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From Albania to Zaire, there's a whole world out there.
183

Where are the Great Directors?
Topic by: pooja
Posted: September 29, 2005 - 2:37 PM PDT
Last Reply: October 7, 2005 - 9:20 AM PDT

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author topic: Where are the Great Directors?
pooja
post #1  on September 29, 2005 - 2:37 PM PDT  
It looks like Uncle Eoliano is bored today, thumbing through old threads and posting little tidbits here and there. Maybe it's time for someone to start a new one.

Sometimes it feels to me like the Age of Great Directors is over. Hitchcock, Fellini, Ray, Kurosawa, Kubrick, all have passed. Those who showed early promise, Coppola, Scorcese, Lucas, Spielberg... mostly seem to be in decline. It's like watching the end of Camelot... the gods and heroes who commanded great armies of actors, ADs, DPs, gaffers and grips are fading into the mist of the moors, and being replaced by thieves and brigands armed with video cameras.

There are pretenders to the emptied thrones, like Peter Jackson, but they are yet unproven. So who do you think will next pull the sword from the stone? Will there ever be another, and what country or culture will he/she come from? Or perhaps we're in store for a new age of the little craftsmen, putting together their clever little confections on their computer-based editing system?

I wish Farah Khan was up to the job, but alas, she's only got one film under her belt. So my money is on Wong Kar Wai although even he seems to be stuck in a certain aesthetic right now. Maybe Zhang Yimou whose films have scored a 7 rating across the board at GreenCine. Either way, China seems to be a good bet as the home country of the next Great Director, who still knows how to make a Really Good Movie.

Does anyone else have any candidates? Any Americans? Clint Eastwood?
Eoliano
post #2  on September 29, 2005 - 3:04 PM PDT  
> It looks like Uncle Eoliano is bored today, thumbing through old threads and posting little tidbits here and there. Maybe it's time for someone to start a new one.

Hah. You caught Zio Eo in the act! Yeah, the boards looked pretty shabby lately so why not.
DLeonard
post #3  on September 29, 2005 - 4:17 PM PDT  
OK I'll throw a couple at ya:

David Lynch and David Cronenberg.

Not exactly the new kids on the block, I realize, but they are certainly contemporaries of the earlier mentioned Coppola, Scorsese, et al. We are probably looking at the mid-points of their respective careers.

Their styles and choice of subject matter may not appeal to the masses (usually), but I don't think that there is any doubt that these two are visionaries.

Another name just popped into my head; Ang Lee.
Consider the genres, countries, time periods, and scale that this man has worked within. Yes, The Hulk was not his greatest moment, but he continued to explore his themes of family relationships and man's struggle with nature and morality all in the context of a comic book story. An interesting misstep.
underdog
post #4  on September 29, 2005 - 5:04 PM PDT  
> On September 29, 2005 - 4:17 PM PDT DLeonard wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> OK I'll throw a couple at ya:
>
> David Lynch and David Cronenberg.
>
> Not exactly the new kids on the block, I realize, but they are certainly contemporaries of the earlier mentioned Coppola, Scorsese, et al. We are probably looking at the mid-points of their respective careers.
>
> Their styles and choice of subject matter may not appeal to the masses (usually), but I don't think that there is any doubt that these two are visionaries.
>
> Another name just popped into my head; Ang Lee.
> Consider the genres, countries, time periods, and scale that this man has worked within. Yes, The Hulk was not his greatest moment, but he continued to explore his themes of family relationships and man's struggle with nature and morality all in the context of a comic book story. An interesting misstep.
> ---------------------------------

Bless you all for trying to revive these slumbering boards.

As for the topic at hand, some of the names I might have mentioned a year or so ago, have temporarily fallen off my list (Soderbergh for one, but I'm sure he'll do something to make me forgive him for Ocean's 12; the Coens; etc.) Some "once-great" directors have fallen apart completely; I'd include Spike Lee, alas, in that bunch, though one hopes for a comeback. Then there are the Magnificent Andersons: Wes, PT and Brad (no relation), who are close, but the former two seem too precocious and deliberate for me to toss up into a list of Greats (though I still love their stuff) and the latter hasn't really hit with a big, obvious "Great" film.

