Find out the “Requiem for a Dream” and “The Wrestler” director’s favorite films — and how to watch them.
“I became aware of Mickey Rourke through ‘Angel Heart.’ I was backpacking in Europe when I was 18 and went to see the movie because I was a big Lisa Bonet fan (I was from Brooklyn and they filmed ‘The Cosby Show’ down the street). I remember being blown away by his performance. He was so cool, so tough and so soft at the same time.” (Time Out London)
The “Pi” and “Noah” director is apparently a huge Terry Gilliam fan, as two of the filmmaker’s movies show up on his They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They? list. This one, a sci-fi classic, shows up on many director’s lists — a sign of its enduring influence.
Gilliam, a “Monty Python” alum, considers this (along with “Brazil” and “The Adventures of Baron Munchausen”) to be part of a trilogy about the “craziness of our awkwardly ordered society and the desire to escape it through whatever means possible.” Given the desperation of Aronofsky’s characters, it’s easy to see why he relates to it.
Among the most acclaimed underdog sports dramas, Peter Yates’ drama won an Academy Award for its screenplay and the Golden Globe for Best Film (Comedy or Musical). One imagines Aronofsky consulted it while working on “The Wrestler,” which takes a considerably darker approach to its athletic subject matter.
“It’s this idea of using music to enter a new chapter by going back to the main refrain, like the moment with Toshiro Mifune in ‘Yojimbo’ where suddenly he’s the bad-ass in town, and the most valuable chess player on the board. Now, it’s all about how that chess piece is going to be moved.”
“I was lucky to grow up in Brooklyn when two major musical forms sort of came and took over the world. It’s so easy to forget how good of a movie ‘Saturday Night Fever’ is. It was way over my head at the time. In fact, it was my first R-rated movie. I guess I was 7 or 8 when it came out and stormed the world. Me and my sister were dying to see it, and my dad was not having it, but my mom was like, ‘Everyone’s seeing it. It’s all going to go over their head.'”
“It was a major film when it came out for all of us, because New York was in a very different place than it was in 1977. Race relations were really boiling over, and Spike Lee completely tapped into what was in everyone’s head every time you got on the subway, every time you walked down the street. He just made it a timeless tale…Spike is able to put a stylistic spin on everything, yet also make everything emotionally true and real. He was able to capture all that pain that was going on, but also have this humor and mischievous style.”
“The first half of ‘Full Metal Jacket’ is all about order, and turning these human beings into machines, but there’s this one piece of chaos, which is this overweight soldier, who is just slowly picked on until he eventually explodes. Then, it’s all about bringing these machines and this order into chaos. Suddenly, the whole shooting style changes, and it’s a completely different movie. I think that final shot of the movie is all about taking the grid of that order and sticking it over that chaos, while they’re in hell, literally. They’re in this destroyed landscape, yet they’re perfectly ordered in a grid, singing the great theme song of America, trying to stamp this grid across chaos.”
“Since we were going to talk about music and film, I wanted to definitely choose a piece from my favorite musical, ‘West Side Story’…The camera’s in exactly the right place for every single shot, as far as capturing the choreography, telling the story, including the right characters at the right time. From the opening shot, you can see that the bars over to the side are going to end up, for the final verse, behind. The director is already thinking about where the entire number is going to go.”