I like to see this film once every few years. I love it for its balance of humor, drama, and its deep affection for our noble and flawed natures. When I remember the film I smile and enjoy very much the breadth of the characters, all the beautiful courageous, broken and romantic samurai. I too want to be one of those samurai, and I want to make such a strong and kind film.
The Firemen’s Ball
This was a new film for me and one I had long read about. The film is apparently an allegory about communism in Czechoslovakia. It is very funny and charming, particularly the beauty competition, which is at the heart of the story, and the fantastic unwillingness of the contestants. Milos Forman’s account of the making of the film was extremely relevant.
That Obscure Object of Desire
Buñuel is my first deep love in cinema. He is the adult that pulled the plug on the human art of pretending. He blazes through the hypocrisy at the heart of our bourgeois lives mercilessly—no one is sacred, no ideal or moral is spared. He is perfectly modern, bold, and clear. I found myself laughing in joy and amazement. He understands human nature while refusing to sentimentalize it.
Fellini is a deep, deep master of film. As time goes by I adore him more and more. La strada is quite perfect. It is like “The Ancient Mariner.” A haunting film for all time; one cannot insult innocence without a lifetime of cost. I don’t know why it is, but it is so, a spiritual truth, that both Coleridge and Fellini knew and tell in their respective stories. Fellini is the most fluent filmmaker of them all. His shots and storytelling are so at ease and elegant, it’s as if he’s thinking his shots through a camera in his mind and straight onto a screen. I went to his funeral in Rome in 1993, where people in the crammed huge Piazza Republica gathered to salute farewell. It was also a time when no one wanted to see a Fellini film. Every year since then his legacy appears more remarkable and more incomparable.
Scenes from a Marriage
A work I believe Bergman made for television, so it is perhaps not so well known. It goes very far into the riddle of marriage, the breakdown, pain, and passion. I’ve seen it three times already, and I want to watch it again with friends (most of us with one divorce under our belts!). The performances are stunning and the story surprises, touches, and absorbs me each time I see it.
Samurai I: Musashi Miyamoto
I didn’t know anything about this film; I decided to just try it. I loved it. An old-style movie, and Mifune’s wild-man performance gives it special stature. There are not many actors with his charisma, a true strength, and humor, vulnerability, and truth. The film is well told, strong, honest, and simply filmed. I found it refreshing to be reminded that these simple qualities made the film, now fifty years old, beautiful and alive to me; a classic just like you promised, Criterion.
Nicolas Roeg’s Top 10
“Oh! What have you done to me? What an impossible task. To pick ten titles from the Criterion Collection is difficult enough, but to put them in any kind of order would defeat Ockham's sharpest razor,” exclaimed Nicolas Roeg, director of The Man…
James Schamus’s Top 10
James Schamus is the former CEO of Focus Features; the producer of, among other films, Ride with the Devil (1999) and Brokeback Mountain (2005); the screenwriter and producer of The Ice Storm (1997); and a professor of professional practice at Columb…