I’ll go with Darren Aronofsky and Christopher Nolan. Directors’ without a sense of humor or irony in any of their films. I feel Requiem would’ve benefited from a little bit of both. Even a great melodramatist like Sirk had a streak of irony in his filmography.
“He said if you fuck him, he’ll fuck you.”
“I got that.”
Robert Bresson … I’ve read he was a funny guy but it does not show in his films :P
“Am I chasing him or is he chasing me?”Gun shot
“Okay, he’s chasing me.”
Ryan, I’m perplexed: are you suggesting that the directors (without the apostrophe you’ve unnecessarily added) don’t have a sense of humor? If this is your claim, I guess you’re basing it on the hours you’ve spent with them, maybe lounging around their Beverly Hills pool, cracking jokes that leave them stone-faced. Or are you saying that their films don’t make you laugh, in which case (a) maybe they’re not making comedies, or (b) maybe your own sense of humor is out of whack.
I don’t think the films you mention are really made for humor and irony. You could say the same thing of Polanski, “Why doesn’t Repulsion have any humor?!”
Although I do think the question could be asked of Inception and the Batman films, ‘Why so serious?’
I do think there are occasional flashes of humor, or should I just say flashes of life, in DARK KNIGHT, usually surrounding Heath Ledger’s Joker. That glorious embarassed “hi” he delivers when visiting Harvey Dent in the hospital is the film’s comic highlight. Poor old Bale only gets one moment of humor, when he qualifies to Alfred the size of the dog that attacked him.
Otherwise, yeah. Nolan’s output is pretty damn solemn and humorless. In particular, the unforgiveable INCEPTION, that wasteland of icy solemnity. INCEPTION makes BARRY LYNDON look like IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE.
As for Aronofsky, I’ll cop to getting one laugh out of BLACK SWAN — when Psycho Nina is backstage before the big performance, all emotionally and psychotically overwrought, and the dancer playing the wicked sorcerer appears in full costume and makeup and says “hi.”
The implication is that their films typically approach a particular subject with little humor. The way in which Aronofsky approaches drug addiction in Requiem for a Dream (which I quite like mind you) has a sort of go-for-broke hysteria without so much as whiff of irony. Most if not all of his choices in the film have a pervading sense of darkness which can be extended to his entire filmography (save for The Wrestler written by former Onion writer Robert Siegel.) In NY magazine, when asked about unexpected laughter from audience members at screenings of Black Swan he said, “I thought there would be smiles, but none of my films has ever really had laughs.”
Now, in regards to Nolan, The Dark Knight and Inception have revealed a conscious attempt on his part to imbue them with a greater sense of humor. Bruce Wayne was made more sardonic; I’m thinking specifically him showing off to Harvey Dent or sailing off with the entire Gotham Ballet. In Inception, Arthur and Dom had a couple of one liner’s here and there as well. That being said, much of the Nolan filmography is dominated by deceased wives and grieving anti-heroes. Notoriously pessimistic filmmakers like Polanski or Kubrick tackled similarly dark material with a sinister sense of humor I think these filmmakers lack. I’m not chiding dark filmmaking. Many of my favorite filmmakers have made a career out of them. All I’m suggesting is that this particular viewer will always respond more favorably to a director who approaches dark themes with a lighter touch. (Taxi Driver is a terrific example.)
I’d add Oliver Stone to the list of directors without a sense of humor.
Sorry, Ryan, but I don’t see INCEPTION as being imbued with humor, beyond Tom Hardy’s line about “Dream big!”
I did smile at your use of TAXI DRIVER as an example of a film from a director who approaches dark themes with a lighter touch, but I see what you mean. I’m not sure I’d describe Scorsese’s touch as being at all “light” in TAXI DRIVER, but I’d say that he is able to make his film come alive onscreen, as dark and dank and unsettling as it is, in ways that Nolan has only been able to match when he puts Heath Ledger or Marion Cotillard onscreen. No Scorsese film is as DOA as INCEPTION.
Some remarkable films are pretty damn humorless. SATANTANGO, RAN, IKIRU, ANDREI RUBLEV, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, SHOAH, VERTIGO, BARRY LYNDON, PATHS OF GLORY, the list goes on and on. What separates these films from Nolan and Aronofsky’s is that they never sink under their own ponderous weight the way that Nolan’s, Aronofsky’s, Stone’s etc.’s films do, they manage to engage the interest with more than mere solemnity of tone.
Taxi Driver is a darker film than Dark Knight or Inception though, it just happens to have a naturally humorous lead actor. It’s humorous the way King of Comedy is humorous: We laugh, then we realize how cynical and awful it is that we laughed.
Black Swan did have some humor, but mostly from Mila Kunis’ character. Also the Wrestler did have some humorous bits, they were just not approached with comedic presentation. Randy playing himself in a wrestling NES game? That was funny, even though it was meant to represent his nostalgia for his glory days.
It really depends on the film whether or not it should be lighter. Aronofsky tries to create an emotional atmosphere that would be diluted if there were more humor. Inception on the other hand could have really used more humor during the expository bits where he’s just explaining the complicated physics of dream recursion.
