Read this before you view my Ratings. They will make more sense.
I have an incredibly diverse palate when it comes to movies and I’m a pathetically easy grader. I’m almost embarrassed about how many movies I like. I don’t look for “complete” movies but instead for movies from which I can develop a style. For me, a rating of 5 simply means I would like to watch it again—that I can learn from it and that it in some way contributes to my style as a filmmaker. For instance, If I really enjoy an actor’s performance, I’ll rate the movie 5. If the visuals grab me, 5. If the story is told well or uniquely, 5. Maybe it does something I’ve never seen before, or maybe it does something cliché but does it very well. I might even give a movie a 5 for one amazing joke (the case with “Citizen Ruth”). If I rate a movie a 5, it means I will talk to you extensively about that movie.
The movies in my Favorites list are the ones that have most profoundly affected me in my life, the ones which I am constantly running through my head as I develop my own style. There was something in them—maybe big, maybe small—that left an imprint on the way I see film. They range from Orson Welles to Bill Murray. Looking through this list you can see a theme of my preference: striking visuals, active plots, idiosyncratic (and usually isolated) characters that get in over their heads, and comedy. In my own work, I hope to use bold visual techniques—similar to directors like Welles, Polanski, Wong Kar Wai and Kieslowski—to present a modern, Realist setting (an authentic representation of the real world you feel you can walk into), and within that setting unravel plots that are both funny and poignant—always crossing genres in the process, from screwball comedies to crime stories to body swaps.
For me, watching classic films is only half of the battle. If you’re going to make modern films you have to watch modern films—high and low budget, well-reviewed and poorly-reviewed. You have to leave your comfort zone. Watching films you consider failures can teach you just as much as the films you love. Hitchcock once said: “All art is experience. People look at an abstract and they say, ‘I hate it.’ Well, the mere fact that they’re using the word hate means that they’re going through an experience.”