Five Favorite Films

Five Favourite Films with James Franco

The Milk and Pineapple Express makes his choices.

by | January 21, 2009 | Comments


James Franco - Steve Granitz/WireImage.com
Having established his name in the Spider-Man movies, these days James Franco is clearly making some more personal career choices. He was in three films in 2008, notable for their vastly different styles. His extended cameo as Richard Gere‘s son in the weepy Nights in Rodanthe, based on the Nicholas Sparks novel, was followed by two far less forgettable roles; opposite Seth Rogen in Pineapple Express (for which he received a Golden Globe nomination) and as Sean Penn‘s boyfriend in Milk (for which he has been nominated with the cast for the SAG ensemble award).

He says he signed on for Pineapple because it was a chance to work with Judd Apatow and company, whom he knew from his days on the TV series Freaks and Geeks. “We did a lot of goofing around in a kind of constructed way,” he says of the film. “It’s a lot of improvisation, just letting the camera roll and doing the scene over and over again and seeing what happens. And I loved that!”

When asked to contrast the experiences on the two sets, he stops and thinks. “Milk had its own kind of looseness,” he says. “Gus Van Sant has his own approach, and there was the freedom to try different kinds of things. And Sean really encouraged that too. So it was somewhat improvisational, but what it did was to make the performances more natural. And it may be funny to say, but it was the same with Pineapple. I think that’s one of the things that Judd Apatow brings to comedies: there are wacky situations but it feels more emotionally grounded.”

Clearly this on-screen naturalism is important to him. He’s been studying film at New York University, and chooses five favourites that are all firmly rooted in authenticity…

 

Gimme Shelter (1970, 100% Tomatometer)



Gimme Shelter
It’s just amazing. I’ve been watching all of the Maysles Brothers‘ films and I’m really into their approach, which they called “direct cinema”, and the whole school that came out of DA Pennebaker, Robert Drew and so on. I love the whole idea that life can be as dramatic as fiction. It’s very different than reality television, because that’s very manipulated.

The Maysles’ approach is minimal interaction and being as observational as possible. Gimme Shelter has such drama, and it’s so well-done. As are all of their films.

I also love Salesman, which also proves that their philosophy can really work, because it just has these real Bible salesmen. But to me it has as much drama and tension as Arthur Miller or Eugene O’Neill – it’s like the Death of a Salesman and The Iceman Cometh all rolled together – but it’s real! I just can’t get enough of it.


My Own Private Idaho (1992, 85% Tomatometer)



My Own Private Idaho
Even before I started acting, this was a very important film to me. Obviously I was really drawn to the performances and characters, but the whole film just kept bringing it back.

Gus has changed his style somewhat beginning with Gerry and all this Bela Tarr and Chantal Akerman influence, which I love too. But back then it was really about collage.

Idaho actually started as three different projects – three scripts – through Orson WellesChimes at Midnight, which was a distillation of Shakespeare, and this other story about street kids in Portland, and then something else about a kid finding his parents in Italy. And then this whole narcoleptic thing that was influenced by George Eliot. He’s got all that just in the script, and then there’s the way it’s shot – he had two DPs, plus time-lapse for the cloud sequences and 8mm for the dream sequences.

I love all of Gus’ movies. I think Drugstore Cowboy is a hilarious movie. I love how he can take a situation like that and make it funny. I think Matt Dillon gives one of the best comedic performances in that movie. Gus is taking a very personal approach in the film – from the look of Bob Yeoman‘s cinematography to the way Gus captures Portland on screen.


The Bicycle Thief (1948, 95% Tomatometer)



The Bicycle Thief
All of my favourite films are approaching realism in a different way. This is Italian neorealism – obviously there’s a script and a story and everything, but it’s shot in the street and it has the feel of Italy, of being in the streets and, like Idaho, a deceivingly, simply constructed narrative. But there’s so much emotion that’s evoked from these very simple stories.

4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (2008, 97% Tomatometer)



4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days
Again, a very simple approach, but there’s so much power in that film. You’re not quite sure what’s happening from the beginning, but you’re just kind of thrown into it. All you know is that these women have this mysterious meeting, and it takes you from there. The film gives you a great sense of what it was really like to live in Romania in the 1980s.

The Wrestler (2008, 98% Tomatometer)



The Wrestler
I loved this film! I really like the films of the Dardenne Brothers, like The Child and The Son, and I’m sure The Wrestler was influenced by the Dardennes, especially in the beginning when the camera is following the back of Mickey Rourke‘s head through the hallways.

I know Darren Aronofsky a little bit, and I remember meeting with him just when The Fountain was coming out, and he told me to look at the Dardenne Brothers because they were doing some really good stuff, so I know he’s a fan.


Milk opens in UK on Friday and in Australia on 29th January. It’s out now in the US.

