DESERT ISLAND FLICKS – Episode 12: Ciao Handy!

Ciao Handy was formed in 1999, when a group of friends got together to make a short film on 16mm. The film was called Syrup, and it received a screening at the ICA in London in January, 2004. Since then, Ciao Handy! has produced films using a variety of cameras and formats, the latest being The Numbers, which is available to watch on Amazon.

Film 1 – The film you’ve seen more than any other

Wild Style, the 1982 film, directed by Charlie Ahearn, about the burgeoning Hip Hop culture in New York. I bought an ex-rental video tape of the film in 1983, and watched it repeatedly throughout my teenage years. I love the low-budget grittiness of the film, untouched by the Hollywood gloss that would plague later films about Hip Hop.

Wild Style (1982)
Dir: Charlie Ahearn

I’ve seen it so many times that I can recite the entire dialogue of the film. As the years have passed and I started making films myself, I really appreciate what a low-budget piece of genius it is.

Film 2 – The Classic you’ve never seen

I’ve never seen David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia. I’ve seen parts of it, like the classic opening scene, but I must confess that I’ve never watched it all the way through. I will one day, but I think a film like that deserves to be watched on the big screen. If, in the future, I see it screening somewhere on the big screen, I’m there. Promise.

Film 3 – The film that will definitely give you a lift

My guilty pleasure is Nancy Myers’ 2006 seasonal flick, The Holiday. I usually watch it at the beginning of December to get me in the festive mood. I love so much about the film: the soundtrack by Hans Zimmer, Eli Wallach, the Dustin Hoffman cameo in the video store. I also have a tenuous link to the film, in that I taught one of the girls that plays Graham’s (Jude Law) daughter, Drama at high school when I was a Drama teacher.

Film 4 – The so-called masterpiece that deserves a re-visit

I need to watch The Deer Hunter again. I saw it when I was a teenager and didn’t think much of it. I may appreciate it more with adult eyes.

Film 5 – The film you wished you’d made

I wish I’d been involved in the making of Hitchock’s silent take on the Jack the Ripper murders, The Lodger. I would’ve loved to have met and worked with Hitchcock in the days before he went to Hollywood, and at the conception of those tropes that his later films would become famous for. I’d talk to him about his relationship with his mother.

The Lodger (1927)
Dir: Alfred Hitchcock
Film 6 – The film that had the biggest effect on you

The film that probably has had the biggest effect on me is David Lynch’s 1980 film, The Elephant Man. I remember watching it for the first time and being totally absorbed in it. Every actor gives a stunning performance that doesn’t feel contrived like a lot of period films tend to feel. Lynch’s depiction of Victorian London is the strongest I’ve ever seen in film, as it is not a Hollywood-tainted ideal of London.

In fact, Lynch used existing London locations that in 1980 were nearer to how they looked in Victorian times, than to how those same locations look today. Lynch also uses the sound of industrialisation in the soundtrack to create a sense of tension, and the score by John Morris gives the film a melancholic, dream-like feeling juxtaposed with the harsh reality of Victorian life to create a fairground-like reality in which the viewer becomes like a spectator to the very freak shows that Dr Treeves (Anthony Hopkins) has rescued John Merrick (John Hurt) from.

Films 7 & 8 – Wild Cards

Two other films that I would include would be the 1965 Amicus anthology, Dr Terror’s House of Horrors, and Hitchock’s Rebecca. Dr Terror’s House of Horrors, for a number of reasons: It is an anthology without a weak link, it has a fantastic cast, it is set (partially) on a train, and it reminds me of my late father.

Dr Terror’s House of Horrors (1965)
Dir: Freddie Francis

I used to watch Hammer and Amicus films on TV with my dad as a kid, and this was one that we especially enjoyed watching together. It also reminds me of the story A.V. Laider by late-Victorian/Edwardian writer Max Beerbohm, of whom I’m a big fan. Rebecca is another one of those films that has multiple elements that I enjoy, and I never tire of watching it.

The rogue disc – The film you wished you’d never seen

Mamma Mia. I know it’s brought joy to a lot of people, but I literally watched it with my hands over my eyes and my toes curling. A true ‘Horror’ movie in my opinion.

Find out more about Ciao Handy! on Twitter and YouTube.

Ciao Handy! are currently working on their next film, Tales from the Great War, a supernatural Horror film set against the backdrop of World War One. Check out the teaser trailer here:

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