Ten memorable movie mentors

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Eric Cantona appears as an imaginary life guru in Ken Loach's 'Looking For Eric', so Time Out list ten more classic movie mentors

Clarence (Christian Slater) meets Elvis Presley in ‘True Romance’ (1993)
This Quentin Tarantino-penned crime drama sees Christian Slater’s Clarence suffering from acute bouts of self-doubt and in need of a spot of reassurance. Naturally, he calls on The King (for legal reasons, listed in the credits only as ‘Mentor’) for counsel. Originally uncredited, Val Kilmer makes up for ‘The Doors’ by donning a gold lame suit and keeping his face hidden.

Rob Gordon (John Cusack) meets Bruce Springsteen in ‘High Fidelity’ (2000)
Stephen Frears’s adaptation of Nick Hornby’s dreary, men-of-a-certain-age shelf-filler finds John Cusack’s high-handed record-store owner having something of a romantic crisis, and hanging around listening to Royal Trux with Jack Black just ain’t doing it for him. Cue New Jersey’s finest rocking up with some mumbled, down-home, blue-collar advice on the importance of closure and of ‘movin’ on down the road’. Thanks, Boss.



Wayne Campbell (Mike Myers) meets Jim Morrison in ‘Wayne's World 2’ (1993)
The Lizard King spirits Wayne Campbell (Mike Myers) to the shimmering sands of the Mojave Desert for the most amusing vignette of an episodic cash-cow sequel. After batting away well-intentioned queries about misdirected post and Stanley Cup statistics, Mr. Mojo Risin’ astrally projects Wayne towards the Ultimate Roadie he will need to complete his mystical quest...



Allan (Woody Allen) meets Humphrey Bogart in ‘Play It Again, Sam’ (1972)
Bogart: I've had my face slapped plenty of times.
Woody: Yeah, but your glasses don't go flying across the room.

The ultimate celebrity mentor in the movies has to be Bogie’s spectral appearance to browbeaten, lovelorn loser Allan in Woody’s masterful adaptation of his own successful stage play. As a metaphorical expression of masculine self-loathing, it’s near perfect: a worrisome, bespectacled neurotic turning for comfort and relationship advice to the ultimate man’s man


Christ (Willem Defoe) meets the Devil in ‘The Last Temptation of Christ’ (1988)

Willem Defoe’s Christ heads into the desert with only a camping stove for company and is tempted three times by the devil – represented by a budget-friendly plume of fire. As we all know, he thankfully manages to pull through the longest, darkest night of the soul imaginable…



Antonious Block meets Death in ‘The Seventh Seal’ (1954)
Imaginary chums come in all shapes and sizes: space aliens, invisible goblins, Humphrey Bogart. But you’d have to be a particularly glum and troubled individual to start having conversations with The Grim Reaper himself. Such is the lot of Max von Sydow’s knightly Antonius Block in Bergman’s beautiful, endlessly moving, legendarily funereal soul-searching spiritual quest. The chess-game image has become movie-reference shorthand for serious European arthouse cinema, but the film’s real high point is the climactic dance of souls.

Juliet Hulme (Kate Winslett) and Pauline Parker (Melanie Linsky) meet Mario Lanza in ‘Heavenly Creatures’ (1994)
In the ’50s, parents were so concerned with keeping their daughters’ interests away from the likes of Marlon Brando and Jerry Lee Lewis that they took their eye off the real threat: the soulless opera-lite tones of pretty-boy heartthrob Mario Lanza. Perhaps it was something in those perfectly sculpted cheekbones or that thoughtful pseudo-Euro demeanour that drove otherwise perfectly ordinary Australian kids to murder their parents. In Peter Jackson’s pitch-perfect rites of passage drama, school friends Pauline (Melanie Lynskey) and Juliet (Kate Winslet) are driven so wild by Lanza’s syrupy crooning that they invent an entire fantasy world of claymation castles and animated butterflies, and of course the handsome prince himself.

The Lieutenant (Harvey Keitel) meets Jesus Christ in ‘Bad Lieutenant’ (1992)
Keitel is a very bad lieutenant indeed in this gruelling existential policier from Abel Ferrara, as he snorts, injects, smokes and freebases his way through a heroic volume of impounded narcotics, and ‘exercises his libido’ (fiddles with himself) in the middle of the street. However, this wretched, debased soul eventually decides to take the road of redemption by busying himself with the case of a raped nun, and in doing so, has a vision of Christ who forgives his many sins. He's that kinda guy!



Jason Stillwell (Kurt McKinney) meets Bruce Lee in ‘No Retreat, No Surrender’ (1986)
This low-as-they-go ‘Karate Kid’ knock-off has perhaps only managed to retain its lowly place in the public consciousness due to the fact that it was the debut movie of crane-kicking meatbag, Jean-Claude Van Damme. It’s less well known for introducing the world to the black-belt taekwondo talents of Kurt McKinney who plays a buffed-up mamma’s boy called Jason Stillwell who gets regularly beaten to a bloody pulp by his peers before, one day, deciding its high time to fight back. Luckily, he’s a big fan of Bruce Lee, and regular visits to his grave yield an eventual visitation by the late chop-socky Godhead who proceeds to spout the obligatory Zen platitudes that enable Stillwell to go on and best Van Damme in an extraneous cage-fight coda.

Jeffrey ‘The Dude’ Lebowski (Jeff Bridges) meets Saddam Hussein in ‘The Big Lebowski’ (1998)

Of the numerous occasions that Jeffrey ‘The Dude’ Lebowski (Jeff Bridges) is transported into a garbled dreamscape in The Coens’ ‘The Big Lebowski’, it’s the point where he sees the ex-Iraqi premiere which is possibly the oddest and the funniest. Due to an earlier conversation with his edgy Nam vet buddy, Walter (John Goodman) in which Hussein is dubbed a ‘camel fucker’, he turns up in one of the Dude’s daydreams as a clerk at his bowling ally.

Author: Adam Lee Davies, David Jenkins, Tom Huddleston



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