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Favorite directors

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Since I get to moderate the movie forum now, I figure I'd start up a new thread, despite the fact that I drank quite a bit tonite...


Who are your favorite directors and why?  What makes a movie great isn't necesarrily the story itself but how it's told.  Plenty of people know who their favorites are, but go back and see what their movies have in common that makes you like them so much.  Don't call a director your favorite just because you've heard of them, I want to hear some thematic/stylistic trademarks in their work that you identify with particularly.


Guess I should lead if I'm gonna start the thread.


Scorsese - Usually does movies about characters that aren't accepted in society (travis bickle, jesus, Rupert Pupkin)and  has some of the best slo-motion use in movies, just about every modern director owes some of his style to scorsese...

Movie highlights: Taxi driver, goodfellas, raging bull, king of comedy, hell... just about anything....


Kubrick - Don't know where to start on him.  Puts humanity under a microscope.  Most of his movies are pretty damned deep and everything else, but he never gets pretentious.  He considers most of his movies comedies, and most of them are pretty damned funny when you remember em.  As complex as his movies can be, it's usually twisted sense of humor that makes them great.

choice movies: 2001: space oddessey, Dr. Strangelove, full metal jacket, a clockwork orange


Hitchcock - More proof that the best directors are the ones that don't take their jobs seriously.  He admitted that his movies had no discernable plots for the most part.  Hence the Mcguffin, the object that everybody wants that propels the story, regardless of what it is (secret microfilm, blueprints of some sort, maltese falcon, maltese donut, whatever.)  Took average plots and made them great.  Most of his movies fall under that catagory.  His best are different though.  Stuff like Rear Window, Psycho, Birds, The trouble with Harry, and Vertigo have better plots to make you really care what happens to the characters.  It's just great to know that the guy that's considered to be one of the greatest directors of all time didn't do deep existential movies, he did hollywood thrillers.


New guys: figure I'll throw in new directors I like too, since I cant sleep


Darren Arronofsky - Director of Pi and Requiem for a dream and the next batman.  Can't say enough about him, he's the master of subjectivity.  Went as far as to use splitscreen in requiem to show the feelings of two characters at once.  The new batman movie will be the real test of his abilities.  


Alex Proyas- Director of the Crow and Dark City, all I can say is that these two movies are fucking incredible, and it can't be a coincidence that this guy directed them.  He has a definate comic book style (he even frames stuff like a comic book, even in dark city, which isnt based on one like the crow is) and his movies have a texture to them, it shows that he's for real.  Even though Arronofsky rocks, I wish Proyas were doing Batman.  I have high hopes for him, hope he can make good stuff outside of the sci-fi comic book genre.


M. Night Shyamalan - Director of Unbreakable and the 6th sense.  This guy is a future master of film.  So much attention to detail it's insane.  Some of the best use of color and framing in movies I've seen.  When this guy puts something on the screen, it's for a reason.  Every detail on the screen contributes to the story, it's incredible.  He's also pretty good at taking mediocre genres (ghost movie, superhero movie, upcoming alien movie) and making them great.  I'll cry myself to sleep if his next one doesn't live up to the others... such potential...  


too much typing... fingers hurt... I'd love to hear other people's picks, and stuff they've noticed that they like.

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Of the new guys, ive taken a likin to (in addition to Junker's mentions):

Guy Ritchie: For bringin back the caper movie; yeah, the guy used to direct car commercials, but fuck, even his openin credits are just cool.  He's done Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch thus far.


David Fincher: Ill let Junker describe him, so far I've seen his Se7en, The Game, and of course Fight Club....the man can do no wrong (outside of Alien 3...???).  Here's to hopin that movie about a room that's comin out soon is good, too.  

Side note: its rumored he was lookin at a script called "The Sky is Falling", a controversial piece about an assasian dispatched to the vatican itself to deal with certain clergy who've dug up the church's dirty lil secret: jesus never came back from the dead.  Shit, toss Fincher's boy Pitt into that one and i cant see it as anythin but great.


Mel Gibson: Yeah, for Braveheart alone, but The Patriot wasnt bad either.  I cant recall the other flick he did, i just got kinda excited when i heard he was thinkin bout a remake of "Fahrenheit 451).  Ive taken a likin to Randall Wallace as a screenwriter, as well.


Need to look more into people like Bryan Singer, but i did think it was cool as shit to find out that David Hayter wrote X-Men and its forcomin sequel (Hayter's the voice-over for Solid Snake in the Metal Gear Solid series).

