Five Favorite Films with F. Gary Gray
The director of Law Abiding Citizen also talks about his career and debuting his films with audiences.
Director F. Gary Gray began his career creating music videos for several big name R&B and hip-hop artists in the early 90s, including Ice Cube, TLC, and OutKast. In 1995, Gray made a big screen splash with a little stoner comedy called Friday, starring a pre-Rush Hour Chris Tucker and an up-and-coming Ice Cube, a friend of Gray's. Friday was a surprise hit, opening the doors for future high profile projects such as The Negotiator, 2003's The Italian Job remake, and Be Cool.
This week, Gray continues his strong track record in the crime/action genre with Law Abiding Citizen, starring Gerard Butler in the role of a victim of a brutal home invasion who exacts vigilante justice on his attackers... and then some. We had the opportunity to chat with Gary about the movie and his career, and he kindly offered us his Five Favorite Films. Read on to find out more.
I'd say Casablanca. I love that it was a combination of political... It had a great love story, and it was unpredictable. It didn't have the classic Hollywood ending, and that was what was great about it. Also, I love Humphrey Bogart, because he had the great ability to be masculine, yet vulnerable, and that was the perfect role to display that.
Sweet Smell of Success. That movie, it was just dialogue. The dialogue was absolutely amazing in that movie. They just don't write movies like that any more. You can watch that over and over and over again and never get tired of the dialogue.
La Dolce Vita by Federico Fellini, who I'm sure you're familiar with. And again, not the formula. He was incredible at expressing himself in a way that no other filmmaker could get away with. You see these sequences that may or may not be related. [laughs] Somehow, at the end of it all, it all makes sense, and you're floored. The photography, and the shots, and the choreography can stand up to anything that's been released up to now.
Godfather II, specifically number two. It was just what a gangster film should be. It was smart, it had great performances, and you travel through a lot of different worlds with these characters. You know, most people try to avoid family drama. [laughs] I just love the filmmaking in Godfather II.
Next, Gray talks about Law Abiding Citizen, what it's like to sit with an audience through the premiere screening of one of his films, and his career.
On the Waterfront, with Marlon Brando. Between the look, the feel, the casting... even the casting of the extras. Just to look back and get a sense of what America was like back then, and the details, it was just amazing. And again, it was another one of those movies where the leading man, the way they struck a balance between masculine and vulnerable. Humphrey Bogart did it in Casablanca; I think Marlon Brando did it in On the Waterfront, so that's why they stick out as the best to me. They're pretty incredible. You're just like, you sit back and you say, "Damn, I wish I could do that!" [laughs]