Ten Most Influential Movies On Me
If pressed on my favorite movie, or favorite “black” film, I name this masterpiece. The beauty of the people, the music, the city and rural locations, and the power of the story….when I was a kid I watched it everyday for a week when it aired on PBS.
The subversive comedy of Mad Magazine and the National Lampoon came to life in this film. I knew I wanted to make a movie that made audiences feel like I did when I saw this. I think I saw it at a screening at a library as part of a field trip. Message to everyone…field trips are great, libraries are great, film screenings at libraries can change your life.
Another film seen on PBS as part of a series called The Japanese Film. It’s a ghost story, a love story, a war story….and creepy as hell with no scares, just deep creepiness. The world was so alien to me, but there’s a fundamental blues quality to the story.
Everything in this movie is on 11…the music, the visuals, the thematic ambition. Still want to make a musical with this scope. I even bought the double album soundtrack, which was a big investment as a kid…especially for an album of “white” music.
STATE OF SIEGE
I would visit my brother in New York and he would take me to “grown up” movies that he warned, didn’t have action and required subtitle reading. I took it on without hesitation. It would be a punk move otherwise. Costa Gavras changed my life. His ability to tell complex political stories with emotion and style inspired me.
I grew up loving Clint Eastwood films, so when I discovered these were the template for his classic spaghetti westerns, I was blown away by the star power of Toshiro Mifume, who is both noir and the ultimate cowboy while being a ronin. The storytelling is masterful and the cinematography is beautiful. And please watch the sequel, SANJURO.
NORTH BY NORTHWEST
The template of all meet cute, guy and girl on the run movies. This and HIS GIRL FRIDAY are my favorite Cary Grant films. Fun, smart, sexy, with action that holds up better than most period films. And the opening credits are gorgeous.
Hard to pick which Woody Allen movie to name here…it could have also been HUSBANDS AND WIVES or CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS or several other titles. His playfulness with the form, all the tasteful ways Woody breaks the 4th wall, and the brilliance of the ending. One of the all time great romantic comedies.
I wrote a term paper on this movie in college, so I watched it…a lot. It’s dense. It’s beautiful. It’s both totally real and relatable and all the surrealism and dream sequences make it more so. I love Italian neo-realism in general…it has always felt “black” to me, this movie is no exception.
Even with the large body of work out there, you can still argue that THE INCREDIBLES is the greatest superhero movie ever made. It’s funny, smart, cool and made by people who completely understand not only why superheroes are cool, but why great comic books work.
I’m adding a clip from INCREDIBLES 2 because it’s brilliant.