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First of the guys that've been mentioned:


Scorsese: Undeniable genius, can't say I've seen more than a few of his films, I can only think of Goodfellas, Casino and Cape Fear right now. I keep planning to look up his back catalogue but never have time, even bought Mean Streets on video but haven't got round to watching it.


Kubrick: 2001, beautifully shot, great innovation like the jogging scene, downright bizarre tho! Strangelove, exactly my style of twisted humour, ably assisted by a true master comedy actor in Peter Sellers. Shining, Not seen it in a while but scary as hell, the hedge maze is a particularly brilliant scene.


Hitchcock, Proyas: Not really seen.


Aaronofsky: Big fan of his so far, fantactic visual style, you checked the website for Requiem For A Dream Junker? I loved the use of sound at the end of Requiem, one of the harshest experiences ever, fantastic cinematography and great scores.


Shamylan: Can't say I've been overly impressed, can't decide whether his details add much or whether he's just being a wanker. I'll have to see his films again I guess. Bit disappointed by the anticlimactic end of Unbreakable.


Mel Gibson: No denying Braveheart, his other one was Man Without A Face I think, not seen that. Roland Eimmerich (Independence Day, Godzilla) directed The Patriot though. If you want another example, he did apparently edit Payback himself, supposed to be a lot different than Brian Helgeland intended.


Guy Ritchie: Great with large casts, Snatch was pretty good for mixing a lot of characters into one story, some brilliant cinematography especially the fight scenes, THAT uppercut! Snatch is one of the films that you'll be quoting lines long after you've forgotten even the plot. A lot of promise.


Bryan Singer: Only seen Usual Suspects and X-Men, great films but there were only a few stand-out scenes artistically. That said, he can definitely be considered a 'director' rather than a mere movie-maker.


David Fincher: Hey I liked Alien3, a lot better than that weird french guys attempt! But his better films are Se7en, great central cast, extremely dark subject matter ably carried off, and Fight Club. I've heard his visual style being knocked as just playing to the MTV generation but I'd have to argue for him, I thought where he used stuff like over-narrated pauses and CG sequences, perfectly suited the film and gave it an off-kilter feel.





(Beat) Takeshi Kitano: Japanese Actor/Director that I've only seen a couple of films by cause I can't find more. I've seen Hana-Bi (Fireworks although Hana is Fire and Bi if Flower so it's a play on words, hey sounds like a Mario Bros film!) and Brother, shot in both English and Japanese but with some poor acting on the English speaking side. He's got some beautiful shots in his movies but is best at tense scenes interrupted by sudden extreme violence. Great actor as well, check out Battle Royale, not directed by him but he stars.


John Woo: Doesn't seem to get enough credit, Hard Boiled was the only Asian film I've seen of his but it was great. Even average fare like Broken Arrow had the boxing match zoom in at the start and Face/Off was great, loved the slo-mos and the kid's headphones bit.


Quentin Tarantino: Love him or hate him really. I love his films.



That's all I can think of right now....WAIT! I forgot, how could I forget!:


Coen Brothers: Without a doubt my favorite filmmakers ever, they can take a multitude of genres and make brilliant movies. Think about synopsises of their movies:

A film noir about a barber blackmailing his wife's lover to get money to invest in dry cleaning....

An adaptation of Homer's Odyssey set in depression-era America with escaped convicts....

A film about a hippy bowler who gets inadvertently entangled in a kidnapping....


Can you imagine those films made by anyone else, on paper they look ridiculous but the Coens pull off some incredible feats.

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The sites for Aronofsky's movies rock, the pi website has a lot of info on everything in the movie, from teh chaos theory to the game "go."


Proyas has a cool site too www.mysteryclock.com, he puts up all of his shorts and even commercials, wish more people did that.  But if you haven't heard of him, you have to rent the FIRST crow movie, and Dark city.


And yeah, if there's one thing Shyamalan could improve it's his scriptwriting... Maybe he'll get a writer, maybe he'll just get better as time passes, but as a director I think he's damned incredible.


And yeah, Fincher is badass, chooses great scripts to shoot.  And I agree that his special effects, fast cutting and everything else usually works just fine within the context of his movies.  That kind of criticism usually comes from pretentious fucks that like nothing american and want to watch paint dry for 2 hours.


