Fun Fridays – Director’s Favourite Films – Alexander Payne, Spike Lee and Peter Jackson

Hello Film Doctor friends.

This Fun Friday is a “triple-bill”- since we’ve had 2 film titles hitting the UK screens last weekend – “Nebraska”  and Josh Brolin-starring “Oldboy” v.2013 – and one big release out today – “The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug” 

Film Doctor - Alexander Payne

“Nebraska’s Oscar-wining Screenwriter & Director Alexander Payne (The Descendants, Sideways, About Schmidt) has proved to be a big oldie fan, as you can see from this list (first published by Film Streams).


Seven Samurai 1954

“I still can’t believe it now, fifty-odd viewings later, that a movie can be that good—that ferocious, that delicate, that historical, that timeless, that entertaining, that complete. It goes by quickly precisely because it is so economical, each frame measured and weighed for the story it tells.” (Alexander Payne)


Viridiana 1961

“With the blessing of the Franco government, surrealist director Luís Buñuel returned to Spain after 22 years of exile to make this one film. VIRIDIANA went on to share the top prize at Cannes but was immediately banned by the censors at home. It is one of the most ferocious, subversive, quietly obscene of his career, the greatest possible nose-thumbing to the dictator.” (Alexander Payne)


Room at the Top 1959

Worth seeing just for French actress Simone Signoret’s Oscar-winning performance, it’s a powerhouse British tragedy about class, money and power, and how sex, which is used to get them, traps the user. –Alexander Payne


La Notte 1961

Marcello Mastroianni also stars in Michelangelo Antonioni’s look at the breakup of a marriage over a single night during which the couple attend a party. A challenging, rewarding, mysterious film. –Alexander Payne


Modern Times 1936

“The miracle of cinema is the miracle of Chaplin. For the first time in history, people all over the world, regardless of language, culture, class or race, laughed at the same things at the same times, at a shared humanity—and all without words. His importance cannot be over-estimated. MODERN TIMES was his last silent film, and since it was made years after the rest of cinema had turned to talkies, it also put an end to an entire tradition.” (Alexander Payne)


McCabe & Mrs. Miller 1971

Warren Beatty and Julie Christie in Robert Altman’s great, mysterious Western about the opening of a brothel in a Northwest boom town. A landmark film in its use of cinematography and sound for mood and texture. –Alexander Payne


The Wild Bunch 1969

“THE WILD BUNCH scares me; it has always scared me. It scared me when it originally played at the Omaha Theater downtown and no one would take me to see it because it was too violent… It still scares and intimidates me every time I see it—at least once a year—not only for its violence, the moral ambiguity of its world, and the way men are portrayed—Am I a man, too?—but for the sheer virtuosity of its filmmaking. How could one ever make a film this good? Sam Peckinpah scares me.” (Alexander Payne)


81/2 1963

Italian director Federico Fellini’s self-portrait never fails to astonish with its technical virtuosity, imagination, and honesty. My other vote for best movie ever made. With Marcello Mastroianni. –Alexander Payne


The Last Detail 1973

Hal Ashby’s uproarious, bittersweet, beautiful story about two Navy lifers ordered to take a childlike, oafish sailor to the brig. A film I watch about twice a year, and my favorite Jack Nicholson performance. –Alexander Payne


To Be or Not to Be 1942

One of the first American movies to deal with the Holocaust—and of course, like THE GREAT DICTATOR, a comedy. From director Ernst Lubitsch, and starring never-better Jack Benny and Carole Lombard. –Alexander Payne

  • “Big Business” – “my favorite Laurel and Hardy short.” (A.Payne in interview with Scott Tobias for The A.V. Club, 2011)

Payne has also shared personal favourites, like use of first-person narration:

“The novel is in first person, and I like first-person literature, and I like first-person film. I even like third-person voiceover in a film when it’s well done, like Barry Lyndon. You think about how first-person is used by Sissy Spacek in Badlands or the dead guy in Sunset Blvd. or the first-person omniscient narrator in A Clockwork Orange. It’s just so fucking delicious, so great to see those proceedings through the point of view of your protagonist. It’s just delicious.”  (A.Payne in interview with Scott Tobias for The A.V. Club, 2011)


Film Doctor - Oldboy Spike Lee


Spike Lee  has remade “Oldboy” (2003), but this is just ONE of his favourite films. He is also known to distribute а list of “must-sees” to his students at NYU. Since the list is 87 films long (!!) we’re just going to paste a link here:

AND, Spike has also provided ‘7 Films by Female Directors’ to add to his essential list:

Film Doctor - Peter Jackson

The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug is out today. Peter Jackson has already been in our “Director’s Favourite Films” ‘spotlight”, so let’s re-visit his list of selected titles:

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Have a great week!
The Film Doctor Team
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