Five Favorite Films with Bob Balaban

Plus, the actor, writer, director and Moonrise Kingdom narrator on working with Wes Anderson, directing kids, and his memories of Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters.

Droll, erudite and extremely affable, Bob Balaban is the kind of guy you could spend hours listening to -- which is probably why Wes Anderson cast him as New Penzance's all-purpose meteorologist narrator in his latest hit, Moonrise Kingdom. Balaban's own career as an actor, writer and director goes way back, and via many curious avenues: He made his debut in the classic Midnight Cowboy, has worked with the likes of Woody Allen, Ken Russell and Christopher Guest, and famously appeared as François Truffaut's interpreter in Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind. He's also directed and produced film and TV, appeared in theater, and been the NBC executive responsible for sinking Seinfeld -- on TV, anyway. With Moonrise Kingdom expanding nationally this week, sat down for a talk with Balaban about the film, his experience working with Wes Anderson, and much more. During the course of the interview, he also talked about five of his favorite films.


La Ronde (Max Ophüls, 1950; 100% Tomatometer)

Well I always have a hard time with this. As we get older or grow or whatever, it's always changing, because you just see more movies, for one thing, so you change. One of my most favorite movies, I think a perennial favorite movie of mine is La Ronde. I don't know how well acquainted you are with it. It's one of my favorite movies. Anton Walbrook is one of the stars, who also the stars of another one of my favorite movies, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp. He's the guy who's that German who has the seven-minute monologue with the moving camera that never cuts, and he breaks down during it.




The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, 1943; 95% Tomatometer)

Those are two favorites of mine.

Colonel Blimp really is something else, isn't it?

Yeah -- and I was surprised. I didn't think I'd love it. I saw pieces of it and I kept avoiding watching it, because it seemed so artificial and I didn't get the acting style, but when I watched the whole movie I just thought it was the most amazing movie. I loved it. And Deborah Kerr was just great. I always liked her, but she was just fantastic in this.




The Palm Beach Story / The Miracle of Morgan's Creek (Preston Sturges, 1942/1944; 100/90% Tomatometer)

I do like... I'm a big Preston Sturges fan. I like all of them, but I especially like, probably Palm Beach Story, and Miracle at Morgan's Creek is one of my favorites. I happen to love it. I think it's maybe one of my favorite... 20 movies, 'cause there's so many great things.




The Lives of Others (Florian Henckel-Donnersmarck, 2006; 93% Tomatometer)

Another foreign film was probably The Lives of Others. I thought that was pretty great.




E.T. The Extra Terrestrial (Steven Spielberg, 1982; 98% Tomatometer)

I love E.T., you know. I think E.T. 's great. Those scenes with the kids are quite amazing.

Some of the greatest direction of kids there, that's for sure.

And that's not an accident. He's been consistent, Steven, in his whole career doing that.



Next, Balaban on working with Wes Anderson on Moonrise Kingdom, directing kids and his memories of Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

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