Your 100 Favourite Directors: Results (Full Version)

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Rhubarb -> Your 100 Favourite Directors: Results (24/8/2010 6:43:53 PM)

So here we go. After six weeks or arguing, cramming and panicking, the lists are all in and counted, and here are the 100 best, according to voters in this very poll.

May as well stick to talking in the other thread and leave this one for the just the results, will be easier to find things that way.

BIG GIANT THANKS to Paul who basically did the counting, and a significant thanks to Piles, who begged to get to do the graphics, and has done a great job. we go.

Rhubarb -> RE: Your 100 Favourite Directors: Results (24/8/2010 6:45:28 PM)


[This director does not have a blurb yet. If you'd like to do one, just get in touch]
Key Films: Memories of a Murder, The Host, Mother

It is July 1993, and a young up and coming music video director who had previously had a hit with The Divinyls, I Touch Myself, was preparing his next music video project. It was epic, loud, and full of action, with a talented crew behind it (including Texas Chainsaw Massacre cinematographer Daniel Pearl of all people) and (in retrospect) represented the singular vision of its director.

Over budget and full of elaborate sets, the music video for Meatloaf’s I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That) is in many ways the film which defined Bay’s future career as a director, right down to last years Transformers 2.

Watching the music video for the first time in many years, I was struck by just how clear Bay’s influence was on every frame. The first thing to notice is the running time. Seven minutes plus. Overblown does not begin to describe it. Then we hit a helicopter with a sunset behind it. If Hitchcock had his cameos and Landis had See You Next Wednesday, this is Bays own personal signature, and I believe that this was the first time that he could ever afford to use it.

Forget (well, you what I mean) his Playboy video, or his early start as an artist on Raiders of the Lost Ark. The Meat Loaf video is Michael Bay’s coming out party.

Blue filters, motorbike, helicopters against sunsets, barely dressed woman, rock music and what can only be described as “ambitious” editing are the usual attributes given to Bay when trying to describe his work, and they are all clearly present.

In some circles he is considered to be the worst human being ever to get behind a camera. That he is a complete failure as a filmmaker, lacking empathy, a good visual eye and is handicapped by an inability to understand how editing works. He represents to some the decay of America, and the wider world, and appeals singularly to horny 12 year old boys too scared to rent an adult movie, but wanting the closet possible experience to such a thing.

His critics are less kind.

But dig deeper and you may find some surprises.

Here is a question. How many of his films have an American cast as the main villain? In Bad Boys he is French, Ed Harris in The Rock is at worst misguided, Armageddon is about a massive rock, in Pearl Harbor it is the Japanese, in Bad Boys 2 they are Cuban, The Island - African, and in Transformers they are giant alien robots.

It is very rare to find an out and out American bad guy in a Bay film, and that is part of why he appeals to his audience. Out of nearly every director working at the blockbuster level today, Bay is the only one who truly, honestly and deeply has a dyed in the wool respect for America and what it represents. Even Spielberg, that patron of Americana, has shown a darker reaction to his country in films such as War of the Worlds and A.I.

In his best pictures it is used to demonstrate both his love for America, and some of its grey areas (the Rock), and in his worst it comes across as sickly sweet and trite (Pearl Harbor).

But even in his respect for America, it is with blue collar America that Bay relates to the most. The Government in many of his films are inept or imprudent. It is the blue collar workers, the cops, the oil drillers and the soldiers who are the real heroes for Bay. Notice how, in Armageddon, he tries to have respect for NASA, yet at the same time cannot help but attack it through his snooty astronauts, who we instantly dislike due to their attitudes towards our real American heroes.

Ben Affleck once asked him if it wouldn’t be easier to train astronauts to be drillers than drillers to be astronauts. Bay told him to shut up.

The majority of those authority figures, who are good guys, either have emotional problems, or, interestingly, in the case of Billy Bob in Armageddon, and Jon Voight in Pearl Harbor, are encumbered by a physical disability.

Bay has struggled to find these characters in his Transformer films. That is why the military are so front and centre. No one in the audience really cares about the humans landing back at base, but the military are given equal status as the robots, and shot with the same degree of awe. When it comes to Sam, Bay is also at a loss. There is none of the man banter which seeps through his other films, and he seems to continually undercut the middle class family lifestyle as something which he simply cannot take seriously and so resorts to broad humour.

Anyone who has ever read a Bay interview, or listened to him speak, will get the sense that he sees himself with the salt of the earth crowd. Bay sees himself as a guy who is simply going out making a days living as a worker, getting strung down by the bullshit of authority, paper work by middle men, stuck in their air conditioned offices, and visual effects geeks who he has to spend chunks of his time pushing forward. He identifies with the blue collar, and their daily struggle, while living in a totally separate bubble as a huge Hollywood director.

His fascination with this group and his need to appeal to them is very much at the heart of nearly all of his films, and this class consciousness is very much an essential component of what gives Bay his motivation as a director.

There has been something of an ironic love for Bad Boys 2 in particular, from some quarters. Likely as a result of Hot Fuzz. But for all the semi mocking tone of peoples love for the film, it is a lot of fun. The largest budgeted 18 rated film I can think of. While bloated, and with too many bad guys, Bay knows that the important thing is putting Smith and Lawrence front and centre. For a guy known for explosions, in his best films Bay understands that the summer audiences also want characters they can laugh along with.

That said, the Rock is unconditionally a great action film.

Second question. How many sex scenes has Michael Bay directed in a mainstream film? He certainly talks about sex a lot. He has characters looking at one another as sexual objects, directing woman in a way that is sexually suggestive, and cracks plenty of jokes about sex. But we have never seen Bay tackle the subject in an explicit manner, which, for someone with his reputation, is something of a surprise.

Crassness appears to stop at the bedroom. Now, sex has occurred in his films, it does exist, but you would expect a man like Bay, who draped Megan Fox over a bike in an awkward pose, would have no problems filming sex scenes. But he is something of a prude in this regard, and would rather snicker at the idea of sex, but rarely being able to give it any real comment, or present it as an expression of a deep emotional act. The closest he comes to such maturity, in Pearl Harbor, is done with such restraint, that it might as well have been the planes which were making out. Even in Pearl Harbor, the characters can’t just have a relationship – there have to be night time flights, and sheets draped across the scene.

His relationship with female characters is very limited, to the point of being nonexistent. Bay simply doesn’t get them. Woman in his films are often the things that divide the male friendships (Bad Boys, Pearl Harbor, Armageddon, Transformers 2) or the object of our heroes actions (Fox in Transformers, Connery’s daughter in the Rock). They rarely have their own story, and are defined by their relationships with the heroes. While this is hardly unique to Bay, he rarely makes even a half hearted attempt to give his female cast their own role in a film, unlike most blockbusters which studios mandate must have a “strong” female role, which often just means = fires a gun.

It is very telling that, according to Scarlett Johansson, she offered to go topless in a sex scene for the Island but was cut down by Bay. How does this tally with a director for whom the motto “more is more” seems apt? Our director is a prude about nudity, and is a fascinating aspect of his mindset.

This is a director who hides behind action and adventure, but still can’t disguise his own issues no matter how many giant explosions he throws on the big screen. For any fan of film, his catalogue of movies present an insight which you simply do not find with other directors of similar standing such as Simon West, or McG. You know a Michael Bay film when you see it. You may not like it, but you sure as hell can’t mistake it. And that I believe is the very idea behind an auteur.

There is an oft told story, that when filming the Rock, Bay told Ed Harris that the director he most wanted to be was James Cameron. A bemused Harris responded by asking “why?”

Some see a connection between Cameron and Bay, but as more time passes, it becomes much clearer that Bay’s heritage comes from the work of Tony Scott in the 1980s. The fast paced cutting, music video framing and cockmanship of the heroes, all seem to owe much more to the work of Tony Scott than Cameron. Indeed it is difficult to see any connective tissue between those directors other than a love of blue filters, and an aggressive shooting style.

Where Bay succeeds and Scott fails (recently) is that he understands the audience he is playing to, and what they want. Critically neither director has had much critical appraisal, apart from notable exceptions such as The Rock and True Romance, but Bay has managed to refine the hugely popular 1980s Tony Scott aesthetic and apply it to modern big budget cinema.

Watching the Transformers films you get the impression that Bay wants the movies to be about the military hardware, rather than the giant robots that everyone else has come to see. This creates a weird dichotomy in the films. Aircraft, pilots, soldiers, tanks and ships are filmed lovingly, even when being destroyed, while the robots have pissing jokes and giant swinging balls. You know when you complained about the constant shots of the military in Transformers 2? For Bay THAT is the film. The rest is just a plot function to get the hardware front and centre.

If you listen to his commentaries on the Transformers and Armageddon DVDs he speaks with genuine pride about the access he had to the US military, and being allowed to film vehicles not recorded on any other film or TV show. This connection between Bay and the military has grown stronger over the years, and is another interesting development from the moral questions brought up in the Rock, to the much more straightforward admiration for the army in Transformers.

I don’t personally believe that it is just flag waving. Like his love for the blue collar mystique, Bay seems to have some desire to be seen as an equal to those in the military. It is a much more personal statement from Bay, than simply appealing to the patriotic

In a way, those two Transformer films, his most successful, are the least Bayesque. The Island, unique in the Bay oeuvre as his only out and out failure, demonstrates his discomfort outside of that box of tangible objects that exist in the real word.

One area where Bay does shine is in giving his characters a sense of fun, and allowing each member of the ensemble to shine. His characters talk with a certain rhythm and improvisation which sets him aside from those Hollywood blockbusters with interchangeable characters. Armageddon may be edited to an inch of its life, but it is full of distinct characters. The family arguing, and talking over one another in Transformers is something you simply don’t see in many movies costing 200 million. Certainly it can be overdone, but Bay does appear to be a director who allows a degree of freedom for his cast which you don’t find in many other blockbusters.

He is not an intellectual by any means; but he can create well paced action movies with engaging characters and has proven to have done so in the past. We can complain about how manipulative the ending of Armageddon is, but you know what? For a large number of the audience, it worked. And that is all that matters to Bay. That the audience – not the critics, not the producers and not cast and crew – love his movies. The public didn’t love The Island, and so Bay went back to the default action movie, with added giant robots.

Let’s address the elephant in the room. Does Bay, honestly belong in a list such as this? While I didn’t vote for him (yet I wrote this essay), I truly believe that his collection of films, is just as fascinating as some of the more worthy people on these lists. I don’t expect many will out and out love his films, but there are statements in there underneath the gloss and noise and fury, which are due some consideration. There is something distinct about who Michael Bay is, and what he represents, which makes him a larger target than someone like Paul WS Anderson.

Each of his movies are a refinement on what has come before, while never really leaving the box he has existed in since Bay Boys. Will we ever see Bay make a romantic film? A comedy? A thriller? Unlikely. He is a man trapped in one genre, and seems content to push himself towards ever greater spectacle.

But this lack of desire to move out of his comfort zone should not be a black mark against Bay.

