English filmmaker Edgar Wright is one of the most celebrated directors in the world, known for his unique brand of visual comedy which includes modern masterpieces such as Shaun of the Dead and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. He returned to prominence this year with the release of his latest project Last Night in Soho, a bizarre psychological thriller rooted in the world of fashion.
In a recent interview, Wright was asked about the future of the cinema experience. Every other filmmaker is being asked the same question right now but Wright maintained that the pervasive popularity of streaming platforms cannot put an end to the magic that is present in film theatres. Just like the rest of his contemporaries, Wright insisted that cinema is intended for the big screen.
“There is an element where I feel like there’s too much doomsaying on the internet,” the director commented. “I always feel like a lot of people who are saying ‘the death of cinema’ have vested interests in the streamers and stuff… On a spiritual level, I always want to have the opportunity to watch something in the cinema. It’s important to me that if you want to go and see Last Night in Soho in a cinema, you can go see it in a cinema.”
As a part of Criterion’s periodic favourite film feature involving some of the most prominent filmmakers in the world, Wright was invited to select some of his favourite films of all time from the incredibly vast Criterion library which includes movies from all over the world. True to his reputation as a formidable cinephile, Wright selected an eclectic mixture featuring French New Wave gems as well as American classics.
Wright confessed: “Le samouraï is a film I return to again and again. Like with any minimalist cinema, the less it states, the more you want to discover. Jean Pierre Melville’s film has been hugely influential, from Walter Hill’s The Driver through Luc Besson’s Leon: The Professional right up to this year’s Drive. Hell, even scenes from my own Hot Fuzz are ripped out of this.”
He also expressed his admiration for Nicolas Roeg: “I am a huge Nicolas Roeg fan and consider this and his 1973 masterpiece Don’t Look Now to feature some of the best editing of all time, with visual and audio juxtapositions that wow even now. Walkabout is cinema as poetry. Images rhyme with one another in a truly hypnotic fashion. Scenes are as vivid and intense as they are unreal and lyrical. There’s a phantasmagorical array of images, but also a rigorous, genius sense of structure.”
Check out the entire list of Edgar Wright’s favourite films of all time, including films by revered masters such as Jean-Pierre Melville and Luis Buñuel as well as modern pioneer Wes Anderson.
Edgar Wright names his 11 favourite films of all time:
- Blow Out (Brian De Palma, 1981)
- Brazil (Terry Gilliam, 1985)
- The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (Luis Buñuel, 1972)
- Eyes Without a Face (Georges Franju, 1960)
- Head (Bob Rafelson, 1968)
- Peeping Tom (Michael Powell, 1960)
- Rushmore (Wes Anderson, 1998)
- Le samouraï (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1967)
- This Is Spinal Tap (Rob Reiner, 1984)
- Walkabout (Nicolas Roeg, 1971)
- Two-Lane Blacktop (Monte Hellman, 1971)
While talking about Brazil, Wright said: “When I first saw Brazil in the late ’80s, it hit me like a truck. It was such a powerful, bold vision, so joyous in its escapism and so crushing in its ultimate nihilism, that it left my teenage mind in tatters. I wasn’t quite sure what I’d watched but knew it was unlike anything I’d seen before. The impressive (and somewhat sad) fact is that, decades later, I still haven’t seen anything quite like Brazil.”
Adding, “It escaped from Terry Gilliam’s brain with such velocity that its power even today is undeniable. I showed it at the New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles in January of this year, and it still confounded me. I asked Terry Gilliam if he would write a quick intro for me to read out before the screening. This was it: ‘Brazil was made by a bunch of young people who didn’t know any better. They are older and wiser now, but it seems America isn’t.'”