Thursday, August 28, 2008

And speaking of auteurs...

I was going to go to bed, but something on the computer usually catches my eye before I do. Usually an article that asks a provocative question. This time it's an article that asks the provocative question, "Who is the most overrated director?" Something like that. A link to it on the IMDb, anyhow. Well, as most of you know who read this blog, I tend not to deal with such subjects, and the aforementioned article attempts to untangle the intricacies of the paradoxes inherent in the question itself, and probably does the best job of it that one can do, so in answering the question on my own I'll just stick to the directors they list. After all, it's an honor just to be mentioned. And let's face it, the era of the film director is clearly in decline anyway. No, the real star of the silver screen is The Latest Special Effect 1.1a. Whatever it may be. Might not even be visual! Might be a Sound Effect 1.1a! No-names direct Pixar pictures; case closed.

And frankly, I'm shocked. Why isn't Michael Bay on this list? Or Brett Ratner for that matter? Oh man, do people hate that guy. But you know what? They put asses in seats. That's what directors do these days. Keep that popcorn 'n Pepsi babysitter rolling. Keepin' the promise of Federalism alive. People say Brett Ratner ruined X-Men 3, I say how can you tell? What, did he put the camera in all the wrong places? And Michael Bay, complain all you want, he's still making 150 million dollar pictures. Is that an accident? SOMEONE'S going to see these things! And now he's got Spielberg's produce-orial blessing instead of Bruckheimer. Kevin Costner, overrated as a director AND an actor. Not on the list. For shame.

But already I defeat my porpoise here. Let's get back to the(ir) list of Ten Overrated Directors, heavily weighted in terms of Oscar winners. Five bonafide Oscar winners, three nominees... really? Brian De Palma's never been nominated? Weird! Well, neither has Sidney Lumet, but that's just Hollywood politics. Anyway, and the other nominee that's never gotten an Oscar nomination, and he's my #1 most overrated director, Kevin Smith. And shame on you, Academy, for like, totally ignoring Jersey Girl. Did you not see that picture quality? No nomination for DP? Oh, but Vilmos, he's already won. That would just be unfair! But, no, the reason Kev's my #1 is not because of all that, not because everyone I ask about Clerks swears it's f@¢*(n hilarious, but knows nothing about the rest of his vast library of work, no. ...I was going to add another "Not because", but life's too short. No, the reason he's my #1 is because of his upcoming Zack and Miri make a Porno, which was going to be rated NC-17 until Kev and his lawyer friend went before the MPAA and complained. Oh, boo hoo, why can't I have an R, teach? PATHETIC! And you call yourself a director. A real director takes his or her lumps! A real director LIVES with their MPAA rating. Just ask Philip Kaufman!

As for the rest of the list, well, it's just too painful to put together, and I'm not putting as much thought into it as I should, but I think Quentin probably belongs at #2. I mean, he makes a mean film and all, but I think I'm still smarting from his publicity blitz for Pulp Fiction. Or Grindhouse, either one. And Kill Bill's great and all, but somehow I don't think they're showing it at any La Moz classes, however you spell it. Like Dave Letterman said, he's kinda dorky. And Letterman knows about dorky, believe me.

At #3 I've put Oliver Stone, director of Tarantino's script for Natural Born Killers. Although, to be fair, I'd rather have Ollie's entire film collection than any mere volume by David McCulloch or David Halberstam, for that matter. Or even a Doris Kearns Goodwin. Does Ann Coulter do actual history? She seems like the bookish type. Also, he's not just ruining American history anymore. He beat Baz Luhrmann and Leonardo Di Caprio to the punch and did Alexander, so he's not just permanently stuck in the 1970s like Quentin seems to be. And frankly, I don't know what to expect from his upcoming Dubya. It's either going to be Path to 9/11 part 2, or it'll be the perfect sendoff to the worst president in American history. All of American history! No small feat. But that's what a director does. Surprise you like that.