Yes he is adolescent in his attitudes to violence and women; yes his films have the same basic structure as pornos (blah, blah, blah ACTION SHOT, blah, blah, blah, ACTION SHOT…), and yes he may have lost his way in Transformers 2, but he has demonstrated time and again, the ability to engage with large scale audiences. He is an Emperor of the Blockbuster – his Arena the Cinema Screen. His Bread and Circuses - hot babes and fast action and guys you want to hang out with. And it is utterly fascinating.

Transformers 3 will be an interesting film, both as a response to the criticism that Bay faced with the previous instalment, and how exactly he will work around replacing his leading lady. Will he even care?

When we get right down to it, Michael Bay is still that guy from 1993, filming the Meatloaf video, and demanding more, more, more. You don’t have to like his work, but you can’t escape it either. This pretty much sums up both the man, and his career.

That, or “Shit just got real” – whatever floats your boat.
Key Films: Bad Boys, The Rock, Armageddon, Transformers


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Key Films: The Evil Dead, Evil Dead II: Dead By Dawn, The Quick and the Dead, Spider-Man

Rhubarb -> RE: Your 100 Favourite Directors: Results (26/8/2010 2:23:45 PM)


Nicholas Ray came from a radio background, and in his early years directed his only Broadway production, before promptly moving into films. He directed about twenty five feature films, but it will be three of this that he will probably be best remembered for. It’s odd, though, that these three films are all so different in terms of genre, and are all – to some extent – atypical examples of the three subgenres that were – at the time that Nicholas Ray was making movies – the most popular in U.S. cinema. Of course, I’m talking about the film-noir “In A Lonely Place”, the social drama “Rebel Without a Cause”, and the western “Johnny Guitar”. The most well known and probably the most popular of these is “Rebel Without a Cause”, which starred the iconic, tragic figure of James Dean as a young boy at a new school. It is quite odd to note that all three of this film’s principal cast members – Sal Mineo, Natalie Wood, and Dean himself – all died young, and watching it now it’s a tragic film about the differences between generations, as well as a critique on contemporary parenting. “In A Lonely Place” has slowly become recognized as one of the best of all the film-noirs, starring Humphrey Bogart as a Hollywood writer who is prone to violence, and whose experience of writing murders places him in the center of a real one. Tonally, it is superb, with the elements of a great noir all in place, but it is through the film’s frank depiction of violence and for Bogart’s superbly grizzled performance that it is best known and regarded for.

Perhaps the best of Nicholas Ray’s three most popular pictures is “Johnny Guitar”, though, the ultimate atypical western. The titular character is played by Sterling Hayden, but in truth it is Joan Crawford’s character, Vienna, who is the lead here. She owns a bar in a rough, barren part of the west, and is holding out until the rail line is built past her saloon, bringing with it custom. However, the locals take a dislike to both her support of the railway, and her friendship with suspected robber The Dancin’ Kid, and attempt to bully her bar away from her. The titular Guitar shows up, though, re-kindling his old love with Crawford’s Vienna, and offering some much needed support. First watching “Johnny Guitar” is a very odd experience. It is a film unlike any other, both in tone and content, and a truly atypical western. After all, this is a film in which the women hold the power, and in which the lead character is a strong-willed, aggressive, and intelligent lady. It almost seems at times that Ray is deliberately reversing the conventions of the western movie in order to highlight the inherent sexism there; for too long the women have been damsels in distress – helpless and weak - in need of a big, burly man to save them from Apaches. It is the women, Crawford’s Vienna and Mercedes McCambridge’s Emma Small, who have the finale’s shoot-out, and it is the dynamic between these two characters that the film plays off. It is perhaps this film that best displays Ray’s skill of a filmmaker; to bring themes about society and film itself, whilst at the same time entertaining his audience.

To stop writing here would be unfair to the legacy of Ray, because although these three films are his best known, there is quality throughout his filmography. I have only seen seven of his films myself, but each and every one of them has been of a high quality. His first film, “They Live By Night”, may suffer from a bit of amateurish clunkiness, doubtlessly because of its first time director, but at others it is a real foreshadowing of Ray’s skill as a filmmaker. It is a noir about a young man who escapes from prison but is drawn back into his former criminal life, with some superb noir direction from Ray and a perfect central performance from Farley Granger. He followed it up with the excellent “Knock on Any Door”, which continued Ray’s noir training and kindled his relationship with Bogart, who plays a lawyer who takes the case of a boy from the slums, against his peers’ wishes. Although the two aren’t necessarily similar, this film foreshadowed the themes of Lumet’s “Twelve Angry Men” by seven years, yet doesn’t quite get the plaudits of the later film.

“Bigger Than Life” is a superb social drama about a man (played by the brilliant James Mason) who takes a new ‘miracle’ drug in order to escape death, but loses his sanity as a result. It’s both a condemnation of the medical field and a rather subversive look at the stifling conservative values being forced down America’s throats by the Eisenhower government at the time. “The Savage Innocents” was made four years later, and starred Anthony Quinn as an Eskimo who accidentally kills a white man and is pursued because of it. This film is both an emotional study of a man’s struggle for survival in a harsh world, and an examination of the Eskimos’ struggle to maintain their lifestyle against encroaching civilization. It is also a starkly beautiful film, using the whiteness of the snow to evoke Inuk’s innocence, and the film can count Bob Dylan as one of its fans, who wrote a song about it entitled ‘The Mighty Quinn (Quinn the Eskimo)’.

Such snippets of reviews of his films, like those given above by myself, don’t do a real justice to the work of Nicholas Ray, a man who has always been described as one of the true geniuses (genii?) of cinema. His works transcend their melodramatic, ‘entertainment-based’ plots to become intense studies of the society around them (“Bigger Than Life”, “The Savage Innocents”, “Rebel Without a Cause”), or critiques on filmmaking conventions themselves (“Johnny Guitar”), or simply genre films that are made special by their starkness and their brutality (“In a Lonely Place”, “They Live by Night”). Jean-Luc Godard famously said ‘there was theatre (Griffith), poetry (Murnau), painting (Rossellini), dance (Eisenstein), music (Renoir). Henceforward there is cinema. And the cinema is Nicholas Ray.’ This couldn’t be more correct, because Nicholas Ray made cinema, in its purest, rawest form. PILES
Key films: Johnny Guitar, Rebel Without A Cause, In A Lonely Place, Bigger than Life


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Key Films: Casablanca, Angels With Dirty Faces, Yankee Doodle Dandy, Adventures of Robin Hood

Once upon a time in Australia, there lived a middle aged man called Mark Anthony Luhrmann, who everyone on the Empire forum loved to hate. Baz’s (Mark wasn’t snazzy enough, probably) only goal in life was to add a little bit of sparkle to the lives of the common public through his unique film-making. He met a wonderful woman called Catherine Martin: they married and had several cinematic babies. These babies were beautiful to look at and taught the world a lot about love, and when they weren’t doing that, they just tried to make people happy. Baz and Catherine are currently trying for more babies; let it not be the end…

Luhrmann danced his way on to the big screen with the thoroughly Australian and blindingly brilliant Strictly Ballroom. A story based on a stage play he had written in the 80s, it tells of Scott Hastings, an Australian ballroom dancer who is struggling to find his own voice, so-to-speak, in the highly competitive world of dance. In one way it’s your classic coming of age story, as we see Scott develop into a man confident enough to flout the rules of the dance floor, evidenced in the close when we no longer care whether or not he and Fran win the competition. However, it’s also a story about breaking free of the boundaries and limits we have imposed upon us, a theme Luhrmann returns to time and time again.

Strictly Ballroom was perhaps a surprising success story, going on to earn the new director a whole host of awards, but how exactly do you follow up such a critically acclaimed first film? With a Shakespeare adaptation, of course. Though, being Baz this wasn’t just going to be your typical RSC fare. He took arguably Shakespeare’s most famous play and plunged it head first into the twentieth century, giving his character’s guns and ecstasy, rather than swords and wine. A baby faced Leonardo Dicaprio takes the title role opposite the impeccably fresh faced Claire Danes as Juliet. Luhrmann’s film was calling to a younger audience, yet he refused to drop the Shakespearean dialogue. Would it work?

Well, if you don’t know, where have you been the past few years? The answer is a resounding… hmm. Opinion always seems fairly split on this, fans of Zeffirelli’s film condemn it, whilst others are complete enamoured. (Luhrmann status as a marmite director is safe for now.) Whatever your opinion, it is a remarkably well made film, as indeed all Luhrmann’s are. The film is an absolute joy to look at, in no small part thanks to Martin’s production design, and the cast are very good, but for some reason this doesn’t quite hit the mark, for me at least. It garnered critical acclaim and was Luhrmann’s first film to be nominated for an Oscar, but it doesn’t seem to have the mass adoration (it is out there…) that the likes of Strictly, and MR! often get (and that’s even with a Radiohead ‘exit’ song). It does however cement Lurhmann’s place as an incredibly unique contemporary director, something his Red Curtain Trilogy serves as testament to.

Luhrmann’s final film in the trilogy was my personal favourite, Moulin Rouge! A film without limits in which love conquers all. Rather than rant hyperbolically for the next so many hundred words about the adoration I have for this, I’ll just say, it’s stunning, in every possible way, and one of the greatest pieces of cinema I’ve watched, because that is exactly what it is. Pure cinema. It’s a world of heightened emotion and spectacular set pieces all designed to astound you. Its themes aren’t necessarily profound, but they’re typically ‘bohemian’ and typically Luhrmann.

Baz’s last film was met with a fair amount of critical disdain (what do they know anyway?), his $300 million Australian epic, starring two of its biggest exports, aptly named Australia. It’s easy to bang on about box office figures and say that whilst not a runaway success, it more than recouped its costs, but despite its failings, Australia, I would argue, is a good film. Taking inspiration from the Wizard of Oz, it’s a story of personal growth, and once again surpassing boundaries and expectations. Admittedly, it isn’t a modern masterpiece, but it’s once again great cinema, in the tradition of old Hollywood. Luhrmann said he wanted to make a film which everyone could go and see and take something from, and I think he managed it. It’s probably his least popular work to date, but there’s something wonderfully heartfelt about it, and if you fail to see that, then you’ve missed the point. With a rumoured adaptation of The Great Gatsby, Luhrmann shows no signs of stopping anytime soon, and I for one would love to see what he does with Fitzgerald’s opus of jazz age glamour and jaded dreamers.

