1. Shampoo (1975)
“Shampoo stars Warren Beatty and it’s directed by Hal Ashby. It’s hysterical and it’s really satirical. Warren Beatty plays this playboy guy who works at a hair salon. He does all the women’s hair, and he ends up being this huge womanizer. It ultimately ends up being kind of like a commentary on that. I don’t know how it flies now, but I think it’s a comment on it because he ends up lonely and losing the love of his life. So it’s ultimately a cautionary tale. Warren Beatty at the height of being the GOAT, just killing it, and Hal Ashby…amazing.
It is a comedy. In the ’70s comedies were not genre-fied in the same way. There were these great films that looked beautiful, made by great directors, where your A-level great filmmakers that made crazy dramas made ‘comedies’ and they had great actors in them and were shot by the great DPs.”
2. Being There (1979)
“One of the greatest films ever made. The poster is based on a Magritte painting. Peter Sellers is the star. It’s hysterical and so beautiful. The best movie there is about a naive. Peter Sellers, one of the great comedic actors of all time, plays Chance, this guy who’s worked as a gardener for this woman for, like, 40 years. And she dies and he has never gone outside. So he walks into the modern world for the first time ‘cause he was raised as the kid of a gardener. And he accidentally becomes this political figure in the upper bourgeois – almost commenting on how stupid the upper elite is. This guy is so naive, and he becomes so celebrated in that world, but he has no idea that he’s even doing it.”
3. CB4 & Fear of a Black Hat (1993)
“I hope Chris Rock sees this. I love CB4. It falls into the genre of – it’s almost a Wayne’s World but about NWA. It’s in the spoof movie genre. I’ll do a slash on this one—CB4 and Fear of a Black Hat, directed by Rusty Cundieff. CB4 was directed by my friend Tamra Davis, who’s an amazing director. She gave Spike Jonze his first directing job.
CB4 is an amazing spoof movie of, like, an NWA-like band, but they’re from the suburbs and they’re kind of pretending to be harder than they are. There’s a song called ‘Straight Outta Locash’ instead of ‘Straight Outta Compton.’ I think I know all the words, but I won’t sing it. And Chris Elliott is great as the cameraman following them around. RIP Charlie Murphy—the first big Charlie Murphy performance is as the ‘bad guy’ in CB4. That was the first time I ever saw Charlie Murphy.”
4. Carnal Knowledge (1971)
“Mike Nichols’ most famous film is probably The Graduate. He passed away a couple years ago. Carnal Knowledge is with Jack Nicholson and it came out, I believe, before The Graduate or maybe right after. It was really, really boundary pushing, sexually, what they were doing and talking about in the film. It’s a great Jack Nicholson performance.”
5. The Birdcage (1996)
“The Birdcage is a later Mike Nichols film written by Elaine May, who’s his old comedy partner, who’s also a brilliant genius and one of the first big female directors in Hollywood. Brilliant woman. It’s with Robin Williams and Nathan Lane. Hank Azaria gives an amazing performance, as does Gene Hackman. It’s just one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen. It holds up, and it’s great to watch ‘cause it’s cozy and it’s bright and it’s in Miami and it’s really funny. The, like, ’96 Miami fashion is just a lot of Versace, which is so sick. Hank Azaria gives one of the funniest performances of all time in that movie. Like, for the record books.”