Monday, 25 August 2014

A Few of My Favourite Things ... (Part Two)

Now for my favourite directors (and occasional screenwriters).

Woody Allen
In all of his films (bar Interiors) I have laughed out loud several times. The slightly surreal approach he has in his stories are great, adding an air of unpredictability to the plot. He also writes great parts for women. The scene in Hannah and Her Sisters where the three sisters meet up for lunch is beautifully choreographed, both in its dialogue and camera movements.

Pedro Almodovar
The bombastic humour in all of his films is charming and appealing. He also keeps their humanity in the foreground, letting us see their foibles as well as their strengths. Almodovar is also another male writer/ director who writes great roles for women.

Billy Wilder
This man was simply a genius. He crossed genres with great ease, and would often make a genre-defining film (comedy: Some Like It Hot; noir: Double Indemnity). Wilder also knew how to get the best from his actors. Though Marilyn Monroe was having breakdowns during Some Like It Hot her performance is wonderful. And the slow collapse of Ray Milland in The Lost Weekend is wonderfully paced.

Steve McQueen
I have been rendered mentally speechless watching all three of his films. They all deal with some aspect of imprisonment, making them often difficult viewing. But it is so hard to look away when they are shot, lit and acted so beautifully. For me Shame is his best.

Stanley Kubrick
Like Wilder Kubrick could cross into any genre and be exceptional. 2001: A Space Odyssey is the greatest science fiction film ever (and I do love a good science fiction film). Dr Strangelove is one of the funniest films ever made, and a brilliant satire.

Andrei Tarkovsky
For someone who only made a handful of films in his lifetime, Tarkovsky figured filmmaking out very quickly. Though I cannot pretend to understand what he is saying to me half the time, his films are so beautiful that I am happy to simply let them wash over me. He rarely uses special effects, instead taking natural elements, like fire, water, wind, and imbue them with a mythical or metaphorical quality.

I have noticed that all of these directors not only direct, but also have a hand in writing the films (if not being solely responsible for the script). Do I subconsciously subscribe to auteur theory? Probably yes.

These listed here are either directors who I have seen a lot of, and like but don't love, or have seen only one or two of their films, and don't feel I can say I love them yet.

A few others: Alfred Hitchcock, Ingmar Bergman, Preston Sturges, Roman Polanski, Hayao Miyazaki, Rob Reiner, Franco Zeffirelli, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Fritz Lang, Nicholas Roeg


  1. I've liked most everything I've seen from Almodovar (8), Wilder (11), Sturges (4), Miyazaki (9), and Reiner (11). I run the gamut from love to hate on Allen (16) and Kubrick (11). I'm mixed on all the others, except for Bhansali, for whom I've only seen one film - Black - which I liked quite a bit. I will see Devdas at some point since it is on a list I will complete some day.

    1. Devdas is beautiful, though be warned, the ending is a punch in the guts.

      I've only seen Miyazaki's films dubbed in English, so I'm planning a marathon re-watch in the original Japanese (with subtitles).

  2. I like a lot of Kubrick, and even the Kubrick I don't like (Barry Lyndon, for instance) I have a great deal of respect for. I've also been recently forced into watching more Miyazaki and I've liked what I've seen of him.

    The librarian where I work is a huge Almodovar fan (she affectionately calls him Pedro, sometimes "my Pedro") and I agree with her on that. He's great. Allen, too.

    Billy Wilder, though, is in a class by himself. While he may not be the greatest director of all time, he's in the top. He's also probably the most versatile director of all time--compare Double Indemnity with The Lost Weekend with Sabrina with Some Like it Hot with The Apartment. I could go on (Stalag 17, Ace in the Hole, Witness for the Prosecution). I'm convinced the man could direct anything.

    Last one--Polanski. Man, I like his films a ton!

    1. Billy Wilder would be my vote for best director of all time, Kubrick in close second.

      I don't know what is more of a skill: to be able to touch any genre and turn the film into gold; or to be able to play many variations on the same theme, which is what Allen does.Of course it doesn't really matter as long as the film is a good one. The mark of a good director is a knowledge of their abilities, and they know just how far to push themselves.

      Any of your favourites I haven't listed?

  3. I realised after I published this that I left off Powell and Pressburger completely! I really love their films. Black Narcissus is my favourite of theirs, closely followed by A Matter of Life and Death. Beautiful technicolour, wonderful concepts behind their films. A great partnership!