Mao saw in my profile several filmmakers he was unfamiliar with (Borzage, Masamura, Boetticher, To) and asked me about them. Hopefully, The Auteurs will open up underseen or generally unknown directors to wider audiences. Who are your favorites you think people need to see more of? Who have you always wondered about?
For anyone interested, here was my totally on-the-fly response to Mao:
Johnnie To—-terrific neo-old guard studio director, heads his own studio in HK, makes at least one film a year in a variety of genres. Strongest at action/thriller films, but sometimes his melodramas and sometimes his comedies touch a note. Really elegant and classical, total master craftsman. Check out THE MISSION, or recently, EXILED and the two ELECTION movies.
Budd Boetticher—-minor Hollywood director who in the 1950s and 1960s made a series of taut, minimalist Westerns, often wit Randolph Scott. Closest comparison point would be Anthony Mann’s psychological Westerns of the same time. Recommended: COMANCHE STATION, 7 MEN FROM NOW, RIDE LONESONE.
Mikio Naruse: contemporary of Ozu and Mizoguchi, made brutally bitter melodramas about the toil making money wears on all manner of middle class Japanese society. Worked from the 1930s-1960s, but only one of his films is on DVD in the US: When a Woman Ascends the Stairs. Luckily it’s one of his many masterpieces.
Yasuzo Masumura: predated the Japanese New Wave with his bizarre,inventive, and subversive genre films. Antonioini loved the guy. Only some is available on dvd but check out GIANTS AND TOYS, MANJI, RED ANGEL.
Frank Borzage: another classical Hollywood director, greatly ignored, made many a masterpiece (and many a flop) about transcendental love—this was a rare Hollywood director who took his films (and his love stories) dead seriously, and watching the good ones is like watching nothing else. Almost none of his films are on DVD though they pop up on TCM all the time. My favorites include: 7th Heaven, Street Angel, History is Made at Night, and The Mortal Storm.
Borzage’s The River is very highly spoken of, though I’ve not seen it. I’m not familiar with Masumura or To, but I love Naruse (esp When A Woman Ascends the Stairs) and think Boetticher is pretty awesome.
Kon Ichikawa’s work is totally underseen and under-talked about, especially considering his 1963 film An Actor’s Revenge is an absolute masterpiece.
Elio Petri made some amazing films and yet he never seems a part of the discussion of European auteurs. For some reason, people seem to forget about Italy after Neorealism.
You’ve all made this philistine very very happy. Tears Up
I recommend a movie by Todd Rohal called “The Guatemalan Handshake”, which is a total effing southern fried comedy masterpiece. It’s like Napoleon Dynamite as directed by Terrence Malick.
That’s what I hear! A friend of mine, Filmbrain (http://www.filmbrain.com) is a film blogger who created his own DVD company and released that film last month. I can’t wait to check it out.
I love, love, love Mikio Naruse as surely some of you already know. Just for the hell of it, here’s how I’d rank his films:
- A Wanderer’s Notebook (1962)
- Flowing (1956)
- Bangiku (1954)
- Yearning (1964)
- Floating Clouds (1955)
- When a Woman Ascends the Stairs (1960)
- Lightning (1952)
- Daughters, Wives, and a Mother (1960)
- Repast (1951)
- The Sound of the Mountain (1953)
- Wife! Be Like a Rose! (1935)
- Older Brother, Younger Sister (1953)
- Scattered Clouds (1967)
- Ginza Gesho (1950)
- Sudden Rain (1956)
- Okasan (1952)
- Flunky! Work Hard (1931)
The top ten are constantly shifting. It’s too hard to pick just one Naruse film! Hiroshi Shimizu, a colleague of Naruse, has also come to my attention lately. I’ve seen six of his films and all of them have been wonderful. Shochiku has already started releasing his work with English subtitles. Yoji Yamada is also grossly underrated. Alright, I’m tired…I’ll pick up where I left off tomorrow…
Shimizu is great but so hard to see over here. I want to get his Shochiku boxset but can’t afford such an import!
There are an infinite number of marginalized short filmmakers that I try to champion. When I say short filmmakers, that’s not a reference to their height.
