Yeah, Jesse these are some good points and echo some of my own that I didn’t get around to formulating, but seriously, the evidence is blatantly clear in the mediocre films they’ve been pumping out and foisting on an eagerly awaiting public for the last 20+ years. These guys started working during one of the most innovative periods in cinema history and produced some solid films that have stood the test of time and yeah in many ways they seem to have lost sight of the excitement that came out of this period and it’s become a “job”, they are just entertainers now, not filmmakers, and with this their ability to produce simple well “crafted” films, and yes even entertaining ones, has gone.
In regards to Spielberg, in particular ‘Saving Private Ryan’, (which David Lee raptly mentioned) if one is honest this film is purely another “technical” exercise for Kaminski and Spielberg (form over content), sure you can totally gush about the “realism” and technical virtuosity on display in the films extended opening sequence (I’d rather gush about Tarr, Sokurov or Welles whose technical virtuosity extends beyond the surface). But I found myself asking the question, why should we subject ourselves, or be subjected to going through such a traumatic experience when the soldiers that actually went through it would never want to experience it again (and rarely spoke about it)? And particularly (or most disturbingly), when it is produced as a piece of mass “entertainment” in 5.1 surround sound! Let’s not kid ourselves. And yes, as Jesse points out after the opening spectacle the film is nothing but a series of wooden, sentimental caricatures on an absurdly moralistic mission, yes the violence may be “the most realistic” but the characters are far from being “realistically” rendered (which you’d think would be more important), and for a film that purports to be about humanity, it is sorely lacking any real human emotions or insights, the same can easily be said for ‘Munich’.
That Cassavete line to Scorsese is a classic, he was referring to “Boxcar Bertha” I think, “Don’t make that Boxcar Bertha shit! Make something personal” … which I think illustrates the main problem with these four guys (and yeah, numerous other directors too), they really haven’t got anything “personal” to say, something that they desperately need to say and get down on film! And so the films are quite lifeless and yeah, primarily focused on the technical aspects of filmmaking and not well crafted storytelling. They continue to make these grandiose revisionist films about history, and or endless films about aliens (oh sorry “interdimensional beings”) when they should be asking themselves: does the world really need these films, are we really that desperate/starved for entertainment?
Anyways I’m not doubting their “passion” and undying love of cinema/cinema history and also what they have given back through the restoration and rereleases of classic films etc, I was merely making an observation based on their recent output, which in “my opinion” is well below par for the course.
Barry Levinson, absolutely. He hasn’t made a quality film in decades, and he really cranks ‘em out.
I would give Tony Scott THE HUNGER (though I haven’t seen it in years) and TRUE ROMANCE (which again, is all about Tarantino’s script and the cast). The rest is pretty much crap, especially DOMINO (written by Richard Kelly, who will one day join this list).
These guys, like Schumacher, have had long careers, and in most cases their movies are flops at the box-office, as well as critically.
So, why do they keep getting work? Is it because the studio heads love them, and they would rather stick with the mediocre work they are familiar with, than take a chance on new talent? I think, in general, they’ve been given too many free passes, and aren’t even widely considered to be bad directors.
Much sadder than the directors who consistently make terrible films are the ones that used to be great and have degenerated, yet still continue to work, and are thus irrelevant in the current cinema. Francis Ford Coppola is the best example — from greatness (Godfather, Conversation) to self-indulgence (Apocalypse Now, One From the Heart) to studio crap (Jack, Rainmaker) to WTF?? (Youth Without Youth).
Scorsese’s best days are behind him but there is still something there. Same with Spielberg. Lucas doesn’t count as he was never a real filmmaker (American Graffiti being the exception).
But yes, Barry Levinson — sad. Also Ridley Scott, whose films of the last ten years have been totally mediocre. John Boorman. Oliver Stone. Please, people — retire. Make way for the new.
Those who have always been terrible: Tony Scott, most of Brian DePalma (c’mon, does anyone really think he is a visionary on any level?), Joel Schumacher (except for Falling Down), Brian Singer, Michael Bay, John Milius, Robert Rodriguez (sorry), Brett Ratner, Ben Stiller, Jan De Bont, Roland Emmerich, Nora Ephron, Zack Snyder. The list goes on and on and on…
Yes, and the world has already forgotten about Tarr and Sokoruv and the penultimate measure of a film-maker is their legacy. Scorsese concerned with Cassavettes? Does anyone remember Cassavettes? (on a mass scale). As far as I’m concerned they aren’t even in the same ballpark in terms of film-makers. They aren’t even playing the same sport.
