The novels of Bret Easton Ellis have angered some but inspired many others to look at the insidious structures underneath the surfaces of our societal frameworks. Known primarily as the author of the iconic American Psycho, Ellis has been on the end of backlash since the very beginning of his career because of his ability to conduct incisive investigations of problematic but omnipresent issues.
In an interview with the Guardian, Ellis said that American Psycho would not survive if it was released today: “That book wouldn’t be published now,” he said. “I mean, no one wanted to publish it then. Very few people came forward. I was just lucky. But what’s interesting is that I didn’t know until I was putting White together just how haunted I’d been by American Psycho. I can’t get away from Patrick Bateman. I mean, it was prescient, and not only because of Trump.”
While talking about being labelled as a conservative after the release of his recent book White, Ellis commented: “These people have been raised to think their reactions to things are completely correct and that the other side is not only totally wrong but also therefore immoral, sexist, racist. All my book argues is: let’s have a conversation. But of course it has already been totalled in America. My ability to trigger millennials is insane.”
As a part of Criterion’s periodic feature, Ellis was invited to choose a few cinematic masterpieces that have remained stuck in his head through the years. For this exercise, Ellis displayed a wide-ranging taste in films which included works by all-time greats such as Michelangelo Antonioni as well as modern pioneers like the Dardenne brothers.
Ellis called Roman Polanski’s iconic Rosemary’s Baby a “perfect horror film,” claiming: “The movie builds dread with its narrative, but amplified by Polanski’s masterful technique, it becomes effortlessly menacing. The movie is still riveting and suspenseful after multiple viewings, maybe because it’s anchored in reality and so beautifully simple—the horror is played out within the realities of a modern marriage in late-’60s Manhattan and the ‘God is dead’ movement. Second only to Chinatown in Polanski’s oeuvre.”
However, he reserved the top spot for Jean-Luc Godard’s fantastic masterpiece Contempt: “Most of Godard’s ’60s movies could fill this slot, but this is the filmmaker at his most widescreen epic and self-reflexive during this period, and as the whore who couldn’t turn the trick, he made the greatest movie about the filmmaking process ever made. Georges Delerue’s score is arguably the saddest, most elegiac in the history of movies.”
Check out the full list of Bret Easton Ellis’ favourite films of all time, ranging from the surreal investigations of David Lynch to the poignant dramatic power of the Dardenne brothers.
See the entire list below.
Bret Easton Ellis names his 10 favourite films of all time:
- Contempt (Jean-Luc Godard, 1963)
- Days of Heaven (Terrence Malick, 1978)
- Don’t Look Now (Nicolas Roeg, 1973)
- L’eclisse (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1962)
- The Kid with a Bike (Dardenne brothers, 2011)
- The Last Picture Show (Peter Bogdanovich, 1971)
- Mulholland Drive (David Lynch, 2001)
- Nashville (Robert Altman, 1975)
- Rosemary’s Baby (Roman Polanski, 1968)
- The Silence of the Lambs (Jonathan Demme, 1991)
Although Ellis was on the fence about this last pick, he went ahead with The Silence of the Lambs: “I was tempted to replace this with Something Wild—along with Blue Velvet a key movie of the ’80s, when Demme was its finest mainstream director without a hit. But this is undeniably Demme’s greatest achievement—one of his only hits, and rumours persist that it was taken as a job.”
Adding, “It contains maybe the most complexly realised heroine in a procedural and two of the most iconic performances in American movies. It seems Demme has been apologising for its gore and violence ever since, but it’s a nearly perfect film while also a haunting reflection of the George H. W. Bush years in the same way The Coens’ No Country For Old Men seemed like a reflection of the waning years of his son’s presidency.”