July 7, 2004

Top Ten 7/7/04: Directors

This week is a Top Ten list of directors that I would give the benefit of the doubt in seeing their films. They may not be the most talented director's, but they have impressed me enough with previous works to get me to see a film by them even if it doesn't interest me. I am restricting this list to directors who are currently still producing films, discounting favorites like Orson Welles, Alfred Hitchcock, and Akira Kurosawa. I also kept this list limited to directors who have a decent back catalog, this discounts promising rookies like Lucky McKee and Eli Roth.

1. Tim Burton: This guy has given amazing films time after time. Beetlejuice, Batman, Edward Scissorhands, Sleepy Hollow, Mars Attacks, Big Fish. Even the slight misstep of Planet of the Apes was good. His style, dark, gothic, bizarre is great. I will always look forward to a Burton movie.
2. Quentin Tarantino: I was introduced to this madman with Pulp Fiction, then going back to Resovoir Dogs, and then to Jackie Brown, his films have a style all their own. His movies exude cool, plus they tend to give new life to actors who may be fading, the best example would have to be John Travolta. His latest masterpiece Kill Bill Volumes 1 and 2 take his style and great writing skills to another level. I only wish he was a bit more prolific.
3. Sam Raimi: Who new that after giving us the Evil Dead films, he would go on to helm what is becoming the biggest franchise in history? If you told me that ten years ago I wouldn't have believed it. He has given us some amazing films besides Evil Dead, there is the dark superhero Darkman and the suspenseful A Simple Plan. Rare is the indie director who survives the transition to Hollywood, style intact.
4. M. Night Shyamalan: The next Hitchcock? Maybe. In any event, he has crafted three of the finest suspense/dramas of recent memory. The one common thread is a twist at the end that turns much of what has come before on it's ear. Coming later this month is his latest creation, The Village, I hope it is up to the standards he has set.
5. Christopher Nolan: Currently working on bringing us a new vision of Batman, Nolan gave us the best film of 2000 with the narrative bending Memento, a film that you have to watch a few times to get it all, was a master of storytelling suspense. He also made an excellent original-surpassing-remake of the Norwegian film Insomnia.
6. Takashi Miike: Possibly the most prolific director working, with 60 films to his name since 1991. The surprising thing is that as many films as he makes, they are all excellent. He tends towards ultraviolence and blood, mixed with the bizarre and unexplainable. I have only seen a few of his movies, but I jump at the opportunity to see more. I was introduced to him with the methodically paced, yet hauntingly horrific Audition, which is possibly his most accessible film. He has also done a musical (Happiness of the Katikuris), sci-fi (Full Metal Yakuza), but spends most of his time in the yakuza, or crime, genre (Fudoh, Dead or Alive, Ichii the Killer). Crazy stuff.
7. Johnnie To: I have seen three of his movies (Fulltime Killer, Running on Karma, Running out of Time). They are all stylized action pieces with great writing and excellent acting, also with a distinct visual flair. I do not know much about him outside of these films, but hope to track down more of his work.
8. Robert Rodriguez: Made his first film, El Mariachi, to prove he could make a film. This was promptly snapped up and released as a feature, soon to be followed by the re-make/sequel Desperado. A proponent of digital filmmaking, his latest film was shot digitally, Once Upon a Time in Mexico. He is an inventive filmmaker who knows how to get the most out of small budgets. He has also created a fun, intelligent (at least the first 2 parts), family franchise with Spy Kids.
9. Guillermo del Toro: Introduced by way of the mediocre horror film Mimic, del Toro did not immediately impress, but after seeing the wonderful Blade II, I was converted. A director with style that can come in frenetic paced action films, like Blade II, or at a slower paced mood piece, like The Devil's Backbone, he has proven to have what it takes. His latest was the comic adaptation Hellboy, another fine comic book turned movie.
10. Peter Jackson: Much like Sam Raimi, Jackson started in low budget horror films. He created the cult classics Bad Taste, Dead Alive (Braindead), and would be Tales from the Crypt film, The Frighteners. He was then handed the task of what could become the largest films ever, the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Needless to say, he took the ball and ran with it, creating arguable the greatest film epic of all time. Another director whose style has transferred to the big time. Looking forward to his take on the classic King Kong.

Of course, there are many other directors that I like, but these are guys who impressed me enough to go see their films regardless of what they are. I may revisit this director list with a sequel down the line, as there are a lot of great director's out there, these were the first that came to mind. I could, and probably should say more about these 10, but suffice to say, I recommend you seek them out and reward yourself with a good movie!


Post a Comment