Brett Ratner, whose resume includes eight feature movies, documentaries, TV series and hundreds of music videos, loves movies. He loves making them. He loves watching them. And he loves talking about them. In addition to chatting with him about his latest feature,”Tower Heist,” which opens November 4 (read the interview here and buy tickets online here), we asked the enthusiastic, accessible (translation: he’s a terrific guy) filmmaker to select his favorite all-time movies and tell us what he loves about them. Check out his list below and then watch each one of the movies on XFINITY On Demand. It’s like hanging out with Brett himself.
GOODFELLAS: For me, this is my generation’s Godfather. “The Godfather” is the greatest gangster movie ever made. And “Goodfellas”is a close second. It represents my childhood, I guess, and I think it’s the ultimate gangster movie for me, for my generation.
BEING THERE: If I was only allowed to pick one movie as my favorite movie of all time, it would be“Being There.” It was directed by my favorite director, Hal Ashby. And I love it because of the tone. It’s a comedy but it’s shot like a dramatic film. And the performance by Peter Sellers is amazing. I don’t think there’s an actor alive that could do that performance as well as Peter. It was hysterical, brilliantly funny, but also very emotional and dramatic and real at the same time. So it’s a perfect tone. When I’m looking to do a comedy, I’m always looking, studying “Being There,” which is a weird, odd kind of choice. But in terms of tone, I think it’s perfect.
BLADE RUNNER: Here’s another film from my childhood. I picked a lot of films that I just loved growing up and was consumed with watching films. Any film on this list is a film that I’ve seen at least 50 times.
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ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA: I’m obsessed with Jewish gangsters and this is the ultimate Jewish gangster movie. Sergio Leone who made mostly westerns, suddenly decided to do a Jewish gangster movie. This is again going back to my childhood, but I was in love with Jennifer Connelly. I was 12 when that movie came out and she was probably around 12, too, so we were the same age when I saw that movie, and I literally watched that movie over and over again, not only because it is a masterpiece, but I was in love with her.
ANNIE HALL: I was very young again when I saw this movie, but it taught me, in a way, about love and life and what it was like to be in love and to be in relationships. I was a kid and I didn’t have a girlfriend, and didn’t know what it was like, but that movie was a real education for me.
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DOG DAY AFTERNOON: It’s simply the greatest bank robbery film. John Cazale is my all time favorite actor. I actually did a documentary on John. I produced a documentary called “I Knew It Was You, Rediscovering John Cazale.” He did only five movies and that was one of the five movies. It was nominated for best picture. Sidney Lumet is a master filmmaker, and that movie is the best two-hander I’ve ever seen between Al Pacino and John Casale.
THE FRENCH CONNECTION: This was the first action movie that I just became obsessed with. It had everything that I loved. Gangsters, a drug heist, great action. Gene Hackman was brilliant. And William Friedkin is a master at shooting kind of action sequences that defined the movie, including that amazing car chase. There’s a scene in “Tower Heist” where I went to the same location where they shot under the bridge just because of my fondness for “French Connection”.
ENTER THE DRAGON: This is the movie that made me want to make movies. Bruce Lee was a hero of mine as a kid. And the score to “Enter the Dragon” was the best score I’d heard – and it’s still one of the best – because it mixed urban grooves with Chinese instrumentation. Jim Kelly, with that big Afro, and Bruce Lee were the ultimate. This is the film that took Kung Fu movies global, and it took me personally in a direction that came to define my life.
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MANHATTAN: Another Woody Allen movie, and it’s the greatest film about New York I’ve ever seen. It’s also the most beautiful black and white film I’ve ever seen in my life. And I didn’t grow up of course watching black and white films, because I was too young. But when I caught that movie I was just mesmerized. And the opening sequence captures New York like no other film ever.
A CLOCKWORK ORANGE: I was probably too young when I saw it. The movie was very, very violent and I probably didn’t understand it. But I was still in awe of everything I saw on the screen. I think I watched that movie more than any other movie ever. I still put it in at least once a month. The composition of the shots, the lighting, and the performances, everything. It was just brilliant.
HORRIBLE BOSSES: This is a movie that I just recently produced, and I’m very proud of. Seth Gordon did a fantastic job directing it, and I think it’s just a comedy that is a big idea that works. Everybody has had a horrible boss. Everyone can relate to that. Everybody can fantasize about killing their boss. I think it’s a fun one to throw in the mix with all these other classics. It’s just pure fun.