Oh, and you reminded me of another one of my new favorites, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, aka "that weird french guy" that did Alien 4.  Sure, that one sucked, but that's because a curse of epic proportions has been put on the Alien franchise...  But his other movies rule.  City of Lost Children, Delicatessan, and Amelie are all great, and with the last one he not only proved that he can do stuff outside of weird sci fi, but he can do stuff without his past co-director Marc Caro.  He has a weird, great sense of humor, really unique style, with storybook style narration, close up fish eye lens shots, and creative use of special effects.


And the Coen brothers do indeed rule!  Can't beleive I forgot them, they have so much variety in what they do it's insane.  I thought The Man Who Wasn't There was one of last year's best movies.  So far, thos eguys have done no wrong.

others I forgot


Oliver Stone:  Gotta love Oliver Stone.  He's opinionated as hell, and has strong views on just about everything, but you can't deny he's a badass.  He's done some verifiable classics, like Platoon, JFK, and Wall Street.  I can't think of a single movie of his that isn't worth watching.  Even the movies that some consider his missteps (natural born killers, U-turn) are interesting enough to at least be worth watching.  A little known great one of his is Salvador, with James Woods, noone I know has seen it, so I suggest you all check that one out.


David Cronenberg:  I've mentioned him before, he's done lots of great, fucked up movies like Dead Ringers, about twin gynecologists, the Fly,and videodrone.  Haven't seen nearly al he's done, since he started with B-movie horror stuff. Anotehr great one of his is eXistenZ.  It's basically the same concept as Fincher's  "The Game."  While similar, it's not at all a rip-off, he has his own spin on teh whole VR game thing.


David Lynch - goddamn, call you kid David these days and he becomes a great director.... This is teh guy who did teh Twin peaks TV series, the Elephant man, Blue Velvet, Eraserhead, Dune, and Mulhulland drive.  Unique as hell, likes stuff about the evil hiding in small towns, and LOVES dream sequences.  Noone can do dreams like lynch does.  All of those I mentioned are worth checking out... avoid lost highway...


Also can't beleive I forgot Wes Anderson!  The director of Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, and The Royal Tenebaums.  God damn I love those movies, funny as hell, and they look great too, especially tenebaums.  Also uses really cool music.  Inserting very weird, random plays in his movies (usually based on other movies, serpico, platoon, etc) is becoming a really cool trademark of his.  Can't wait to see more of his stuff.

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Just been on the Pi website, it does indeed rock. I did dig The Crow and Dark City looks very Burtonesque (add him to the list), I'll check it out sometime.


Still not sold on Shyamalan, time will tell. Haven't seen Jean-Pierre Jeunet's other films. I stand by my comment though, he is a weird French guy! See?!



David Lynch - Was shown an explanation of Mulholland Drive (***SPOILER*** alert - ed.) that says that almost all the film was a dream! Some great scenes in that, the diner, the blackbook, the cowboy, the spanish opera version of 'Crying', the audition, etc.


Wes Anderson, I've heard a lot of good things elsewhere too. Tenenbaums just came out in cinemas here now, wanna go see it but I dunno if I can fit it in. Wanna see Rushmore, I like Bill Murray in semi-serious roles, highly underrated as an actor.


Still can't think of more directors off hand but I can't really disagree with any mentioned so far....well maybe Shyamalan!  :D

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Careful with the spoilers there!  Half the fun of that movie was watching it the first time and being confused as hell, then watching it again and realizing what really happened.  All I'll say is that the movie does make sense, just not the first time you see it.  


And yeah, Tim Burton deserves to be on the list.  Edward scissorhands is one of my favorites, Beetlejuice, Pee-wee's big adventure, Batman, and Nightmare before christmas (he didnt direct it, but wrote it and came up with all of the visuals) are enough to put him up top.  He's been getting way too much flak for Planet of the Apes.  I still defend it, the way I see it, he saved a script that had been rewritten a million times by a million people by making it great looking and pretty funny. It was a movie that didn't need to be remade with a piss-poor script, and he made it worth sitting through IMO.  He can afford one bad movie.  Fuck, francis ford coppolla did "Jack" the one about Robin WIlliams playing a 7 year old with a 40 year old body, I don't see ya throwing teh Godfather away....  I don't like the fact that he's become a "director for hire" though.  I'd like him to do more original movies, not just remakes of anything remotely gothic.  And sure, in all of this Kevin Smith mess you could say Burton is a dick, but that doesn't stop him for being a great director.  Kubrik made his actors cry, he was a complete asshole, but that won't keep me from watching his movies.  I dunno, I jsut don't think past masterpeices should be overlooked because of stuff you dont agree with now.

