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Film

The film that changed Paul Dano's life forever

Paul Dano made yet another fascinating addition to his filmography last year when he decided to take on the role of The Riddler in the latest Batman film. Earning widespread critical acclaim for his portrayal of a mentally unstable anarchist, Dano proved that he can be just as interesting within the superhero industry as in his other work.

Consistently seen as one of the most underrated talents in Hollywood, Dano has worked on critically acclaimed projects such as Little Miss Sunshine and There Will Be Blood among many others. In recent years, he has collaborated with pioneers like Denis Villeneuve as well as Bong Joon-ho and he is even set to star in Steven Spielberg’s upcoming film.

In 2018, Dano also decided to take a new artistic step by directing his debut feature Wildlife. An adaptation of Richard Ford’s eponymous novel, the film is an engaging exploration of a disintegrating marriage which garnered multiple accolades and proved that Dano has the film knowledge as well as the talent to become a formidable filmmaker.

On multiple occasions, Dano has claimed that he has been influenced by foreign films in more ways than he can count. Citing the works of Krzysztof Kieślowski, Jean-Pierre Melville and Hirokazu Koreeda among many others, Dano’s taste in cinema is definitely eclectic and draws from a wide variety of cinematic sources.

In an interview, Dano recalled how his introduction to foreign films was lacklustre at first but they soon became a major part of his life: “When I went to college, getting into foreign films was a total game changer. I think a lot of these were movies that I fell asleep seeing for the first time and then fell in love with.”

Japanese master Yasujirô Ozu was one of the directors who moved Dano the most and influenced his own dramatic storytelling sensibilities. Dano claimed: “Ozu changed the way I look at film. Proof that less is more. What blossoms from his unmoving camera is huge, heartbreaking, poetic, and truly singular. This is my personal favourite of his.”

However, the film that changed his life forever was none other than Robert Bresson’s seminal 1956 masterpiece A Man Escaped. An unprecedented meditation on liberty, the human condition and prison life, it still remains a sublime cinematic experience and is considered to be essential viewing for all aspiring directors.

While Dano focused on the work of actors in films before, Bresson inspired him to want to be a filmmaker and pick up a camera: “I just didn’t know you could make movies like that, and it absolutely was a game changer in how I saw film. It was something about the simplicity and the complexity within that simplicity.”

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