By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist December 8, 2010 at 7:30AM
The end of 2010 is approaching fast and as prepare our year-end lists as well as look forward to the year ahead, we decided to get a different perspective on the past 12 months. With that in mind, we reached out to a handful of directors and actors to find out what resonated with them over the past year and to keep things interesting, we didn't just limit it to films. The conversations have definitely been a lot of fun and very interesting, and it's easy to forget that the people who actually make films are not only some of the medium's biggest fans, but they also have unique interests and tastes outside of that realm as well.
Kicking things off, we had the chance to speak with Louis Leterrier, director of "Clash of the Titans" and "The Incredible Hulk," who came armed with a list of not only his favorite films, but the television shows, comic books and music that have resonated with him over the past year. We have more guests in the works that we're keeping under our hats for now, but to get things going, we present Louis Leterrier's favorites of 2010.
Presented to us in no particular order, Louis Leterrier dished about the movies that grabbed his attention. And while the usual suspects like "Inception," "Toy Story 3" and "The Social Network" placed on his list he says, "These are the movies I loved, that everybody else loved. I can you what I loved about them but it's pretty much what everybody else loved about them." That said, he elaborated on the rest of his selections, some of which will be obvious while others will be a pleasant surprise.
"Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World," directed by Edgar Wright, gets high praise from Leterrier who calls it, "One of the most amazing films of the decade. It really was fun, fast, entertaining, engaging, humorous….well-acted, beautifully shot, original. It was fantastic and then -- there was three people in the movie theatre. It's so unfair when a movie that good, doesn't meet its audience."
Another excellent film this year that we liked a whole lot as well, that also unfortunately and undeservedly failed to find a larger audience, is Matt Reeves' "Let Me In." "I've done remakes and I know how tough it is," Leterrier told us. "And doing a remake of a movie that's so good and so recent, how do you up the ante? How do you make it click and connect with an audience has possible the seen the original one and also an audience that hasn't seen the original one? I thought it was fantastic. Amazingly directed and acted. The sound was absolutely fantastic. The craftsmanship of the movie was so good that I reached out to people I didn't know: Will Files the sound designer, Greig Frasier who was the DP. I reached out to them and said, 'Guys I think what you did was absolutely amazing.' Telling a story with so little money and so much heart is amazing."
"This is great storytelling. The villain is so good….the hero becomes the villain….it's better than any screenplay written in Hollywood these days." No, Leterrier isn't talking about a superhero film. He's talking about the Bansky prank/documentary "Exit Through The Gift Shop," a film whose high-wire about face earned high marks from the helmer who said, "You could take this movie and translate it to [any genre] and you'd still have an amazing movie."
But it's not just genre fare that Leterrier tracks down. His tastes are fairly wide ranging, as evidenced by his next couple of choices. He laughed heartily at the Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg vehicle, "The Other Guys," saying, "I love comedies and I like sometimes comedies have a tendency to get a bit lazy. 'The Other Guys' was not lazy. I thought it was really funny." And he also had a grand ol' time watching "Jackass 3D," recalling the spirited screening he attended, "I thought that was a great time at the movies. You know, some people are trying to get Oscars [and awards] -- these guys are making movies for people to enjoy themselves. I went to see it alone one night in Pasadena and the crowd was going crazy, high-fiving [and cheering]. And sometimes you want that stuff."
And if you thought being in Hollywood has kept Leterrier out of the loop on the what's going on in cinemas at home, guess again. Two of France's most highly regarded gangster pics of the last year (or so), the two-part "Mesrine" and the epic "A Prophet" earned high marks, with Leterrier unreservedly calling the latter, "The best French film of last year, released this year. It's absolutely amazing. Jacques Audiard is possibly the best French director [currently working]." And if you liked "A Prophet," Leterrier strongly recommends that you track down Audiard's 2001 film "Read My Lips."
Though he didn't fully embrace it, Leterrier lists Gaspar Noé's ambitious mindfuck "Enter The Void" because, "It pushes the envelope a little further. It tries to do something that is different. The story is not as interesting, but the moviemaking is absolutely amazing."
Finally, as a laugh, Leterrier tells us that "The Human Centipede" is one that he playfully suggests to friends. "This is the movie I force people to watch," he says adding that, "It's so bad, it's good."