There's Mike Leigh...

And names mentioned here, Ang Lee, Zhang, Wong, Cronenberg (also inconsistent).

Scorsese still belongs on a Great Director list, whatever his more recent inconsistencies have been...

Others working in the American indie scene are too brand new to evaluate; one can only hold out hope...


Terrence Malick doesn't work very often, but I always assume when he does, it will be great.

What about David Lynch? On a consistently interesting artistic level, I wouldn't leave him out.

Don't forget Pedro Almodovar! One of my favorites, anyway. Hasn't done a film less than great in years...

C
Shaky
post #5  on September 29, 2005 - 7:46 PM PDT  
I think in the end Spielberg will be remembered among the great directors, despite a few missteps along the way. He's easy to dislike because of the obvious commercialism of some of his work; but my god, Empire of the Sun? The Color Purple? Amistad? Schindler's? Private Ryan? You can't dismiss those films very easily.

As for potential, I think Sam Raimi has the talent and time to be remembered as a great director. It's his lesser known films, like For the Love of the Game, A Simple Plan and The Gift that really show his ability. I think he has a some masterpieces left in him after the Spider Man thing runs its course.

I'm surprised nobody has mentioned the Coen brothers. They stumbled with that last crappy remake they did, but everything else has been nothing short of brilliant.

Other names that might find themselves listed among the greats? Peter Weir, David Fincher, Bryan Singer and Christopher Nolan come to mind. I agree that although Ang Lee tripped over something green and ugly, he can't be counted out. Terry Gilliam isn't dead yet either.

And what about Jean Pierre Jeunet? He has a great history with Caro, but both his solo works were beautiful examples of fine storytelling. He almost redeems the French.

Also Shekhar Kapur, the Indian director who did The Bandit Queen and gave Cate Blanchette her breakout role in Elizabeth. I see that Kapur is making another film about Elizabeth I, called Elizabeth: The Golden Age, with Cate Blanchett and Geoffrey Rush reprising their roles from the earlier film.

Who do I NOT see being remembered among the greats? Peter Jackson. He's a hack. People have forgotten what crap he turned out before the hobbit movies, but he's about to remind them with the big monkey.

Finally, I know it's going to sound pretty whacked, but I think Takashi Miike is one of the most talented directors this planet has ever seen. Despite the immaturity he often displays even after so many movies, film is his playground, and few understand the language of moving images and the language of drama like he does. I doubt he'll be recognized among the greats, simply because his vision is so offensive.
Shaky
post #6  on September 29, 2005 - 8:22 PM PDT  
And another director who comes to mind: Roman Polanski. He proved with The Pianist that he isn't out of the game yet, some forty years after Repulsion.

One other thing to remember is that when you're talking about "great" directors, you have to remember that they all had their own missteps. Hitchcock's Frenzy was NOT well-received, probably for good reason. Kurosawa made a series of pretty ordinary movies starting out, and even late in his career Do Desu Ka Den wasn't very popular, and hardly anyone has even seen Dersu Uzala. Even Kubrick's work from the 50s, such as The Killing, wasn't really anything special either; and remember that he did go out on Eyes Wide Shut, which many people considered to be something of a failure.

