The Zone's Quest to Find the Greatest Director (CAGLE)

Which director made the best films, made the best visuals, or smelled the best? This is the forum to find out.

Postby HollywoodBabylon on Tue Apr 11, 2006 1:48 pm

Leckomaniac wrote:I have to echo a lot of the sentiments expressed here. This has been one of my favorite threads to read/contribute to. Just like Kirk, I wish I would have had more to contribute but I was more then content to just read what others were articulating. A tip of the hat to all of you.

To get back to the point of the thread, I am really surprised that Kurosawa didn't get many votes. When I voted, I was torn between Kubrick and Kurosawa. Kurosawa's movies cover a very wide spectrum. He went from epic to intimate without skipping a beat. Perhaps he suffers because his films were not very widely distributed here in the United States or the UK. That meant that he wasn't able to earn that special place in our hearts that the other choices were able to .

Anyone else have any thoughts?

I agree. For me, it was like splitting hairs in choosing between Hitch and Kurosawa. It was that close.
What I love about the Kurosawa movies I've seen is not only the richness and texture of his work, but the spectacle and visual splendour of it. And I'm not just talking about his epic films (ie. 'Seven Samurai', 'Kagemusha'. 'Throne of Blood' etc) but also his lesser known films as 'Dersu Uzala' and the mighty 'Ikiru'. In these two films he shows a great humanity as well. 'Ikiru' (Living) is a beautifully moving study of a man who's dying and who wants to give meaning to his life by performing one good deed before his death. The final scene (NO SPOILER) brought tears to this viewers' eyes.
For those who've yet to discover his work, they're in for a treat.
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Postby Peven on Tue Apr 11, 2006 2:57 pm

shamefully, i honestly have not seen enough of Kurasawa's work to have voted for him, though through my reading about film i am certainly aware of his importance in the develpment of modern western cinema. for instance, i think one could easily say that the big battles of LOTR are Kurasawa inspired, especially the one at Helm's Deep.

i do think that asian cinema is becoming more of a prevelant influence on mainstream western movies though, and i think we'll see more and more directors from asia make a real impact here in the States and Europe and become known "names" in the business.

it is quite obvious how much Japanese horror has influenced American horror already, and the chinese epic storytelling style is a welcome influence on western cinema as well, imo.

Ang Lee should get credit for breaking through in the west by making non-asian films, like "The Ice Storm", "Ride With the Devil", "Brokeback Mountain", and "Sense and Sensibility". i think by doing that he has proven to western audiences that asian directors can do a lot more than kung fu movies. his work will help quicken the inclusion of quality asian directors getting work from the Hollywood system, i hope, and thereby give we film lovers more good films to see without having to cross our fingers they make their way across the pacific on dvd.

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Postby RogueScribner on Sun Apr 23, 2006 12:47 am

So, um, Kubrick then?
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Postby John-Locke on Wed Apr 26, 2006 8:34 pm

ZombieZoneSolutions wrote:Image


Bow before your King.
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Postby Nachokoolaid on Wed Apr 26, 2006 8:40 pm

If Burger King knew what was good for them, that would be their new promotional image right there. The people would come in droves. Nothing says tasty eats like a psychotic looking director.
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Postby RogueScribner on Thu Apr 27, 2006 12:58 am


Eat from me and live in despair and intellectual chaos forever . . .
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Postby Shane on Mon Jun 05, 2006 1:19 am

I think Clint Eastwood needs more credit.

I have never seen a movie he was involved in that I didn't like.

Someone should start a Clint Eastwood thread.
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Postby minstrel on Mon Jun 05, 2006 1:38 am

Shane wrote:I think Clint Eastwood needs more credit.

I have never seen a movie he was involved in that I didn't like.

Someone should start a Clint Eastwood thread.

