Rian Johnson’s Category-Defying Favorites

Inside Criterion / On the Channel — Sep 23, 2019


Acclaimed filmmaker Rian Johnson has made a career out of retrofitting genres to his own imaginative specifications. After novel spins on the gumshoe neonoir (Brick) and the time-travel thriller (Looper), the writer-director launched into space—and won a much wider audience—with 2017’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi, which took the beloved franchise into surprising new territory. And his latest movie, the ensemble murder mystery Knives Out, due in theaters in November, finds him tinkering cleverly with the conventions of the whodunit. Recently, ahead of Knives Out’s rapturously received premiere this month at the Toronto International Film Festival, Johnson sat down with author and TCM host Alicia Malone to open up about the evolution of his cinephilia, and how it helped shape his sly, inventive sensibility.

In this teaser for the latest installment of the Criterion Channel’s Adventures in Moviegoing, Johnson pays tribute to some of the films he has come to know inside and out, highlighting the emotional and psychological depths of Federico Fellini’s behind-the-scenes drama 8½; the peerless, genre-defying trickery of Orson Welles’s F for Fake; and the inspiringly low-tech style of Chris Marker’s experimental short La Jetée. After watching the video above, make sure to pay a visit to the Channel, where you can check out the full episode as well as the accompanying series of personal favorites that Johnson has programmed for us, including not only 8½, F for Fake, and La Jetée but also three other visionary mind-benders you won’t soon be able to shake: Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s World on a Wire, Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker, and Shane Carruth’s Upstream Color.