“I have no idea where this will lead us. But I have a definite feeling it will be a place both wonderful and strange.” – Special Agent Dale Cooper.

This is a new weekly column that I shall be writing which will mostly be concerned with the weird and the wonderful, the lesser know and underappreciated. I’ve always been interested in cult cinema, from the radical and extreme to out and out trash, there’s always something interesting in a film that reflects counter culture and those on the fringes of society. From David Lynch to John Waters, from Russ Meyer to Jodorowsky, this will now be the place to dose up on those that you may have missed or not even heard of…

First up, which will come as no surprise whatsoever to those who know me, is Harold & Maude (Hal Ashby, 1971). I first saw this film when I was about 19 years old, I was working at a record store that would let us borrow a film each week. I was never sure of the ethics of this as I’d certainly not want to pay for a DVD (or video as it was at the time) that I knew somebody else had already taken home and watched, but it was in the days before minimum wage and torrents, so I wasn’t going to turn down the chance to see films for free. Anyway, a friend whose opinion I’d come to respect recommended that I watch Harold & Maude, my initial reaction was to screw up my nose and dismiss it, after all it’s about a romantic relationship between a 21 year old man and an 80 year old woman, and well, ew.

Up until this point in my life I’d never really had a favourite film, if asked, I’d mumble a noncommittal list of roughly 5 or 6 movies that I claimed to like equally. But after finally relenting and watching Harold & Maude those days were well and truly over, this was my favourite film, and it has been now for almost 10 years. I also vowed to never judge a film from then on in, to always try and approach everything with an open mind, because I’d been well and truly proved wrong with this one. It would be no exaggeration to say that this film changed my life. So, I felt that this was the perfect place to start.

Harold (Bud Cort) is a privileged young man who feels that he has nothing to live for, he enjoys going to funerals and staging fake suicide attempts, that is until one day when he meets Maude (the wonderful Ruth Gordon), a vivacious and carefree elderly woman who steals cars, poses nude and always lives her life to the fullest. They strike up an unlikely friendship and Maude teaches Harold perhaps the most valuable of life lessons, how to live and more importantly how to love.

So please, go and seek this out, and I defy any of you not to have a tear in your eye by the end.

“Vice, virtue, it’s best not to be too moral. You cheat yourself out of too much life. Aim above morality. If you apply that to life, then you’re bound to live life fully.” – Maude.