I'm an Eastwood fan, but he's responsible for Space Cowboys. That was just plain silly.
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Postby bastard_robo on Mon Jun 05, 2006 2:53 am

Kevin Smith, Robert Rodriguez, Quentin Tarantino, Peter Jackson, Sam Raimi, Luc Besson, Quentin Tarantino, Tony Scott, Ryuhei Kitamura, John Carpenter, Terry Gilliam, Trey Parker, Inshiro Honda, Guillermo Del Toro, Takashi Miike
Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everyone is gonna die. Come watch TV
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Postby The Vicar on Mon Jun 05, 2006 7:22 am

I will always love Sydney Pollack for Castle Keep.
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Re: Miss Bala

Postby TheButcher on Thu Jan 19, 2012 2:36 am

From The Playlist:
Gerardo Naranjo On Innocence, The Genesis Of 'Miss Bala' & "Intelligent Action Films"
Oliver Lyttelton wrote:Aside from Steven Soderbergh's "Traffic" over a decade ago, there haven't been a lot of decent movies focusing on the drug trade just over the border. Sure, the cartels crop up from time to time, but mostly in villains in dumb action movies, and it feels like quite a while since we've had a really smart, incisive look at that terrifying world.

Fortunately, at this year's Cannes, one came along; "Miss Bala," the latest film from Gerardo Naranjo, the director of "I'm Gonna Explode." Not really on anyone's radar until it bowed in May in the Un Certain Regard section to rave reviews (including ours), the film follows Laura Guerrero (newcomer Stephanie Sigman), a 23-year-old woman from Baja California, who, after entering a local beauty contest, is drawn into the clutches of the local cartel, showing us a ground's-eye-view of the war on drugs. With the film finally starting to roll out all over the world, we caught up with Naranjo and Sigman together last week to discuss the visceral, gripping thriller. Check out five highlights from our chat after the jump.

1. A real-life Mexican beauty queen, Laura Zúñiga, was arrested for links to drug cartels in 2008, but the film was already in the works at that point; it was only a happy coincidence.

Laura Zúñiga was a 23-year-old winner of the 2008 Nuestra Belleza Mexico contest, but was arrested that December with seen men carrying machine guns and nearly $50,000 in cash. Naranjo acknowledges that he was inspired to give "Miss Bala" its particular viewpoint by the case, but the decision was made to fictionalize the story. "We met her, we interviewed her, but we found out we didn't want to tell her story, because she told a crazy story full of lies. Everything was because she believes in God, because she wanted to help her ALF brother, you know."

But at the time, the director was already researching a project set in the world, and had been planning it for a while. "The very beginning was the sickness, some paranoia that I had looking at the news in my studio and just being crazy and very scared about what was happening," the director said. "And I thought let's make a movie about this, this fear that I feel, and rebel against this fear." It was particularly a response to what the director sees a glamorization of the cartels and traffickers. "We look around and we see the films, soap operas, that talk about the violence in Mexico, and we felt most of them, we didn't agree with the way they were done. I think they are portraying crime in a very strange way, I didn't understand why, all the criminals had the cold chains, the 'Scarface' thing, the Pancho Villa thing, brave men surrounded by women and wealth. And I felt it was quite different from what I saw in the streets."

2. The film is, in part, about how innocence isn't always a virtue.

Innocence is generally seen to be an admirable quality in your movie characters -- think "Forrest Gump" or "Being There." But not so Laura Guerrero in "Miss Bala." As the director says "In many cultures, innocence, and having a clean soul, is an asset, it's something you want, and admire, that she has a clean heart. But for her, it's a flaw, it's a very bad thing to have in the society she lives in. You have to be wise, you have to know the tricks. That thought, that conclusion, is terrifying to me, that we have to become more evil to survive."

But as Sigman, who plays Laura, says, even when she tries to play the game, it doesn't work out, the manipulations of others overwhelming her own attempts. Sigman says of her character "I think she's not ready to be the crime girl. I think she just does that because she's really angry. She didn't look for it, but she's in with this criminal. She's been through a lot, it's very logical what she does, but it doesn't work for her."

3. It's a firmly feminist movie, examining the lack of choices available to women in a Mexico where even pop stars associate themselves with the cartels.

The world of "Miss Bala" is a firmly macho one, with the women reduced to pawns or girlfriends of the cartels, and for Naranjo that's a sad reflection of reality. "It is a truth about the world, powerful people have trophies. The rich guys, the young girls are willing to sell themselves, that happens all the time. In Latin America, it acquires a strange and twisted phase, the girls, get acquainted with the crime, and take it on their own. It has many faces. For instance, the pop stars in Mexico, many of the singers that acquire some faith, many times they're related to these groups. Which is weird, because they already have power by themselves, they don't need to be making pacts with crime. But that's happening."

