When I like a certain band or musician, I always try to learn who their influences were, and in turn, which artists influenced them. It helps me not only better understand their work, but has led me to great stuff I might not otherwise have heard.
The Rolling Stones and the Animals led me to Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley, and Howlin’ Wolf; and via those guys, people like Son House and Robert Johnson. Big Star, because of Teenage Fanclub, and BMX Bandits because of TFC. The Byrds and Buffalo Springfield via groups like the Long Ryders and the Bangles — you get the idea.
I do the same with film-makers I like, in particular Woody Allen. I read Sentimental Education because he mentions it in Manhattan, and I saw Grand Illusion for the same reason. He certainly makes no secret about his influences; maybe because as an auto-didact, he feels the need to show off a bit to those people who, “teach a class at Columbia called ‘T.V., Media, and Culture”.
Like him, I’m a college drop-out, so I’m always working on that deficit of book-learning, and I’m not ashamed to say I’ve cribbed from him. I suppose it wouldn’t work for me if I didn’t like his taste, but mostly, I do (though not crazy about Mahler).
Isaac: Where the hell does a little Radcliffe tootsie come off rating Scott Fitzgerald, Gustav Mahler and Heinrich Böll?
Stacy: Why are you getting so mad?
Isaac: Because I don't like that pseudo-intellectual garbage. “Van Goch!” Did you hear that? She said Van Goch. Like an Arab she spoke. One more remark about Bergman, and I'd have knocked her other contact lens out.
Tracy: Is she Yale’s mistress?
Isaac: That will never cease to mystify me. I mean, he’s got a wonderful wife, and he prefers to…to diddle this yo-yo.
But he was always a sucker for those kind of women. The kind that would involve him in discussions of existential reality. They probably sit on the floor with wine and cheese, and mispronounce “allegorical” and “didacticism”.