Luhrmann’s inclusion on this list has already prompted a few raised eyebrows, but in terms of being a great director he certainly is. He has his own style, and his partnership with Catherine Martin has led to some of the most beautiful films I’ve ever seen. He constantly attempts to revitalise cinema without ever losing sight of its origins, and for that he should be applauded, so I ask you all to have ‘a bit of musicality, please!’.
(Honourable mention to Elab for reminding me of that quote!)
Key Films: Strictly Ballroom, Moulin Rouge!, Romeo and Juilet


I didn’t vote for Burton for this list, but I feel compelled to write this blurb anyway. Why? Well without him, there is less chance I would be writing anything on this forum at all. As a child discovering cinema, a few things caught my eye. A childhood crush on Winona Ryder was one of them, meaning I watched Beetlejuice many many times. I also loved Burton’s Batman films, mainly because my parents hated them (“too dark!”) and I also stayed up late one night at a friends house and watched Mars Attacks! which I thought was the most fun ever,.
Obviously as a ten year old, I had no idea that these disparate pieces of work came from the same person – they just happened to be films I liked (for different reasons). When I got older, and did realise though, I saught out the rest of his work, and in general was impressed. I was a big fan of his upon entering the weird world of films, and his films undoubtedly helped me along the way. I have little doubt that my appreciation of Ed Wood was kicked off by Burton’s biopic of the same name, that they way I discovered Ray Harryhausen was through Mars Attacks! and my choice to stay up late recording old films with Christopher Lee in can be attributed directly to Sleepy Hollow.
And yet, as I said, Burton did not make my 25. Why not? Certainly I think in the last 10 years he has become decidedly hit and miss. Big Fish is a fantastic movie, but elsewhere he has moved into a strange rut. Planet of the Apes was the changing point, a big budget remake which made absolutely no sense, and was Burton’s first real miss. Since that movie, he’s made the previously mentioned Big Fish, remakes (or new adaptations, depending on your spin) of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Sweeney Todd and Alice in Wonderland, as well as his own Corpse Bride, which was the bare bones of a good film, but not much else.
It’s a shame that he’s resorted to these remakes – with their unimaginative casting of Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, two actors I really like, but come now – because there was a time when he was America’s most interesting and imaginative filmmaker. He started life as a Disney animator (working on another childhood favourite – the Fox and the Hound, a great Disney story lacking great Disney songs) but his big break came with Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. A sort of Mr Bean for American audiences, Pee Wee is always going to be the kind of character you find funny or absolutely loathe, but it is an inventive comic take on the Bicyle Thief.
He then moved on to Beetlejuice, a more gothic film that established his look and feel. It’s a funny film, that is lacking in plot but not in imagination, and has some fun characters along for the ride. It was a big hit, and convinced Warner Brothers he was the right man to proceed with their new darker take on the Batman franchise.
Burton’s Bat films come in for a lot of stick these days, but compare them with what went before (the secretly brilliant Adam West era) and its no surprise they were big hits at the time. Burton’s Gotham is absolutely incredible looking, and he gets all the elements of the fantastical that personally, I want in a Batman film. The films aren’t perfect (Jack’s Joker hasn’t aged well) but they are bold (even in casting – Micheal Keaton was never thought to be Batman, and he is brilliant) and imaginative.
In between his two Batman films he made his first bone fide masterpiece, the beautiful Edward Scissorhands. The tale of a man half built (by Vincent Price in his last screen role) and left confused by his inventors death, Scissorhands brings out the key theme in Burton’s films, the outsider, trying to fit in by failing. He even took this theme to his biopic of the “worst director of all time”, Ed Wood. Probably his best film, Wood succeeds because it isn’t laughing at Wood, but is sympathetic, and presents us with a Wood who genuinely believes he has what it takes, and his blind, mindless optimisim is genuinely beautiful.
He contributed the story idea to the Nighmare Before Christmas, though he handed over the directors chair to Henry Selick, while he made his 50’s B-Movie pastiche Mars Attacks (which literally has the best cast of all time). He then worked upon a Superman reboot which never happened, and made his own Hammer Horror with Sleepy Hollow.
Then came Planet of the Apes, a huge wobble, and one he doesn’t seem to have totally recovered from. I for one quite like Sweeney Todd, and Alice in Wonderland and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory were enjoyable. But something seems missing – perhaps it is just imagination. Burton has become a brand, bizarrely, and he doesn’t have to fight the system to get his films (or his cast – Tom Cruise was originally going to Edward Scissorhands, but Burton rightly fought for Depp. The problem is now, that he gets offered Depp every time and takes him) made. I miss the Tim Burton that would use Tom Jones as a Deus Ex Machina. That’s pretty ballsy whichever way you look at it. Rhubarb
Key Films: Ed Wood, Edward Scissorhands, Beetlejuice, Sweeney Todd

Rhubarb -> RE: Your 100 Favourite Directors: Results (28/8/2010 5:03:13 PM)


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Rhubarb -> RE: Your 100 Favourite Directors: Results (28/8/2010 9:30:22 PM)


[my blurb will appear here]
Key Films: Stranger Than Paradise, Down By Law, Dead Man, Broken Flowers


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Key Films: Mr Smith Goes to Washington, Its a Wonderful Life, It Happened One Night, Arsenic and Old Lace


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Key Films: Cronos, Pan's Labyrinth, Hellboy, The Devil's Backbone

Rhubarb -> RE: Your 100 Favourite Directors: Results (29/8/2010 5:29:06 PM)


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Key Films: Pi, Requiem for a Dream, The fountain, The Wrestler


There’s something about Jan Svankmajer’s films that just jumps out and grabs you. Whether you are a fan of him or not is almost irrelevant; the ingenuity and the intelligence of this man is inherent from even the shortest and earliest of his films. His large filmography is made up mainly on surrealist animated shorts for the first thirty years (with the odd foray into live action short films or puppetry), with some feature length films – that combine Svankmajer’s unique animation style with more usual live action filmmaking – towards the end. It has been said that “Surviving Life (Theory and Practice)”, due out in 2010, is likely to be his last film. As this man’s varied, distinct, and generally consistent career comes to the end, it comes as a pleasant surprise to see him rank quite respectfully in this poll. Obviously not a complete unknown but not somebody who you’d expect to be troubling the likes of Scorsese or Spielberg for votes, Svankmajer is well respected amongst cineastes and critics but, generally speaking, Joe Public will be blissfully unaware of the genius that this director is able to put into a simple ten minute film.

Indeed, Svankmajer is often capable of including big, grandiose themes in short (and cheap) films. In “Naturae Historia, Suita” from 1967, for instance, he pretty much went over the themes that Stanley Kubrick did in 150 minutes in “2001: A Space Odyssey” in a mere 9 minutes. “The Garden” (1968) was equally as impressive in displaying the inherent flaws in communist philosophy in just 17 minutes as something like Bela Tarr’s “Satantango” was in seven and a half hours. This conciseness, and this ability to discuss grandiose themes in humble films, is what marks Svankmajer apart from most other filmmakers in this list. Next to him, the vast majority of them look indulgent, and unable to say what this director said with the resources available to him. These massive themes, though, aren’t all that Svankmajer was about; his film “The Flat” (also 1968), for instance, was an intelligent and ultimately frustrating (mainly for the character that lives in its dystopian world, but – probably deliberately – ever so slightly for us too) allegorical film about the Prague Spring. Svankmajer is able to tackle both grand, sweeping themes and contextual, specific political talking points with both great skill and humbleness.

If there’s a theme that runs through Svankmajer’s work in the short film medium, then it’s certainly oppression, both dealt out by the state (in films like “Jabberwocky”, “The Flat”, or “The Garden”) and by ourselves (“The Last Trick”, is an example of this, or “Food”). Growing up in the Eastern Block during the time of the fall of communism there will doubtlessly have influenced this, but another key and telling contribution to his filmmaking style and thematic interests comes in the form of a childhood gift; a small puppet theatre. Not only has Svankmajer used puppetry in his films (“The Last Trick”, for instance), but the very idea behind it – of an omnipresent force controlling a dance – is key to an understanding of his films. Indeed, in those shorts where puppetry is utilized, it is done so in a manner that brings to mind these inherent connotations; of control and of dominance.

Moving out of these short films and into his features, Svankmajer continued these themes more inconsistently and, in a format that has allowed such indulgence, has more freely expressed the aesthetical side of his genius, which is another string to his bow. “Alice”, for instance, is a film about the loss of childhood innocence as well as adventure and escapism rather than control and oppression, but the real reason to watch it is for the look, sound, and feel of the film. It’s a movie in which everything comes to life, keeping the audience bedazzled and mystified by its dark and somewhat disturbing re-enactment of Lewis Carroll’s stories. Anybody who comes out of Burton’s film proclaiming it to be dark should really watch the 1988 version, before promptly committing suicide for intense levels of wrongness. It’s possible, though, that the director surpassed even this with 2000’s “Little Otik”, a fantastic drama-comedy-horror in which a couple who can’t have children adopt a fantastical wooden stump that comes to life but won’t stop growing. Brilliantly Svankmajer-esque in its aesthetics and sensibilities, it really is a must-see film, and probably Svankmajer’s feature length masterpiece.

It will be his shorts, though, that Svankmajer is remembered for. From his playful side to his intense, political side, Svankmajer is a director who is as intelligent and serious as he is silly and flippant. He creates dreamlike worlds where anything can happen and everything comes to life, capturing our imagination in a swirl of colour, sound, and movement. Svankmajer is probably the most unique director on this list, his influence obvious when you look at the work of modern day kooks like Burton and Gilliam, and his impression on the face of cinema actually quite profound despite the humble nature of his works.
Key Films: The GArden, Jabberwocky, Food, Little Otik


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Key Films: Sunrise, Nosferatu,, Faust,

Rhubarb -> RE: Your 100 Favourite Directors: Results (30/8/2010 3:26:43 PM)


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Key Films: The Good The Bad The Weird, A Bittersweet Life, A Tale of Two Sisters


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Key Films: Pather Panchali, Aparajito, The World of Apu,


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Key Films: Ugestsu, Sahsho The Baliff, 47 Ronin

Rhubarb -> RE: Your 100 Favourite Directors: Results (30/8/2010 3:31:01 PM)


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Key Films: Naked, Vera Drake, Secrets and Lies, Happy-Go-Lucky


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Key Films: Human Nature, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Science of Sleep, Be Kind Rewind


[Miles Blurb will be here]
Key Films: Sulivans Travels, The Palm Beach Story, The Lady Eve, Christmas in July

Rhubarb -> RE: Your 100 Favourite Directors: Results (31/8/2010 4:35:58 PM)


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Rhubarb -> RE: Your 100 Favourite Directors: Results (6/9/2010 4:47:12 PM)


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"Eclectic" is definitely the best word you could use to describe the career of Danny Boyle thus far. He has bounded around from genre to genre without barely looking back and if this approach has occasionally led to some stumbles along the way, it's also resulted in worldwide smashes, Oscars and some of the most notable films of the decade.
From Shallow Grave right through to the upcoming 127 Hours, a new Danny Boyle film has always demanded attention and he has long led the way for British directors so far this century, demonstrating that British cinema can be as invigorating and bold as any other nation. We first see this in the jet-black humour of Shallow Grave, his debut film back in 1994, based around three flatmates who discover their recently deceased fourth flatmate was a drug dealer and proceed to dispose of his body themselves and steal his drug money. It's a savage film, as the three friends eventually turn on each other amongst bloodshed and betrayal, and Boyle gleefully turns the screws like Hitchcock or the Coens.

