Paul Dano’s First Brush with the Transcendental

Inside Criterion / On the Channel — Nov 4, 2018

About a dozen years ago, with his film career already in full swing, Paul Dano enrolled in a college class that would wind up changing the way he saw the movies. It was there that the actor—whose highly acclaimed directorial debut, the Richard Ford adaptation Wildlife, is now playing in theaters—first came to the work of Robert Bresson, Yasujiro Ozu, and Carl Theodor Dreyer, an experience that forever changed his conception of cinema’s expressive possibilities. 

In the latest installment of Adventures in Moviegoing, now available to watch on the Criterion Channel on FilmStruck, Dano recalls the movie on the syllabus that most floored him, particularly with its bold, elemental use of sound. Bresson’s prison-break film A Man Escaped was “the first really sensorial experience I remember, and going, ‘Oh, wow, I didn’t even know you could even do that,’” Dano says in the above excerpt from the episode. Here, the actor and filmmaker also talks about discovering the contemplative, detail-rich cinema of Ozu, whose family tale Early Summer appears, alongside A Man Escaped, in the series of films that Dano has curated to go alongside his candid conversation. After you’ve checked out the clip, click on over to the Channel, where you can take in the whole episode, and see what other personal favorites Dano has selected for our viewing pleasure.