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Christ, if ya wanna hear bout directors who make folks cry, John Ford was known to yell at the top of his lungs and sometimes even charge at & take down actors who angered him, includin the Duke.

Then, from what Johnny Marr (fella on the Preacher board) tells me, the Duke once pissed right on the set of another director's movie.  Cant argue, Ford treated him like shit but was a master director; some of the others he worked with were really fuckin awful - Dick Powell's "The Conquerer" had him cast as Ghengis Kahn, perhaps one of hollywood's worst casting calls ever.  This, on top of the fact that ol' Dicky decided to shoot down by a nuclear testin facility in Arizona.  Not coincidentally, much of the cast has since died of cancer, includin the Duke himself.

Point was, there's worse directors: some'll get ya killed for a shit movie.

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Good save with the spoiler warnings Junker, there was I trying to be obscure with naming favorite scenes and completely missed the blatant whole movie spoiler!


I need to root out an old issue of Empire (Brit film mag) lost somewhere in the abyss of stuff, that had a maddest directors ever feature. Featuring Ford, Kubrick, Peckinpah and a German director whose name escapes me right now (Otto something?) who had a film about dragging a ship over mountains, where his lead actor was as mad as him and was directed at gunpoint! :shoot: :D

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Hello there people, just throwing in my two cents worth.


Can't believe it took so long to mention the Coen's. They get my vote as the best directors ever. Bit extreme? Maybe. But I can find little flaws. Some people say one-trick-ponies but I just answer 'bollocks' and ask them if they've seen 'Man who wasn't there'. Most haven't. Read a great article in 'Sight and Sound' m,agazine talking about the lighting in that movie and how long it took to rig up various lamps and stuff, especially long for the piano-on-the-landing scene.


Also I thought I'd mention some debut directions which I really enjoyed.


Steve Buscemi - The Tree Lounge

Vincent Gallo - Buffalo 66.

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Debut directions:

Spike Jonze - Being John Malkovich


"...pardon me, how old are you, sir?"

"105. Carrot juice, lots of it. I swear, sometimes it's not worth it. I piss orange. I have to piss sitting down like a goddamn girlie-girl every fifteen minutes!"


Bit of an Aphex Twin sequence in it too!


:plain:  :plain:  :plain:  :plain:  

  :plain:  :plain:  :plain:    

:plain:  :plain:  :plain:  

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heh, I love that movie, goddammit, Jonze is finally working on something else now too.  Last I heard he and Charile Kaufman (writer of BJM) were working on one called "adaptation"  which is about Kaufman trying to adapt the book "the orchid theif" to film.  Supposedly Kaufman wanted to adapt it, found it way too damned hard, so he decided to write a script about him trying to adapt it.  Nick Cage and Meryl STreep are signed up for it.  Sounds very cool to me.  I can't wait to see something else from these two.  It would rock if they stayed a writer director combo, insane amounts of potential, more originality in the two of them than there is in 90% of writers and directors today.

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Hitchcock: there's not enough to say about this man, his work is fucking awesome.. a lot of people credit him to "Psycho" and i am the first to agree that that movie kicked ass.. but some of other good hitchcock movies are "Rebecca"(w/Sir Laurence Oliver), "Wait Until Dark" (w/Audrey Hepburn!), "Vertigo", "Rear Window", "North by Northwest", "Dial M For Murder", god what is the one with jimmy stweart and doris day...... god can't think of the title.. but so many and all wonderfully crafted, i really reccomend "Rebecca" if you haven't seen it..


Wes Anderson: "Rushmore"  "Royal Tannenbaums" this guy, i love his work, it's dark comedy which  i love.


Kevin Smith: can't say enough about him either, great dialogue.


Cameron Crowe... ("almost famous", "vanilla sky", etc)


Tim Burton.. (i saw a short he did about Vincent  Price on the Frankie Weenie DVD and he is such a talented man, aside from his commercial hits)


Francis Ford Coppola, Stanley Kubric, Sophia Coppola, just to name a few more..

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Hmm, since we're mentioning little know stuff I figure I'll put up a little list of more little known stuff from each director worth watching.


Hitchcock - The trouble with harry: Dammit, noone has seen this, and those who have didnt know it was hitchcock.  It's Shirley Mcclain's first movie, and Hitchcock's funniest movie by far.  Hilarious dark comedy about a bunch of people who find a body and need to bury it.

