Five Favorite Films

Five Favorite Films with Push Director Paul McGuigan

The Scottish filmmaker cites Wong Kar-Wai, Hitchcock, and even Aronofsky.

by | January 27, 2009 | Comments

Paul McGuigan  L. Busacca/
Given his filmography of stylized thrillers, Scottish director Paul McGuigan (Gangster No. 1, Wicker Park, Lucky Number Slevin) seemed a fitting choice to helm this month’s supernatural actioner Push, a Hong Kong-set sci-fi adventure about normal people endowed with super powers starring Chris Evans, Dakota Fanning, and Djimon Hounsou. Accordingly, one may be taken aback to hear that McGuigan names romantic auteur Wong Kar-Wai among his favorite directorial influences, but as he demonstrates in Push — which captures the vibrant streets of Hong Kong in lush detail, appropriately — McGuigan possesses a strong visual finesse that belies his history of making brutal crime movies and Hollywood suspense flicks.

McGuigan shared his Five Favorite Films with Rotten Tomatoes, which range from the above mentioned work of Wong Kar-Wai to UK family classics to the edgy work of Darren Aronofsky and beyond. Read on to discover the films most loved by Paul McGuigan, and learn what Hitchockian backstory he’s developing into a feature film.


In the Mood for Love (2001, 88% Tomatometer)

In the Mood for Love
It’s such a beautiful cinematic poem, I suppose. When I did Push in Hong Kong, it was a great pleasure to be able to shoot the film almost in the style of Wong Kar-Wai — just with him in mind, you know. Beautiful light, reds and greens. I actually stayed in one of the apartments in Hong Kong that he designed, which was nice. Lots of wallpaper. As a movie, you’re just so compelled by these two characters, and he only shows glimpses of them, yet they’re so compelling — which is a feat in itself.

Have you taken any cues from Wong Kar-Wai in your overall directorial style?

I’d like to think so. I would never compare myself to Wong Kar-Wai — that would be silly, that would be like comparing yourself to David Beckham. But I would like to make more work that has the kind of silence that he has, you know?

Push isn’t quite that quiet film, is it?

Push is really loud. There’s not much silence in Push. [Laughs] It’s a pretty cool movie; it’s not going to stretch you intellectually, but it’s definitely going to make you have some fun at the cinema. In a way, that’s as much a part of what I do as anything; just to entertain people. It was great for me to do something like this. I mean, imagine going to work and talking about f***ing floating guns, you know?

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968, 59% Tomatometer)

Chitty Chitty Bang BangMy second favorite film is probably even more intellectually challenging than Wong Kar-Wai; it’s Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. I f***ing love that movie! I have two children; I’ve probably seen this movie, with each child, about 50 times each. And that’s no exaggeration. There’s nothing I don’t know about this movie. I once went to a meeting with an executive in Hollywood, and they asked me what I wanted to do. I said, ‘I’d love to do a remake of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang‘ — I was just making it up — ‘and I’d call it Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Boom,’ and he said that’s a great title! [Laughs] I was only kidding. But that’s a movie I really love.

In the UK at Christmastime, the girls would get The Sound of Music and the boys would get Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. It was that kind of thing, where every Christmas you would see it. So when I had kids, of course I put it on for my son and then he became obsessed with it. It’s the kind of movie where you never really get to the end; it’s so long, and the kids can only really wait so long. But the beginning of the film is like 20 minutes long, before anything even happens. It’s just the story of the car. It’s fantastic!

The Man in the White Suit (1951, 100% Tomatometer)

The Man in the White Suit
Alex Guinness, to me is — forget De Niro, forget Pacino — he’s the man. Alec Guinness is such a quintessential English actor, but he’s also a brilliant actor. He’s just the best. And The Man in the White Suit is just such a beautiful, charming movie. It’s about a man who invents a suit that you don’t have to wash. It’s a whole movie about it! It’s something that some of the more flamboyant directors should think about remaking. [Laughs] It’s about this guy who invents this material that keeps white all the time. It’s directed by Alexander Mackendrick, a fellow Scot, and the opening title sequence is amazing. Mackendrick is a brilliant director. I just enjoy his work; I enjoy the pace of his work. I think he’s really overlooked. He did The Ladykillers and Whisky Galore, and The Sweet Smell of Success. A lot of really cool movies.

