful cinema opposite our house (The Embassy on Germain Street), which was demolished to make way for residential housing.  I think I read somewhere that it was similar in design to The Rex, Berkhamsted. Quite why it was knocked down I have no idea!

Film has been an integral part of my life, whether it’s watching the latest release in the cinema or catching up on anything I missed via DVD.  Joining the Chiltern Film Society has very much been a no-brainer!

1)      What was the best film of your childhood?

I saw lots of films as a child and had lots of favourites (The 'Burbs, Silver Streak...pretty much anything with Tom Hanks, John Candy and Gene Wilder in...and yes, that included Blazing Saddles!) but the one my brother and I would watch religiously over and over again was The Goonies.  I guess it was because we were a similar age to the children in the film.  I’ll always remember a scene near the end where the children are telling the authorities about their adventure and they mentioned an encounter with an octopus.  My brother and I would often talk about this and wondered if it was something that was cut out of either the UK version or all versions.  Imagine our surprise a few years ago when we discovered that there was a scene involving an octopus that was removed; watching the footage on Youtube made it immediately clear why it was cut!  I shall let you make up your own mind!

2)      Best date movie?

Unfortunately I’m not the best person to go on a date with to the cinema.  Well, especially as I’m married now!  One film Hannah, my wife, and I went to see in the early days of our ‘courtship’ (do they still call it that?) was The Dark Knight.  Now, it’s not a romantic film in the slightest but we were going to the cinema on a date.  What Hannah didn’t realise at the time was that when I watch a film at the cinema I don’t like to be disturbed.  During the film there were efforts (on her part) to cuddle up, hold hands, hug…etc.  However, I was having none of it!  I sat there, eyes glued to the screen, trying to soak up the whole experience that the film was offering.  Hannah was not impressed.  Needless to say, I’m reminded about this event every time we go to the cinema!

3)      Have you ever walked out of a film and if so what and why?

I’ve only ever walked out of a film once and it was for a reason you probably wouldn’t expect.  The film was Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.  The reason – I didn’t like the shaky camerawork!  A few years before I watched The Blair Witch Project, which was the start of those “shaky handheld camera footage” films that were once the rage.  Needless to say, I felt very ill (motion sickness) but managed to hold on to the end.  Now, that experience scared me in that I hoped I didn’t watch anything where the camera wasn’t firmly planted on a tripod.  The next film I watched that “wobbled” was Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.  I thought “I really don’t want to feel sick again” and promptly walked out.  I really must watch that one on DVD…

4)      Everyone should see?

In my opinion the best film I have ever seen is The Shawshank Redemption.  However, I think everyone has seen it by now!  I remember seeing it for the first time in the late 90s.  I hadn’t heard about it before (I think Forrest Gump was released at the same time and was gobbling up all the awards and publicity) and was concerned when it was “based on a book by Stephen King” but…wow! I do find it extremely difficult to put into words how much of an impression that film had on me.  A story of true friendship, a story of hope, a story of never giving up.  The line “Get busy living or get busy dying” really sunk in me, so much that I decided to grab life by the throat and change my life completely…which led me to meet Hannah!  If you haven’t seen the film, please do.  To those that have then another one I highly recommend is Superman 2: The Richard Donner Cut.  I read various articles over the years that delved into the filming of this and I discovered that Warner Bros. had replaced Richard Donner (who had directed the first film) mid-production with Richard Lester.  The loss of Donner resulted in a largely different film being released, and it was enjoyable to see new scenes with Gene Hackman, Marlon Brando and many more.

5)      No one should see? I have seen it so you don’t have to

I have two words for you. The Lobster. When the Chiltern Film Society published their programme (this was before I was on the committee) I was disappointed to discover that I’d be missing out on this title as I’d be on a plane to Cuba. I read up on it and discovered that it had some favourable reviews, so one of the first things I did when I got on the plane at Gatwick was to check what films I could watch…and The Lobster was on there! As soon as the plane was up (and we passed some nasty turbulence over Devon!) I plugged myself in. It started off okay but by halfway I really wanted to watch anything else. Heck, even the Alvin and The Chipmunks movie seemed a better option. But…I stuck with it. I can tell you this – even at 39,000 feet that film sucked!

6)      Marooned on your desert island you can only save one film to watch over and over again.  What film would you choose. (We will give you a DVD of the Greatest Story Ever Told and Shakespeare in Love)

Hmm. I was going to say Cast Away (with Tom Hanks) as it might provide me with some ideas on how to survive, or even how to get off the island! However, I’d have to make sure I was a passenger on a Fedex plane first as the ice skates would be pretty handy! Heck, let’s make it Castaway then; I’ll need a reminder on how to construct a raft!

7)      What film is your guilty pleasure? The film that someone with your good taste in cinema wouldn’t want anyone else to know about.

Okay.  Here it comes.  The Shadow (1994). Not heard of it?  Well, you’re missing out on the absolutely terrific Tim Curry.  The others – Alec Baldwin, Ian McKellen, Peter Boyle, Penelope Ann Miller – meh!  It’s always an absolute delight to watch Mr Curry.  Well, except as Pennywise the clown in It

8)      What  would be the last film that you would like to see before you meet the great film maker in the sky

I would like to watch the two sequels to The Godfather.  I am ashamed to admit that, whilst I have seen the first one, I never got round to watching the following two.  This is despite owning the trilogy boxset!  There are just SO many films to watch and so little time!

9)    Inheritance films. Which film did you inherit and from whom and which film would you like to pass on and why?

I inherited a film called Mon Oncle from my father.  It was the use of sound but not speech, something that I found extremely fascinating as a youngster.  I was used to the big blockbusters at my local ABC cinema (Whiteladies Road, Bristol – which has thankfully reopened as an Everyman Cinema after spending many years derelict) and was absolutely stunned by how something so quiet could keep my attention.  The noise of doors opening and closing, almost every incidental sound was captured.

The film that I’d like to pass on is Once Upon a Time in the West.  This, for me, reminded me very much of the importance of sound, as with Mon Oncle, especially at the beginning when one of the characters is trying to shoo away a fly.  I understand the film’s music was played to the cast whilst they were filming in order to add that depth of emotion to their performances, which I can fully understand why.  If the audience can hear it and appreciate it then why not the cast whilst filming?!

10)   Who would play you in the film of your life? Two actors please, one for the younger you and one for the older version.

Younger version: Tom Holland, the next Spiderman.  Older version: George Clooney.  And yes, I do know they don’t look alike!