American actor, director and former firefighter Steve Buscemi is a longterm admirer of arthouse cinema and the driving independent filmmakers that go along with it.
While Buscemi is arguably best known for working with the likes of Quentin Tarantino and the Coen Brothers, the actor began life in cinema with a debut in 1985 film The Way It Is, directed by Eric Mitchell and produced by No Wave Cinema.
Away from the likes of Reservoir Dogs, Miller’s Crossing and The Big Lebowski, Buscemi has continually attempted to channel his love for independent cinema in most of his creative projects. In what is arguably the best demonstration of this arriving most prominently when he made his directing debut in 1996 with comedy-drama film Trees Lounge, a picture he created with the modest budget of $1.3 million despite its all-star cast.
Reflecting on some of the films that have influenced his vision over the years, Buscemi sat down with the Criterion Collection to list what he considers to be 10 of his favourite films of all time. “I guess I’m a sucker for black and white,” Buscemi told Criterion when introducing The Honeymoon Killers as one of his selections.
“This 1970 independent classic is from writer/director Leonard Kastle, who took over after Martin Scorsese was let go,” he added. “Based on a true story, it held particular interest for me because the killers at one point decide to retire to suburban Valley Stream, Long Island, the town where I primarily grew up and directed my first film, Trees Lounge.”
With a mixture of the old and new, Buscemi includes the likes of Gus Van Sant, Robert Altman, Jules Dassin and more in his wide-ranging list.
Steve Buscemi top 10 films:
- Brute Force – Jules Dassin, 1947.
- Billy Liar – John Schlesinger, 1963.
- Symbiopsychotaxiplasm – William Greaves, 1968.
- Salesman – Albert Maysles, David Maysles, Charlotte Zwerin, 1969.
- The Honeymoon Killers – Leonard Kastle, 1970.
- A Woman Under the Influence – John Cassavetes, 1974.
- The Vanishing – George Sluizer, 1988.
- My Own Private Idaho – Gus Van Sant, 1991.
- Man Bites Dog – Rémy Belvaux, André Bonzel, Benoit Poelvoorde, 1992.
- Short Cuts – Robert Altman, 1993.
Buscemi, a big fan of Gus Van Sant, admitted he found it difficult picking just one of his films but opted for My Own Private Idaho: “It’s hard to pick a favourite Gus Van Sant film, but this one has my favourite River Phoenix performance,” he added. “It took me a while to warm up to the story while watching it, but by the end I was loving it. I like when movies sneak up on you that way.”