Wow you guys all have great taste!
Kazu, I remember your Throne of Blood story... I've seen 17 or 18 Kurosawa films, but that one has eluded me so far too.
It would be easy to rattle off a list of favorite movies, but this topic is about which ones actually influence us the most, and that's pretty thought-provoking for me... Alright, in no particular order:
Back to the Future--I saw this when I was a little kid, several times--like maybe 10 times! And I can vividly recall different viewings of it, like sitting at a drive-in with my family, or staring up from the carpet in my living room. With all that repetition, it's the first one that seriously made me think about how stories like it are put together. And of course, it was my introduction to Robert Zemeckis and well-crafted Hollywood movies in general. I'm so glad I was a little kid when this came out!
The Decalogue--Krzysztof Kieslowski showcases an ingenious use of motif and synchronicity and visual storytelling, with literary complexity. And it also showed me how these things can accumulate for an incredible emotional effect. (I think I was maybe trying to do something similar with my unfinished newspaper comic strip.) His Bleu was also maybe the first international/art-house sort of film I saw in a theater, and I still think it's fascinating. I really have to find it again...
Floating Weeds--I really like Ozu films a lot, including Tokyo Story and Late Spring (that one being the best, probably), but Floating Weeds was the first one I saw, and and this one-time combination of loving Ozu direction and cinematography by Kazuo Miyagawa (see also Ugetsu) completely blew my mind. The influence has led me to work this sort of quiet family drama into my stories (like in Flight 1 and Flight 2), and in general to try to find magic in the ordinary. His pre-war comedies, like I Was Born, But... and Record of a Tenemant Gentleman are maybe not so "transcendental," but are charming, hilarious, and excellently crafted--a great inspiration as well.
The Shop Around the Corner--Ernst Lubitsch crafted so many stories that were so hilarious and incredibly sad all at the same time; he's like the real Wes Anderson (who I like too). And this one is maybe the most perfectly crafted one. There are a lot of dazzling old screwball comedies like this (see also Preston Sturges and Howard Hawks), that i miss.
Walkabout--Holy cow, Nicolas Roeg deconstructs western civilization with a few well-chosen images and sounds. But it's also a remarkably human short story. Roeg's Don't Look Now is also an excellent thriller. But, he scares me in a different way as well, because he seemed to have completely lost his talent after a certain age. I've always believed that, no matter how bad I am, I'll continue to always get better with age (if not physically), so there's always more to hope for.
Woman in the Dunes--There's a man, and he falls into a pit of sand, and there's a woman down there, and he can't get out. With a few simple, seemingly bare elements, Hiroshi Teshigahara tells a gripping, twisting story that lasts the whole feature length. So many other story tellers go off on dreary "world-building" expeditions that serve zero dramatic purpose--they need to watch this to learn what real imagination can do! (There's a new print in circulation that makes it last 45-minutes longer, and perhaps dulls the story, but it's also incredibly clear, and makes the film look like it was shot yesterday.)
The Puppetmaster--Hou Hsiao Hsien and his contemporaries fueled my imagination for what cinema could do. This one in particular shows that it's possible to actually capture a life on film.
Eureka--An experiment called Shooting Gallery brought this nearly 4-hour-long, black-and-white, subtitled movie by Shinji Aoyama into mainstream Loews Cineplex theaters, including the newly built one near where I was going to school at the time. In the midst of a take home final, I trekked down there and loved every minute of it. In fact, I think the whole country could have learned a great deal from this story about a bus driver and a few of his passengers, who survive a random, horrific massacre, and spend the next couple years trying to cope with what happened. If only... Also, discovering the music of Jim O'Rourke was a nice corollary.
Sunrise--it's pretty amazing how in this age of technology, we can finally show basically anything we can imagine on screen; potentially, pure visual and auditory rapture. And yet, a good chunk of the greatest films ever made happen to be these crusty old silent black-and-white movies. Not bad, Murnau! Maybe it had something to do with cinema being new and untested, and imagination flying wild with the possibility of doing more than recording theater. The excitement is still palpable behind that dusty film grain.
Ordet--People would ask me what my favorite film was in college, and I'd always have to explain something about a Danish movie made in 1954... Anyhow, this quiet family drama about three very different brothers has the coolest twist ending I've ever seen, like Mr. Carl Th. Dreyer managed to capture a miracle from god on celluloid. Take that, Shyamalan!
Alright, I could keep going (gosh I didn't even mention Terrence Malick or Robert Bresson, or, or, or!), but now I'm getting depressed that I can barely take the time to discover new movies anymore (I could have given you the same list a few years ago!), or to write & draw my own stories, and that my personal storytelling ambitions seem so low in comparison. Although, recently I was listening to an interview with Kurt Vonnegut, on the occasion of his death, and he was explaining that it actually helped him a lot to have not studied English literature in college, because he felt uninhibited when writing--I've been trying to scale back and take this simpler path as well. I've been thinking that I need to just work on creating simple robust stories without trying to be the next Alain Resnais, and the results have been good. So, we'll see how it goes...
Last edited by neil on Sun Jul 15, 2007 3:04 am, edited 3 times in total.