This ability to peek into the darkness of the human condition was one noteable aspect of his follow-up, Trainspotting, where he adopted Irvine Welsh's novel of Scottish heroin addicts, and turned it into something no-one had seen before for this type of film. As well as cementing Ewan McGregor's stardom it revitalised British cinema like - and I'm sorry for the obvious analogy - a shot in the arm, so much so that Empire told Hollywood its time was up. Never finger-wagging or hectoring, but also avoiding glorification, it is instead a glorious, energetic roller coaster ride of cinematic brio and gallows wit intertwined with grim, dark images that never trivialise the subject at hand. Dead babies climb walls, bodies slowly rot in grotty apartments and junkies have sex with schoolgirls - while Boyle soundtracks it to the thunder of Iggy Pop and propels his camera like a bullet. With its mixture of contemporary music and vivid, powerful imagery, and restless movement it's still the definitive Boyle film that sums his style up.

And then came the mistakes and the flops. The Beach is a dull adaptation of a cult novel, the polar opposite to Trainspotting; and A Life Less Ordinary is a mess. An interesting Coens-esque mess with guardian angels, lovers on the lam, shoot-outs and plasticine credits, but a mess nonetheless. Millions, however, while a flop, was somewhat of a return to form. Displaying once more Boyle's agile ability to hop genres, it's the rare example of a non-animated non-fantasy (for the most part) kids film that doesn't patronise and has a raw streak of emotion running through it as two young brothers still mourning their recently-deceased mother attempt to spend some stolen loot they've found before the criminals arrive to reclaim it.

28 Days Later... was a continuation of his return to form, but also took Boyle back to the box office. Updating zombies with two key differences - they're not really dead and they can sprint - it's still one of the best horrors of the decade. Just like he bathed Trainspotting in the dark corners of Glasgow, this is a film that finds a haunting power in an abandoned London. Once again, his use of music is exemplary, and its finale as a few gallant survivors of the Rage plague hide out in a country house from a horde of Infected, is a fraught and bloody finale to rank alongside any other. And displaying another string to his bow, Boyle occasionally slowed down his whirling camera to capture some wonderfully bleak images of a country left to burn and rot. Sci-fi was next and Boyle's Sunshine, while wobbling in the last act, demonstrated his ability to handle big budgets and large scale CGI like anyone else. Astronauts on a mission to kick-start our dying sun are threatened not just by the elements of deep space, but by something else hiding out in the vast emptiness, is nothing necessarily new, but Boyle breathes fresh life into it, concocts some stunning visuals of the sun and crafts some truly nail-biting sequences as things go from bad to worse.

And then there were the Oscars. Slumdog Millionaire, his Dubai fairytale become both a resounding box office hit and his most critically acclaimed film to date, winning big across most awards ceremonies. His mixture of colourful visuals, energetic camera and superb music once again resulted in a unique and enthralling tale of love, luck and lottery and showed yet again, Boyle's eclectic style is perhaps his greatest strength. Altogether Slumdog Millionaire made him only the seventh director to win the Oscar, Bafta, Golden Globe and Directors Guild Award for the same film.

Early word on 127 Hours is that it's a masterpiece and could well net him his second Oscar, but the brilliant thing about Boyle is that once again, it's an unpredictable move from him. He never plays safe and let's all hope that he never does. Matty_b


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Rhubarb -> RE: Your 100 Favourite Directors: Results (10/9/2010 5:56:06 PM)


In the New World, as the prelude of Das Rheingold stirs, large ships arrive in from across the waters, strange visitors to the natives who watch from the shore, curious, nervous. Along with the themes of new and old becoming automatically apparent, it's the first sign of the staggering beauty the world that Terence Malick is showing us. It's an eye meltingly, gut-wrenchingly, life-threateningly beautiful film. Every shot is exquisitely realised, each frame oozing with the wonders of the world.

With onscreen dialogue limited to less than half the film, it means that a large part of the story telling is down to the typical Malick ponderous voiceovers and the images on screen. And in both Malick proves to be a poet. There are some paintings that contain great depth in their images so that just one glance provokes a tumult of emotions, or evokes a history. So it is with each shot in the New World. Every frame tells a story, and the result is a stunning, unforgettable film that leaves an unforgettable impression.

This applies to all of Malick's films (although The Thin Red Line is still sitting on my shelf – you do have to be in the mood for Malick). He is a director that uses cinema as poetry, expressing the sometimes ineffable in a unique and thoughtful manner. He is not interested in the killings of Badlands, but the mundanities and boredom of their life, or the sweeter moments they spend together. The joyous score betrays the dark heart of the film, yet the juxtaposition of the two works to the extent that you, too, are occasionally swept along by the life the two leads live. It's a difficult film to decipher, as the tone is almost dreamlike yet the content is violent and real. Martin Sheen's Kit is portrayed as how he saw himself, not as he really was, and Sissy Spacek's voiceover veers disturbingly from naïve to knowing. Whatever – it's meditations are powerful and brilliant.

I've still not decided yet whether I prefer Badlands or Days of Heaven – the latter is due an rewatch – as both are masterful. Days of Heaven employs the classic Malick techniques: the voiceover (Linda Manz in a performance to rival Spacek's); the long, lingering shots of nature (here the farmlands of industrial era america); potent imagery (the fire in the wheat fields is positively biblical). Yet it never feels as Malick is just ticking boxes. It's a stunning, provocative film, yet another masterpiece.

That's really Malick though. Each film is overflowing with care and attention to detail. For example, he spent a whole year filming Days of Heaven to capture the seasons perfectly. And this dedication to his craft means that each film of his is an enriching, powerful experience and a poetic, beautiful work of art. The man is more than a director, he is an artist, and auteur and a genius.

So now I should watch The Thin Red Line, right? Swords


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Rhubarb -> RE: Your 100 Favourite Directors: Results (25/10/2010 7:54:57 PM)


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Rhubarb -> RE: Your 100 Favourite Directors: Results (7/11/2010 4:34:48 PM)



Rhubarb -> RE: Your 100 Favourite Directors: Results (8/11/2010 3:04:40 PM)


Regarded as the Godfather of American independent cinema, John Cassavetes was one of the most uncompromising and emotionally honest directors ever to come out of the United States. He began his career as an actor, working mainly in the theatre and taking small film and television roles when he could. By the mid-50s he was teaching acting and it was an exercise in an improv class that inspired him to direct his first film, Shadows. Shadows was financed by money raised from friends, family and donations given through Jean Shepherd's late night talk show.

With Shadows he used those improvisational techniques, mixed with a cinema vérité style to create something that could stand outside of Hollywood. It was a film fuelled by the rhythms of jazz and it was about real people, the overlooked of society that American cinema didn't want to tackle. Shadows couldn't find an American distributor, but it went down a storm at the Venice Film Festival, bringing home the Critics Award and ensuring that European distributors released the film in America. It finally did well enough in America to bring the big studios calling.

Cassavetes returned to acting, making small films and the classic t.v. series Johnny Staccato before an ill-fated attempt to recapture the energy of Shadows while bound to a major studio. Too Late Blues is an attempt at a gritty drama about blues musicians, and it's a bit of a mess, largely thanks to a weak lead performance by Bobby Darin and the constraints of working for Paramount. Cassavetes disliked the end results, he was even unhappier with the next film he made for a studio - A Child Is Waiting.

A Child Is Waiting was a troubled film at best, clashes in style and sentiment between Cassavetes and producer Stanley Kramer. The film takes place in an institution for handicapped children, and Kramer's usual ham-fisted fuckery whenever it comes to a 'message' movie is in evidence all through the film. Kramer eventually fired Cassavetes as director, Cassavetes felt that the main difference in approach (other than Kramer's turgid style) was that Kramer made a film that said the children belonged in an institution whereas Cassavetes felt the children were just like anyone else. He disowned the film that was released, and you can't blame him one bit. Another Cassavetes directorial effort wouldn't be released for the next five years.

Throughout the 60s he made a series of films as an actor, with the intention of making enough money to be able to return to directing his own kind of films. Ironically, one of the films he saw as little more than an acting job, The Dirty Dozen, earned him his first Oscar nomination and raised his profile like never before. For the five years after A Child Is Waiting, Cassavetes was directing a film with a group of unknowns, his wife and friends, called Faces. It would change both Cassavetes' life and the future of American independent cinema. Like Shadows, it was funded independent from any studio, giving Cassavetes the freedom to make the film he wanted to make. Faces starred Gena Rowlands, Cassavetes wife and possibly the greatest actress of her generation, John Marley, Seymour Cassel and Lynn Carlin. It's a difficult film, a slow-burning depiction of a marriage crumbling apart. It was made over a period of several years, shooting whenever Cassavetes had enough money and filming in the director's house. The film helped start a revolution in independent cinema, gathering far more mainstream attention than Shadows and earning Cassavetes his second Oscar nomination, this time for his writing.

In 1970 he made Husbands, he also acted in the film, starring along with Peter Falk and Ben Gazzara. Falk and Gazzara would become friends of Cassavetes and would work with him several times throughout their careers. Husbands was a critical failure at the time, its study of three friends undergoing a collective mid-life crisis was deemed self-indulgent and rambling. Thankfully there's been a critical re-evaluation in recent years and it's now regarded as one of his finest films.

The following year he made Minnie and Moskowitz, again working with Rowlands and Cassel. This time, instead of making a film about the bleakness of human relationships, he made a comedy. He was also working with a big studio again, this time with Universal who were taking chances on indie films following the success of Easy Rider. Despite the promise not to interfere with the film, the studio cut it. The interference wasn't as damaging as on A Child Is Waiting, but it's still minor Cassavetes.

1974 would see him direct his greatest film, A Woman under the Influence. Like it's lead character, the film is capable of great extremes of emotion. Cassavetes directs Rowlands to the greatest female performance of the decade, with Peter Falk giving one of the great male performances as her husband. His final Oscar nomination came here, for best director, making him one of the few people to have been Oscar nominated as an actor, writer and director. He should have taken home the Oscar, as should Rowlands.

In 76 he returned to acting in Mikey and Nicky. Elaine May directed, but she was so in awe of Cassavetes, and the film is so much in his style, that it would seem strange not to mention the film. The same year he would direct The Killing of a Chinese Bookie. Martin Scorsese helped his mentor with the film and it has the same energy as Scorsese's own Mean Streets. The story of a club-owner blackmailed into murder to pay off a gambling debt saw the director reunite with Ben Gazzara again. The film exists in two versions, the original longer cut that flopped at the box-office and the shorter, re-edited cut. The longer cut is by far superior.

The following year saw the release of Opening Night, with Rowlands again playing a woman on the edge of destruction. With it's theatrical setting, it takes Cassavetes back to his early years in the theatre. It's bleak but moving and ultimately enigmatic. Cassavetes wouldn't make another film for three years and it turned out to be his most mainstream offering in a long time. Despite that, Gloria, the tale of a gangster's girlfriend taking a young boy under her wing, was a good film and it earned Rowlands another Oscar nomination. It could have been better if they'd cast a child actor who could act.

