Woman’s Hour’s Film Jukebox

Woman's Hour

A London-based swoon-pop four-piece, Woman’s Hour embrace a holistic approach to their songcraft. Their live shows are a crossover of music and art, with meticulously crafted graphic, monochromatic visuals created in collaboration with fine artists Oliver Chanarin and Adam Broomberg. Formed by singer Fiona Burgess and brother William on guitar, with Nicolas Graves on bass and Josh Hunnisett on keyboards, the band see themselves as a collaboration between four different creative people, who each bring a wholly distinct set of influences to the band, from German cold wave to pop rarities and uncompromising singer/songwriters. Their debut album Conversations is released 21 July 2014 on Secretly Canadian, and you can watch the video for the title track. For tour dates over the summer, visit the Woman’s Hour website. Below, Nicolas Graves chooses his 10 favourite films. Sarah Cronin

1. Apocalypse Now (Francis Ford Coppola, 1979)
I love everything about this film. The cast, the soundtrack, the sheer scale of the hallucinatory journey upstream through Vietnam and Cambodia – the horror, the HORROR! The actual making of this epic has gone down in cinematic legend: Martin Sheen’s heart attack, the drugs and Marlon Brando, who turned up on set overweight and totally unprepared, having not bothered to read the script. ‘We had access to too much money, too much equipment, and little by little we went insane,’ said Coppola… ‘My film is not about Vietnam, it is Vietnam’.

2. Leaving Las Vegas (Mike Figgis, 1995)
The enigma that is Nicolas Cage! Before I had seen Leaving Las Vegas, the Cage I knew was the action hero in films like Face/Off or Snake Eyes – enjoyable films in their own right, but hardly true thespian roles. His performance here though – playing an alcoholic Hollywood screenwriter who decides to move to Vegas and drink himself to death – is immense. Upon arrival he meets a prostitute named Sera, and the two build a relationship based on the fact that neither can change who they are. It’s a tragic, emotionally demanding love story set in the neon- (and booze-) drenched desert.

3. Mulholland Drive (David Lynch, 2001)
A couple of years ago I watched Twin Peaks for the very first time and I became excited. Excited because not only had I discovered the music of Julee Cruise (listen to her album Floating into the Night) but I also now had the world of David Lynch to explore. Over a very short period of time I had binged on his films and entered a place both wonderful and strange! I could’ve included Blue Velvet, The Elephant Man or Lost Highway, among many others, but for me Mulholland Drive is (to date) his masterpiece. Lynch’s long-term musical collaborator Angelo Badalamenti again provides the eerie soundscapes.

4. Heat (Michael Mann, 1995)
One of those films that pushes all my buttons. It has a rather standard cops -v- robbers plot, but the way it’s all put together is a thing of real beauty. I love the dream-like feel that Mann brings to the moody, expansive LA cityscape, and how it’s complemented perfectly by the ambient soundtrack. De Niro and Pacino ain’t half bad in it either.

5. Chinatown (Roman Polanski, 1974)
If it isn’t already obvious, I’m rather fond of films set in Los Angeles. I’ve visited the city on two occasions now, but I’ve yet to really understand the place, and I think this is where the attraction lies – a blank canvas upon which many different ideas can be painted.
The Los Angeles in Chinatown looks stunning, and so does Faye Dunaway. Amidst the backdrop of the Californian water wars. everything conspires to create the perfect neo-noir- mystery. No happy ending here.

6. The Friends of Eddie Coyle (Peter Yates, 1973)
It quickly became apparent when compiling this list that many of my choices share similar themes and styles. Here’s another slice of New American Cinema, adapted from the novel of the same name by George V. Higgins. Hollywood legend Robert Mitchum plays small-time gunrunner Eddie Coyle who, when facing jail time, is forced to snitch on his pals in the Boston underworld. Gritty realism at its finest.

7. Five Easy Pieces (Bob Rafelson, 1970)
Rafelson’s Five Easy Pieces explores themes of alienation, worthlessness and the road to nowhere – we’ve all been there at some point in our lives, right? Jack Nicholson is Bobby Dupree, an oil-rig worker who gave up his life as a promising pianist. He’s faced with a return to his upper-class family, and the resulting schism between the world he left behind and his never ending search for something else. It’s classic Americana, complete with road trip and Tammy Wynette’s ‘Stand by Your Man’.

8. The Last Boy Scout (Tony Scott, 1991)
This is best watched with a close pal, a sense of humour and alcohol. Bruce Willis gives a masterclass in cynical deadpan delivery and wise-cracking perfection as a down-and-out private detective who gets mixed up in the murky underbelly of American pro football. It comes complete with camp henchmen, dodgy Senators, and a then record fee ($1.75 million) for a screenplay penned by Shane Black (Lethal Weapon) – worth it for the jokes alone.

9. Medium Cool (Haskell Wexler, 1968)
Set in Chicago during the summer of 1968, Medium Cool combines documentary footage with fiction. There is a (very) loose narrative about the relationship between news cameraman man John Cassellis and a single, lower-class mother who has left her husband. The film’s centrepiece is actual footage from the riots which engulfed the Democratic National Convention that summer. It’s a challenging watch, but provides a fascinating snapshot of the social and political climate of the US during that period.

10. The Parallax View (Alan J. Pakula, 1974)
I’m a sucker for films that explore political paranoia and conspiracy, and these were particularly prevalent during the Watergate years of the mid-1970s (see also All The President’s Men). Starring Warren Beatty, The Parallax View tells the story of a shadowy corporation specialising in political assassinations that create the illusion of a lone, disaffected gunman acting independently. A not-so-gentle nod and wink to the events surrounding JFK’s assassination.