While the technical accomplishments and formal influences on a director’s work can be fascinating, sometimes the clearest understanding to their approach on cinema comes not from a checklist of inspirations, but a journey though their relationship with the medium. For example, knowing that Terrence Malick is a fan of Ben Stiller‘s “Zoolander” creates a much more complex portrait of the reclusive filmmaker that his own body of work may reflect. And so, in our ongoing semi-regular feature (kicked off by Terry Gilliam), we sat down with Daniel Carbone of the upcoming “Hide Your Smiling Faces” to talk about the movie touchstones in his life.
Carbone’s film follows two young brothers, bound by tragedy and dealing with adolescence over the course of one hot summer, and so you won’t be surprised to hear him talk about movies like “Stand By Me” or even “The Lost Boys” below. But like any other lover, Carbone’s tastes run far and wide from big-budget spectacle to one particular, warm-and-fuzzy family movie we’ll leave you to discover yourself. It’s a wonderful look into what formed Carbone as a moviemaker.
“Hide Your Smiling Faces,” which we said “skillfully articulates the inexpressible; the weird, beautiful struggle that is life,” is on VOD today and opens in limited release this Friday, March 28th.
1. The first movie you ever saw.
I had to ask my mom about this one and she is fairly sure it was Joel Schumacher’s “The Lost Boys.” This certainly falls in line with the kinds of films I remember really loving as a young kid. I watched tons of coming-of-age and horror films growing up and this is a sort of perfect mix of the two. I’m not sure anyone knows the truly correct answer for this question, but if “The Lost Boys” wasn’t actually the first, it was definitely one of them, and definitely one of the most memorable.
2. The best moviegoing film experience you ever had.
I once convinced my parents to take me to see Michael Bay’s “The Rock“ at our tiny local movie theater. They had no idea what it was and about 15 minutes in they knew I had pulled one over on them. It was the first R-rated movie I saw in a theater and I remember feeling like I had gotten over an important cinematic hurdle. I also had a blast watching it, and still do.
3. The first movie you became obsessed with.
At age 10, I watched my parent’s rented copy of David Fincher’s “Se7en.” I watched it with a dictionary on my lap so I could look up what each of the deadly sins meant. When it ended I rewound the tape and started it right over. It was so dark and fascinating to me and I realized that I wanted to one day make someone as immersed in a film as I felt at that moment. I finally saw a 35mm print at a festival in the fall and I have to say it really holds up.
4. The movie that always makes you cry.
Over the last few years I’ve noticed that many more movies have been bringing me to tears, but it used to be a pretty rare occurrence. The movie that never fails to really hit me hard is David Lynch’s “The Elephant Man.” It’s such an incredible, bittersweet film from top to bottom, and that final scene turns me into a weeping mess every single time.
5. The movie that always freaks you out/makes you scared.
“It,” especially the complete 3-hour miniseries version. Like all of the made-for-TV Stephen King miniseries of the time, it didn’t age well, but there are a handful of moments in that film that will haunt me for the rest of my days. Tim Curry is absolutely horrifying and I will never be able to look at balloons, fortune cookies, or sewer drains the same way again.
6. The movie you love that no one would expect you to love.
This one is easy. “Babe.” To this day I’d still count it (and its pitch black, surreal, criminally-underappreciated sequel) among my favorite films. It was written by George Miller and nominated for 7 Oscars which I think might surprise a lot of people. It’s one of the very rare films that is just as powerful and relevant to adults as it is to kids. I’m fiercely loyal to it as well. I once refused to go to a friend’s birthday party in elementary school because they were going to see “Gordy.”
7. The movie that defined your childhood (and why).
Rob Reiner’s “Stand By Me“ is a film I remember relating to on a lot of levels as a kid; primarily the rural location and focus on male relationships. It felt like a film about me and my brother and our friends. Despite not actually being one of the main references for “Hide Your Smiling Faces,” it frequently comes up when discussing the film, so it’s hard to ignore the unconscious influence it had on me and my work.
8. The movie that defined your coming-of-age/high school experience.
A film that had an enormous impact on me in my teenage years was Lynne Ramsay’s “Ratcatcher.” I saw it around the time I started to take the possibility of being a filmmaker more seriously, and I was really inspired by its attention to detail and its quiet but powerful tone. It felt like a fresh take on a genre I was losing interest in at the time. It was the first time I remember seeing such an intimate and personal story about children. It changed the way I began to imagine my own future work—to see new possibilities for the kinds of films I could make—and became a big point of reference for “Hide Your Smiling Faces.”
9. The last film you saw that you loved.
The last film that I saw and truly loved would have to be Leos Carax’s “Holy Motors.” I didn’t get around to seeing it until late last year, but it absolutely blew me away and exceeded my lofty expectations. There’s a thrilling energy to that film that is unlike any other. I also love the way it eulogizes cinema’s past while simultaneously making use of and celebrating the tools and technology of the present. I think a lot of filmmakers are conflicted about the pros and cons of the current transition in how films are made and seen, but I haven’t seen anything explore this idea as thoroughly and inventively as “Holy Motors.” I had a silly grin on my face the entire time.
10. The film that made you fall in love with cinema.
Though I saw it long after I was already deeply obsessed with film, my first viewing of Tarkovsky’s “Stalker“ gave me a whole new appreciation for the medium. I better understood that part of cinema’s appeal, for me, was its unique ability to accomplish something no other medium can. I was completely transported. The way its images and sound combine so fluidly is hypnotic. It’s a specific feeling that I only experience while watching certain films, and never as strongly as with “Stalker.” I realized the power that a film can have to be so much more than simply a form of entertainment.