There were times in the careers of each of these folks, even after they were established, when people didn't necessarily think of them as "great" directors. They each went through periods of decline and renewal. For the younger generation of directors just beginning to make their mark, it'll be some time before they've built up a large enough body of work to really judge them.
pooja
post #7  on September 29, 2005 - 8:30 PM PDT  
Yes, I'm just wondering which of the current crop will be, 20 years from now, remembered as one of the greats. I guess Coppola and Scorcese and those guys will be, but right now I'm not inclined to think of them as part of the "current generation" of directors. Paradoxically, Clint Eastwood, who is older than they are, seems to be in ascendance right now as a director.
shiori308
post #8  on September 30, 2005 - 1:27 AM PDT  
> On September 29, 2005 - 8:30 PM PDT pooja wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> Yes, I'm just wondering which of the current crop will be, 20 years from now, remembered as one of the greats. I guess Coppola and Scorcese and those guys will be, but right now I'm not inclined to think of them as part of the "current generation" of directors. Paradoxically, Clint Eastwood, who is older than they are, seems to be in ascendance right now as a director.
> ---------------------------------

I will throw Paul Thomas Anderson of Magnolia, Punch-Drunk Love fame into the mix. I also think that Michel Gondry and Spike Jonze have potential, mainly because I feel anyone who can create a lasting vision from the eccentric mind of Charlie Kaufman has real talent. Tarantino in all his pompous glory? I would have said Robert Rodriguez after the magnificent Sin City BUT HE HAD TO DO SHARK BOY AND LAVA GIRL AND SPY KIDS 2 AND 3!! Why Robert Why!!!!

I would also throw Sam Raimi in with the ones that aren't "current generation" anymore. Yes he is still at an incline but I believe he is already accepted as a director who will be remembered over time. He did Evil Dead/Army of Darkness which are considered "cult classics"
If you have more than one cult classic I think you are a shoo-in(sp?) for reverence.

*please someone post after me... I am suffering from low self esteem because I have the current trend of being "last poster" on a few threads, are my posts really that uninteresting?! :(
shiori308
post #9  on September 30, 2005 - 1:28 AM PDT  
Oh and since Underdog mentioned Pedro Almodavar I will mention another director that I always confuse with him but I consider also talented.... Alejandro Amenebar.
shiori308
post #10  on September 30, 2005 - 1:29 AM PDT  
Oh yeah, and Steven Soderbergh had a double wammy year not too long ago that should set him up for rememberance shouldn't it? He has also been fairly steady I suppose.

dpowers
post #11  on September 30, 2005 - 7:45 AM PDT  
guy maddin
jia zhang-ke
abbas kiarostami
catherine breillat
jim jarmusch
hayao miyazaki
dpowers
post #12  on September 30, 2005 - 7:52 AM PDT  
or with links: guy maddin (and george toles); jia zhang-ke; abbas kiarostami; catherine breillat; jim jarmusch; hayao miyazaki

(those weren't in any order)
dpowers
post #13  on September 30, 2005 - 8:17 AM PDT  
all that direct cinema influence in my list and no docs. so, mwaa ha ha, michael moore.
pooja
post #14  on September 30, 2005 - 9:32 AM PDT  
> On September 30, 2005 - 7:45 AM PDT dpowers wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> guy maddin
> jia zhang-ke
> abbas kiarostami
> catherine breillat
> jim jarmusch
> hayao miyazaki

That's a good list if you're defining "Great Director" as people whose films will have a tremendous influence on future film-makers. But I think a "Great" has to have at least a measure of direct impact on the masses, make a mark on the cultural zeitgeist. I'm not questioning the brilliance of any of these guys, but other than Miyazaki all these directors are pretty edgy and fringey even in their OWN countries let alone the whole cinematic world, don't you think?

And from what I've seen Miyazaki's imagination is stuck in a bit of a visionary rut... which do you think is his masterpiece? I mean, how many warty hook-nosed hags and melty-drippy monsters does he have to show us? Well, unless you really like Miyazaki's hags and monsters, which, judging from the box office, the Japanese LOVE.

Also, I think a "Great" has to be able to inject some love and romance into at least some of his/her films. I admit I'm not familiar with ALL of the works of the directors on your list, but do any of them succeed? Otherwise this is just a "smart boy's" list... I mean, Breillat does have a lot of lovin' in her films, but I think her outlook on romance is a bit bleak (she was using the title sarcastically, wasn't she?)
Cinenaut
post #15  on September 30, 2005 - 9:44 AM PDT  
I was going to mention the Anderson matrix, but Underdog is right, only time will tell if those three directors end up being "great."

