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‘Heaven Knows What’ Directors Josh and Benny Safdie Pick Their Top 10 Criterion Films

'Heaven Knows What' Directors Josh and Benny Safdie Pick Their Top 10 Criterion Films

Go figure the Safdie brothers, whose “Heaven Knows What” is a gritty 16mm-looking addiction drama with an in-your-face documentary attitude, love John Cassavetes.

That 20th-century indie film pioneer’s fingerprints are all over the Safdies’ new film (which opens today). For “Heaven Knows What,” they plucked nonprofessional actors off the street and put a camera in front of them. Cassavetes also took a punkishly impromptu approach to directing, throwing friends and family and non-actors in a tight space and letting them run rampant.

READ MORE: How the Safdies Made “Heaven Knows What” with a Real-Life Ex-Junkie

Cassavetes films are  “film school for a hundred bucks, Josh writes. “We watch the master turn actors into people and vice versa, and hold the feeling above anything else.” Which is exactly what he and his brother do in their must-see heroin romance.

In their Criterion top 10, the New York-based Safdie brothers also tip their hats to earlier cinematic truth-seekers, including Vittorio de Sica and François Truffaut. Here’s the full list:

1. “Bicycle Thieves”
2. “Shadows”/”Faces”/”A Woman Under the Influence”/”The Killing of a Chinese Bookie”/”Opening Night”
3. “Close-up”/”The Moment of Truth”
4. “The 400 Blows”
5. “Fishing with John”/”Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday”
6. “A Man Escaped”
7. “Crumb”
8. “Nashville”
9. “Hoop Dreams”
10. “Macbeth”

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