Josh and Benny Safdie are among the most promising filmmakers of their generation. Their films “Good Time” and “Uncut Gems” are critical and cultural phenomenons; neo-realist exposés on the underbelly of humanity. The Safdie Brothers are ubiquitous for their frenetic pacing and fully immersive storytelling, instilling a kinetic energy that’s both entertaining and exhausting.
Back in 2017, the Criterion Channel invited the Safdie Brothers to browse their expansive DVD collection. The Brothers are kids in a candy shop, gushing over classic Robert Bresson films and underrated Tim Roth performances. If you consider you’re a cinephile or even just a filmgoer, this video is worth checking out. It’s so interesting to see which films inspired the Brothers, and some of their choices may surprise you. Below you’ll find run-downs of three of the films they chose, but I highly suggest you check out the video yourself for their full selection.
“Bicycle Thieves” Vittorio De Sica
If you’ve ever taken a film class, you’ve probably watched the Italian masterpiece, “Ladri di biciclette” or “Bicycle Thieves. The De Sica film defined the neorealist film genre of the 1940’s and Martin Scorsese cites the film as one of his favorites. Adapted from a 1946 novel, the film tells the story of a young boy and his father’s search for a stolen bicycle, without which the father will lose his job.
“Meantime” Mike Leigh
Tim Roth and Gary Oldman star in this 1983 drama about two slackers living on welfare in their parent’s apartment. Benny Safdie is particularly obsessed over this Mike Leigh feature, citing Roth’s performance as “life-changing” and an inspiration for his own acting.
“Blood Simple“ Ethan and Joel Coen
“Blood Simple” is the first feature length film directed by the Coen Brothers, and its brilliance is certainly a precursor for things to come. Starring Frances McDormand and John Getz, the crime thriller stakes murder and love in classic Coen Brothers fashion; blending comedy and terror to create a downright masterpiece. The final scene is among my favorite of all time and it’s not surprising the Safdie Brothers showed a proclivity for the film.