Here’s a random selection.
Kurt Kren (9/64: O Tannenbaum)Stan Brakhage (Mothlight, The Dante Quartet)Toshio Matsumoto (For the Damaged Right Eye)Ian Helliwell (The Burning of a Billion Words)William S Burroughs (Ghost at n°9) – Burroughs, although far from being an obscure figure now, is still seriously overlooked as a filmmaker
O Toby, that sharp ol’ wit of yours.
I highly recommend the short films of Kenneth Anger. I couldn’t imagine a lot of music videos being made without an influence from him. Very cool aethete.
Hehehe. Kenneth Anger is excellent.
Maya Deren gets bypassed a lot, too: she pretty much defines an alternative approach to non-narrative structure in Meshes of the Afternoon
And Jaromil Jireš, who suffered the unfortunate fate of getting his work (Valerie and Her week of Wonders) banned on the grounds of softcore pornography (absurdly)
I really like both Naruse films that I’ve seen (Flowing and A Woman..). I’ll definitely see more sometime in the future.
Shuji Terayama – I’ve only seen Pastoral: To Die in the Country, but that’s enough for me to call him a visionary.
Tomu Uchida – A Fugitive from the Past and A Bloody Spear on Mt. Fuji are great.
Edward Yang (other than Yi Yi) – He’s one of my ten or so favourite filmmakers. The lack of availability of his films is extremely unfortunate, considering I think that A Brighter Summer Day, Taipei Story, and The Terrorizers are all masterpieces. Yi Yi is also great but it is easily attainable.
Griogori Kozintsev’s films
Pioneers of the postwar American avant-garde…
Shirley Clarke The Connection (1961), The Cool World (1964)
Emlen Etting Oramunde (1933), Poem 8 (1932)
Mary Ellen Bute Escape (1937), Passages from Finnegans Wake (1967)
Speaking of Valerie and her Week of Wonders – have you heard of the Valerie Project? A group of Philadelphia musicians have been traveling around, screening Valerie and playing a new live score to the film : http://valerieproject.org/
I’ve been able to see the performance twice, and each time was simply amazing. I get excited just thinking about it..
I missed it when it played at Anthology in NYC and I’ve been kicking myself ever since!
I also missed it when it came to Toronto a few months ago, but I only partly blame myself. If only it wasn’t shown on a wednesday! I have listened to the music on their MySpace page and it is really great. I wonder what they’ll do next in the “project series”.
This is a really great Forum Topic DKAZ! One of the directors that I really like that is not very well-known, at least in the States, is Ferhan Ozpetek. He is based in Rome and is relatively well-know and respected in Europe, but a lot of his films are very hard to find in the States. He became very famous through his first film “Hamam” (Steam) which created a big controversy both in Europe and in Turkey, due to the various fragile subject matters the movie tackles. The story is about a married Italian man who inherits an old traditional Bathhouse in Turkey, and falls in love with the young son of the family who takes care of this bathhouse. Though, Ozpetek’s most famous film is “Facing Windows” (La Finestra di fronte), which in various creative ways intersect the platonic love stories of two seemingly-different people, one an old Holocaust survivor and another a married housewife who is obsessed with one of her single neighbors.
Another less known director that I really like is Kutlug Ataman, who is somewhat a bit of an underground Filmmaker, who got International fame through his 1999 Film “Lola + Billikid” which chronicles the lives of various Turkish and German, gay and transvestite people who are looking for love in the slums of Berlin. This is still one of my all time favorite movies and each time I watch it, to a point, it physically affects me. It is very explicit and dark, both in its style and its themes, though especially the fans of Almodovar will most definitly like this film. Also, Ataman’s most recent film, “Iki Genc Kiz”( 2 Girls) is another brilliant movie, that depicts the friendship between two teenage girls from two completely different backgrounds in Istanbul, who are both dreaming of an escape from Turkey and their hard family life. This is a brilliant and touching film in the tradition of Lukas Moodyson’s Show Me Love…
I think Julio Medem’s work is consistently interesting, but other than Sex and Lucia I can’t recall one of his films being given a decent US release. As a result, I’ve never seen his documentary about the political situation in the Basque Country (La Pelota Vasca: la Piel Contra la Piedra). [nb: most of his work is on DVD now]. I’m interested in his use of memory, amnesia, and sexuality to approach (metaphorically) the principle of Basqueness and cultural displacement, among other things. Sex and Lucia and Vacas are probably his 2 best, but all his work is worth seeing.
