This trilogy was rereleased at Film Forum in the summer of 2015, right before we started shooting Menashe. I went once a week and cried in the theater by myself. A universal story of birth, death, love, and coming of age. So many moments I can never forget: the joy of the school montage, and the famous scene in which the children see a train for the first time, a symbol of the arrival of modernity.
Before the Rain
I mainly work as a cinematographer, and I recently had the opportunity to shoot a new film for Milcho Manchevski. It was like being paid to attend a master class in filmmaking. I love this film not just because of its innovative structure but because of the way it transported me to a war-torn country I’d only heard about in the news.
Vittorio De Sica
Neorealism started here. I have stolen from this film in so many obvious ways.
Do the Right Thing
This was one of my favorite films when I was in high school. It’s funny and has a great soundtrack. Sal reminded me of my grandfather in his Canarsie store. The film helped humanize the perspective from both sides of the counter. It was the first film I saw that shed light on the African-American experience in a changing New York City.
Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
Inside Llewyn Davis
How do you make a movie where so little happens? Only the Coens know. They care so little about basic structure that they actually make fun of it by adding a plotline early on in which Llewyn has to rescue a cat. It’s a running joke that references a famous screenwriting technique called “save the cat,” a simple device that’s supposed to make protagonists likable. And we all know how much the Coens care about making people likable.
Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne
The Kid with a Bike
I watched excerpts of this film almost every morning before going to set for Menashe. On first glance the blocking and camera work seem erratic, but the results are so graceful and precise.
The Killing of a Chinese Bookie
Mr. Sophistication. The Crazy Horse West. How else would Cassavetes have made a genre film?
The Long Goodbye, California Split, and Nashville might represent the best three years of any director’s career. There is a mix of realism and grittiness that Altman does to perfection.
Night on Earth
Every time I think of Roberto Benigni making sheep sounds, my belly hurts with laughter.
David Maysles, Albert Maysles, and Charlotte Zwerin
This might have been the first film that made me realize what type of filmmaker I was going to be. The faces and personalities are so vivid. I always wonder if people would care about this simply observed masterpiece if it were produced today, after the advent of reality TV and YouTube.
Hossein Amini’s Top 10
The Iranian-British Hossein Amini received an Academy Award nomination for his 1997 screenplay adaptation of Henry James’s The Wings of the Dove and wrote the screenplays for Jude (1995), The Four Feathers (2002), and Drive (2011).