Auteur Ryūsuke Hamaguchi is a natural cinephile. The critically acclaimed writer/director behind “Asako I & II,” “Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy,” and Japan’s 2022 Oscar entry “Drive My Car” recently revealed his top 10 Criterion Collection titles, offering a peek into his film-going tastes.
In an interview with Criterion, Hamaguchi revealed the biggest cinematic influences on his work, with films ranging from Jean Renoir to Roberto Rossellini’s work. Of course, Hamaguchi’s favorite films were dependent on what was available to watch while growing up in Japan.
“There are still quite a few Jacques Becker films that are unavailable in Japan, but I’ve loved all the ones I’ve been able to see—I had a hard time deciding between ‘Le trou’ and ‘Casque d’Or‘,” Hamaguchi explained, ultimately selecting “Casque.” “It taught me that the act of turning is enough; there’s no need for cutting to communicate the story, because the mere act of two people looking at each other is all you need to create something emotionally resonant.”
Rossellini’s “Stromboli” cements Hamaguchi’s admiration for Rossellini and Ingrid Bergman’s partnership. “[The film] represents two conflicting realms that come together and form a perfect union,” Hamaguchi noted. “Theirs is a marriage between Hollywood, which is a world of pure fiction, and neorealism.”
Meanwhile, Douglas Sirk’s “All That Heaven Allows” landed in Hamaguchi’s number five slot. “The camera, for Sirk, is a kind of X-ray that perceives a character’s soul,” Hamaguchi reflected. “That might sound cliché, but I feel that truly resonates with my filmmaking experiences.”
And what was Hamaguchi’s number 10?
“Flowers of Shanghai,” directed by Hou Hsiao-hsien. “Even though I’m a filmmaker myself, I find it difficult to figure out why the film works so well,” Hamaguchi mused.
Overall, Hamaguchi named “Stage and Spectacle: Three Films by Jean Renoir,” “Eclipse Series 34: Jean Grémillon During the Occupation,” “Casque d’Or,” “Stromboli,” “All That Heaven Allows,” “Women of the Night,” “Eclipse Series 26: Silent Naruse,” “3 Silent Classics by Josef von Sternberg,” “Holiday,” and “Flowers of Shanghai” as his top Criterion releases.
“Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy” was awarded the Berlin International Film Festival’s Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize, just a few months before “Drive My Car” won Best Screenplay, the FIPRESCI International Critics’ Prize, and the Ecumenical Jury Prize at Cannes. With tons of critics’ awards to back it, “Drive My Car” is looking like the film to beat in the Best International Feature Oscar race.
To read more on Hamaguchi’s full list of film recommendations, head over to Criterion’s website.