Tag Cloud

TBS Rock spain unscripted Countdown hist Reality TruTV comics vampires medical drama Winners award winner PBS CW Seed cartoon GLAAD A24 universal monsters Super Bowl Hallmark Columbia Pictures facebook 20th Century Fox Nat Geo Trophy Talk canceled Trivia psycho Trailer DirecTV Amazon Prime Video natural history ABC Lifetime Christmas movies USA WGN travel dc The CW Lifetime GIFs Black History Month Binge Guide police drama politics biography Chernobyl political drama Infographic Spectrum Originals Cosplay Musicals SXSW casting Masterpiece social media science fiction sitcom Sundance ghosts Comics on TV documentary TNT Grammys Walt Disney Pictures DC Comics independent Adult Swim 007 christmas movies Mudbound Anna Paquin Rocky TCM Music Superheroe BET Family Disney Plus crime Television Academy Thanksgiving Fox News Comedy Paramount Network Crackle cats Biopics Set visit game of thrones south america First Reviews finale Amazon Prime Holidays book Peacock 2015 Teen WarnerMedia History free movies USA Network reviews CBS disaster Hallmark Christmas movies Spike Shudder Ghostbusters Best and Worst YouTube Red supernatural psychological thriller Baby Yoda Bravo Comic Book Mary Tyler Moore MCU Pirates Warner Bros. cancelled television Classic Film ratings Rocketman doctor who Spring TV Vudu Stephen King halloween MSNBC FXX Oscars mutant Crunchyroll CMT hispanic dogs Sony Pictures TV Land E! Marvel Television blockbuster movie LGBT A&E Universal First Look werewolf theme song Quiz dramedy Funimation Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Epix reboot National Geographic HBO Max FX on Hulu Emmys cancelled TV shows zombies Summer NBC miniseries Netflix Christmas movies Watching Series Musical NYCC war Certified Fresh harry potter cops Disney Channel The Arrangement Captain marvel American Society of Cinematographers Valentine's Day Christmas GoT Film Festival Song of Ice and Fire VH1 APB Avengers FX Photos breaking bad Nominations movies YA comic spanish language 2020 Apple TV Plus RT History animated Heroines adventure Fantasy zombie Amazon MTV 71st Emmy Awards Red Carpet Pop TV Turner kids series Sci-Fi FOX Amazon Studios historical drama golden globes Britbox Brie Larson Pet Sematary joker spy thriller DC streaming service Election docudrama comiccon Apple TV+ Travel Channel 24 frames CNN dceu Star Wars discovery Discovery Channel Comedy Central Country mockumentary Mindy Kaling Interview 2016 TIFF San Diego Comic-Con dragons sports Acorn TV Sundance Now transformers binge Academy Awards Shondaland PaleyFest franchise 21st Century Fox El Rey crossover composers Winter TV renewed TV shows true crime Black Mirror Box Office cooking Creative Arts Emmys technology Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Dark Horse Comics jamie lee curtis strong female leads romantic comedy Turner Classic Movies Ellie Kemper Year in Review cancelled TV series canceled TV shows indie nature TLC justice league SDCC scary movies Marathons robots Martial Arts HBO Action period drama Disney 2017 Esquire sag awards The Witch Premiere Dates Reality Competition revenge Mary Poppins Returns IFC Polls and Games Pop toy story versus Awards Disney+ Disney Plus diversity OWN Film anthology romance game show cars Drama OneApp CBS All Access Pixar Holiday TV renewals Logo adaptation Awards Tour Tomatazos foreign Opinion Extras Tumblr Animation Mystery anime serial killer Elton John green book Calendar YouTube Premium Women's History Month Character Guide teaser DGA Sneak Peek Paramount Endgame AMC Arrowverse Lucasfilm The Purge crime drama Tarantino Marvel Studios name the review streaming TCA Winter 2020 Cannes spider-man children's TV Toys blaxploitation aliens Star Trek Superheroes SundanceTV festivals Showtime New York Comic Con The Walking Dead Marvel video screen actors guild Podcast crime thriller RT21 boxoffice cancelled witnail Disney streaming service Video Games TCA 2017 Nickelodeon what to watch TCA cinemax President talk show Freeform ABC Family screenings Fall TV Pride Month LGBTQ television spinoff Western singing competition Syfy Mary poppins BBC America E3 latino Tubi directors ESPN zero dark thirty thriller 2018 Schedule ITV Sundance TV batman YouTube VICE Lionsgate TV Netflix slashers Hulu space Apple sequel Horror IFC Films See It Skip It Emmy Nominations stand-up comedy based on movie elevated horror BBC Cartoon Network DC Universe cults Food Network Kids & Family tv talk Writers Guild of America Rom-Com quibi 2019 rotten movies we love Starz Ovation X-Men 45 richard e. Grant