“And HOLD THE PHONE with whoever brought up Luc Besson. Léon aside, The Messenger? The Big Blue? La Femme Nikita? All insane. He hasn’t done anything relevant in quite some time, sure, but c’mon… let’s not turn this thread into who can troll the hardest and get away with it!”
The Messenger was terrible imo. ditto Big Blue. it’s stylish, sure, but so are a lot of other films that also happen to be good
BRAD: I like Sleepy Hollow too. Beetlejuice has real nostalgia value fo rme, and i liked some of his recent films like Sweeney Todd and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory(which i expected to hate). Alice was terrible though.
A few questions.
Is there a real difference between a ‘terrible’ filmmaker and an ‘unpopular’ one? As this thread has developed, I’m not really sure…
Are we just listing filmmakers we personally don’t like under the notion that “…they’re terrible because I don’t like them”, or are these filmmakers legitimately terrible because the Gods of popular opinion have categorised them as such?
How many great films should a director make before we consider them a great director? Is one enough? Most directors don’t even achieve that.
Do we view directors as akin to professional athletes, consistent in victory, ‘at the top of their game’, etc, etc – or are they artists, taking risks, experimenting, crossing things out and starting again?
What if a filmmaker isn’t interested in making “great” films, but is pursuing an individual line of thought?
What if a once great director is struggling through difficult circumstances? Not every filmmaker is lucky enough to be born into a culture where the art of cinema is respected. Not every filmmaker is loved by audiences or nurtured by the critics. Many filmmakers do the best with what they’ve got; they’ll never achieve the kind of freedom of a Bela Tarr or a Lars von Trier, making the occasional job for hire or “one for them” a much greater reality.
What criterion are we using to determine the greatness of these supposed one-off works of accidental genius; public opinion, critical opinion, or just personal preference? (They’re all basically the same thing)
“How many great films should a director make before we consider them a great director? Is one enough? Most directors don’t even achieve that.”
No, one certainly isn’t enough. Most, if not all, the canon directors have made several great films.
“Not every filmmaker is lucky enough to be born into a culture where the art of cinema is respected.”
That hasn’t stopped major talents from breaking through though, has it?
“Not every filmmaker is loved by audiences or nurtured by the critics.”
true, but not every film maker is equal in talent either
“Are we just listing filmmakers we personally don’t like under the notion that “…they’re terrible because I don’t like them”, or are these filmmakers legitimately terrible because the Gods of popular opinion have categorised them as such?”
“What criterion are we using to determine the greatness of these supposed one-off works of accidental genius; public opinion, critical opinion, or just personal preference? (They’re all basically the same thing)”
If they are all basically the same thing, why bother even asking the question?
The question of criterion has a key role. More to make list, it will be interesting to know why this filmmaker is terrible or not?
Leaving Las Vegas? This really is a question, as this is the only Mike Figgis film I’ve seen, and haven’t heard anything about the others he’s directed. And yes, I do like Nicholas Cage in certain things, such as LLV.
Rob Reiner I’ll agree with, as long as we move The Princess Bride into the “great films” category.
Tim Burton I definitely do not agree with. Though the last 10 years have been pretty bland, he did a lot of great films earlier in his career. Also, I’m happy to see Sleepy Hollow getting some love. The last decent Burton film.
A friend of mine once quipped that Alan Parker released the best and worst films of 1982. Shoot the Moon and the appalling Pink Floyd The Wall.
So yeah, I’ll nominate Alan Parker for Shoot the Moon for one great film amongst a slew of dreadful films.
Also, Peter Bogdanovich has only The Last Picture Show. Clearly he had talent but what happened?!
^^Nonsense. Paper Moon is just as good as L.P.S—or at least close—plus he has Targets, What’s Up Doc, They All Laughed and Saint Jack.
I’d say that only Paper Moon and L.P.S are truly great, but the others are well worth seeing, and They All Laughed is loved by many. Some enjoy Daisy Miller too, for whatever reason, im certainly not one of them hehe.
I’d put him in the category of ‘frustrating’ rather than bad. but he has made stinkers, no doubt.
A lot of people will probably disagree with this, but I genuinely believe that Watchmen (2009) is a great film. Zack Snyder may not usually be a great filmmaker, and it does suffer from moments of his visual excess (can you say “slow-motion hair flipping?”). However, it overcomes those excesses and moves up to one of the best comic-book films I’ve seen. Some have accused it of being all surface and no substance, but I saw real depth to it both times that I saw it. It may not be for everyone, but I love it.
