|The Plot Devices Made Me Sad|
Who Do You Prefer, Godard or Truffaut?
To be totally honest, I don't really care too much for either. I'm a Louis Malle man. I appreciate their contributions to cinema, but I don't think either filmmaker has aged particularly well.
What are your five favorite films since 2005?
- Synecdoche, New York
- On most days I consider this the best movie I've ever seen.
- Inland Empire
- There is nothing else in the world like it. In a good way.
- A Serious Man
- The most emotionally jarring Coen Bros. film.
- The Tree of Life
- It's possible that I could change my mind on this. But at the moment, I'm really, really impressed by this one.
- The White Ribbon
- An absolutely soul-crushing masterpiece of modern cinema. See it immediately.
What's the movie you wish you had made the most?
I think this to myself all the time when I'm watching a movie. It usually doesn't even matter if it's high quality or not. Sometimes I find myself wishing I had made crap. Just something. Strangely enough, I often catch myself wishing I had made a comedy.
I get jealous of Judd Apatow's directing career, especially when I watch Funny People, because a lot of those ideas have been in my own fiction. However, I think the strongest memory I have of watching a movie I wish I had made myself was when I watched Mean Streets for the first time. There's something about the improvisational quality of that movie that made me believe anybody could have made it. Even me.
What are some movies you find yourself constantly defending?
- Southland Tales
- I've already written an article on this one, but this is definitely the one I defend the most. "Donnie Darko was good, but Southland Tales was too silly and confusing." I hear that all the time. And I find myself totally compelled to argue it. There is just something about that movie that really does something to me.
- Inland Empire
- Too weird, to confusing, the image is too muddy, it's too long. I've heard them all. I've argued them all. Almost constantly.
- I've actually written a fairly lengthy defense of this one that almost got published. This movie, to me, is the best superhero movie ever made. It has everything I want in my big budget character studies. The problem people have with this movie is that it is too moody, too slow, and too focused on its characters. Well, what is the Hulk if not a moody, lumbering green dude with serious anger issues? Ang Lee made a spectacular film with Hulk and people, inexplicably to me, complain about it all the time. As if the Liv Tyler muscle-fest did any better.
- I feel like I've been constantly defending The Tree of Life lately. If you're one of those people who hates it, read my review to see what I think of it.
How many movies do you watch a week?!
It depends on the week. I tend to watch at least one movie every other day. Sometimes two in one day. Sometimes one in one week. But the average is probably seven movies a week. Sometimes more, though...
Where do you find all the movies you watch?
I read a lot of articles online and buy lots of autobiographies from filmmakers where they list their favorite films and filmmakers. I usually find the influences of some filmmaker, then watch those influences, and then find those influences, etc. Netflix is VERY helpful.
What are the movies that changed how you feel about the medium?
- When I first saw this movie, I think I was 14, I didn't think much of it. I saw it again, at about 18, and completely identified with it. It completely absorbed me and shook me emotionally. This is when I found out that movies effect you in different ways at different times. It's an extremely simple thing to learn, and I'm sure I learned it really late, but there you have it.
- The Dark Knight
- I learned that genre, budget, and audience need not get in the way of brilliant filmmaking. And that, sometimes, those things enhance the picture.
- Dead Man
- Dead Man taught me that I should write whichever story I can dream up in my head, and that it is possible for it to get made. Far and away Jarmusch's cinematic triumph, Dead Man shows young writers and filmmakers that there will always be an audience for the weird and original things we come up with.
- Your film is only as good as its casting.
You gave us your favorite movies, but what do you think are, objectively, the best movies ever made?
I think it would be impossible for me to give an objective answer to this question. But I suppose I'll try to break it down to most impressive examples of sheer filmmaking talent.
- Citizen Kane
- Duh. The phenomenal camera tricks, the fast pacing, the groundbreaking use of lenses. This one is near perfect. Everybody knows that.
- Raiders of the Lost Ark
- Literally the perfect special effects blockbuster. The filmmaking, the acting, the writing, the pacing. Everything works.
- The Empire Strikes Back
- The ultimate sequel. Even better than The Godfather, Part II. Why? Because big summer movies have a different kind of hype. This picture didn't just have to amp it up, it had to live up to the world building, the legions of fans, the merchandising market, and the box office returns. And it did it.
- Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
- One of the most impressive performances ever committed to film while simultaneously being one of the most impressive, and bold, uses of film as a means of fighting "the man" possible.
- McCabe & Mrs. Miller
- A perfectly conceptualized western in every way. Totally unique, and yet completely familiar.
What is the most heavy-handed, manipulative movie you've ever seen?
Crash. Definitely Crash.
What are some under seen gems you're always trying to get people to watch?
- True Stories
- I love this movie. I feel like everybody would love this movie if they watched it. If you haven't seen it, what are you doing reading this blog? Go! Go now!
- Winter Light
- An absolutely spellbinding drama. One of the best ever made.
- Cinematographer's delight.
- An emotionally devastating documentary. Infinitely fascinating.
- Synecdoche, New York
- Because it's awesome.
- Paris, Texas
- One of the finest screenplays ever written.
- 25th Hour
- No, no, I know it's Spike Lee, but it's really, really brilliant.
That's all the questions I'll answer for now. I'll get to the others at some point, I'm sure. I'd love to hear some of your answers to these questions. Just fire off in the comments section below, or message me answers on facebook below the inevitable link I'll post to this blog.