Life in Movies: Gus Van Sant, Director of "Milk"

"Drugstore Cowboy" got him noticed. "Good Will Hunting" earned him mainstream appeal. His latest, "Milk," follows the life and death of gay politician and activist Harvey Milk, played by Sean Penn.

1. " Satan ' s Tango. " I like Béla Tarr's directorial style, retracing time in each of its sections—yet it's linear.

2."Sunrise." F. W. Murnau's 1927 film shows the opulence of Hollywood in the 1920s. There was a style of creating elaborate sets that we don't see any longer.

3. "The Last of England." The structure becomes visual, rather than relying on a verbal explanation.

4. "The Palm Beach Story." It's wild, and the epitome of Preston Sturges.

5. "Synecdoche, New York." A pastiche of existence. There's no way to describe it. It's pretty intense.

A film you revisited with disappointment: "The Trip." I saw it at a drive-in when I was not yet a filmmaker. It was easier to get wrapped up in its authenticity. Later I could see how it was pieced together.

A classic film you've never seen: "Children of Paradise." They had to make it in secret during the German occupation of France in WWII.