Alec Guinness, to me — forget Star Wars and all that — he’s just the best. And to work with someone like Alexander Mackendrick, who really understood what a story meant…it’s funny, because on IMDB the movie is listed as sci-fi. It’s not sci-fi, that’s ridiculous! It’s actually a very nice tale, about inventing the thing that nobody wants. Like a car that doesn’t need petrol. The thing that people don’t want because of the money [the auto industry] could make off of you. If you say hey great, I’ve invented this car that doesn’t need petrol, and then there’s a silence, and then there’s a gunshot, and you’re dead. It’s that kind of thing.

Rear Window (1954, 100% Tomatometer)

Rear Window
I love Hitchcock’s Rear Window. I’m actually developing a movie about Robert Capa, who was a war photographer that Hitchcock seemingly based the movie on. I used to take photographs; I was a photographer for many years, and I’m intrigued by this idea. I think it’s a wonderful idea about being a voyeur. He just watches his next door neighbors, and becomes convinced that one of them has been killed. It’s the idea of what you see versus what you really see.

I loved making documentaries for that very reason; you just watch people, even after you’ve shot it. You go back to the edit suite and watch them, and you can understand when they’re telling the truth and when they’re lying. You get to know that stuff. It’s really fascinating — the idea that you can have a movie about something that might have happened… it’s a trick of the eye, or using the camera in a fascinating way. You’re using it to tell a story based on intrigue, and I don’t think I’ve seen that before, or since.

Requiem for a Dream (2000, 78% Tomatometer)

Requiem for a Dream
Requiem for a Dream is a really interesting film. It changed my idea of what people really wanted to see. Because I came from the UK, as a European film director, it was interesting to see how American studios or financiers were really into European cinema. They would always quote certain movies that I made that nobody else had seen — like Gangster No. 1. I was amazed, like, ‘Wow, you’ve actually seen that movie?’ And it dawned on me that people in America aren’t that dumb after all, you know? They’re kind of smart — much smarter than I was about movies. And when I saw Requiem for a Dream, I understood it. This guy got cash, he got money, to make this movie. It’s quite a hard movie to actually sell — can you imagine trying to sell that movie? And for that alone I think Aronofsky is a genius. I like what he does. I even liked The Fountain. The Wrestler is a great movie; I think Pi is a genius piece of work. I think he deserves a lot of praise.

For people like me, who come from Europe and go to America and think nobody’s going to know what I’ve done, I’m a struggling filmmaker, and then suddenly you go into a studio and the head exec is like, ‘Gangster No. 1, I loved that film, it had this and that person in it…’ They see everything. I was quite cheered by that.

Push opens in wide release February 6, 2009. Click here for a full synopsis, photo gallery and trailers.

Want more Five Favorite Films? Check out previous installments with Ernest Borgnine, Mickey Rourke, Danny Boyle, and James Franco.

