Published on April 21st, 2017 | by Padraic Coffey0
My Favourite Things – Peter Howell
Peter Howell is film critic for the Toronto Star. He is a member of the Toronto Film Critics Association (TFCA) and the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA). He is also a Canadian member of the “Gurus o’ Gold” Oscars panel on MovieCityNews.com.
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968, Stanley Kubrick)
I’m asked all the time what my favourite film is, and I always say 2001: A Space Odyssey. It’s an easy call for me because I saw it when I was 13 years old and it totally opened my eyes to the potential of film. I was completely nuts about space, and I saw the film in early 1969. At that point Apollo 11 was only a few months away from happening. It just hit so many of the buttons for me.
I’ve probably seen it fifty times. I’ve seen it at least once a year since then, and it’s the film I’ve seen the most. I always get something out of it, every time I see it. Even the last time, I saw something I’d never seen before. It’s one of those things – the gift that keeps on giving.
Dracula (1897, Bram Stoker)
I took a course in Myth and Symbology at university. It was one of the most interesting courses I ever took, and we read the original Dracula, by Bram Stoker. It’s a book that a lot of people dismiss. Everybody has seen the movie, but very few people have read the book.
It’s written in a very unusual style, in the epistolary fashion, as a series of tapes and letters. It’s not only based upon regular tapes, but the old wax cylinders from about 100 years ago. I found it an absolutely riveting read, one of those proverbial ‘you can’t put it down’ type things. The way it’s presented really builds the suspense.
That’s a book that I would happily return to. I’m really excited about the fact that apparently there’s a new version of it – not so much a new version, but a Scandinavian edition that was based on an earlier draft by Bram Stoker in which there are some significant changes made. Part of my plan for this year is to track that book down and re-read it. It’s going to be amongst my summer reading, because it’s only during the summer that I really get to enjoy doing that.
There have been a lot of good people playing Dracula in adaptations, but there isn’t one film that totally nails the book to my satisfaction. I found most of the movie treatments to be a little on the cheesy side, probably because I hold the book in such high regard. I think it works so much better as a book, surprisingly.
Exile on Main St. (1972, The Rolling Stones)
I would have to say that my all-time pick of an album is Exile on Main St. by the Rolling Stones. To me, that’s the ultimate rock and roll album. It’s got rock, it’s got blues, it’s got gospel, it’s got country, and it all comes together in such an incredible package. It’s two LPs worth, and there’s not a bad track on it. It captures the Stones at their absolute peak, and it’s one of those albums that I can listen to non-stop, over and over again. It’s my go-to album when I’m driving. If I’m going on a long trip, I bring along Exile on Main St., and I can happily while away a couple of hours.
If I had to choose a favourite track, I’d probably go with Tumbling Dice, though I didn’t like it much when I first heard it, but then I first heard it 45 years ago. Happy is another of my favourites. That’s the ultimate Keith Richards track.