With his latest film, “Midnight Special,” director Jeff Nichols takes his first step into the studio system after hits in the indie-film world (“Mud,” “Take Shelter”).
Resembling early Steven Spielberg movies, “Midnight Special” follows a father and his son, who has special powers, as they race from authorities.
Along with strong performances from Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton, and Adam Driver, the movie is a unique science-fiction tale that brings to mind numerous classics of the genre.
Business Insider spoke to Nichols about the sci-fi movies that inspire him.
“Midnight Special” is currently playing in theatres.
Following the sensation of 'Jaws,' Steven Spielberg made one of the most memorable sci-fi movies of all time, stretching what we thought could be done with visual effects along with providing a touching story front-and-center. It was a movie experience that Nichols has never forgotten.
'The first experience, you're swept up in the moment of the aliens and spaceships,' Nichols said. 'But then you go back and you look at the film again and you see how Spielberg looks at suburban life in America in the '70s and it was incredible. The accurate representation of the kid's bedrooms and the den, it made the mystery more immediate for me as a kid.'
John Carpenter is known best for his classic films like 'Halloween' and 'Escape from New York,' but one of his lesser-known titles is this intimate tale starring Jeff Bridges as an alien who takes the form of a widow's husband. He and the widow travel to where the Starman will be picked up by his people, though the government attempts to intervene.
'A big experience growing up was trolling through late-night television and that's where I came across 'Starman,'' Nichols said. 'I can distinctly remember the first time I saw it. It was in letterbox and just didn't look like anything else on television. The tone of the film, the sincerity of it. I was really struck by it.'
Not all science fiction has to include aliens from another world. Made on the cusp of the home video game craze, 'Cloak & Dagger' stars Henry Thomas as Davey, a young boy who loves the world of espionage and whose imaginary friend (played by Dabney Coleman) is the main character of his favourite video game. But he finds himself really on the run from bad guys when he realises the video game he's carrying is in fact filled with top secrets that could be dangerous if in the wrong hands.
'A big inspiration for 'Midnight Special' was the energy of being a kid in the '80s,' Nichols said. 'And this movie was so great because I remember carrying a backpack just like Davey, and I would have things in the bag just in case I would have to encounter a group of bad guys like he did. For me that was so much fun.'