Saturday, February 28, 2009

Listology: 50 Greatest Active Directors pt. 1, 50-41

This is the first of five installments in which i put my own twist on the Entertainment Weekly travesty. I present to you directors #50-41. Feel free to disagree.

50. TONY SCOTT- Seems a little strange? I'll concede. He's certainly made his fair share of superfluous fluff (Deja Vu, for example), and yet he gets a strange amount of defensive praise from cinephiles for his intensely cut-up editing and frequently recognizable visual style. He directed the deliriously high-strung Domino, brought us a lush goth vision in The Hunger, and took on a Tarantino script with True Romance.

49. ROBERT RODRIGUEZ -Rodriguez is a man with a style and a goal, he makes live action cartoons and presents viewers with entertaining visions of a world just beyond our own. He's done this for adults in Sin City, Planet Terror, and the Mariachi trilogy, and he's even stepped down to offer up over-the-top popcorn flicks for kids. Basically, if EW throws Zack Snyder mid-list, they should pause to consider the road paved by Rodriguez's adaptation of Sin City.

48. MIKE LEIGH - This English writer/director is renowned for "kitchen sink realism" and an austere dramatic sensibility that likely stems from his theater background. He consistently pulls nuanced performances from the actors he chooses to work with and delivers definitive character studies such as Happy-Go-Lucky, Secrets & Lies, and Naked.

47. WERNER HERZOG - I'll admit it, i'm no bandwagon leaping Herzog fanatic. I prefer Fassbinder when it comes to German New Wave, but recognize Herzog's contribution to art house cinema with operatic themes. Aguirre, the Wrath of God was pretty alright.

46. JUDD APATOW - Entertainment Weekly put him way up there, which is absurd, because technically Apatow is perhaps more of a talented producer as opposed to a director. However, that being said, through cult television and films like 40-Year Old Virgin, Apatow has become a tremendous influence for the rest of Hollywood, and may even have dramatically altered the romantic comedy genre. Seriously.

45. THE WACHOWSKI BROTHERS - They're like the real dorky version of the Coen Bros., or something. You might think, what else did they do other than bring us The Matrix and that Speed Racer movie? Um, they brought you The Matrix. That's enough. You may be jaded now, but remember in 1999 when that came out and revolutionized the industry? Remember? Yeah. That's visionary like a special effects Citizen Kane.

44. SALLY POTTER - She managed to faithfully translate Virginia Woolf's Orlando for the screen and soon will bring us Jude Law in drag. Potter's films are vivid art pieces and painfully detailed tableaux. Too bad her films are few and far between.

43. HARMONY KORINE - His films are like extended versions of pieces you might see in a contemporary art museum: surreal, strange, frequently uncomfortable, and often beautiful to behold. I'd put money on him being a Criterion collected director a good decade+ from now.

42. TODD HAYNES -Todd Haynes has a few problems with focusing his stories. His movies tend to get wrapped up in including superfluous scenes and tangential plots that probably shouldn't be there, but are so intriguing on their own they would be difficult to cut. He's already brought us kaleidoscopic rock projects with I'm Not There and Velvet Goldmine (both flawed, but stunning) and slickly shot America fables Far From Heaven and Safe. I can't wait to see what he does next.

41. JOHN WATERS - No one makes trash cinema like Waters. No one. With his own unique brand of camp, he magically transforms films that would otherwise go into an automatic scrapheap, into playfully satirical works of comededic brilliance. Waters blends the cloying with the ultraviolent the perverse with naive sensibility and the remarkably clever with the incredibly stupid.

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