In the mid 80s, he would be informed he only had six months to live. He set to work directing the last true Cassavetes film, Love Streams. With the director and Rowlands taking the lead roles as a middle-aged brother and sister who find they're the only ones who can look after each other. It's a beautiful film and it ranks among Cassavetes' finest. He was to direct one film after that, Big Trouble, it took two years to be released, control was taken away from him halfway through and it was subjected to much studio interference. It's a Cassavetes film in name only.

He was a true one of a kind. He believed that his characters should reflect real people, with all of their flaws, hypocrisies and complexities. He wasn't scared to make his characters and his films difficult or unfashionable. One of the reasons why he used the same stock company of actors was that he knew major stars would be too concerned with their image to go to the places he wanted to take his actors. He was a one-of-a-kind. He risked his financial well-being in order to create the art that he wanted to create. There aren't many directors with the same kind of guts. Rawlinson

Rhubarb -> RE: Your 100 Favourite Directors: Results (13/11/2010 3:09:08 PM)


Perhaps the main point of note of Jean Vigo’s childhood – apart from the fact that it was plagued by illness, illness that would cause his eventual death at the age of 29 – was that his father, Eugeni Bonaventura de Vigo I Salles, was a militant anarchist who – with his son and wife – spent much of his life on the run from French authorities. This anarchic spirit is clear to see in the majority of Jean Vigo’s filmography. “A Propos de Nice” is a brilliant documentary in which he playfully contradicts images of France’s upper classes with footage from its impoverished working class, pointing out the vast social and financial differences between them. “L’Atalante” took what was meant to be a simple romance story and turned it to a semi-abstract, poetic, and lyrical story of kindred spirits. And then there’s “Zero de Conduite”, a film which praises the anarchic spirit of a group of boarding school boys, the final image replacing the teachers with dummies and having the students bombard them with stones from the rooftop. Obviously a key influence on Lindsay Anderson’s own boarding school revolution “if….”, “Zero de Conduite” was banned for years and is perhaps the key example of Vigo’s revolutionary, anarchic spirit, obviously inherited from his father and his own ability to see the social inequalities alive in 1930s France.

But to concentrate too whole-heartedly on this anarchism would be unfair, because the main reason that Jean Vigo is remembered as one of the greatest and most influential French directors of all time – despite only directing four films, the other being “Taris”, a swimming documentary about French champion Jean Taris – is his ability to craft poetic images, some of which are the finest we have seen and will probably ever see in the cinema. For instance, there is the fantastic pillow fight in “Zero de Conduite”, the camera gliding into slow-motion, and the sequence somehow transforming into an outrageous religious ceremony. “L’Atalante” is packed out with them, from the scene in which the skipper Jean and his new wife Juliette, despite being miles apart, caress themselves in unison, a scene which is often proclaimed as the greatest, most passionate, and most meaningful sex scene in all of cinema. And then there’s the moment in which Jean – having been told that you can see the woman you love when underwater – throws himself into the river, to see a beautiful, enigmatic vision of his new wife. It is impossible to true convey the beauty of Vigo’s cinema – albeit rough and unperfected – by simply listing such moments. To those who have seen Jean Vigo’s films, these anecdotes will bring to mind the elegiac lyricism of these films. To those who have not, they will simply seem like moments in a film. The only way to truly understand and admire the beauty of Vigo’s work is to, well, watch it.

Vigo perhaps had more problems with censorship and studio interference than the majority of directors working at the time, which is saying a lot in an era when the studio system ruled. “L’Atalante” was butchered, re-named, and had a contemporary pop song inserted into the soundtrack, and Vigo died days after it finished its dismal first run. “Zero de Conduite” was banned for over a decade, and in itself was heavily cut thanks to being too long for its producer’s mid-length film series. Vigo favored the more poetic moments to the more narrative-centric ones and, as a result, the forty minute film feels dreamlike, flitting from one beautiful moment to the next, often joining the action in the midst of such moments. The fact that Vigo’s work hasn’t floated into obscurity is one of cinema’s major triumphs, and the fact that the director is now heralded as he should be – as a master of cinema – is one of its major justices. Maximilian Le Caine describes Vigo as ‘a moment in film history that will never be repeated’, and he is just that – a man whose mere four films over the space of a mere four years, have been more influential than the majority of directors who worked their entire lives.

Key Films: A Propos de Nice (1930), Zero de Conduite (1933), L'Atalante (1934). Piles


Rhubarb -> RE: Your 100 Favourite Directors: Results (23/11/2010 4:42:10 PM)

The most talented of the film-makers to come out of the new wave of South Korean cinema, Lee Chang-dong started his career in the theatre, where he wrote and directed several plays, before becoming a popular novelist. It was over a decade later before he finally turned to cinema. He started off writing screenplays for films like To the Starry Island and A Single Spark, a few years after that he finally directed his first film. Described from coming from the most right-wing city in South Korea, Lee has spent his cinema career reacting against those values. Lee's overwhelming interest has always been humanity, he especially favours the misfits, those being broke down by society. He paints vivid pictures of people on the edge of great tipping points in their lives. He's an exceptional director of actors with a gift for understanding how everyday minor details can have major implications.

Green Fish was, like most of his work, a critique of Korean society, this time he presented this critique through the framework of a gangster film. The film is packed with unsympathetic characters, all trapped by their dreams and desires. A young man is discharged from the army. He sees his neighbourhood change due to the better economy, but his own family still live in poverty. He becomes involved with a local crime family. He finds that the political games in the crime family mirror those of a corrupt society. It won awards for both the director and his leading man and established him as a promising new directing talent.

His next film, Peppermint Candy, is often regarded as his greatest. Those who find themselves sympathetic to its darkness and despair tend to rate it as one of the greatest films ever created. We're taken through 2 decades of Korean history through the life experiences of our lead character, running in reverse chronology. We see how his life is destroyed largely because of the pressures of South Korean society and the turmoil of the country. From the Kwangju massacre, through the 87 student demonstrations, up to economic collapse.

In 2002 he directed Oasis, the story of a mentally ill man and a woman with cerebal palsy falling in love. Jong-du is fresh out of prison following a hit and run accident. He visits the family of the man killed in the accident and discovers his cerebal palsy suffering daughter, Gong-ju, has been left to live alone by her selfish brother. After attempting to rape her, the two form a bizarre but loving relationship. Oasis looks at the way society can isolate those who have disabilities, or even just those who are different from the mainstream.

He didn't make another film for five years, Secret Sunshine rivals Peppermint Candy in the hearts of many of his fans as his greatest film. A widowed single mother moves back to the conservative hometown of her dead husband to try and restart her life. Finding her new home to be far from the peaceful haven her husband had painted it, she finds herself unable to fit in, all the while slowly falling apart with grief. It only takes one more push to send her over the edge.

All of Lee's films have won awards, with his latest, Poetry, taking the screenplay prize at Cannes. Sadly, the lack of a Western release has made it impossible to see Poetry as yet, but early reviews would seem to suggest it's another gem from the talented director. Wherever Lee goes in the future, even with the far too lengthy gaps between his films, he seems certain to become regarded as one of the most important directors of the turn of the millennium, and his work seems set to find new admirers and acclaim with each passing day. RAWLS


Rhubarb -> RE: Your 100 Favourite Directors: Results (11/1/2011 9:05:35 PM)


60: Stone


59. Park


58. Rohmer

Of the names associated with the French New Wave, Godard and Truffaut were the first of the mark; their respective debuts, “Breathless” (1959) and “The 400 Blows” (1959) catapulting these young French pretenders into the international eye. Eric Rohmer, who at the time was the editor in chief of Cahiers du Cinema, would release a film in 1959 too, the really quite good but atypical “Signe du Lion”, which didn’t quite manage to create the same buzz as his Cahiers brothers’ own films. “Signe du Lion” sees Jess Hahn wander around the streets of Paris, hungry and alone. It’s a clinical yet emotional study of poverty and greed, yet it wouldn’t be for another decade that Rohmer would get the acclaim that he deserved. In this time, the director found time to create a darling series of shorts, which included the likes of “Veronique and her Dunce” (1958), “The Girl of the Monceau Bakery” (1963), “Suzanne’s Career” (1963), “Nadja a Paris” (1964), and “Changing Landscapes” (1964). He also released “The Collector” (1967), the first of the ‘Six Moral Tales’ to be released. It was the fourth instalment of this series which would propel Rohmer into the public eye. “My Night With Maud” (1969) is a beautifully made film, taking a look at the idea of fidelity in the modern world (much like many of the films in this series) and interspersing it with philosophy, emotion, and romance. It earned Rohmer a nomination for Best Original Screenplay (it was beaten by “Patton”), and the film itself was recognized in the Best Foreign Film category. The director would round up the series with two more fine films; “Claire’s Knee” (1970) is a delicate and gentile romance that evokes the beauty of the south of France, whilst “Chloe in the Afternoon” (1972) is one of the greatest films that have ever been made.

I’ve gone on about “Chloe in the Afternoon” so many times in the past; it’s a perfect film. It shuns all of the conventions that Hollywood has taught us about the romantic drama (or comedy, I guess) in the past, and delivers this real film about two people who develop a bond over time. There is no sudden action; indeed, this affair (or non-affair) is constructed meticulously over an unspecified amount of time, and all the better for it. It’s the epitome of beauty, realism, and honesty, and the final moments are perhaps the most poignant and beautiful ever realized on film; Rohmer’s own feelings are finally made clear; an affair does not simply affect one man and one woman, but a myriad of people. It’s a shame, then, that Rohmer would follow up what I call the best of his that I’ve seen with what I call the worst of his that I’ve seen; “The Marquise of O” (1976). Not a bad film by any means, this Bruno Ganz vehicle seems a little more languid and unsubstantial than the rest of Rohmer’s pictures, and although I wouldn’t exactly refuse a re-watch point blank, there are at least twenty other Rohmer films I’d rather watch instead. Two TV films (which I haven’t seen), and then Rohmer re-found his feet with “The Aviator’s Wife” (1981), a very good film with one incredible sequence (you’ll know what I’m talking about if you’ve seen it), and “A Good Marriage” (1982). “Pauline at the Beach” (1983), one of his most acclaimed films, came next, which again saw Rohmer’s trademark eye for beauty mixed with his gentle philosophy, this time surrounding love and romance.

I reckon that this 1983 to 1986 sequence is perhaps the director’s most efficient. “Full Moon in Paris” (1984) is another five star classic, whilst “The Green Ray” (1986) would probably make my top five Rohmer too. Whilst “Full Moon in Paris” is a delicate, emotive, evocative study of the unfulfilment that often comes with romantic involvement, “The Green Ray” talks about the unfulfilment that often comes without it. This contrast may imply that Rohmer is somewhat of a nihilist, a non-believer when it comes to love, but we all know that that’s rubbish. Both films suggest that there is a perfect middle ground, and together they suggest that an unfulfilling relationship is just as damaging to a human being than the lack of a relationship altogether. “My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend” (1987) rounded up the wonderful “Comedies and Proverbs” series of six films, Rohmer again probing into the delicate inner-workings of love and romance.