The fact that you are concerning over “going through such a traumatic experience when the soldiers that actually went through it would never want to experience it again” shouldn’t even be a factor when you watch a film. No one watches Schindler’s List and thinks to themselves, well you know if I was one of those people in Auschwitz, I would never want to experience this again, so I’m not going to watch this. I’m honestly having a hard time fathoming this, you don’t walk into a film with a predisposition toward the real people being depicted in the film. The best and most honest way to watch any film is not to go into it thinking it’s just “as a piece of mass “entertainment” in 5.1 surround sound!” A clean and uninhibited slate is the most honest way to gauge a film.
I agree that Scorsese’s recent output has been incredibly weak, but his position as a film preservationist is necessary and he has some truly interesting taste. The main reason his films have gone downhill is that he has embraced a more mainstream style of filmmaking where he sacrifices both his patented camera swooshes and character-centric storytelling for films that no longer embrace the underworld he once so clearly represented. I think his output during the 80s is incredibly unique, I mean After Hours is a great Kafkaesque journey and the King of Comedy is one of the all-time great denunciations of celebrity as a cultural ideal. However, The Departed was a pretty shameless remake if you ask me and, while I do not doubt Scorsese has strong respect for Infernal Affairs, the remake was almost as redundant as Van Sant’s Psycho.
In terms of Spielberg I always thought of him as someone who has become a superficial filmmaker whose only truly meaningful films lie in his early work of the 70s and 80s, where he touched upon the theme of childhood alienation – especially divorce. The conversation on the boat between Shaw, Scheider, and Dreyfuss during Jaws is very fun to listen to and feels so genuine, something you would be hard-pressed to find in his recent films. After ET he tried to tackle more serious subjects and failed, as Kubrick said of Schindler’s List (I’m paraphrasing), “Schindler’s List is a story of success, but the Holocaust was all about failure.” I think that presents the clearest criticism of Spielberg’s recent work; he tries to put everything in far too black-and-white terms (Saving Private Ryan – Americans = heroes, Germans = evil). And with the recent addition of the new Indy movie to his oeuvre it seems he just wants to continue to descend into a pool of superficiality.
Coppola has faltered out, and Lucas peaked with Star Wars (which I now see as decent sci-fi movies with all the leads giving wooden performances, except for Ford who was very charismatic).
DePalma! Thank you! A perfect example of career long, consistently terrible filmmaking.
Yeah, I’m not a big DePalma fan either, glad to see I’m not alone
“… and the world has already forgotten about Tarr and Sokoruv” … really? any proof of this? The world is a pretty big place and the auteurs is full of Tarr and Sokoruv fans/ disciples. And yeah Scorsese did actually care about what Cassavete’s said to him, he went to him for feedback in the first place, and he responded with ‘Mean Streets’.
“Does anyone remember Cassavettes?” Er, yeah, the people at Criterion and all the people that flocked to buy the boxset and almost any serious filmmaker or cinephile, or well rounded individual will know who Cassavete’s is, a legendary filmmaker who didn’t compromise his vision.
Since, we kind of have two different topics going here, directors that never had it, and those that had it and lost it. I’m going to start a separate thread for the latter. I hope no one minds. I think both topics are valid and interesting.
I will defend the merits of Coppola’s Apocalypse Now and The Conversation to the death (if necessary). Also, I must reluctantly admit to my enjoyment of Levinson’s Toys, despite its flaws. Still, he certainly hasn’t put out anything above average in a very long time.
@ David Lee – I agree with you about explaining the "why"s of our nominations, but I honestly assumed Uwe Boll’s resume spoke for itself. If not, simply watch House of the Dead and all will become crystal clear. The man is a walking parody, but manages to remain ignorant of that fact, which only adds to the tragic hilarity of the situation.
@ Number 6 – Good point about Boll’s casts. I have been repeatedly baffled by some of the names he’s signed up for his films. I can only hope it’s strictly about the paycheck for them…
double post :/
MR E 2 ME: Oh, I didn’t mean the why’s of our nomination to be directed to you in any way. I was actually just saying it kind of on a general basis, but I definitely agree with you that just by uttering his name, you invoke an undeniable world of crap. Nice to see you elaborating on it, I’ve actually only seen 5 minutes of Bloodrayne (out of all his films) and vowed I would never watch his films again. Kind of unfair to him, but I guess it is that bad.
ANTONE: On a global scale, you cannot even begin to compare total influence with the likes of Tarr and Sokoruv to the film-makers that you’ve mentioned (which the argument was concerning). I mean, it’s not even an argument, it’s just a simple fact, the numbers are out there for you to find. Their films don’t even get enough exposure for most of the world to even recognize their films. That doesn’t mean their films are bad or that they’re bad directors. But you can’t even bring recognition into this conversation because it’s not even a comparison. I still find it hard to believe that you criticize directors favoring form over content, yet the two directors you mention are Tarr and Sokoruv.
