10 Classic Films and What You Can Steal From Them: Courtesy of The Wolfpack

Watching movies is escape: It’s a tired cliché, but one brought hauntingly to life in first-time director Crystal Moselle’s startling documentary, The Wolfpack.

The film centers on the six Angulo brothers who—together with father, mother and young sister—have spent their whole lives, except for a few days a year, within the walls of a Lower Manhattan apartment. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the brothers (from the oldest, then 18, to the youngest, 11) are obsessive cinephiles. Their rooms are littered with tapes, fan art and meticulously transcribed screenplays of their favorite movies—from Badlands to The Fighter—which the siblings lovingly recreate with homemade props and costumes.

The Angulo brothers don Reservoir Dogs-esque outfits in The Wolfpack

The Angulo brothers don Reservoir Dogs-esque outfits in The Wolfpack

“Their passion for the cinema was beyond anything I had ever witnessed,” says Moselle, who encountered the family by chance on one of their rare outings in New York City. “From their encyclopedic knowledge of film history, to their nuanced, detailed behind-the-scenes stories, it was all brilliant.”

The Angulos, whose worlds have opened up since the doc was made (they attended its Sundance premiere), are aspiring filmmakers in their own rights, having produced around a dozen original titles. As Moselle says, “[Other people’s] movies guided them in their reenactments at first, but they’re now taking that knowledge to their own work.” We asked the brothers to tell us what they learned from remaking their 10 favorite classics. –MM


1. 2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968)

“A film can be a visual experience without dialogue paving the way. 2001 has only 18 minutes of dialogue in total! It’s OK to take the risk and have the audience decide what the story is on their own.”

2. The Godfather: Part II (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974)

“Small details reveal a lot. In the scene where Michael (Al Pacino) appears to be forgiving Fredo (John Cazale) in front of the family, but gives his bodyguard the order with his eyes to kill him, there is no dialogue exchanged; however, with one look, the audience knows that Fredo is getting whacked.”

3. Halloween (John Carpenter, 1978)

“With a mask, anybody can play a creepy character—so if your actor can only be there half the time, you can always throw the mask on yourself to finish the job. On the Halloween set, John Carpenter, DP Dean Cundey and a stuntman all played villain Michael Myers. And who would know? Each scene with Michael is terrifying because he is just standing in a suburban setting while the normalcies of life go by him.”

4. The Fly (David Cronenberg, 1986)

“We believe you should know your genres, but we also think you should break the rules. The Fly does this very effectively. It’s a horror film, a romance and a sci-fi film all combined into one, telling a story of a man consumed by technology.”

The Fly, 198

The Fly, 1986

5. Goodfellas (Martin Scorsese, 1990)

“Don’t be scared of using music that wouldn’t seem to make sense for the scene. The irony of a happy pop song playing while people are being murdered makes a statement. We made a Tarantino-esque gangster film and during the killing scene, we let two songs play at once. It felt very chaotic at first, but then we faded one of the songs out, and everything started to make more sense.”

6. Twin Peaks (David Lynch, 1990)

“David Lynch is a master of creating mystery. That red room with the little man that talks backwards is so creepy. Let your imagination run free and go with the wackiest stuff. And, if you want to create a creepy character, play with his voice in post so it sounds weird.”

Twin Peaks Red Man

Twin Peaks, 1990

7. JFK (Oliver Stone, 1991)

“Evoke flashbacks by shifting your lighting. In JFK, the flashbacks are done by over-exposing lighting, distinguishing the past from the present. Your audience identifies the time change but isn’t confused about where they are at in the story.”

8. Pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino, 1994)

“You can tell more than one story in a film, as long as you have characters that are interesting and relatable. You don’t always have to tell your story in a linear fashion. This way of storytelling can be tricky—Quentin is pretty lucky that it worked. We haven’t mastered this yet.”

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Pulp Fiction, 1994

9. Se7en (David Fincher, 1995)

“Use a character’s reactions for greater dramatic effect, and to save time and money. Seven does this in the last scene where Somerset (Morgan Freeman) looks inside the box. You see blood and a strand of hair…and our imaginations run wild.”

10. Gummo (Harmony Korine, 1997)

“This film has the best trailer. It makes no sense, but it has a poetry about it. Harmony Korine doesn’t give a fuck. He will break every rule in the book. At the end of the day, you just have to make it and hopefully somebody will watch it.” MM

The Wolfpack opened in theaters on June 12, 2015, courtesy of Magnolia Pictures. A version of this article appears in MovieMaker‘s Summer 2015 issue.

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