The “Tales of the Four Seasons” (not Frankie Valli) films came next, between 1982 and 1998. “A Winter’s Tale” (1982) and “Autumn Tale” (1998) are both excellent, but it’s the middle two of these films which cement Rohmer’s place as one of the most consistent New Wavers, with “A Summer’s Tale” (1996) – starring Rohmer favourite Amanda Langlet – and “A Tale of Springtime” (1990) being as good as anything Rohmer had made since, well, “Chloe in the Afternoon”. It’s perhaps the biggest (and most-often awarded) praise that you could give to Rohmer to say that he is probably the New Wave director with the most staying power. And it’s really true; whilst Godard has produced a couple of mildly acclaimed films in the just-passed decade and a series of very good ones in the eighties, you could very much argue that he has lost contact with the audience he never really cared for in the first place, mainly when looking at his angry, polemic political films of the 1970s. Francois Truffaut’s untimely death stopped him from continuing into a new century, and Claude Chabrol’s thrillers are tinged with a little archaism that certainly works to their detriment. I guess the same could be said for Rohmer; he has continued to make similar films (at least in tone) for the past fifty years. However, his noughties output is perhaps the strongest of these Cahiers names, and perhaps the most in keeping with his changing audience.

“Triple Agent” (2004) is a spy thriller a la Rohmer. Replacing flying bullets with copious amounts of dialogue, the director strips away the conventional flab often associated with the subgenre and turns it into an intelligent and (I’m going to use that word again) delicate treatise on politics, prejudice, and propaganda. It’s also one of his most riveting films, propelling along at the highest pace you could expect from a Rohmer film to an unsavoury conclusion that will leave you just about devastated. His swansong came in 2007, in the form of “The Romance of Astree and Celadon”, which is a return to the films that he made back in the sixties and seventies and eighties and nineties. Matching the beauty of his settings with the beauty of his romance, the film is a joy to behold. He may not have the philosophy to match it, but it’s by no means a disgrace to the legacy that this great man will leave behind.

It’s his series work, though, that he will be best known for; all three of his cycles go down as some of the best in the history of film, and his individual works aren’t too shabby either. He is an auteur in every sense of the word, putting his individual and quite original stamp on all of his work in a fashion that never fails to make an impression. Quentin Tarantino once said something like “you should see one Eric Rohmer film, just to see if you like it, and if you do you should search out the rest”. I couldn’t agree more; he’s hardly a director who will change your mind if you’ve already made it up, but if you – as I have been over the last couple of years – are moved by the honest beauty that lives within an Eric Rohmer film, this is one of the most efficient and effective oeuvres you could ever hope to come across. PILES (lol Irony)

Rhubarb -> RE: Your 100 Favourite Directors: Results (11/1/2011 9:05:47 PM)


57. Renoir


56. Cronenberg

Rhubarb -> RE: Your 100 Favourite Directors: Results (12/1/2011 4:54:08 PM)


55. Visconti


= 53 Antonioni

Michelangelo Antonioni is often lumped into the same category as the neo-realist masters like Vittorio de Sica and Roberto Rossellini, and although these directors are more than likely of similar (great) quality (particularly Antonioni and Rossellini, who flew the flag for Italy in my own top 25), Antonioni’s masterpieces couldn’t really be further away from de Sica’s “The Bicycle Thieves” or Rossellini’s “Germany Year Zero”. A post-modernistic director who preferred the middle classes as subjects (Antonioni himself led a very happy, privileged middle class background) to Rossellini’s real working class, Antonioni’s early career in film was – surprisingly – made up of writing for a neo-realist journal lead by his countryman. However, Antonioni would still get his own break in filmmaking, although it would take him a further decade from his 1950 debut for him to find his true voice. These early films have the aesthetics of neo-realist films, but are more concerned with a lack of fulfillment, a lack of belonging, and a lack of identification with modern life, rather than the inter-class social issues of de Sica and Rossellini. Of these first decade of films, I’ve only seen “Il Grido” (an excellent but episodic look at a man wandering, trying to find his place) and “I Vinti” (a three-episode look at murder, and the commodification of life), both of which have been very good, but certainly amongst the weakest of Antonioni’s films that I’ve seen.

“L’Avventura” (1960) premiered at the Cannes film festival to rave reviews, being heralded as a film that would change the very language of cinema, and one of the clearest examples of cinema as post-modern art. It really is a wonderful film, telling the loose story of a mystery of a missing girl, a central mystery that is never solved. Instead, Antonioni watches his characters wonder around the modern world, unable to make any kind of connection with life or the people in society. It’s a study of alienation, of modern life, of society, of grief, of so many things, starring Monica Vitti in what is a towering performance. It is doubtlessly Antonioni’s best film, and any tonal discomforts (the last two hours are meditated and slow whilst the first half hour is punchy and quick, jarring the viewer slightly) can be discovered when you look at the beauty and the power of the work. Antonioni would follow this film up with two lesser but still great films that would form the unofficial “incommunicability” trilogy. “La Notte” (1961) stars Jeanne Moreau and Marcello Mastroianni as a married couple who go to a party, meet other people, and eventually have impassive sex on a golf course, and a film that discusses the pointlessness of societal conventions, the bourgeois concept of marriage, and alienation in general. “L’Eclisse” (1962) is third and final entry, and tells the story of Monica Vitti’s Vittoria, who finds a young and handsome man, who is too caught up in a material world for her to truly love. Another look at another aspect of modern life – this time consumerism and materialism, as well as the running theme of alienation – “L’Eclisse” is yet another roaring success, and the trilogy itself remains one of the best ever made.

Of Antonioni’s post-1962 work, the most significant remains “Red Desert” (1964), which told of a young woman (again played by Vitti, this being her fourth and final film with Antonioni) who is married to a factory owner but who falls for an engineer passing through her dreary life. Yet another look at modern life and alienation, “Red Desert” comes with added emotion, albeit suppressed, and a more tangible air of tragedy. It was Antonioni’s first film in colour, and the use of it convinced Fellini to make that jump too, and it is probably the director’s second best film after his 1960 masterpiece. Three English-language films followed this, two of which I’ve seen. “Blow Up” (1966) looks at a mod photographer who believes he has photographed a murderer, whilst “The Passenger” (1975) follows Jack Nicholson’s photographer who assumes the identity of an arms dealer who has passed away. These films continue Antonioni’s favorite themes of alienation, interspersing them with satires on specific society and thoughts on identity and escape, but are much more narrative-centric in comparison to the earlier Italian films. It’s probably true that these are Antonioni’s more accessible works, but they retain a mystery and enigma unique to the director. This trilogy of English-language films also included “Zabriskie Point” (1970) and was broken up by the epic documentary on China “Chung Kuo – Cina” (1972), and “The Passenger” is often accepted as Antonioni’s last major work.

He continued working for three decades, though, and films like “12 registi per 12 citta” (1989) and “Eros” (2004) being minor returns to form, albeit in the format of segments included in episodic amalgamations of short films. However, it is impossible to overlook his 1960s work, particularly the four films he made in the first half of that decade, which are unparalleled works of cinematic art. It would only be a few years before “The Exorcist” would arrive in America and break all box office records, beginning the age of the blockbuster, but in Europe people like Antonioni (along with the Frenchmen appearing at the time of Antonioni’s 1960 masterpiece) were still championing cinema as a modern art form, creating films as beautiful as they were intelligent. Antonioni will never be the subtlest of filmmakers, and his films are often very obvious about their social commentary, but the things that this Italian had to say were important and the way that he said it (the way his characters hide in corners of frames, for instance) were fresh even if overt. His films are calculated and meditated, themes of alienation, identity, and a loss of belonging to society running through them and holding them together, and some of the most original, captivating, and game-changing in the history of cinema. PILES


= 53 Peckinpah

Rhubarb -> RE: Your 100 Favourite Directors: Results (12/1/2011 4:54:20 PM)


= 51. Lumet


= 51. Jones

Chuck Jones is one of the true Gods of animated cinema. The most famous director associated with Looney Tunes, and possibly the most famous and influential name associated with animation outside of Walt Disney himself, Jones created some of the most memorable cartoons of all time.

Jones started his career at the bottom, he worked his way through the animation industry, from smaller work cel-washing for UB Iwerks to his eventual move to Leon Schlesinger Productions, the studio that created animation for Warner Bros. Two years after joining the studio he was working in the Termite Terrace, the legendary building where he worked as an animator alongside Tex Avery and Bob Clampett. Jones eventually worked his way up from animator to a director and he made his directing debut with a largely unknown short, The Night Watchman.

Jones' early shorts are often criticised as being cute and beautiful, but not funny, more Disney than Avery. There are exceptions, Daffy Duck and the Dinosaur is an overlooked little gem. His first real breakthrough came with The Dover Boys in 1942. Still astonishing even now, it broke new ground in Jones' career, more stylized and less realistic than his work in the past, and more importantly, it was funny. Despite its acceptance as a classic of animation today, the film nearly got Jones fired when it was first screened for the WB execs.

During WWII, Jones teamed up with Dr. Seuss to create Private Snafu. Snafu cartoons were used in the army as education tools for soldiers. Jones and Seuss formed a friendship and working relationship that would last for decades and include the creation of the classic How the Green Stole Christmas! short. But Jones peak period was the late 1940s to early 1960s.

When you think of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, the Road Runner, Wile E. Coyote, Sylvester, Pepe Le Pew, Elmer Fudd, Porky Pig and many others finest films, Jones likely had a hand in them. If he didn't create the characters, then chances are he shaped them, moulded their personalities into the characters we love so much. It's to his credit that even relatively minor characters like Marvin the Martian or Gossamer have become adored the world over. It's often acknowledged that Jones's characters were more anarchic than their greatest rivals, Mickey and Donald, but it's also true to say that they were a lot more human.

Jones was a master of verbal and visual comedy, think of the wordless comedic genius of the Road Runner cartoons (and it's to Chuck's eternal credit that he realised that our sympathy was always with the ever-frustrated Coyote rather than the preening bird, much as we will always love that lisping cat, Sylvester, more than the prissy little Tweety.) and then think of the Hunting Season Trilogy and the word games Bugs and Daffy indulge in. Forget "Hi ho" or "When you wish upon a star" or even "That's all folks", the real fan knows there's probably no more famous phrase in the history of animation than "Pronoun trouble." There's certainly few funnier.

