For nearly twenty-five years we’ve been honored to welcome guest programmers to curate repertory films that explore their influences and passions – from Quentin Tarantino’s hand-selected 35mm QT Fest in the early 2000s to last month’s packed screenings of ISHTAR, curated by the band Sparks. We’re very excited to officially continue this tradition with our new series, Guest Selects, an open invitation to our favorite filmmakers, writers, and performers to draw on their diverse backgrounds and eclectic tastes to program films that they think are essential big screen experiences.
Our guest programmer for July? M. Night Shyamalan, the iconic writer/director behind THE SIXTH SENSE, the UNBREAKABLE series, and July 23rd’s thriller OLD. A couple of weeks ago we had a chance to talk to Night about his essential touchstone movies. This is what he told us.
And whaddaya know, we’re showing two of M. Night Shyamalan’s Guest Selects this month at your Alamo Drafthouse, and tickets are on sale right now, and we have three for you right here on Alamo On Demand!
• This Fourth of July (or “Indy-pendence Day”) weekend’s RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK screenings, utilizing a brand-new 4K restoration supervised by Steven Spielberg. • Spielberg’s breakthrough 1975 blockbuster, JAWS, with a special introduction by M. Night Shyamalan only at Alamo Drafthouse locations beginning July 23rd.
There’s certain movies that are anchor movies for me, that I always go to to remind me of cinema at its highest level or the most impactful moments that I’ve had watching movies. I have old, framed posters of them in my offices and in my house. Some of those are like THE EXORCIST, which sits across from me and reminds me of the kind of grounded ‘70s filmmaking it brought to the genre, the kind of detail and minimalism they brought to that subject matter.
I also have this Japanese RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK poster over my mantle in my office. It reminds me of the the first time I saw movies in the movie theater and how much it meant to me and that kind of playful, childlike quality – but with the precision of the highest form of cinema.
I have THE GODFATHER behind me, [reminding me of] the kind of elegance and the formality of how one did violence and the power of emotion seen through this kind of very dark, dark lens. THE GODFATHER is probably my favorite movie. I think it’s the the majesty of it, and the elegance of the shotmaking in the movie that has always stayed with me. The revelations in the violence and the structure of the movie… the pitch of the story, and even the kind of way Francis Ford Coppola chose his actors and and the type of actors he chose. I know he struggled to fight for Al Pacino and have this kind of new quality of acting that was very quiet and minimal and reserved at the center of this very popular book. It always guides me in terms of how cinema at the highest, highest level can also entertain.
JAWS is to my right at my desk. JAWS, for me, is a kind of a balancing act of suspense and horror, but there’s great comedy in there and great, grounded human characters. That balance is what I’m always striving for, to get the kind of effortless nature that is in that movie – Steven Spielberg’s mastery of the craft, his ability to to use lenses and zooms, to dolly in and zoom out at the right time, the editing and and how powerful that movement and cadence is. I also find JAWS structured perfectly. This idea of that third act is these three men going to fight this shark and what happens – it becomes its own mini movie there at the end. And of course, of course the incredible score that has basically defined all of us and becomes what we call fear now.