Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Ali: Fear Eats the Soul
When I was twenty-one and first coming around to the idea of directing movies, I found a purse on the floor of the NYU library late one night. There was a hundred bucks in there along with IDs and credit cards. I pocketed the cash but left the rest alone and handed it to the security guard. I used this money to purchase three movies at Mondo Kim’s. For some irrational reason, I confessed this theft to my parents. They demanded to know what was going through my head. I couldn’t explain the action, but I knew that I needed to use that money to purchase necessary evils. Stolen money, stolen ideas. I bought three films that I would take a lot from in the years to come: Ali, Pasolini’s Oedipus Rex (not on Criterion yet . . .), and Pickpocket.
Pier Paolo Pasolini
Pasolini’s movies leave my brain black and blue, but this one in particular. A mother’s love may be infinite but its effect on a child’s reality is limited, and this movie shows that all too well . . .
My dad turned me on to this one when I was young. It helped me understand his dark sense of humor and I guess my own in turn.
This Is Spinal Tap
I watched this at my brother’s apartment on East Ninth Street and Second Avenue when I was a teenager. Beyond being a movie I return to regularly, it makes me think of grabbing pierogies with my brother at Veselka when they were still affordable.
In a Lonely Place
My oldest friend, David, and I bring this beast up nearly every time we see each other. It’s a beautifully bleak view of love and human nature. It seems to say that romance has the shelf life of milk. What a horrifying thought, but I suppose my long-standing friendship with David allows me to stomach this sour fact.
Two of my collaborators, Jack and Carl, and I all agree that this contains one of the essential quotes to get through the day: “How perfectly goddamned delightful it all is, to be sure.”
This movie makes me think of my French producer, Claire. We watched it as reference for a script we were working on together. It’s a brutal film to be sure, but I only have warm associations attached to it now: days of wine, writing, and more wine.
À nos amours
I spent a winter in Montreal when I was in my early twenties. One of the few things I remember from that time is watching this thing for the first time. It broke my brain. It’s not a movie, it’s goddam life on-screen. This one leaves scars.
Matt Dentler’s Top 10
Matt Dentler is the producer of the South by Southwest Film Conference & Festival, in Austin, Texas (sxsw.com), as well as a curator for American distributor Film Movement and Canadian distributor Films We Like. He also hosts the weekly local PBS ser…
Paweł Pawlikowski’s Top 10
The Oscar-winning director of Ida and Cold War walks through key periods in his life that have been shaped by his favorite films, including masterpieces by Godard, Malick, and Tarkovsky.