As much as we all love Bugs, Chuck Jones rightly noticed that Bugs is the figure we aspire to be, Daffy is who we really are. And that's why we always want that egotistical little duck to win so badly. It doesn't matter if he's facing off with Marvin the Martian, Elmer or even Bugs. We just want him to win for once. Is that really so much to ask? I guess it is, because again Jones understood that Daffy's endless defeats is part of what made him so special. In Duck Amuck, that Kafka-esque short where Bugs acts out of character and becomes an aggressor for once, we can see just what a remarkable director Jones was. Jones is able to make Bugs not just the aggressor but the bully, tormenting someone weaker for his own amusement, and still we don't lose any of our love for that wascally wabbit. But more than this, we can see just how unique a figure Daffy is, we are able to laugh at his torment while pitying him and wishing so much that it would stop. It's quite possibly the greatest short film ever made, let alone the greatest animated one, and it's one that can tear the sympathetic viewer in two. That short makes me long for a Chuck Jones take on The Trial, with Daffy as Joseph K, his endless trial by bureaucracy being governed over by a system where every face looks like Bugs.

He created one of the greatest morality plays in cinema, the near silent One Froggy Evening. Michigan J. Frog became a global icon because of his appearance in this one cartoon, as the talented frog who can sing and dance in front of his owner, but stays limp and croaking whenever anyone else is watching.

Jones was constantly pushing what was possible in his work. He'd tackled classical music in his shorts before, most notably in The Rabbit of Seville, where Bugs and Elmer become tied up in a production of The Barber of Seville, but nobody could possibly have imagined the masterpiece he'd unleash in What's Opera, Doc? It's easy to see Opera as a response to Fantasia, with Jones packing more genuine invention and genius into seven minutes than Disney managed in the entire feature. But even if you're unaware of Fantasia, or even of Wagner himself, Jones's take on the Ring Cycle is an enduring and hysterical classic. Bugs and Elmer become Siegfried and Brunnhilde in this musical masterwork that breathed new life into the Bugs and Elmer relationship, for many people Ride of the Valkyries signifies a helicopter assault, for me it's a cue to sing "Kill the Wabbit!"

It's impossible to talk about every film Jones created, the IMDB lists him as having directed over 300 films. Even now when I've concentrated on a few of his finest, I haven't found room to talk about A Bear for Punishment, Operation Rabbit, Ali Baba Bunny, the Ralph/Sam series or countless others. And as much as I can write about the great man and his work, there's little substitute for actually watching his films, so go find a copy of Duck Amuck, the Hunting Trilogy, What's Opera, Doc?, One Froggy Evening, or virtually anything else he worked on, and see exactly why so many of us have a place in our hearts for Chuck Jones and his family of characters. RAWLINSON

Rhubarb -> RE: Your 100 Favourite Directors: Results (13/1/2011 3:55:10 PM)


50. von Trier

Europe’s agent provocateur of cinema, Lars von Trier is best known as a curator of controversy, as the co-founder of cinema’s punkiest statement, and – almost to a lesser extent – a great director of world cinema. The earliest of his work that I’ve seen is the E trilogy, namely “The Element of Crime” (1984), “Epidemic” (1987), and “Europa” (1991), linked more by their creativity and their aesthetic style than anything else. It would be, though, in 1995 when he’d make what is possibly his greatest (or most infamous) contribution to the history of cinema, when he and fellow Dane Thomas Vinterberg would release their Dogme 95 manifesto, which ushered in a new era of absolute honesty and realism within the cinema. What their original intentions were is sometimes the subject of hot discussion; was this an actual attempt to restore honesty into world cinema, or was it just an elaborate wind up and a cry out for attention and controversy (claims that have dogged Von Trier’s career for a while, from Dogme to “Antichrist”)? Equally as arguable is Dogme’s effect on cinema as a whole. Obviously, cinema verite films have been around for a long. long time, even in American cinema since John Cassevetes, but von Trier and Vinterberg’s movement pulled attention away from showiness and back to cinema at grass routes, if you will. The fact that this announcement occurred only a year after “Pulp Fiction” – which was as far away from the Dogme movement that you could get – won the Palme d’Or is surely no accident. You could almost read the manifesto as a reply to that film.

The fact that it took Von Trier three years to make his Dogme film may show how serious the Dane was about the movement, but nevertheless “The Idiots” arrived in 1998 as the second Dogme film, behind Vinterberg’s much more acclaimed “Festen” (which almost justifies the existence of the movement single-handedly). “The Idiots” is the story of a group of affluent people who release their ‘inner idiot’ and act mentally handicapped. The film’s messages could almost be read as a confession; is there any point of controversy and difference for their own sake? Either way, it’s a daring and brilliantly shot film, and one that courted controversy (primarily due to an unsimulated penetration scene) amongst many critics, including Kermode who walked out of its Cannes showing. Controversy seems to have followed von Trier around, and he seems to welcome it. His best films, though, are decidedly outside of the Dogme genre. “Breaking The Waves” (1996) and “Dancer in the Dark” (2000) form the ‘Golden Heart’ trilogy with “The Idiots”, and this is probably the most consistently great sequence of Von Trier films. “Dancer in the Dark” is possibly his masterpiece, an homage and a savage attack to classic Hollywood musicals, staring the amazing Bjork as a Czech immigrant in America who is slowly broken down by the system and the flaws in human kind.

“Dancer in the Dark” could also film a trilogy with “Dogville” (2003) and “Manderlay” (2005) in their anti-American messages. The later two films share obvious stylistic similarities – with both of them shot on a sound stage with chalk lines marking out sets – and the trilogy was meant to be included with “Washington”, but the perennially postponed project looks less and less likely to happen with each passing year. These films are both aesthetically brilliant and thematically savage, presenting America’s tag as the land of opportunity as a shallow, naïve fable. Von Trier has denied such claims (also made by Roger Ebert, who criticized “Dogville” for its anti-Americanism), saying that the films were about how evil could arise anywhere at any time, given the right circumstances. He’s probably right, but denying the anti-American slant would make the entire trilogy – a look at Americana and the fables surrounding life in the country – is basically an elaborate troll, and I don’t think that’s true. After the disappointing “The Boss of It All” (2006), Von Trier made his latest masterpiece, “Antichrist” (2009), a contemplative and beautiful look at grief, and a loving homage to Andrei Tarkovsky. It wouldn’t be Von Trier, though, if there wasn’t any unsimulated penetration and female genital mutilation, and although such shots have their point (the FGM is clearly a physicalization of the mental and emotional strain that the character is going through), this controversy-for-its-own-sake obviously offended many others. Including the Daily Mail. Lol.

Von Trier’s films tend to be defined by such a controversy (after all, he did insert the ‘von’ into his name to appear bohemian and different), but also of a slow beauty and a complex, ambiguous handling of important themes. His films have, over the years, tackled such varied themes as sexual deviancy, grief, alienation, the nature of crime, the American dream, the nature of film itself (specifically the comedy and musical genres), the effects of controversy, and more. He is a director who is unafraid to cause outrage, often making his films seem flippant, and all the more powerful because of it. He has an eye for intelligence, of course, but also – as “Antichrist” clearly displays in the many, many scenes that don’t include FGM – for beauty, and for honesty. PILES


49, Verhoeven


= 47 Cameron


= 47 Bird


46 Anderson (Wes)

Rhubarb -> RE: Your 100 Favourite Directors: Results (15/1/2011 2:45:02 PM)


45. Eastwood


44. Kitano


43. Lean

Rhubarb -> RE: Your 100 Favourite Directors: Results (15/1/2011 2:46:14 PM)


= 41. Weir


= 41. Ozu

If there ever were an auteur, it is Yasujiro Ozu. At the time when he was making films – that’s from the 1930s through to the 1960s – there was nobody else willing to shun Hollywood convention in favour of his own form to the extent that Ozu did. At a time when western filmmaking was indulging in romanticism and extravagance on a grand scale (of course, not all western filmmakers, but a lot of them), Ozu was willing to capture the still and monotonous routines of family life. His form is one that he claims was influenced by nobody. He watched many of his countrymen’s films to study their style, and admitted to being a great admirer of Ernst Lubitsch, but, in his own words, “I formulated my own directing style in my own head, proceeding without any unnecessary imitation of others…for me there was no such thing as a teacher. I have relied entirely on my own strength.” Before the war, his directing style seems to be lighter and breezier, with films like “I Was Born, But…” (1932) and “Tokyo Chorus” (1933) quite comical and Keatonesque, but still backing up this comedy with important social themes. His early work seems to be characterized by pleasant, witty openings that slowly make way for darker and more serious social commentary in the final hour. Take the moment in his first masterpiece “I Was Born, But…” when a tracking shot (something that Ozu shunned later in his career) of children exercising comically suddenly becomes a bunch of office workers yawning at desks, pointing out the transition between childhood and adulthood (a popular theme in Ozu’s work) that was inevitable and tragic.

His post-work, though, sees the Ozu directional style that most people will know. Most of his films from the late 1940s onwards contain only minor camera movement (in fact, in the entirety of his six colour films, there is only one instance of camera movement), and are all shot from a low perspective. It is often pointed out that this low camera positioning gives the perspective that we are sitting cross-legged in Japanese fashion, and this is surely a though that crossed Ozu’s mind, but it is also used because it was the position he had to use to film children in his early films, and one he liked. There are also the transitions, which often seem irrelevant and surreal, as Ozu – instead of cutting from one scene to another, gradually or directly – films banal and everyday things – telephone polls, trees, teapots – to act as his transitions. I’m not entirely sure why he does this, perhaps to set the scene without conforming to dull shots of an exterior where the interior is about to take place, or to evoke the everyday, monotonous beauty (an obvious running theme) of everyday, monotonous objects, but either way it simply adds to that Ozu-ian feel. And then there’s the fact that, rather than favouring the over-the-shoulder reverse eyeline shots popular in America, Ozu has his actors talk directly to the camera, giving us the impression that – instead of peering over an actor’s shoulder into a scene – we are directly in the middle of it.

These films that run from the 1940s to the early 1960s don’t really vary too much from Ozu’s formula and schema. Indeed, from “Late Spring” (1949) onwards, Ozu tended to remake what seems like the same basic story – albeit with slight variations – in many of his later films. “The Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice” (1952), “An Autumn Afternoon” (1962) and “Late Autumn” (1960) are three examples, and in films like “Floating Weeds” he remakes some of his earlier stories too. But it’s these variations that matter; “Late Autumn” feels much more about the struggle between tradition and modernity whilst the earlier “Late Spring” feels like a testament to the power of individuality, even if they follow similar narratives. It is, though, a film that does not follow Ozu’s favourite story (of a woman who does not want to marry through fear of her widowed parent succumbing to loneliness) that he will remain most known for. “Tokyo Story” (1956) is a film about parents who visit their modern children in Japan’s capital, only to be met by indifference. Although I probably prefer “Late Spring”, “Tokyo Story” is regarded as a masterpiece of cinema, generally voted one of the best films of all time almost as a rule, and a tragically heart rendering story of the inevitable point when children grow up.

