Many of these may come as a surprise. Interestingly enough, the five movies that Wes Anderson named in an interview with Rotten Tomatoes earlier this year bare very little resemblance to the types of films that he makes. Here are the five he chose and his comments on each:
1) Rosemary’s Baby (Polanski)
One movie that I often find myself going back to is Rosemary’s Baby. This has always been a big influence on me, or a source of ideas; and it’s always been one of my favorites. Mia Farrow gives a great, big performance in it, and I’ve read the script and it’s a terrific script. So that’s one I’d say.
2) A Clockwork Orange (Kubrick)
I think A Clockwork Orange is one that springs to mind. A fully-formed Stanley Kubrick. It’s a movie that’s very particularly designed and, you know, conjures up this world that you’ve never seen quite this way in a movie before, but at the same time there’s a great sort of spontaneity to it, and a tremendous energy. And both of those are very well adapted, good books.
3) Trouble in Paradise (Lubitsch)
Another one I could say is Trouble in Paradise. Have you ever seen Trouble in Paradise?
Interviewer: I have, it’s great.
Yeah, it is. A great Lubitsch movie. Herbert Marshall and Miriam Hopkins. And Samson Raphaelson is the screenwriter; he did several Lubitsch movies. I don’t know if anybody can make a movie like that anymore — that perfect tone, like a “soufflé”-type of movie. A confection, I guess.
4) Toni (Renoir)
Well recently I watched Grand Illusion, which I haven’t seen in several years — no, I’ll say another one instead: There’s one called Toni, that’s Jean Renoir before Grand Illusion, before Rules of the Game, and it’s set in the south of France and they’re Italian immigrants who’re working, who’re laborers working in the South of France. It’s very beautiful, kind of lyrical and very sad; a great Renoir movie. I don’t know if it’s seen that much anymore. It’s great.
5) Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Nichols)
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? — that’s another one I rewatched recently. When I first saw that movie it made me feel bad. I didn’t fall in love with it. I loved The Graduate when I first saw it, but [Virginia Woolf], I wasn’t excited by it, because it seemed like there was a negativity about it. But when I watched it more recently I thought it was the most beautiful, inspired, exciting movie. Mike Nichols is one of the most inventive directors that we’ve had, and that’s one of the great, you know, it’s a great movie, and a stunning first film.
Anderson has also made a list of his top ten Criterion Collection titles. Here are his comments and selections from Criterion’s website:
1) The Earrings of Madame de… (Ophüls)
This interview with Louise de Vilmorin on the Earrings of Madame de . . . DVD is very funny. She is already mesmerizing and charming and unlike anybody you’ve ever met—and then she starts talking about the movie. She hated it, in fact? Max Ophuls made a perfect film.
2) Au hasard Balthazar (Bresson)
We watched Au hasard Balthazar last night and loved it and also Donald Richie. You hate to see that poor donkey die. He takes a beating and presses on, and your heart goes out to him. Also, Mouchette is terrific, which we watched last week. It’s a rare option, of course, to be able to ask Jean-Luc Godard to cut your trailer.
3) Pigs and Batteships, The Insect Woman, and Intentions of Murder (Imamura)
We are deep into Shohei Imamura. I always loved Vengeance Is Mine, which was the only one I knew, on a double-disc Criterion laser. But now this box set gives me some perspective. Pigs and Battleships. The war didn’t exactly work wonders for the people of Tokyo or wherever that was.
4) The Taking of Power by King Louis XIV (Rossellini)
This is a wonderful and very strange movie. I had never heard of it. The man who plays Louis cannot give a convincing line reading, even to the ears of someone who can’t speak French—and yet he is fascinating. I was in his corner from start to finish (which comes unexpectedly—I thought there had to be at least another hour and a half to go when “Fin” came up). Mainly, he just walks in and out of rooms and dresses and undresses. I want to watch it again! What does good acting actually mean? Who is this Tag Gallagher?
5) The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (Ritt)
I had never seen it before. It’s great, and the interview with John le Carré is touching—especially his assessment, or more like admission, at the end that Martin Ritt made “something like a classic.”
6) The Friends of Eddie Coyle (Yates)
It’s not upbeat.
7) Classe tous risques (Sautet)
Classe tous risques is very good. I am a great fan of Claude Sautet, especially Un coeur en hiver. Who is our Lino Ventura?
8) L’enfance nue (Pialat)
I was introduced to Pialat in the first place by your À nos amours disc. You should do every one of his you can get your hands on.
9) Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (Schrader)
What a great Mishima DVD—and the commentary track. Immediately started the movie again and watched it all the way through with Paul Schrader. This has always been one of my favorites of his, along with Blue Collar. And Donald Richie again!
10) The Exterminating Angel (Buñuel)
Have just watched The Exterminating Angel for the first time since fuzzy VHS in University of Texas A/V library. He is my hero. Mike Nichols said in the newspaper he thinks of Buñuel every day, which I believe I do, too, or at least every other.
So what are your thoughts on Mr. Anderson’s picks? Which ones are you surprised by? Do agree with most of his selections? (I must admit that I have not seen most of them).