Earlier this month at the Morgan Library, Martin Amis and Ian Buruma discussed some of their favorite films during a special event hosted by Antonio Monda, artistic director of the Le Conversazioni literary festival. Short clips of the films were shown, then the writers spoke about each, breaking into Siskel and Ebert-esque bickering on a few occassions. Amis picked The Godfather, Blade Runner, The Wild Bunch, and Raging Bull (Amis: “It just stares you in the face that it’s a flawless masterpiece.”), while Buruma chose Blue Angel, Once Upon a Time in America, Ikiru, and Sunday Bloody Sunday, which was directed by Buruma’s uncle, John Schlesinger. Buruma considered that 1971 film his uncle’s best, for its sensitive depiction of a gay romance. Amis recalled seeing Blade Runner with his father Kingsley, an early champion of science fiction, who believed Ridley Scott, in adapting Philip K. Dick’s novella Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? for the screen in 1982, was the first director to realistically create a futuristic, SF universe on film. As Kingsley Amis aged, however, he became easier to please at the cineplex, as Martin remembered in one of the many funny bits from his memoir Experience (2000):
I will promiscuously mention in this note that my father once told Christopher Hitchens and me to fuck off after we took him to Leicester Square to see Beverly Hills Cop. No: he liked it and we didn’t. And I think we must have curled our lips at him. Most uncharacteristically he walked away on his own and had to be coaxed into the next pub or cab.