With Cassavettes, again you’re trying to argue my point that Martin Scorsese’s legacy in cinema is incomparable to John Cassavette’s? If you read my argument, then you know I was elaborating on Cassavettes’s legacy left behind him as a film-maker compared to Scorsese. Which again, I find to be not even a fair argument, especially considering how most directors feel Martin’s legacy will be even more appreciated after he is gone (which if it was true for Cassavettes, isn’t saying much).
Just because cinephiles, film-junkies and the people who run the Criterion buy his DVDs, doesn’t make him any different than the hundreds of other directors that get the same treatment. People will like his films, but is the popularity and cinematic impact of his work comparable to something like Scorsese?
Did I say anything in particular about Cassavetes as a film-maker? I never once said he was a bad one, because he is in fact a good one. Yet you seem to imply that I am unaware of his works and think he’s a bad film-maker.
oh and I too have to defend Apocalypse Now, it’s a good and enthralling film.
Saigon. Shit. I’m still in Saigon.
I don’t like the Dardenne Bros. either, but they are not bad enough to post it 10 times. ;)
Well, I was thinking and I am not a fan of JJ Abrams either. I would most definitely avoid anything he does.
M. Night Shyamalan
Don’t overlook The Squid and the Whale. That movie is a contemporary American domestic masterpiece in my opinion. It showcased a very specific familiar family dynamic related to divorce and adolescents brilliantly and in a way that is unparalleled.
Clearly visually, Wes was a big help, but in terms of emotional dept Baumbach just goes deeper than Anderson ever does. These characters, while over the top, are still real people that we all have met before. “Realness” or rather the lacktherof was always myproblem with Andersons surrealist take on domestic issues, he was dealing with ideas(robots) not humans.
Its nice to have the worlds of realism and miniaturism coming together.
mr. cutler, i openly admit to giving you the first thumbs down on this one. I will defend the credit of shyamalan to the death, even if he would punch me in the face for doing so.
disclaimer: I’m still in the process of absorbing the happening and i don’t know quite how i feel about it yet…
I’m not a huge fan of Mel Gibson. I’m not saying he’s a bad actor— (conversely, i think he’s incredibly talented); just a little crazy. But I haven’t talked to ANYONE who wasn’t somehow touched by the scene in signs where Gibson’s character has to say goodbye to his wife, who dies pinned between the collision of a truck and a tree. Shyamalan shows the aftermath of this— Mel’s character rips himself away from every bit of his religious faith (quite a bit of faith, having been a pastor) to attempt to carry out a normal life with his estranged son and peculiar daughter. Shyamalan connects the supernatural with the heart of the natural— family— and does so in a way where the viewer can feel connected to the outcome of their healing.
It’s really late (2:35 am) to get me started on Adrian Brody’s and Bryce Dallas Howard’s performances in the village which by itself is one of the single greatest pieces of sci-fi / fantasy cinema i’ve ever seen. But if anyone wants to hear about it, I’ll dig that grave for myself.
I was really hoping nobody was going to bring mr. night into this. but rolls up sleeves
i’m solidly prepared for any counter-arguments, including some sort of explanation from mr. cutler on his choice for this thread. And I really hope I’m not alone in appreciating Shyamalan’s presence in the sci-fi realm of contemporary cinema, otherwise this might get messy.
Apologies for ten posts…that was never intentional and I’m baffled as to how it happened.
I do really dislike the Dardenne brothers though, they are the filmic equivalent of visiting Bedlam…amoral voyeurs who I distrust at a deep structural almost animalistic level.
I admit to being overblown in my intense dislike for them….but their attempts at an absolute authenticity fail to disguise an intrinsic callousness, emptiness and abusiveness. I suggest that only those who never will, or have not ever, encountered such desperation or desolation will find their films convincing.
MICHAEL BAY! What he makes doesn’t even deserved to be called movies each and everyone is absolutely terrible. Also who ever makes the spoof movies, like Epic Movie, Disaster Movie, and so forth. Whoever makes those movies should put to jail for cruel and unusual punishment.
Ridley Scott. After a stunning triple-crown beginning to his feature film career, this guy hasn’t done anything truly great since. A couple were mildly diverting (Thelma and Louise), but if you judge the output by the amount of money and hype thrown his way, it’s been one colossal stinker after another for more than twenty years. He made Legend after Blade Runner, which tells you all you need to know, and he’s never looked back.
Just to prove I’m not a totally grouch (and that Barry Levinson and Tony Scott really are that bad), Iet me stand up for a few of the above maligned, to show they have not “consistently” made terrible films:
Ridley Scott: Had made Black Hawk Down in 2001! This is one of the greatest battle films ever made! He has to get a pass for that alone. His movies are hit or miss, but he’s a technical master.
Brian DePalma: Tons (and tons) of junk, yes, but another technical master. Carlito’s Way? Scarface? The Untouchables? These aren’t terrible. Snake Eyes, Femme Fatale, Blow Out, Dressed to Kill … these may be terrible but the filmmaking is mesmerizing.