The fact is, however, that that life is appealing to many in the country, simply because they have so few other choices. "I really wanted to talk about the macho culture," the director says, "and how few opportunities a woman like Laura has to survive in this world. She can sell clothes with her dad, but how many ways of having a decent living does she have? If she doesn't become a hooker, a stripper, the girlfriend of a criminal? How many options does she have? I don't think many."

4. Sigman, a former model, had never acted, and that's exactly how Naranjo wanted her.

Discovered in her teens and plucked to become a model, Sigman can identify with some aspects of her beauty queen character, although her experience was never as unpleasant. "I was in a contest," the actress told us, "for the Elite modeling agency. When I was 16, that's how I started. I met a lot of generals! For the contest, I had fun, I worked a lot. Never had that dark experience."

She'd had no real acting experience before, but Naranjo was adamant that he wanted someone with a similar naivety to his protagonist: "I knew I needed a certain attitude, that was very important to me. I had some experience making a movie, and I knew if I didn't have somebody who was very hungry, I wouldn't have that person 100%. I saw Stephanie in a shampoo advert for the first time, I met her, she seemed eager, I told her many lies, saying the movie was much darker, more brutal, and she said she was interested. That was very important to me, to see that she wouldn't get scared."

5. With the film proving such a phenomenon on the festival circuit, they have plenty of offers rolling in, but different views on the kind of movie they want to do.

Considering the film's unusual, excellent take on action sequences, it's unsurprising that Naranjo's being courted by Hollywood. "I get a lot of offers for action movies because there are a lot of action scenes here, and they think that's what we should be doing," the director says. "But I'm not in a hurry. I'll do my next film in Mexico, I think. I'm interested [in studio projects], but not in just doing the factory thing. I don't think I'll ever get in the 'Die Hard' world. There are directors who are doing intelligent action films -- very few, but they exist. I'm interested in that, but I'm not going to make a stupid film."

But don't expect his next Spanish-language picture to have the same socio-political undertones of "Miss Bala" either. When we asked him abut his next project, Naranjo responded "I'm writing it. I think it'll be an adventure. I don't want to make a movie about social inequality, I don't want to talk about crime and my country any more, because it was something very hard for me, it's been very hard to promote in that way, about the bad things that happen in your country. Everything I had to say [on that subject], I've said it."

As for Sigman, she's happier to take the genre dollar, although there are no firm offers in yet. "I want to be a badass! I don't want to be the crying girl anymore." Like Naranjo, her next project is a Mexican one. "I'm doing a film in Oaxaca, about the independence of Mexico, it's about a national hero, [José María] Morelos, and I'm in a love triangle. And then I don't know what's going to happen after that." The project, entitled simply "Morelos," follows the revolutionary hero, who was executed by the Spanish in 1815, and is directed by Antonio Serrano ("Lucia Lucia").

"Miss Bala" opens on Friday, January 20th.
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Re: The Zone's Quest to Find the Greatest Director (CAGLE)

Postby TheButcher on Wed Mar 28, 2012 2:08 am

From The Playlist:
The Films Of Billy Wilder: A Retrospective
Oliver Lyttelton wrote:"I want to thank three persons,” said Michel Hazanavicius, accepting the 2012 Best Picture Oscar for “The Artist.” “I want to thank Billy Wilder, I want to thank Billy Wilder and I want to thank Billy Wilder.” He wasn’t the first director to namecheck Wilder in an acceptance speech. In 1994, Fernando Trueba, accepting the Foreign Language Film Oscar for "Belle Epoque" quipped, "I would like to believe in God in order to thank him. But I just believe in Billy Wilder... so, thank you Mr. Wilder." Wilder reportedly called the next day "Fernando? It's God."

So just what exactly was it that inspired these men to expend some of the most valuable seconds of speechifying airtime they'll ever know, to tip their hats to Wilder? And can we bottle it?

