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The 10 Movies That Changed My Life: ‘Zero Motivation’ Director Talya Lavie

The 10 Movies That Changed My Life: ‘Zero Motivation’ Director Talya Lavie

“An exciting new original voice in cinema, who happens to be really funny, intelligent, and female.” Yep, that’s our review quoted in the new trailer for “Zero Motivation.” The directorial debut of Talya Lavie (who we placed on our Breakthrough Directors of 2014 list), which plays like a mash-up of “M.A.S.H.,” “The Last Detail,” and “Office Space,” “Zero Motivation” is a hilarious look at tedium, bureaucracy, and red tape as seen through the lens of the slow moving Israeli army. And in particular, a unit of young, female soldiers who are relegated to the doom of boredom in a human resources office. Based on Lavie’s own experiences, “Zero Motivation” is extremely distinct, particular, sharp, and wryly observed. 

The film won the Narrative Feature and Nora Ephron prizes at the Tribeca Film Festival earlier this year, and Lavie’s been on our radar ever since. We cannot wait to see what she cooks up next. But before we look to the future and forget the prize in front of us, “Zero Motivation” hits theaters in limited release this Friday. In honor of its release we asked Lavie to detail her thoughts in our 10 Movies That Changed My Life series and she dutifully obliged us. 

1. The first movie you ever saw.

Strangely, the first movie I remember watching several times as a really young kid is Michael Crichton’s “The Great Train Robbery” (1978). My father loved this movie and we used to watch it again and again. I was fascinated by the creatively complex operation and dreamed of becoming a criminal myself when I grew up.

2. The first moviegoing film experience you can remember.
I went to see films at the cinema as a kid, but the first really strong moviegoing experience that I remember is when I was a teenager and went to see Jim Sheridan’s In the Name of the Father.” Such a strong experience in front of the big screen can only happen at a young age, when you become so attached to things and they become part of your skin. I kept running in my head every frame and every sound from this film. And just the thought of some of the scenes in that film makes my heart break.

3. The best moviegoing film experience you ever had.
Fellini’s “Nights of Cabiria.” I was 17, I went alone to see it at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque and I still remember the walk back home. I was dazed and overwhelmed by it. I still am, and it’s one of my favorite films of all time.

4. The first movie you became obsessed with.
I’m quite an obsessive person, so it’s hard to say, but the film that I can probably quote by heart is “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” I was obsessed with all the Monty Python films. They’re all geniuses, and I’ll never get enough of them.

5. The movie that always freaks you out/makes you scared
I was never into horror movies. I’m too easily scared and prefer to skip most of them. But being a fan of Martin Scorsese, I can say that some of his masterpieces that I adore, “Taxi Driver” and “Raging Bull,” are also the ones that scare me the most, because one of my biggest fears is losing my mind. It’s the emotional monsters that freak me out much more than those in dark woods. Another one of my favorite “scary” films is Elia Kazan’s “Splendor in the Grass.” Its pain remains forever. Madness and missed opportunities are scary for me.

6. The movie you love that no one would expect you to love.
Vincent Gallo
’s “The Brown Bunny.” I was in love with “Buffalo ‘66” but somehow got the impression that I wouldn’t like this one. I had the DVD next to my bed and I didn’t watch it until one night when I couldn’t sleep. I actually thought it’d be boring and help me fall asleep, but it woke me upin many ways. When it ended, I had to watch it again right away. I felt thankful to him for making this film.

7. The movie that defined your coming-of-age/high school experience.
Rushmore,” by one of my favorite directors, Wes Anderson. It looks nothing like my high school but I felt such a powerful and immediate connection to this dreamy, failed, and overly ambitious boy.

8. The movie that defined your childhood.
I used to watch a lot of musicals as a child. Again, none of them resemble my own childhood, but I was always fantasizing and enjoyed imagining myself as the magical nun from the “The Sound of Music.”

9. The film that made you fall in love with cinema.

Broadway Danny Rose” is one of my favorite Woody Allen films. I’d have to also mention “Radio Days,” “Annie Hall,” “Husbands and Wives,” “Zelig,” “Love and Death,” “Everyone Says I Love You,” “Hannah and Her Sisters,” and all of his tremendous cinematic heritage that I can’t imagine my life and my love to cinema without. I’d also have to add “Barton Fink” and “The Big Lebowski” by the Coen Brothers, who are amazing cinema artists.

10. The film you’ve rewatched more than any other.
Whenever I feel sad or weak, I watch “Kill Bill: Volumes 1 and 2.” Quentin Tarantino is an amazing director and a huge inspiration. I’m a fan of his work, and I feel that these films actually have a healing power. They’re so smart and empowering. I just need to watch the grave scene and I’m all set.

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