M. Night Shyamalan: I hate all his movies, but I won’t say he’s a consistently terrible director. A terrible writer, yes, just terrible. But a pretty fascinating director. He’s got vision.
Brett Ratner. I liked Red Dragon. Gulp. Hey, it was way better than Hannibal! Everything else is terrible, though. How to do you mess up a Jackie Chan fight scene? Just stand back thirty feet and point the camera! If Brett Ratner made Top Hat or Swing Time, we’d never have seen Rogers & Astaire dancing; it all would have been medium close-up.
While I’m here, let me take another crack at Tony Scott: Like Wag the Dog, True Romance has a great script, but is terribly, terribly directed. (I haven’t seen The Hunger). Other than that, it’s Domino, Man on Fire, Spy Game, Enemy of the State, The Fan, Crimson Tide, Last Boy Scout, Revenge, Days of Thunder, Beverly Hills Cop II, and (wait for it) Top Gun, the one that started us down this sad road. This is the real crime of Top Gun: It greenlighted all this other junk! Don’t let the star power or the promotional hogwash of these movies fool you into thinking any of them were good: They all stunk. This list is a pretty interesting illustration of the mark of a terrible movie: You forget everything about it — plot, characters, interesting sequences, everything — by the time you finish dinner afterward. Tony Scott makes Ridley Scott look like Scorsese.
Guy Ritchie – How many times can he remake Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels?
Nick Cassavetes – Sometimes the apple rolls very far away from the tree. Sit through Alpha Dog if you don’t agree.
Antoine Doinel cinephile
1 day ago
I’m gonna just say it: the four “godfathers” of American cinema should have retired years ago and become producers or taken up gardening: SPIELBERG, SCORSESE, COPPOLA and LUCAS! ………………………
I can’t even take this serious. First, I would not mention Lucas’ name in in the same breath as the other three. Coppola has indeed lost the touch but SCORSESE and SPIELBERG are modern day masters still at the peak of their game.
The Aviator, Gangs of New York, The Departed and Spielberg’s Munich are testament to their skills.
Give me a break !
Good call on Guy Ritchie. Can’t believe I overlooked him. I also don’t think De Palma, Scott or Shyamalan belong here. Have they been responsible for some turds? Oh yes. But they’ve also made some great stuff. Ditto Levinson, for that matter. This thread is about consistently bad filmmakers. The word I’d use for these guys is “inconsistent”. Hit-and-miss. And I’ll confess to thinking Black Hawk Down was vastly overrated. As someone else said, Scott remains a technical master but almost all of his films feel hollow now. It’s a shame, because he’s responsible for a few of my favorite films.
Mr. Sweetums, Shyamalan’s past three films I have not really enjoyed. I can’t say The Village was terrible but it was mediocre at least and the beginning of his downfall. Lady In The Water was far from enjoyable, horribly paced, the camera work was lousy, and the characters way of finding there role in the whole thing was done through several terrible plot twist.. I can’t even finish watching his latest work the Happening, it comes of as very thoughtless to me. The main characters are senseless and have no chemistry and there is no twist. I myself liking some Science Fiction (I hate the term Sci Fi) am not a fanatic for the genre as you are. I think Shyamalan made some excellent films while they maybe weren’t for me I still credit him. There is no denying every film attempt recently he has worsened to the point of making boring, poorly done, and uneventful films. You yourself said you were hoping he didn’t show up in this thread, so deep inside you have some notion he belongs here. His only hope left is to write a thriller about a writer who writes really good screenplays, but all the sudden writes terrible ones for no reason and can’t figure out why. This is just my opinion though, as you thinking he is great is yours,
For shame with the mention of the Dardennes and De Palma! I can accept that some people feel negatively about ‘Dressed to Kill’ or ‘Femme Fatale’, and most people should feel that way about ‘The Black Dahlia,’ but I can’t quite grasp anyone thinking that about ‘Carrie,’ which is just wonderful in almost every regard. Disliking the Dardennes is a matter of differing taste (not lack thereof).
I am, however, going to second the mention of Harmony Korine, who’s a shameless imitator unable to craft anything remotely cohesive or even especially interesting. ‘Julien Donkey-Boy’ wasn’t as horrendous per se, as ‘Gummo,’ but I constantly forget that I’ve even seen ‘Mister Lonely’.
Naturally I agree with some of the more expected choices (Shyamalan, Boll, Schumacher, etc), but whoever mentioned Paul Haggis is trying to win their way into my heart!
Roland Emmerich. God why?!!! The man’s a nipple.
TIM BURTON…take away that man’s DGA card
Oh my god!
I can’t believe I forgot about McG!
Hahaha! Gotta add my vote for McG, too. The name alone…