[The Captain and Miss Graveley have afternoon tea together]

Captain: A real handsome man's cup.

Miss Graveley: It's been in the family for years. My father always used it ... until he died.

Captain: I trust he died peacefully. Slipped away in the night?

Miss Graveley: He was caught in a threshing machine.


Scorsese - King of Comedy: I didn't know this one was so little known.... it has de niro and jerry lewis in it for crissakes, and ironically de niro is the weird character and lewis is the serious one.


Oliver Stone - Salvador: Story about a sleezeball reporter who goes to El Salvador to get some greusome pics of teh civil war to jump start his career, based on a true story and all that, great movie.


Tim Burton - Short films on the nightmare before christmas DVD: Heartless mentioned em, two great shorts, one about a kid who wants to be vincent price, the other about a kid who reanimates his dog.

- Ed wood:  Great movie with Johnny Depp about the worst director who ever lived, made plan 9 from outer space if you've ever heard of that.


Wes Anderson - Bottle Rocket: Anotehr really funny one about wannabie criminals, highly reccomended.


'bout all I can think of at the moment, feel free to add on


Plus some other directors worth checking out:

Milos forman - Did One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Amadeus, Man on the Moon, and People vs. Larry Flynt.  Good at making movies about outcasts obviously


Sean Penn - Yeah, he directs stuff too.  I've seen The Crossing Guard and The Pledge, both are about jack nicholson going crazy.  But not "Here's Johnny!" typical jack crazy.  Both of them are easily Nicholson's most subtle performances ever.  You can tell that an actor is directing, both of them are character-study kinds of movies driven by the acting.


James Cameron - This guy doesn't get nearly enough credit.  He does GOOD american action for chrissakes!  Terminator, Terminator 2, Aliens, The Abyss, True Lies.  Since the first terminator he's made nothing but great movies.  Yes, I'm including Titanic in that, sure it didn't deserve all the insane amounts of hype it got (hell, Godfather 2 doesn't deserve that much fuckin hype) but now that everyone is just plain sick of it, and you're not hearing that goddamned song over and over again, you can go back, watch it, and see it was a fine movie.  Sure it's his worst since terminator, but fuck, the worst among certifiable classics, ain't too shabby.

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  • 4 years later...

Kevin Smith... never have i seen such great use of dialogue in films before... nor have i seen so many quoteable moments in films either... the man is the shit...


and also William Goldman, Mostly for marathon man, but butch cassidy and the sundance kid was a great film too... not to forget... all the presidents men


immense props to baytor for marathon man... never before have i seen a film where i didn't know what the fuck was going on four about an hour... great Great film...

Edited by the division of joy
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Yeah but The Patriot was basically Braveheart Part Deux, so close enough.


Speaking of people wrongfully getting directing credits, William Goldman's actually a writer (one of my favorites). Along with Butch and Sundance, Marathon Man and All the President's Men, he also wrote The Princess Bride, Misery, Heat, Chaplin, Maverick and recently put in a screenplay for a Shazam! movie due to come out next year (among others). That said, he hasn't ever actually directed anything.


Props to Junker for giving Cameron his due (I wonder if he'd still give M. Night such acclaim). Guy's done nothing but gold almost his whole career and I can't wait until he finally goes back to directing real movies.

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Yeah but The Patriot was basically Braveheart Part Deux, so close enough.

Yeah maybe, but you can't give Mel directing props for a movie he didn't direct.

Along with Butch and Sundance, Marathon Man and All the President's Men, he also wrote The Princess Bride, Misery, Heat, Chaplin, Maverick and recently put in a screenplay for a Shazam! movie due to come out next year (among others). That said, he hasn't ever actually directed anything.

I love Maverick! It was so underrated in my book. One of my favorite movies. Probably Top 20. A new Shazaam movie? Can I expect them to be as loyal to the continuity seen in 1996's Shazam! starring Shaq as Bryan Singer was to Richard Donner's Superman?

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Since I've never seen a Smith script directed by a non-Smith, it's hard to tell if someon else would fail at filming it or exceed with it. Let's face it, it's not really apparent whether he's aware that there is more than one choice regarding where a camera can go when setting up a shot. "What do you mean 'Where should the camera go?' About 15 feet away and eye level for a straight-on shot with both characters in the frame. Where else?"

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