It’s amazing, really, that many of the themes that Yasujiro Ozu returned to time and time again during his filmography – college life, married life, office life – were things that he himself never experienced. This not only show Yasujiro Ozu as a great writer, but it says a lot about how he saw his own films. These are not autobiographical works at all, and Ozu clearly approached his filmmaking with a distance from reality and an appreciation of fiction. If Truffaut, who wrote an article on how all filmmaking should – to some extent – be autobiographical, were to be believed, this would rob Ozu’s films of their power, but this is obviously incorrect. The films of Yasujiro Ozu are as powerful in their presentation of day to day monotonies and things that we, in our lives, must one day experience – the transition from childhood to adulthood, the sacrifices that come with married life, the tragic moment when a child moves from the grip of their parents – as anything else that I’ve seen in film. Along with the early passing of masters like Vigo and Kieslowski, the fact that nearly twenty five per cent of Ozu’s films are lost is one of the greatest tragedies in cinema.

Rhubarb -> RE: Your 100 Favourite Directors: Results (19/1/2011 2:36:20 PM)


40. Wong Kar-Wai


39. Woo

Rhubarb -> RE: Your 100 Favourite Directors: Results (19/1/2011 2:37:41 PM)


38. Fellini


= 36. Hawks


= 36. Bunuel

A hell-raiser from the very beginning, one of the key happenings in the early life of Luis Bunuel before he took up filmmaking proper was his meeting, at school, with Salvador Dali. Together, with Dali as Bunuel’s co-writer and Bunuel directing, they made two of the most influential surrealist works of the silent and early sound period. These two films, one a short and the other an hour-length feature, make up what is probably one of the most startling and original beginnings to any film career. The first of the two, “Un Chien Andalou” (1929), is famous for its free-wheeling surrealism, its scathing attack on everything society holds dear to itself, and one particularly startling shot; of an eye being sliced by a barber’s blade. “L’Age D’Or” is slightly longer at one hour, more focused in its Juvenalian satire (it is primarily an attack on religion, a theme that Bunuel would constantly repeat during his career), and with more shocking imagery during its runtime – something that made it one of the most controversial films made in France, where it was banned on its initial release.

Although Bunuel wouldn’t return to quite these levels of radicalism after these first two films (it is also noticeable that he would never again work with Dali), the key themes and trends of his entire career are set up here. “Land Without Bread” (1933) was a scathing and satirical mockery of the documentary genre that was becoming popular (done through the rendering of a tragic tale of impoverished Spaniards) and its power to manipulate feeling, and after that Bunuel would make around twenty films inn Mexico – one of three countries which could easily claim ownership of Bunuel (he was born a Spaniard, made most of his work as a Mexican, but made his best work as a Frenchman). It was, however, when General Franco invited Bunuel back to Spain to make any kind of film he liked with no government interference, that the director would be offered the chance to make his masterpiece. “Viridiana” (1961) could well be Bunuel’s best film, beginning as a tragic melodrama with a nun abused by her uncle, before she retreats to a massive country manor in which she homes the local tramps. However, her good will is abused and soon enough these lower classes – certainly a personification of what the right wing Franco Government thought of them – are running riot around the house. Both an attack on religion’s shortcomings and the horrible inequalities of the Franco government, the Spanish dictator obviously hated it, and – unless I’m mistaken – Bunuel wouldn’t work in his native country again until the co-production of his final film, “That Obscure Object of Desire” (1977).

It was over the following sixteen years when Bunuel would create what are probably his very best works. It is often said that the Spaniard was a late-blooming director, creating his masterpieces at a stage in his career when most other director’s would be slipping into a dull rhythm. I’m not particularly sure this is true – there is merit in some of his American and Mexican films, like “Nazarin” (1959), “The Young One” (1960), and “El” (1951), and his early French films (particularly his first two, and to a lesser extent his third, “Land Without Bread”) are masterpieces. However, it probably is true that Bunuel would be more consistently great through the 1960s and 1970s, until his death in 1983. Highlights of this streak of his career include “The Diary of a Chambermaid” (1964, in which Jeanne Moreau plays the titular repressed chambermaid who is lusted after and objectified by her male counterparts – a film that could be construed as a feminist piece), “Belle De Jour” (1967, in which Catherine Deneuve plays a bored housewife who decides to become a prostitute – one of Bunuel’s most accessible works, but still a scathing attack on the bourgeois and an intense study of sexuality), “The Discrete Charm of the Bourgeoisie” (1972, in which Bunuel happily flies from event to event, scathingly attacking the titular, dull bourgeoisie with an eye for satire – this time Horatian more than Juvenalian), and “The Phantom of Liberty” (1974, a film of escalating surrealism, which constantly bombards religion with its own hypocrisies).

It would be impossible to discuss all of the Luis Bunuel films of this period that really deserve a mention (I’d have liked to have gone into all four of the above films more, and spoken about the likes of “That Obscure Object of Desire” (1977) and “Tristana” (1970)), but the four above are those that I would consider absolutely essential to any film fan. They display a cross-section of Bunuel’s interest and themes; imposing and oppressive patriarchal figures (in “Diary of a Chambermaid” and “Belle de Jour”), the hypocrisies of religion (in “Belle De Jour” and “The Phantom Libery”), and the senseless, tasteless bourgeoisie (in, again, “Belle De Jour” and “The Discrete Charm of the Bourgeoisie”). It’s quite difficult to imagine that, in his private life, Bunuel would in fact enjoy the riches that came with his own bourgeois class whilst, in film, mocking it ruthlessly, but this lends the satire a more honest, real quality, as if the director himself was sitting in a confessions box. If you could call Bunuel upper class, though, you certainly could not call him religious; “I’m still an atheist, thank God!” he famously said. But religious folk amongst us should not shy away from seeing his films – it’s more an attack on the church of his time (particularly in “Viridiana”, for instance) than religion in general. Even if one finds the themes that Bunuel discusses alienating, his films deserve to be seen for their wit, their audacity, and their vision. He is one of cinema’s most singular auteurs, and – of course – one of the greatest directors of all-time.PILES

Rhubarb -> RE: Your 100 Favourite Directors: Results (21/1/2011 4:16:32 PM)


35. Lubitsch


34. Carpenter

“I was born out of time”, so says a character in John Carpenter’s masterful Assault on Precinct 13. True, Carpenter could easily be talking about himself. A low-budget maker of brilliant genre B-pictures in an era where such things weren’t popular, there’s almost an Orson Welles element of the young genius who went to seed.
Unlike Welles though, Carpenter did have one monster hit – Halloween. It didn’t invent the slasher genre in the sense of coming first (Black Christmas came first, and both films owe a clear debt to Psycho) but it certainly not only made them popular but set out the rules. It was a super low-budget film that made an absurd amount of money, despite some unenthusiastic press, that begat as slew of good and bad slasher movies.
Carpenter could have made a career just regurgitating those ideas, but he was always cut from a slightly different cloth. His university film, made with Dan O’Bannon for about $4.37 was Dark Star, a sort of Waiting for Godot in space, complete with a philosophically challenged bomb and a beach ball alien. It is a masterpiece, Carpenter’s first, but not his last. He went from that to the Rio Bravo ish AOP13, another brilliant film, to Halloween, and the first half of his career his littered with genre gems – The perfect horror remake in The Thing, the b-movie brilliance of Escape from New York, `the creepy ghost story of The Fog, the balls-out fun of Big Trouble in Little China. Its an amazing hit rate for any director – although none of them, Halloween aside, really made any money, and the best of the lot – The Thing – died at the box office released around the same time as E.T.
When you are making a list of the greatest directors of all time, do you have to consider the entire ovuere of the artist? Because despite the plethora of great movies listed above, Carpenter comes a cropper if you do. The 90s were not that kind to him – a sequel to Escape from New York that was just a bad version of the first film, Chevy Chase as a wisecracking special effect in Memoirs of an Invisible Man, a futile remake of Village of the Damned. The next decade bought just Ghosts of Mars, perhaps not as bad as its reputation, but not really very good, and the quite good until the end Cigarette Burns, made for TV.
He’s back, with The Ward, this very month, but his stock isn’t that high, and his interest in making films seems to come and go. Its pity because judged, as he can only be, on his best work, he is among the great directors, a classic director for our times. But then he’d rather be a Hawks for Hawks time anyway. RHUBARB

Rhubarb -> RE: Your 100 Favourite Directors: Results (21/1/2011 4:17:40 PM)


33. Melville


= 31 Jackson


= 31 Keaton

It almost seems weird to include Buster Keaton among the great directors, but it would be a lot weirder not to. On most of his masterpieces Keaton isn’t credited as director, though he co-direceted them all. Anyone who doubts that, need only see the documentary Buster Keaton Rides Again, where he is basically directing someone else’s film, despite being away from the camera in big roles for years.
Keaton feared being seen as meglomaniacal as Chaplin, ironically, considering that that megalomania would go on to become a huge plus mark in a directors favour, when the French started intelectulising cinema, and talking about the auter. The seeds of which are still evident, and the idea of a director being the author of his work may be the exact reason that even when his work goes through an upward revaluation and it is fashionable to like him over Chaplin, his work behind the camera goes unrecognised
Despite his vaudeville background (supposedly he got his name “Buster” from Harry Houdini who was part of the same vaudeville act as he and his parents appeared in) Keaton understood the cinema. The first thing he did when he got his hands on a camera was to take it apart and put it back together again, so as to understand how exactly it worked.
Considering he started on the stage too, he had a great understanding of spectacle on the big screen. The house falling around him in Steamboat Bill jr, the waterfall escape in Our Hospitality, the spectacular cliff face run for love in Seven Chances and the near miss in the train in One Week spring instantly to mind, but there are dozens more. Theres a moment in The General where he sits on the thing that holds the wheels together, and he was told it was really dangerous, but he knew he could get a laugh so did it. In truth its less a laugh than a wow moment in the utter magic of the cinema.
Keaton may have understood how to get laughs, and how to make a film great, but money was not exactly his strong suit. He frittered away fantastic sums for sight gags in 20 minute movies, and it was eventually this habit – rather than the encroachment of sound as is usually presumed – that would kill his career. The General contains the most expensive scene in silent cinema, where a real train collapses a real bridge into a real river. Steamboat Bill Jr’s spectacular storm sequence cannot have been cheap. In The General he takes great pains – in what is ostentaniously a pratfall comedy – to make sure clothes, trains and everything else is historically accurate. Critics at the time were utterly baffled, his films started to not make money, and the writing was on the wall.
His willingness to do absolutely anything to make a great film has aged brilliantly however. Sherlock Jr, The General, One Week, Neighbours, The Boat, Cops. All films that anyone would kill to direct. There won’t be another Buster Keaton, ultimately, and with such accessible genius, we don’t need another.

Rhubarb -> RE: Your 100 Favourite Directors: Results (10/2/2011 1:11:13 PM)


30. Park


29. Gilliam


28. Anderson (Paul Thomas)

Rhubarb -> RE: Your 100 Favourite Directors: Results (10/2/2011 2:21:31 PM)


= 26. Ford


= 26. Leone

Rhubarb -> RE: Your 100 Favourite Directors: Results (12/2/2011 1:38:09 PM)


25. Bergman

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