Glauber Rocha (very important brazilian filmmaker, but his movies are extremely hard to find out); Harmony Korine (Gummo, Julien Donkey Boy); Carlos Reygadas (Japón, Silent light).
There is a Quebec film maker Inspired the French new wave: Michel Breault. I don’t know if he is well know outside Canada…
His first film “Les Raquetteurs” is considered as the first “cinéma vérité” movie.
He directed “Pour la suite du monde” with Pierre Perrault nominated for a Palme d’or
His most popular movie is “Les ordres”; A great movie about the War Measures Act in Quebec, October 70. He received the Prix de la mise en scène at Cannes 75.
Here I have a quote from “Cahiers du Cinéma” about him:
« Il faut le dire, tout ce que nous avons fait en France dans le domaine du cinéma-vérité vient de l’ONF (Canada). C’est Brault qui a apporté une technique nouvelle de tournage que nous ne connaissions pas et que nous copions tous depuis. D’ailleurs, vraiment, on a la “brauchite”, ça, c’est sûr; même les gens qui considèrent que Brault est un emmerdeur ou qui étaient jaloux sont forcés de le reconnaître.» (Jean Rouch)" Juin 1963 Cahiers du Cinéma No.144.
Yeah, the thing is some people in Québec talk about Michel Brault as if he were like the best cinematographer ever… I read some review were someone (well known here, in QC) said he could be compared to Ingmar Bergman………..YEAH SURE…not so much…
I agree with you. I don’t think that he can be compared to Bergman but I think he worth to be know and “Les Ordres” worth to be seen… ;)
Although he makes films through the hollywood system i think Jonathan Glazer is underappreciated. Two great films Sexy Beast and Birth.
Birth is definitely under appreciated. I think Sexy Beast has its fans though.
I think i can add to the list Lynne Ramsay who directed “Morvern Callar” and “Ratcatcher”. And also Turkish director Dervish Zaim who directed “Somersault in a Coffin” (Tabutta Rövaşata) and “Elephants and Grass” (Filler ve Çimen) is not a well-known director.
Also Swiss filmmaker Alain Tanner has seemingly fallen off the globe, he is a masterful filmmaker known for his wry, humane and insightful socio-political allegories. Unfortunately his films are hard to get on dvd (particularly a decent transfer with English subs), and his films are rarely screened in cinemas anymore. I’ve been fortunate enough to see his three ‘most’ well known films; “Jonah Who Will Be 25 in the Year 2000” (1976), “Messidor” (1979) and “In the White City” (1983) but really want to see the rest of his films. Tanner is an important director who deserves to be re-examined and given a decent worldwide retrospective.
(Thumbs down??? WTF! I bite my thumb at you!)
Any documentary lover should discover the entire films of PIERRE PERRAULT. Like Olivier said earlier, he codirected POUR LA SUITE DU MONDE at the NFB with Michel Brault, and many other documentaries about the St.Laurent river, the Abitibi region, agriculture and l’Isle-aux-Coudres.
For more on him, go to www.nfb.ca.
A great filmmaker that doesnt get enough credit is independent maverick John Sayles, look at what he does when given a little bit of money. Lone Star, eight men out, sunshine state. The list is pretty vast and the man with absolutely no commercial hits continues to make film after film. Also a very talented screenwriter.
Although not unknown’s, though lately they haven’t really put anything out their is the hughes brothers. I am watching from hell and it is a really good put together film. They really know their craft.
I agree with Ayse that Ramsay is a very talented director that definitly belongs to this list. Some other people that I think belong to this list are Russian Animator Yuri Norstein and the Czech Animator Jiri Barta.