I’m on the fence about Watchmen. I don’t know if Snyder had anything to do with the depth, or if there was just so much in the comic that he was unable to kill it all.
I guess either way it’s unimportant, as at least it’s there.
^ I agree – it took me a while to really warm to Watchmen, but I’ve seen it several times (in a different version each time) and now think it’s a major achievement.
As far as all the references to Kassovitz earlier in this thread are concerned – I think his latest (Rebellion) may persuade you that he wasn’t a one-hit wonder (and I also thought The Crimson Rivers was fun, if total trash.)
I haven’t seen every work of his, but The Sixth Sense is the only truly great M. Night Shyamalan film I’ve seen. The Village was interesting but flawed; Lady in the Water was a godawful disappointment, despite playing with intriguing concepts and striking visuals; The Happening is one of the most unintentionally funny thrillers I’ve ever seen; and don’t even get my started on the travesty that was The Last Airbender. I’ll need to see Unbreakable and Signs to form a complete opinion of him, but so far, his career doesn’t look incredibly hopeful.
Shyamalan is another filmmaker whose future output reveals the vacuity of his earlier hits. Didn’t like The Sixth Sense when it came out though – but I would say Unbreakable is his only tolerable film.
Watchmen is one of the worst films I’ve ever seen but I feel comfortable calling it Snyder’s masterpiece.
Haven’t seen Targets, They All Laughed (I recall bailing on it after 20 minutes many years ago and I’ve been meaning to give it a proper viewing) or Saint Jack. Can’t agree with you on Paper Moon or What’s Up Doc. I only wish he was as good at pastiche as he thinks he is.
Agree with Ari on Shyamalan.
Also agree that Watchman is one of the worst films ever, although it’s probably Snyder’s best.
ELVIS: fair enough but i don’t consider Paper Moon to be a simple work of ‘pastiche’. i think it has an identity of its own.
’What’s Up Doc’, however, is pure pastiche, and it’s good to me.
Didn’t mean to imply Paper Moon was pastiche. It’s not. My bad. I was thinking of What’s Up Doc and At Long Last Love.
At Long Last Love is bloody terrible, i;ll admit that. it deserves its bad reputation.
Joks said “Paper Moon is just as good as L.P.S—or at least close—plus he has Targets, What’s Up Doc, They All Laughed and Saint Jack.”
Agreed, though I haven’t seen Saint Jack. I am somewhat disappointed by Bogdanovich’s later films, but he is far from a terrible filmmaker. At any rate, do not understand anyone disliking Paper Moon.
Though not necessarily “great” in my usual contexts, I regard Jaws as, for me personally, the only passable Spielberg picture, and that decree hangs far more on the talents of the late Scheider and Shaw, Dreyfuss and the shark that pissed off Spielberg the whole time than Spielberg himself. ;)
And not to say Ridley Scott is a terrible filmmaker, but I do find him very uneven, very hit-and-miss. I guess you could say I regard his only truly great film to be Blade Runner (I’m partial to the Final Cut, which was the first I’ve seen, though I equally enjoyed the Theatrical cut, have yet to see the so-called Director’s cut), while things such as Alien, Thelma and Louise and Matchstick Men fall under the unsaid category of “quite decent”, and most of the rest of his work (have not seen ALL of it, but a good deal from this last decade and a half, like G.I. Jane, Black Hawk Down, Body of Lies and Robin Hood, as well as late 1980s films Someone to Watch Over Me and the inconviently titled Japanese backdropped thriller Black Rain) I have to say, just to be honest, that I find to be quite fucking boring.
Not arguement on R. Scott sucking. Without exception.
Lights In The Dusk raises some important points here, namely what sort of criteria are we using when we are referring to a ‘terrible’ filmmaker? And I’m not sure I would understand the question even if this were addressed because the line of authorship isn’t as well defined as, say, literature, as it is in cinema.
My Life as a Dog (Hallstrom)
PITCHER: So the fact that authorship is not as ‘well defined’ in cinema as it is in literature mean that we can not evaluate whether a director is good or bad? So we should only praise them for their successes but not condemn them for their failures? I’ll concede that when it comes to studio directors it’s often difficult to know what’s what, but if a director is entirely dependent on the contributions of others to make a decent film then he/she isn’t really much good are they?
