Mike Mills has made very interesting contributions to the landscape of American independent filmmaking, starting with his debut feature Thumbsucker. Prior to that, Mills had worked on other projects such as the documentary Air: Eating Sleeping Waiting & Playing but it was Thumbsucker that marked the beginning of an important journey in Mills’ career.
Born in California, Mills was familiar with the art world since he was young because his father was an art historian who served as the director of a museum. Before venturing into the world of documentaries and features, Mills made music videos and other short films. Although he has reached new heights now, Mills has continued to produce music videos for artists such as The National.
While Thumbsucker was an interesting starting point, Mills continued to mature as a filmmaker as he made other fascinating projects such as Beginners and the highly acclaimed 2016 film 20th Century Woman. The latter ended up being the best work that Mills had produced up to that point, nabbing an Oscar nomination in the process.
Last year, Mills collaborated with none other than the incredibly talented Joaquin Phoenix when he made the slice-of-life drama C’mon C’mon. The film follows Phoenix’s journey as he travels across the country with his nephew as they develop an exceptionally strong bond. Phoenix garnered a lot of critical acclaim while the project has continued to get accolades.
While appearing for an interview about the film, Mills was asked to reflect on his own journey as a filmmaker. In order to do that, Mills named some really terrific cinematic masterpiece that acts as a continuing source of inspiration for the celebrated director whenever he embarks on a brand new directorial project.
Mills claimed that Wim Wenders’ 1974 masterpiece Alice in the Cities was a direct inspiration for C’mon C’mon. He explained: “Alice in the Cities really influenced this movie — the structure, the idea of a man who isn’t a father taking care of a child they don’t really know and travelling to different cities. And Wim Wenders‘ sense of place in different movies.”
Check out the full list below.
Mike Mills’ favourite films:
- Daisies (Věra Chytilová, 1966)
- Alice in the Cities (Wim Wenders, 1974)
- I fidanzati (Ermanno Olmi, 1963)
- 8½ (Federico Fellini, 1963)
- The Thin Blue Line (Errol Morris, 1988)
The director also recalled how he was blown away when he saw Federico Fellini’s 1963 magnum opus 8½ for the first time in art school. Even though he didn’t think of becoming a filmmaker back then, Fellini’s mastery convinced him that beautiful cinema could be produced by breaking the rules in innovative ways.
“It remains one of my favourite films, and as a filmmaker, the way he writes about his process and interviews is so important and meaningful to me,” Mills added. “Just the virtuosity of the film. An obviously radically personal film, right? It was also radically lyrical, crazy, science-fiction. It’s everything.”