Another filmmaker whose films could use more humor is Paul Thomas Anderson. Boogie Nights was a film mostly about pornography and genitalia, and it was completely self-serious.
Chris Nolan is terrified of the potential for ridicule in his movies. He pretty much made “Inception”, a film which supposedly took place within the unconscious, the realm where literally anything is possible, into a film that, save for two or three images, may well have taken place in the “real world”. I feel he hamstrung his picture by doing this and made much of it nigh unwatchable through seemingly neverending exposition in order to justify his lack of imagination (dying or getting wounded in a dream can have dire consequences, everything must look just like the waking world so the person does not realize they are dreaming, it is possible to calculate mathematically time elapsed in a dream vs time elapsed in the real world, etc). It’s like he was afraid of shooting for the stars and landing on his face so he peppered his film with excuses to not have to. That sums his whole carreer, in my mind, and his complete lack of humor is probably a reflection. And I’m speaking as someone who has enjoyed some of his films…
Definitely a good choice.
Barry Lyndon unhumorous?
The politest robbery of all time begs to differ. So does the girly duelist, trying to act like he’s not terrified.
Boogie Nights was a film mostly about pornography and genitalia, and it was completely self-serious.
“Don’t come in me.”
Jirin, yeah, there’re some flickers of humor in BARRY LYNDON, of course. I particularly like the appearance of Ryan O’Neal in full Chevalier drag to make his escape (“All Europe shall hear of this!”), but the overwhelming impression of the film is pretty damn grim, and the point I wanted to make is that BARRY LYNDON never dies onscreen the way that Nolan Aronofsky Stone’s films do.
Somehow I don’t think we can top Polaris.
Oliver Stone without a sense of humor? I disagree.
It may not be a very sophisticated one but many if not most of the films he has written (Salvador, Conan, Midnight Express, Scarface, Any Given Sunday) have a sense of humor. Hell, he even turned “Natural Born Killers” into a comedy even though Tarantino has complained to anyone who will listen that he never intended for it to be one.
A bloated sense of self importance, on the other hand? That I might be able to see…
I think the humor of Scarface is better attributed to De Palma. He punctuates the movie with his typical excess (if that reads as a slam, it’s quite the opposite. His excess is absolutely wonderful.) that really makes that film come alive. He elevates that film to a point of extreme farce, something I think doesn’t come through simply by reading the text on a page. Certainly Tony buying a tiger and lines such as “Say hello to my little friend!” are indications that Stone wrote it with a particular level of absurdity, but I think De Palma is the one who came in and knocked it out of the park.
not sure i understand. requiem is about the punishing nature of addiction. not a lot of yuks in the source material
“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” is about as unfunny as it gets. Forman was totally lacking in humour. Kubrick too.
Not doubting DePalma’s input at all, which was in all likelihood considerable, but Stone’s screenplay was hardly lacking in humor and I’d argue it did not take itself all that seriously. I don’t care for the film much personally but I don’t think anybody soaks a screenplay with such gleeful over-the-top excess and expects it to be taken at face value.
No offense but I can’t tell if you’re being serious or not.
“A Clockwork Orange”, “Dr. Strangelove”, “Full Metal Jacket”, “Eyes Wide Shut”…Kubrick most definitely had a sense of humor. Detatched, misanthropic, nihilistic perhaps but it is most definitely there.
As for Foreman, well, the film that first got him noticed internatinally, “The Fireman’s Ball”, was a comedy. One could also make a strong case that “Man on the Moon” and “The People vs. Larry Flynt” were comedies as well.
“Chris Nolan…Directors’ without a sense of humor or irony in any of their films.”
Apparently you haven’t seen Nolan’s film, Doodlebug.
I think Arcanus is making the leap from ‘humor I don’t find funny’ to ‘no humor’.
One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest had humorous scenes. Remember the basketball court? Though I don’t know why they decided to cut out the book’s epilogue where most of the characters either leave the asylum or move to a different asylum, and Nurse Ratched is rendered powerless and afraid. The film has a far grimmer ending than the book.
What I meant was the these director’s leaden sense of humour removed the funniness from their films. Strangelove is quite amusing in parts, but the humour is laid on with a trowel.
You mean you derive no amusement from:
“Do you think it will be necessary for each male to have four or five women?”
“Why did you make a doomsday machine?”
“We heard the US was making a doomsday machine. We were worried about a Doomsday Gap.”
“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” is about as unfunny as it gets.
“I must be crazy to be in a loony bin like this.”
you guys are good with challenges. find me anything intentionally amusing in an angelopoulos film….
I getting the feeling that maybe the lack of humor is not so much the problem so much as earnestness and maybe a sense of inflated self-importance, as Hell mentioned. I think this applies to Aronofsky, although, less so with Nolan, as Aronofsky’s films feel like a self-conscious, “serious artist” has made them, while I don’t get the same vibe from Nolan’s films. (With him, I get the sense that he’s too caught up in cleverness and doesn’t know how to focus and edit his ideas.)
Generally speaking, funny formalism is hard to pull off, but how could people find The Black Swan anything but comically excessive? And I don’t mean this as a dis, I really don’t think, of all things, “seriousness” was the intention.
^^I don’t know Matt. Requiem was comically excessive to me too, and i doubt it was intentional.