If the line of authorship wasn’t ascertainable at all, then it stands within reason that we shouldn’t be able to praise the filmmaker for their successes or condemn them for their failures. I don’t feel that this is right, and I apologize for not properly articulating this before but I was literally headed out the door and didn’t have much time to collect my thoughts. To clarify, when I say that the line of authorship in cinema isn’t as well defined as in literature, I mean exactly that as a point of comparison, not as a statement on cinema as a whole.
As you point out, this notion of authorship, when it concerns the film as an artistic expression or even as a commercial product, seems to become blurred further when in the context of major studios. And to complicate matters even further, there are exceptions to this as filmmakers have been known to manipulate the system to their own advantage. The amount of gradation in these various scenarios are astounding, so it would be irresponsible to try to make some definitive proclamation in regards to the authorship of a film.
Ultimately, what matters most is the vision of the artist at the helm of the project. If auteur theory is correct, then the collaborative nature of filmmaking is largely irrelevant when it comes to the line of authorship. It should be acknowledged that creating a film is a collective process, although this does very little to negate the concept that the director is the creative voice that coordinates the collective into producing the work that the filmmaker had conceived in their head. And while I realize that this isn’t always the case, I think it’s a fine assumption to start off with.
I think that what I’m uncomfortable with is the fact that subjective determination of whether a film is “good” or “bad” can be incredibly flimsy and dependent on any number of factors. As such, whether a film is bad or not, in the subjective eyes of the viewer, may not even be the fault of the filmmaker! If I didn’t like the performance of a specific actress, to the point that it made the film unenjoyable to watch, but on all other accounts I thought the film was fine, this isn’t exactly the fault of the director. What if the studio demanded that this actress be casted? And what if the director had been impressed with the actress during casting but she ultimately failed to convey the necessary emotions or mannerisms, or whatever the case may be, when it came to acting on film?
This is just a minor example of how a factor outside of the control of the filmmaker can determine whether or not some individual might perceive the vision and conclude that the film was bad. And perhaps the film legitimately is bad because of such a flaw. The point is that the line of authorship isn’t with the filmmaker in this case.
Isn’t there a difference between a lousy director making one great film and a great director who, for whatever reason (bad choices, mis-judgements, personal promotion), went on to make a series of dreck after hitting with one great movie?
Lasse Halstrom at least made THE CIDER HOUSE RULES & …GILBERT GRAPE after MY LIFE AS A DOG and Bogdanovich made PAPER MOON, WHAT’S UP DOC?, SAINT JACK, THEY ALL LAUGHED and MASK so to lump either into the terrible director who made at least one great film is baseless.
Tom Laughlin, THE BORN LOSERS- I like this film and I don’t know why. It stuck with me, it was pure exploitation rip-off of The Wild One and a Western in the middle of counter-counter culture after-school special that somehow had Jane Russell in it. I am talking about THE BORN LOSERS, the first of the Billy Jack series and really the more tolerable because Tom Laughlin had yet to identify Billy Jack as a politically aware Native American (he just wears a Cowboy hat rather than the hat he would wear later in the series) who fought for peace with violence. Here he is just chivalric drifter fighting in the defense of rape victims against a bunch of bikers attacking a beach town. It’s a great, overwrought B-movie that Roger Corman wishes he produced, but if he did he would have just put it in the perspective of sex addicted sadist biker Gang Green (yep, real name of a character).
Richard Marquand, THE RETURN OF THE JEDI- I know it is not the most beloved of the original trilogy and is perhaps too long but it still the ending to the original trilogy. It seemed he consciously avoided doing anything resembling a science fiction/space opera film.
Michael Bay, THE ROCK- Does it belong in the Criterion Collection? No. It is, however, a fun movie with good performances.
I’m commenting despite having not read any of the previous discussion, so this may be worthless.
In my opinion, a terrible filmmaker, by definition, does not have a single great film in their filmmography. I’m thinking of names like Ron Howard when I say this. If a filmmaker has a great film in their filmmography, then they are automatically put above terrible in my book. This is probably way to absolutist of me, but it’s just a personal belief.
Somebody else has probably already stated something similar, so if that’s the case, I agree with them.