Born in a region of Austria/Hungary that is now part of Poland, Wilder's story feels like an archetype of the émigré-to-Hollywood experience that shaped so much of the early studio system, and by extension, narrative cinema as we know it. First a reporter, he cut his teeth as a screenwriter in Berlin, notably collaborating on the screenplay for famous neo-realist precursor "People on Sunday." Moving to Paris, his first directorial credit came for the 1934 French-language picture "Mauvaise Graine" ("Bad Seed"). However, even prior to its release Wilder, fearing the looming European Nazi threat that would eventually claim the lives of his mother, stepfather and grandmother, had left for Hollywood, and a shared room with Peter Lorre.

While we list only his directorial work below, Wilder considered himself a writer first and foremost and attained quite some pre-directorial success with screenplays co-written with Charles Brackett, especially those directed by fellow immigrant and mentor Ernst Lubitsch (to his dying day, Wilder's office was graced by a plaque reading "How would Lubitsch do it?"). And several pictures after his eventual split with Brackett came the second important, multi-picture writing partnership of Wilder's career, with I.A.L. Diamond.

But while Wilder always wrote in collaboration, the throughline is definitely his own. Perhaps to compensate for his initially faltering English, he developed an ear for the American vernacular that was simply unparalleled, and, boy, did he have a way with a joke. His detractors (we guess they exist, though we try to avoid them at parties) have accused his dialogue style of being too constructed, too unnaturalistic. They say, perhaps imitating Jack Lemmon imitating Tony Curtis imitating Cary Grant "Nobody talks like that" and perhaps they're right -- really, nobody did. Except maybe, judging from the plethora of witty, insightful, delightful late-career interviews he gave, Wilder himself.

Naturalism be damned. When you're as funny, scathing, richly textured and whipsmart as Wilder could be at his best, who needs it? In almost every genre he put his hand to, he turned in a stone-cold classic. Or two. Need stats? He directed 4 of the AFI's 100 best films of all time, and wrote 5 of their 100 funniest. He directed 14 different actors to Oscar nominations. He was nominated for 12 writing Oscars, winning 3, and 8 directing Oscars, winning 2.

Enough with the math. Wilder gave us Marilyn Monroe's (and arguably classic Hollywood's) most iconic image. He gave us 'Nobody's perfect' in a film as close to perfection as a Hollywood comedy can get. He gave us "Mr. de Mille, I'm ready for my close up," Barbara Stanwyck's anklet, and Jack Lemmon straining spaghetti through a tennis racket. He made Garbo laugh, let dead men narrate and tempered all his jokes with cynicism, and all his cynicism with infectious, irreverent, mischievous wit.

So today, on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of his death, we take a long look back at the career of this remarkable, beloved, inspirational director. Because we may not be standing on a podium, but we, too, would like to thank Billy Wilder.

Oliver Lyttelton wrote:“Double Indemnity” (1944)
Hugely influential and highly involving, the director's 1944 film-noir is cinematic crack, endlessly rewatchable and heralded as one of the very best American movies ever made. The story is this: insurance salesmen Walter Neff (Fred MacMurray) is seduced by the sizzling Phyllis Dietrichson (Barbara Stanwyck), who convinces him to secretly compose a life insurance policy for her husband and aid in his murder. Of course she's not all that she seems to be, being the femme fatale and all, and Walter ends up at the desk of his boss (a crackling, powerful Edward G. Robinson), confiding the entire murder story into his Dictaphone (giving the movie its voiceover perspective). It's difficult not to admire every element of "Double Indemnity" -- from the suspenseful, tight plot to the harsh lighting and shadows borrowed from the best in German Expressionism -- simply because it has everything you could possibly want in a single film. But props go to the subtler, slower-paced moments that you don't always find in the genre, a cinematic victim of endless dialogue and knotty plots. When Walter sets out to meet with Phyllis on the eve of the murder, he recounts all of the smart precautions he took before leaving, such as sticking matchbooks under his door knocker to see if anyone had stopped by while he was gone. He covers his tracks carefully and we stay with him every step of the way, Wilder stretching the suspense so thin that we're ready to snap once the bloodshed finally occurs. The slaying itself is also artfully done, taking place entirely off-camera with the frame glued right on Stanwyck's face -- for the first millisecond she sports a frightened mug, but it soon fades to a more truthful, relieved stare, cold as ice. An absolute classic. [A+]
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Re: The Zone's Quest to Find the Greatest Director (CAGLE)

Postby TheBaxter on Wed Dec 17, 2014 12:55 pm

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