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

Superheroe San Diego Comic-Con 90s aliens 73rd Emmy Awards TCA Awards Adult Swim gangster Endgame obi wan target MTV Fargo strong female leads Animation know your critic Pacific Islander die hard crime Schedule Rock cancelled TV shows monster movies Hear Us Out scary Cartoon Network new york PlayStation Vudu Awards remakes Mindy Kaling Infographic Biopics Paramount Network comic book movie 2018 docuseries spinoff Amazon comic RT History Pet Sematary festival true crime BET Awards Pixar casting ITV Box Office dc Cannes international Esquire golden globes DirecTV TNT Paramount Pictures NBA comedies TCA 2017 Marathons MCU rt labs Kids & Family christmas movies Mystery young adult Turner Mary Tyler Moore trophy Wes Anderson werewolf talk show hispanic heritage month Broadway halloween tv Photos HFPA Winners American Society of Cinematographers animated space robots 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards 007 period drama marvel comics video on demand OneApp new star wars movies revenge 2015 dexter news worst movies boxoffice Hulu Hallmark book serial killer Stephen King Mary Poppins Returns diversity breaking bad Neflix Interview best Lucasfilm Rocky composers venice Creative Arts Emmys BBC critics Sundance Instagram Live Musical Exclusive Video BBC One 45 laika comic books Pop TV foreign streamig joker Paramount Plus telelvision 2020 harry potter james bond anthology heist movie Certified Fresh psychological thriller finale History Drama ID stand-up comedy historical drama Binge Guide teaser documentary Sci-Fi zero dark thirty HBO Max rotten movies we love 1990s The Walking Dead Academy Awards disaster Apple TV+ ABC DC Universe Amazon Prime WGN royal family based on movie VH1 2019 See It Skip It dragons kong football The Walt Disney Company crossover Television Academy Fantasy king arthur spanish AMC Plus rt labs critics edition Best and Worst satire Star Wars vs. Netflix Christmas movies indiana jones olympics dceu comic book movies scene in color Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Reality Competition cats GoT festivals Nickelodeon police drama doctor who YouTube Premium Calendar MGM X-Men Tomatazos toy story Tarantino binge Mary poppins Family Alien black movie 94th Oscars Shudder universal monsters CNN Election quibi Spike TCM adventure sports prank FOX Disney Channel Summer scorecard Extras streaming movies Discovery Channel debate sequel Universal Starz blaxploitation The Academy award winner series biography Bravo Spring TV Prime Video YouTube Opinion ghosts Sneak Peek Captain marvel Best Director Pop television spy thriller Holidays Image Comics archives kaiju Pride Month Chernobyl directors 2017 Red Carpet mcc war The Witch TCA blockbuster Oscars The Purge deadpool Fox Searchlight popular cars indie NYCC CW Seed genre Martial Arts CBS All Access 2016 72 Emmy Awards VICE new zealand rotten movies New York Comic Con DC Comics IFC Holiday Mudbound politics DC streaming service parents 21st Century Fox Spectrum Originals travel Superheroes broadcast TV One Amazon Prime Video Anna Paquin Amazon Studios Music technology boxing ABC Family Pirates Grammys zombie Western Ghostbusters facebook Sundance Now APB Film Festival Quiz basketball ESPN Best Actor screen actors guild Disney+ Disney Plus action-comedy video cancelled television 71st Emmy Awards SXSW 2022 Comic Book nfl suspense Funimation AMC black comedy vampires halloween PaleyFest scary movies elevated horror reboot crime drama Peacock concert Winter TV Horror live event green book game of thrones BAFTA mission: impossible President miniseries HBO Go adaptation cults Podcast justice league films witnail Ovation Lionsgate social media E! transformers biopic Food Network unscripted crime thriller TLC a nightmare on elm street jamie lee curtis twilight Columbia Pictures lord of the rings First Reviews 20th Century Fox Countdown Classic Film high school GLAAD Polls and Games chucky RT21 godzilla Netflix Crackle slasher Christmas 93rd Oscars PBS TBS canceled renewed TV shows Tubi Women's History Month USA FX Emmy Nominations summer TV preview The Arrangement CBS Toys South by Southwest Film Festival Masterpiece BBC America Baby Yoda Nominations El Rey cops romance ratings Dark Horse Comics Apple Thanksgiving what to watch sitcom summer preview richard e. Grant anime mob OWN reviews razzies asian-american mutant streaming Marvel Television Tags: Comedy Focus Features Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt stop motion spanish language Heroines Action australia cancelled TV series Rocketman emmy awards Warner Bros. Trophy Talk Premiere Dates Logo GIFs natural history Song of Ice and Fire Disney golden globe awards Teen 99% A24 ViacomCBS rt archives science fiction Comics on TV critic resources supernatural independent classics Hallmark Christmas movies toronto comiccon SundanceTV theme song TruTV trailers Turner Classic Movies Country Watching Series YA Hollywood Foreign Press Association TIFF YouTube Red cartoon stoner Super Bowl name the review BET cancelled fresh VOD children's TV dogs posters spider-man Best Actress Marvel Studios dreamworks japanese Tumblr SXSW Trivia 2021 rom-coms Year in Review LGBT IFC Films docudrama Lifetime Christmas movies spain WarnerMedia french spider-verse Nat Geo Writers Guild of America Legendary wonder woman singing competition mockumentary screenings Black Mirror live action zombies medical drama TV renewals slashers political drama jurassic park hollywood free movies pirates of the caribbean psycho Musicals Walt Disney Pictures Sundance TV Ellie Kemper Television Critics Association Britbox Acorn TV nature 24 frames legend fast and furious canceled TV shows leaderboard batman Lifetime tv talk Crunchyroll TV Comedy Syfy Trailer Comedy Central FX on Hulu Universal Pictures romantic comedy saw adenture Paramount italian hidden camera SDCC Sony Pictures Oscar Disney streaming service CMT Marvel The CW Black History Month nbcuniversal versus aapi Character Guide cooking women Video Games Film Fox News 4/20 TV movies Cosplay comics National Geographic Freeform LGBTQ First Look Emmys game show Best Picture FXX king kong sopranos superman hispanic Shondaland criterion child's play Comic-Con@Home 2021 sequels E3 DGA USA Network superhero sag awards Disney Plus Valentine's Day franchise Brie Larson latino hist Showtime MSNBC dark south america NBC TCA Winter 2020 TV Land documentaries Set visit worst obituary marvel cinematic universe all-time Awards Tour Arrowverse art house dramedy 79th Golden Globes Awards Reality Elton John Fall TV Rom-Com feel good Avengers A&E japan Travel Channel Apple TV Plus blockbusters IMDb TV book adaptation thriller ABC Signature discovery cinemax HBO Tokyo Olympics summer TV Epix kids Star Trek