Well, I am in the United States, and I have discovered Barnes and Noble. Every year in July, these folks do a 50% off of all Criterion Collection films sale thing, and I was a little overwhelmed. So, I went searching for the cream of the crop films that I needed to see, available through Criterion. Now, I discovered that on their site, Criterion have a list of filmmakers, Richard Linklater, Edgar Wright, Steve Buscemi among them, who pick their 10 favorite Criterion films, so as to encourage sales by you know, famous people endorsing them and such.
So, out of curiousity, I put together a top 10 list for myself, and then extended this to a co-operative list between Sam and I. I know, no one cares. But hey, it’s kind of interesting to try and play a game of spot the homage.
Or if you’re a jerk, find the places we outright stole things. Many of these films are on the list simply because of the massive influence they have on our movies, or because they represent the best work of a director who has that influence. So.
In no particular order:
1. The Royal Tennenbaums, dir. Wes Anderson
Wes Anderson, with the most killer cast of all time. Generally speaking, Wes Anderson is just a massive influence, and this is his best, although that could be disputed. Beautiful music, and the design and visual appeal of these films is such a huge draw for us.
2. Reservoir Dogs, dir. Quentin Tarantino
Yet again, Tarantino is a huge influence, and Reservoir Dogs is his best. Pulp Fiction is just too… Goddamn long. But the opening scene at the diner is legendary, and I don’t think Stuck in the Middle with You has ever been the same for me. And oh man, the COMMODE STORY?! Probably one of the largest influences on Newton’s Cradle, and the heist and crime genre is extremely attractive to us, largely because of this film.
3. Barton Fink, dir. Coen Brothers
Best Coen Brothers movie. Period. There’s soooo much to look at, not to mention that this film probably features some of the finest acting in the Coen’s films, by John Tuturro and John Goodman. Not to mention that the era is immensely likable, and they do an extremely good job of keeping interest in essentially what is a non-plot. It was really a starting point for us when we wrote Life of the Mind, and it shows. Think title, people.
4. Withnail and I, dir. Bruce Robinson
The single most quotable film of all time. This is the gold standard for a relationship between two characters, the chemistry between the two actors is just absolutely legendary. Bruce Robinson actually based the entire film largely on his own personal experiences with two friends of his, and you can tell. The entire film is extremely personal, and ultimately very sad near the end, with the original draft of the script ending in Withnail’s suicide. AND MY GOD, UNCLE MONTY IS CREEPY.
5. Scanner Darkly, dir. Richard Linklater
Phillip K. Dick. Richard Linklater. Robert Downey Jr. Woody Harrelson. Rotoscoping. COME ON PEOPLE, USE YOUR HEAD. To be fair, Keanu Reaves. BUT STILL.
6. L.A Confidential, dir. Curtis Hanson
Yet again, we are just in love with the era. Not to mention Kevin Spacey. Film noir is one of the biggest influences on our films, but really there’s just too much good stuff to possibly agree on anything pre-1960. But this is the movie that sparked that interest. All three main characters are extremely well done, both in writing and in acting, and it really does hold the movie together.
7. Hard Core Logo, dir. Bruce McDonald
Bruce McDonald started out making documentaries, and returns to that style here. The cast has infinite chemistry, with McDonald himself and the documentary crew working into the film as a character itself. The film is incredibly well written, very Canadian(which is usually a turn off, but it’s Canadian without trying to shove it down your throat), and has incredible pace. The ending is just… Devastating. But perfect. And was actually written and decided on while shooting, with the actor playing Joe Dick suggesting it.
8. Annie Hall, dir. Woody Allen
I saw this movie at the end of Grade 9 and was just stunned. Woody Allen was, for all intents and purposes, me. It’s hilarious, very honest(as horrible as that can be) and just… Well, a damn good movie. I could go on forever about Woody Allen films; Stardust Memories is nearly perfect, and Deconstructing Harry is equally amazing in how truly painful it is to watch. Meanwhile, some of his earlier stuff, particularily Play it Again, Sam, is just hilarious and not too heavy. However, I think Annie Hall hits the balance right between the spectrum of Allen.
9. Hot Fuzz, dir. Edgar Wright
The level at which they accomplish the parody is incredible. It is the goal for any parody we could ever hope to do, and we use what we call the “Hot Fuzz-esque” montage in pretty much everything we film. Go figure, its a fucking excellent film.
10. Brick, dir. Rian Johnson
A stunning debut film, yet again with a film noir-ish tone, but with some contributing elements of spaghetti western(listen to the music). A very clever play on the formula to make it fit within a high school setting. They play on that just enough to make it clever, but not obnoxious, and funny but not unrealistic. An absolutely huge influence, especially in adapting genre’s to fit adolescent actors. As a side note, the general unknown nature of all the actors actually makes this film for me, for whatever reason.