At #4, Brian De Palma. So close to greatness. He's the kind of guy who does the thing where you put your hand down on a wooden table and stab the spaces in between the fingers with a sharp knife, except De Palma, God bless him, just keeps hitting his fingers. Some say Scarface is a classic, I say the original is a classic. And the more I see The Untouchables, the more I think to myself, what the f-- is up with the music? Bonfire of the Vanities, oh don't get me started. I can't even bring myself to read the book about it (The Devil's Candy). I blame Vilmos for that one.

At #5, M. Night. He'd be higher up on the list, but I think The Happening has brought him some (measure of) redemption. See any of the ads? It's his first R-rated feature! Now, THAT's a motherf--'n director! Learn from that, Kevin.
At #6, I put Opie, Ron Howard. I don't know why, maybe it's because he didn't mention any of the other nominees the year he won. Maybe it's because his films kinda suck. Apollo 13 was good, though. What else? Grand Theft Auto? And don't complain that I'm just ranking these guys in terms of how much money their films have made! I do like what he did in Grinch with that one dog's butt. Subtle, but cute. Something else you can learn from, Kev.

#7 brings us George Lucas. I like what the article said, all he's really directed was Star Wars, so it's not an issue having him on this list. Now, now, let's not leave out American Graffiti. Interesting how that works, though: on the one hand he's got megahits like Star Wars and Indiana Jones that will be seen forever. On the other hand, Howard the Duck and Radioland Murders. How do you produce both of those? Ponder on that one, Lucas! Ah, who am I kidding, he'll never have to work again. Oh yeah, apparently Lucas thought he could have directed Apocalypse Now. I'll leave others to bicker over that one. Needles to say, I think not.

At #8 I'll put Martin Scorsese. He's a director's director, and GoodFellas, well, if any director had a film like GoodFellas on their resumé they'd be set for life. Unfortunately, you also get misfires like The Departed and (The) Gangs of New York. Yeah, that's right, I didn't care for The Departed. Police work just shouldn't be this fraught with levels of complexity, if I've learned anything about movie cops lo these many years.

At #9, Steven Spielberg. Well, why not give the guy who's already got everything he'll ever need one more accolade? Everything he'll ever need and his children and his children's children. Although I heard he needs a new kidney. Cough up, Parkes!

And finally, the Coen Brothers. Are they overrated? Oh, probably, but if they've read my blog at all they should know how I feel about that. I'm still not a millionaire yet so I can't be your movie benefactors for life yet, guys, so this blog will just have to do. Besides, I hear you're tight with Bevan / Fellner again. Easy Street City! Now, the (other) article was mentioning all the movies that the guy was eagerly waiting for, like Clint Eastwood's latest, and no offense to Clint, but I couldn't help but think to myself... what are you, nuts? Million Dollar Baby part 2? No thanks. No, I'm the wrong person to ask what I'm excited to see, 'cuz I'm just not that excited anymore. I'll see the latest from Spielberg, or if George Lucas hits on a new great franchise idea. Maybe Batman Begins 3, or Spider Man 4, or Fahrenheit 9/11 pt. 2, I don't know. But I do know this: I am waiting for Burn After Reading, and that's only about fifteen days away, and it just may represent the last hurdle for the Coens to jump. They've already got the Oscars, the admiration of fans, and cast and crew alike, ... they've got the French critics in their pockets, anyhow. But the one thing that all these other guys got already, and that's a film to open at #1 at the Box Office. Except Kevin Smith. I don't think any of Smith's films have opened at #1, and they really tried with Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. They really, really tried. Ad after ad after ad, and the media even got involved, but not the way ol' KS wanted. The media asked, "Jay and Silent Bob... they're gay, right?" No! No, they're not gay. What's wrong with you media types? Have you SEEN any of their movies? Are you gay? They're dead butch!
Oh, but I digress again. Looks like Obama's going to win, and the Coens will have their #1 hit with Burn After Reading. Although, that IS an awful lot of Oscar winners to have in a comedy, guys. I'm just saying. You forget who you're dealing with here in America. A bunch of rubes. On the other hand, Larry the Cable Guy's films aren't doing all that great, neither. Not a #1 hit yet. Maybe we're finally crawling out of the primordial slime as a nation. Who knows? Maybe it's just me.

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