Saturday, February 23, 2013

Fallen III: Fall Harder: some directors I no longer follow

Todd Solondz: Welcome to the Dollhouse and Happiness were among the best films of the nineties. They were blackly funny, satirical and bore an unmistakable rumble of violent disappointment of human life. But then he seemed to disappear into such self-reflection that it was impossible to tell if he was exploring further and deeper or just taking the piss. The third option was that he no longer knew what he was doing. His most recent was at last year's MIFF. It's one I haven't bothered to chase up since.

Neil La Bute: In the Company of  Men remains one of the most sobering examinations of the male psyche I've ever seen in fiction. Your Friends and Neighbours also scored some real points but the edges of the contrivance were pushed a little too far into view for comfort. We knew what he was doing but we had to see it indicated in case we missed it. Nurse Betty had real merit but then what? The dunderheaded remake of The Wicker Man? I thought he was going all David Mamet with his self concsiousness and blindingly ovbious intrigues and twists but he just seems to have flopped down to nowt. What a shame.

Kyoshi Kurosawa: KK's 90s and 00s horrors are so profound in scope and serious in execution that they stand apart from even the durably effective J-horror around them on the timescale. Kairo is one of the scariest and saddest horror movies I've seen. Kourei, his rejig of Seance on a Wet Afternoon, also delved much deeper than its source material had allowed. And then in the mid noughties things started to change. I forgave his Bright Future as it works well as a kind of modern fable. But Doppelganger was an act of self betrayal. Loft, a cinematic suicide attempt. And .... and nothing more that I know of. I'm almost afraid to ask.

Francis Ford Coppola: From The Rain People to The Cotton Club this guy earned his stripes and field marshal's stars as the god of the movie brats. And then in the eighties seemed to lose all inspiration. Still going, still helping other filmmakers get off the ground, just not firing his own broadsides. How can you fall from The Godfather and Apocalypse Now to a pedestrian version of Dracula? Francis, you were one of the architects of the decade that changed American cinema from inside out. Why can't we even hear you now?

Roman Polanski: What happened here? From his confronting student films all the way up to China Town, Polanski delivered some goods. A fine tuner of suspense and dread as well as a Dostoyevskian observer of human behaviour after his flight from justice in the late 70s has only had the strength to turn out a chain of mediocrity. The exception is The Pianist (which shamed Schindler's List for the latter's creepy misanthropy under the guise of championing the underdog). After that there's Ghost Writer which surrenders all its intrigue for a twisty ending. Well, he was great while he lasted.

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