How about Richard Linklater? He's veering between popular entertainment and artsy stuff.
pooja
post #16  on September 30, 2005 - 9:47 AM PDT  
> On September 29, 2005 - 8:22 PM PDT Shaky wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> One other thing to remember is that when you're talking about "great" directors, you have to remember that they all had their own missteps. Hitchcock's Frenzy was NOT well-received, probably for good reason. Kurosawa made a series of pretty ordinary movies starting out, and even late in his career Do Desu Ka Den wasn't very popular, and hardly anyone has even seen Dersu Uzala. Even Kubrick's work from the 50s, such as The Killing, wasn't really anything special either; and remember that he did go out on Eyes Wide Shut, which many people considered to be something of a failure.

You've made a really good point there, thank you. I just listed them because I wanted to get the thread started, and those names popped into my head. Your point is well taken, but you still have to weigh the relative impact of the hits and misses, early/late works vs. works from the career prime, etc. I think certainly, if you take out the later films (what I think of as the A.K./Ishiro Honda films) Kurosawa was pretty brilliant, even taking his youthful little confections into account. And Hitchcock made plenty of excellent films to make up for the occasional dud.

On the other hand, I don't really have a definitive idea of what exactly makes a "Great" great either... I'm hoping this discussion will help me think about that some more. Until now I've pretty much relied on the "You'll know when you see one" principle...
dpowers
post #17  on September 30, 2005 - 9:55 AM PDT  
> I think a "Great" has to have at least a measure of direct impact on the masses, make a mark on the cultural zeitgeist.

ah. then you want a list of video game designers or television producers. movies that serve this purpose for everyone are now few and far between. for that matter people who look to movies for that kind of inspiration are few and far between, too, at least in the united states.

> all these directors are pretty edgy and fringey even in their OWN countries let alone the whole cinematic world, don't you think?

wong kar-wai is a household name? no that's too snarky, sorry. i guess, yes, my feeling is that great directors now are those who contribute to the overall scene. there is no single audience anymore.

> And from what I've seen Miyazaki's imagination is stuck in a bit of a visionary rut...

more than fellini was?

> which do you think is his masterpiece?

the nausicaa manga.

> Also, I think a "Great" has to be able to inject some love and romance into at least some of his/her films.

you mean like michael bay. ^_^
dpowers
post #18  on September 30, 2005 - 10:00 AM PDT  
"single audience," i said, as though there had ever been more than just a cosmopolitan majority.
dpowers
post #19  on September 30, 2005 - 10:04 AM PDT  
i'll go further. the life and death of the centrality of cinema is hand-in-hand with the life and death of the centrality of cities in the industrial era. or, another way to put it, city folk no longer have a vision of a brighter common future, and so high art has gone that way.
ahogue
post #20  on September 30, 2005 - 10:08 AM PDT  
I feel obligated to weigh in here, but somehow I can't whip up any enthusiasm. Hm. Let's see, I think Polanski is inescapable. And I think the Coens' influence will be felt for a long time. Uhm.... Cronenberg is one of the more interesting north american big name filmmakers working now that I know of, but great? Don't know about that.

Going on the strength of Cure I have hope for Kiyoshi Kurosawa, but from what I've seen of his other movies so far his work seems regretably uneven.

Errol Morris I would count great, and aren't one of the Maysles still around? Herzog is definitely great, I don't care what anyone says.

David Lynch. Maybe I'm just tiring of his particular obsessions (talk about Miyazaki!), but I lean toward including him in the "interesting" rather than the "great" category.

No matter how annoying his more recent films might have been, and no matter how tired I get of his interviews, Scorcese will be remembered as great.
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