Harrison Ford is the most recent film folk to be a part of my interview series on MSN, but he’s the first who couldn’t come up with an answer to the question that gives the series its title.
What’s in your DVD player?
(long silence) I’m trying to remember. I usually have a very specific ambition when I watch a film, either looking at a filmmaker’s work or the work of an actor or actress. It’s been a while since we’ve watched one.
Do you see many films on DVD?
We have a seven-year-old at home and have a busy life, we don’t usually sit down and watch a DVD all that often and when we do, it’s likely to be a nature film that we watch with Liam or some kid show. Otherwise, it’s work more often than not.
Do you have a favorite among your own films?
I had the opportunity to work with some very good filmmakers and so I think a number of the older films I’ve made are worthy of being seen again, not just for me but for the work involved and the quality of the film. Films like “Presumed Innocent,” “The Mosquito Coast,” those are films that I think that are especially high quality. I also think that the Jack Ryan films are especially well made.
I’ve always liked Jack Ryan because he was a reluctant action hero, more of a thinker than an adventurer. Who do you identity more with — Indiana Jones or Jack Ryan?
I’d have to say that my personal experience would lead me to a situation where I would identify more with Jack Ryan, because Jack Ryan is caused to engage in action when there’s a direct threat to his family. As you say, he only reluctantly engages because he is, by nature, an intellectual.
Read the complete piece here.
In case you missed it, the last “DVD Player” piece was with Spike Lee.
MSN Movies: What’s in your DVD player?
Spike Lee: Right now, what’s in my DVD player is the fifth season of “The Wire.” Recently I had to fly to Singapore and that’s a haul. I like to watch the complete seasons on those long, long, long flights.
You do commentary on almost all the DVD releases of your films, if not every one. Do you enjoy it, or do you do it for other reasons?
Yeah, I enjoy doing it. I’m a teacher. I’m a professor at NYU, and, for me, as a director, I love listening to other directors’ commentary, because I’m learning. I encourage my students, not for every movie but for certain movies — it’s worth the price just for the director’s commentary, because the good guys, the ones who really love their craft, break it down. A lot of time, for me, it’s not just how they did it but why they made that choice. That’s what I love: When they explain why they made the choice they made in the various scenes in the film.
Do you have a sizable DVD collection yourself?
Bigger than my Nike sneaker collection, and that’s huge. (Laughs.) Which my wife does not like at all, it’s running us out of the house.
Being a student of film history, did you go back to specific platoon films in preparation for “Miracle”?
Oh yes, we watched a ton of platoon films: “The Story of G.I. Joe,” “Home of the Brave,” “The Bridge on the River Kwai,” which took place in the Pacific, “The Longest Day,” “Bataan,” “Saving Private Ryan,” “Pork Chop Hill.” And then the Italian neo-realist films, the great films of Vittorio De Sica and Roberto Rossellini, “Rome, Open City,” “Miracle in Milan,” “Bicycle Thief,” “Paisan,” “Shoeshine,” “Germany Year Zero,” “Bellissima,” all those films.
“Miracle” has a very different look and feel from those films. What kind of inspiration did you take from them?
The effect of war on the Italian civilian population. Also, in all those [Italian] films, one of the main characters is a child and you see the effect of war on children.
Read the complete piece here.