Duncan Jones is one of the more interesting and provocative directors working today, and not simply because (like this author) he studied philosophy in University. His doctorate studies were cut short to attend the prestigious London Film School, resulting in a career that has seen him make a series of compelling ads and two critically acclaimed features.
His BAFTA Award-winning debut, Moon, is a provocative science fiction film with a set of bravado performances by Sam Rockwell that echoes both classic science fiction literature and Kubrick’s 2001. The film’s verisimilitude gives a strong sense of nonfiction filmmaking, especially with the roving cameras capturing the verité-like environment.
His follow-up, Source Code, is another high-concept sci-fi film starring Jake Gyllenhaal as a character who is repeatedly sent back in time in order to try and prevent a terrorist bombing. Like with Moon, Jones is able within the heightened narrative to find subtle moments of human interaction, a rare feat given today’s preponderance of comic book blockbusters.
Jones’s next project may well be one of those giant blockbusters, as he’s tasked with bringing the world of Warcraft to the big screen. The epic fantasy (due in theaters one year from today) will be based on the enormously successful video game series that pits a human alliance against an Orcish horde. While little is known about the project save for a few hints dished out on Twitter, it seems clear that Jones is excited about the project, and his fans are hoping he’ll bring loads of his trademark wit and rich sense of character development to this vast cinematic canvas.
Nonfics reached out to Jones to ask about his own affection for nonfiction cinema, and with the caveat that his list “changes all the time,” here are six that he picked as some of his favorite documentaries.
Exit through the Gift Shop (Banksy, 2010)
“I don’t know who Banksy is. I’ve heard he has been revealed, but I refuse to go see. Fuck knowing who he is. ‘Banksy’ is unknown. That other twat is just some bloke.”
Jiro Dreams of Sushi (David Gelb, 2011)
“Jiro is a living ‘Occam’s razor’, bringing perfection to food through simplicity and experience. He is driven, focussed and hard to follow.”
Murderball (Henry Alex Rubin and Dana Adam Shapiro, 2005)
“This list [of favorite docs] changes all the time. Murderball has set up temporary camp in my mind because of ideas I’m playing with. Anger will find a way.”
Senna (Asif Kapadia, 2010)
“Another driven personality (pardon the pun). Beautifully put together film that gives you a real insight into how men fall in love with achievements. What is life for? Who are we trying to impress? Is success a ‘goal’ …or a price?”
The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters (Seth Gordon, 2007)
“I come from the first generation brought up playing computer games. Kong is my peoples’ Kerouac. Too much? You know what? No! Immense!”
Lost in La Mancha (Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe, 2002)
“I love Terry Gilliam. I know him a little. Have you ever seen an animal, still alive, fighting for life in a steel trap? Thats Terry’s utterly unique, genius lunatic creativity fighting the system.”