OK, this one isn't really a list, but if you're thinking of something to get the cinephile in your family this Christmas, Leterrier strongly endorses the recently released triple disc edition of James Cameron's "Avatar." "The new 'Avatar' BluRay is a lesson in filmmaking. It really is inspiring," the director gushed. "When I was in film school I was learning more theory than practice. And I think I was lucky to be in film school from '92-'96 because that's when laserdiscs [were available] and you were starting to get extras, and to see the behind the scenes and get audio commentary from the directors. And that's when the commentaries were not bullshit and not political and you could say whatever you want. And it was quite good. And now I feel that EPKs can be kind of boring but these EPKs in the 'Avatar' set are absolutely amazing. If I was not a filmmaker this BluRay would have made me want to become a director."
Leterrier trumpets the extensive featurettes on the film's development, finding the story of James Cameron's journey to get the film made and the struggles he encountered along the way both fascinating and illuminating. "Anybody that wants to be a filmmaker or that is a filmmaker should own this BluRay and watch it over and over and over again. I am and I'm learning every day," he said.
Though he generally tries to watch shows in full season batches instead of waiting patiently week-by-week for new episodes, Leterrier has been hooked by AMC's "The Walking Dead" telling us, "It's fantastic. I'm a huge fan of Frank Darabont….they really are doing different TV." But not everything he caught on AMC will be returning as he laments, "One show I thought was amazing and was canceled was 'Rubicon.'"
Looking to unwind, Leterrier will switch on "30 Rock" and a guilty pleasure program, that he watches with his step-daughter, is the Jason Segel and Neil Patrick Harris ensemble comedy, "How I Met You Mother." That one gets a special mention because he thinks the cast is great and the writing crew do a solid job.
Finally, "a cool show" that Leterrier really digs is Discovery's "Bad Universe," a program that offers up scientifically backed theories on what would happen as a result of phenomenal/fantastical events such as alien invasions or asteroid collisions.
A couple of comics by Joe Kelly caught Leterrier's eyes this year. "I Kill Giants" -- a series that ran for seven issues starting in 2008 -- blew the director away. "Amazing," Leterrier said. "A tearjerker. I've never cried before reading a comic book, but this one did it to me." Another older Kelly project, a series also launched in 2008 called "Four Eyes" also snagged the helmer's attention. "It's really really good," Letterier says of the comic that presents an alternate universe in the 1930s where dragon's exist and are fought for sport in the underbelly of New York City. "The art is amazing and Joe's writing is amazing."
Leterrier also has kind words for Mark Guggenheim's "Resurrection," a series that Leterrier says is doing for the alien invasion genre what "The Walking Dead" is doing for zombies. Check it out.
Finally, when Leterrier is writing or just kicking back, he's spinning some music and these are the records that he found himself hitting "Repeat" for. "It's a tough one," Leterrier said of "Heligoland," Massive Attack's fifth studio album, "but when you listen to it over and over again, it gets better and better and better and better."
Beats seem to be favorite for the direct as he cites Röyksopp's "Senior" as well as tunes by Major Lazer getting constant rotation, but he makes no bones about the group that got most of his attention in the past 12 months. "My favourite band of the year is Die Antwoord," Letterier said calling their album "$.O.$" and their videos "fucking amazing."
The director also has high praise for mash-up artists, lavishing praise on Girl Talk's latest cut-and-paste disc "All Day" and naming a 2manyDJs gig as "one of the best concerts of this year."
Of course, no music talk would be complete without discussing soundtracks. Leterrier digs Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross' work for "The Social Network" and is definitely excited to see who will be the nominees at the Oscars, hoping for some progressive picks. "You know what's going to be fun this year at the Oscars? It will be Trent Reznor versus Hans Zimmer [for 'Inception'] and the Daft Punk soundtrack which is truly, truly great. It's electronic and symphonic."
So there you have it. A look at what Leterrier watched, read and listened to this year. We again thank him for his cooperation and we had a blast talking about all of this with him. Stay tuned for more in our Top 2010 of the year lists. Wanna participate in our top 10s of the year? You know where to find us.
(In No Particular Order) Louis Leterrier's Favorite Movies Of 2010
Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World
Let Me In
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
Exit Through The Gift Shop
The Other Guys
Enter The Void
The Human Centipede
(In No Particular Order) Louis Leterrier's Favorite Music Of 2010
Massive Attack "Heligoland"
Die Antwoord "$.O.$."
Girl Talk "All Day"
Major Lazer "Lazers Never Die"
Daft Punk "Tron: Legacy" Soundtrack
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross "The Social Network" Soundtrack
Hans Zimmer "Inception" Soundtrack