Tag Cloud

social media Logo Extras Red Carpet sopranos TCA Infographic 2021 45 comic feel good Mary Poppins Returns Amazon Prime 20th Century Fox mockumentary comic book movies Lionsgate archives Heroines ratings GIFs Lifetime disaster Video Games criterion diversity game show parents Crackle DGA 93rd Oscars Comic-Con@Home 2021 indiana jones Black History Month Ghostbusters mob streaming movies Valentine's Day Acorn TV Musicals 24 frames NBA australia marvel comics golden globes Ellie Kemper Image Comics harry potter Quiz cops NBC Interview spider-verse Superheroe romance series cooking First Reviews dragons Pet Sematary Turner Classic Movies comiccon Tumblr romantic comedy historical drama Brie Larson rom-coms latino hist science fiction SundanceTV tv talk game of thrones Vudu Travel Channel FXX Universal E! Writers Guild of America Exclusive Video toy story CNN Lucasfilm halloween robots toronto joker See It Skip It Rock Watching Series reviews Hallmark Christmas movies wonder woman news adaptation miniseries Star Trek Sundance TV Marvel Television trailers olympics docudrama Creative Arts Emmys TV One transformers Paramount Plus MCU Premiere Dates crime thriller dark young adult Britbox marvel cinematic universe Music lord of the rings Instagram Live remakes Film Festival anthology Sundance Now blockbusters green book Summer spanish language Crunchyroll Adult Swim National Geographic VICE boxing mission: impossible Winter TV thriller saw Sci-Fi Winners art house TBS Dark Horse Comics Disney+ Disney Plus unscripted comic book movie war Pirates GoT Toys venice dceu Teen ABC Family biopic animated Cannes dreamworks VOD Emmys Netflix cults Cosplay DC streaming service Television Academy Pride Month Mystery TruTV Nat Geo 2016 Legendary Netflix Christmas movies blaxploitation Spectrum Originals james bond Universal Pictures Lifetime Christmas movies italian slasher hidden camera gangster cars Countdown theme song halloween tv PlayStation 2017 medical drama Christmas vs. revenge PBS New York Comic Con 90s Photos APB Food Network police drama History 72 Emmy Awards 2015 universal monsters Calendar space king kong high school cartoon aapi scary name the review new star wars movies Mary poppins LGBTQ Arrowverse The CW rotten Marvel Studios legend Syfy rt archives popular jurassic park Rocketman Box Office comics laika dc book adaptation HBO Go sitcom CW Seed adenture Year in Review Women's History Month cancelled Anna Paquin TV movies Awards Tour Wes Anderson concert OneApp YouTube period drama award winner Polls and Games crime drama telelvision WarnerMedia Emmy Nominations Best and Worst ABC Signature DirecTV Family Masterpiece docuseries Captain marvel 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards nature serial killer A&E sequel TLC adventure true crime japan TV Land Classic Film classics 4/20 child's play reboot VH1 Pop TV Mindy Kaling Pixar MSNBC Television Critics Association OWN Hear Us Out ABC satire posters festival psycho worst Academy Awards Discovery Channel Chilling Adventures of Sabrina TCA 2017 what to watch Sony Pictures debate Grammys prank RT21 Character Guide stop motion zero dark thirty documentary Starz Drama technology AMC comic books scene in color Animation Turner IMDb TV critics Comedy new york singing competition Spring TV quibi superhero Amazon Studios slashers Showtime Pacific Islander fast and furious Certified Fresh 2020 Opinion spain TIFF spanish finale Rom-Com dogs monster movies DC Comics kaiju obituary composers Ovation FX on Hulu renewed TV shows PaleyFest Tubi hispanic heritage month kids live event Tarantino boxoffice Horror FX USA Network aliens Hulu Epix The Witch Mudbound based on movie USA Tomatazos Broadway heist movie know your critic Reality Competition CMT Trivia Trailer X-Men BET Awards spider-man Disney streaming service Columbia Pictures LGBT twilight 73rd Emmy Awards Neflix hispanic spy thriller Tokyo Olympics christmas movies Fantasy Spike Fall TV television independent pirates of the caribbean Super Bowl mcc TCA Winter 2020 BBC America Marvel children's TV all-time Cartoon Network Country Kids & Family RT History Bravo Song of Ice and Fire crossover video on demand talk show indie fresh action-comedy The Arrangement mutant Oscars nfl Paramount Network AMC Plus 99% die hard El Rey Comedy Central biography richard e. Grant ViacomCBS Apple 1990s movie werewolf Reality critic resources BBC Baby Yoda jamie lee curtis TNT psychological thriller Holidays festivals screen actors guild superman Comic Book Walt Disney Pictures Holiday doctor who vampires asian-american Pop Chernobyl FOX ghosts cancelled TV series teaser Shudder TV renewals rt labs critics edition directors movies Avengers The Academy Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt 71st Emmy Awards cancelled television Binge Guide a nightmare on elm street elevated horror ITV franchise MTV WGN Shondaland screenings deadpool Black Mirror CBS All Access 21st Century Fox anime rt labs Thanksgiving streaming sequels royal family Fox Searchlight Fox News Action 2019 canceled TV shows japanese stoner IFC Films The Walking Dead free movies TCM YouTube Red witnail chucky Amazon Prime Video GLAAD films CBS binge Esquire french SDCC Peacock Paramount football godzilla dramedy supernatural Superheroes strong female leads Podcast cats king arthur Comics on TV cinemax justice league Apple TV Plus canceled Marathons IFC video best BAFTA Election zombie Film The Walt Disney Company Disney Plus new zealand political drama Sneak Peek 2018 kong razzies TCA Awards worst movies A24 south america black comedy Funimation YouTube Premium Awards American Society of Cinematographers Endgame natural history ID Western TV batman book rotten movies we love YA Warner Bros. target scary movies Apple TV+ Amazon women sports comedies BET HBO Max genre Biopics Musical sag awards scorecard ESPN hollywood DC Universe Disney First Look Star Wars Hallmark Set visit suspense Freeform President blockbuster travel golden globe awards emmy awards Stephen King zombies Disney Channel Rocky Mary Tyler Moore breaking bad casting Schedule cancelled TV shows Nominations facebook Nickelodeon SXSW Alien crime E3 NYCC BBC One HBO nbcuniversal Martial Arts 007 politics discovery stand-up comedy spinoff black Trophy Talk versus dexter Elton John The Purge foreign international documentaries basketball live action Sundance San Diego Comic-Con