As you saw from my list recently, I love the idea of winter much more than the reality but when the weather turns cold, I can't escape the chapped lips, cracked hands, frozen feet, raw, red skin and worst of all, sickness. Today I've abandoned all hope of going to work after waking up with a throat that feels like it's been sandpapered, sore eyes and a sinus infection. I hate taking time off work, mainly because I find it difficult to stay inside and do very little. If I can I make an effort and get dressed, make some tea and porridge with honey and venture outside for a bit. Somehow slobbing around in pyjamas with boxes of Kleenex everywhere makes me feel even worse. What helps me to survive though is my film collection and with about 200 DVDs, I'm never short of anything to watch. Bad colds mean I tend to choose films in English to give my sore eyes a break from reading subtitles or having to concentrate on listening to foreign languages. Below are my top 10 films to watch when you're not feeling so great.
1. Radio Days
You knew I'd start with a Woody Allen one, right? People tend either to love or hate him and those who love him always have their own particular favourites. I'd be happy with almost any of his films, but somehow Radio Days is my favourite. Seeing Rockaway beach on a grey, rainy day makes me feel all wistful and nostalgic and the soundtrack is wonderful. I already have this planned as my New Year's Eve film.
2. Groundhog Day
Basically, anything with Bill Murray gets my vote; Ghostbusters, Broken Flowers, Lost in Translation, The Royal Tennenbaums. I love the way he was never really young and always wears that look of eternal suffering. Groundhog Day is probably my choice for sick days because it really makes me laugh and also grateful that at least tomorrow will be different.
3. Bringing Up Baby
When it comes to comedies, I'm very picky; it either has to be screwball or extremely black humour which is the reason I tend to avoid them. Until recently, I had very few in my collection but then I had a terrible cold a couple of years ago and realised that I wasn't in the mood for Ingmar Bergman. Luckily, it was possible to watch the Marx Brothers on YouTube. This film by Howard Hawks with two of my favourite actors, Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant, is sheer perfection and I love the chemistry between them. Oh and the leopard is adorable too.
What is it about New York winters that makes them seem so romantic? The reality must be different with blizzards and freezing temperatures but this comedy about the debutante season in the 80s always makes me long to spend Christmas there. The scenes where the main character is asked if he isn't cold just wearing a trench coat and replies that it's very warm and has a lining are my favourites.
5. The Squid and the Whale
I grew up in a dysfunctional family with parents who were both married before so this film really strikes a chord with me. It's painful, funny and reminds me how much easier it is to be an adult, even if they still act like children sometimes.
6. Stolen Kisses
One of the few non-English films I often watch when I'm ill is Francois Truffaut's Baisers Volés or Stolen Kisses. It felt so good to first see it as a twenty year old, unsure of my direction in life and as chaotic as Antoine Doinel. Now it makes me dream of being young in the Paris of the 60s and spending all day at the old Cinémathèque.
7. Rio Bravo
I know this won't be my most popular choice because westerns never are but at two and half hours, this one with John Wayne and Dean Martin manages to fill an afternoon which is nice for long days at home. Tarantino used it as a test for prospective girlsfriends but I love it because it's about friendship and courage in the Old West.
8. Atlantic City
Louis Malle has always been one of my favourite directors and film noir one of my favourite genres, but as you'd expect from Malle, he makes it his own and does something original. It's as much about the characters as the heist. Old has-been Burt Lancaster peeps at Susan Sarandon, his beautiful neighbour and imagines his great life as a gangster in a city that has also seen better days but then events throw them together that will change everything.
I can never resist the chance to rewatch my favourite film on a free afternoon. It's brilliantly written with perfect acting from absolutely everyone but especially Faye Dunaway and Jack Nicholson who I feel give their best performances as well as a chilling one from John Huston. The music makes me feel I'm sitting in an old fashioned cinema with velvet seats and it's nice to have a little LA glamour when you're sneezing and coughing.
10. Chungking Express
Two stories based around a snack bar in Hong Kong when paths cross, sometimes changing our lives, sometimes not. The first one is darker about Brigit Lin's need for survival and a chance meeting with a lonely policemen, the second is funny and touching with Tony Leung looking handsome in uniform and Faye Wong charming behind her black heart shaped sunglasses and rubber gloves, bringing change into his life.
And you, what are your favourite films for days off sick?