Latest Cinematic Meme…”15 Directors”

Hello World, Marc Here:

Peter, the wise cinematic proprietor of Magic Lantern Film Blog named me in this fun and yet challenging meme titled “15 Directors”. Here I am charged with naming 15 directors who have help shape the way I look at motion pictures. Fun because like our Films That Defined Us post I can name a bunch of directors who made the films I love. Challenging because I have to come up with some entries on this list that will make people think I’m as refined and cool as Peter. Well then, the game is on my friend. Let’s get to it shall we??

While I think it’s impossible to assign an order these are my 15 Directors off the top of my head…

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Christopher Nolan (Memento) – Yes I was on the “Nolan bandwagon” waaay before Batman Begins. A truly gifted story teller, he has the ability to tell a story from many different perspectives and it’s with each repeat viewing you pick up more and more things you missed. His technique has been implemented and expanded upon with each succeeding film. If you look at how he improved from Memento to Inception I can’t even imagine what we’re in store for in the next 10 years!

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Jim Henson (The Dark Crystal) – Wild imaginative and just flat out fantastic. Henson & Co makes the impossible possible and his passion for story and creativity is fully shown here. More than just a puppet, he turns inanimate objects into living breathing entities you actually feel something for. And who wasn’t scared of the Skexies as a kid? I am still so upset that we lost him far too soon.

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Edward Zwick (The Last Samurai) – Man if there ever was a guy who could handle an epic with ease it is Zwick. Capturing the beauty in even the smallest element, his films are visual feasts. But while filmmakers use visuals to make up for lacking elements his truly compliments the story making it that much more important to the overall film. With Zwick, there’s a reason for everything and to me, that attention to detail makes his films fantastically complete and satisfying.

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Robert Zemeckis – (Back to the Future) – The classic time traveling comedy turned what looked just plain ludicrous on paper into an icon for generations. Little creative nudges from Spielberg, Zemeckis tells a story that is fast, energetic, funny and one that can really has something for all audiences. A film that can be shared with and enjoyed across generations doesn’t happen often but Zemeckis certainly has a lot of them under his belt.

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Robert Rodriguez (Planet Terror) – Over the top elements and a fun as hell story are definitely his strongest talents as a director. He can take a B-Move premise, fill it to the brim with A-list talent and have it appeal to all audiences. Also one of the few directors who can swing very easily between his hard R-rated films and kids movies without losing fans or a step.

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David Fincher (The Game) – To take a line from the another director’s film “forget all you know…or think you know“, Fincher is a master at the visual guessing game. Never letting on exactly what is happening he is a master at the slow reveal. Also his films are just so jam packed with (sometimes unsettling) beautiful imagery that you could take any frame from any of his films and have it framed as artwork.

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Quentin Tarantino (Ingluorious Basterds) – Tension and intrigue just abound in his films that are essentially a series of boring/banal conversations. QT makes the uninteresting interesting…and makes the interesting a fucking masterpiece. In every one of his films, his scenes are brimming with intensity and are so well written that it is like a tapestry of words woven before your eyes. Plus he has a knack (kind of like Pixar actually) of resurrecting talented actors and brings them back into the spotlight for an incredibly surprising turn.

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Pete Docter (Up) – He can make a grown man cry with a cartoon film. If that’s not a feat in itself then I don’t know what is. One of the very best on this list and probably the one who cares the most about story. Using CG can be a crutch for some film makers but when your entire medium is CG you’d better grab people with a great story or the film will fall flat. Docter (now Oscar winner) has proven time and again the story is the one element you can’t skimp on and I quote “If the story isn’t great then why make the movie at all“. I highly respect that.

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Tim Burton (Batman) – Dark and moody visuals are his forte and you’d laugh if you didn’t already know he was once a Disney animator. A keen eye for the morbid, he attaches a sweetness and bit of heart to what one might think is only macabre. And turning a stand-up comedian into one of films best comic book heroes of all time is not just amazing but shows you that he truly is a genius. I’m not always on board with his films and to me personally his taste is more miss than hit. But when he does something I like, I don’t just like it, I effen LOVE it…maybe Danny Elfman has something to do with it too:P

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John Carpenter (Big Trouble in Little China) – As a forefather to filmmakers like Robert Rodriguez and QT, Carpenter’s style has become legendary. Horror, comedy, sci-fi, he’s done it all and sometimes it’s all in one film. The one director out there who doesn’t take things too seriously and isn’t afraid to saturate his films with camp and cheese and that  has always been right up my alley. Iconic and cult characters like Michael Meyers, Snake Plisken/Jack Burton and George Nada live on because Carpenter knows how to tell a story with some fun and flair.

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Zack Snyder (Dawn of the Dead) – This guy runs on pure adrenaline and is a visually heavy film making genius. Taking the nigh unfilmable graphic novel “Watchmen” and making it one of the very best comic book adaptations ever was no small feat. Basically he’s like Fincher only his eye-candy is on steroids. I CANNOT wait to see what he and Nolan do with Superman.

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John McTiernan (Predator) – A jungle running flick seemed to be common place in the 80′s so how do you make it different? Add an alien, Ah-nuld and more fireworks than the 4th of July, that’s how. But where as jungle films and even “elite unit” films had nearly been done to death, McTiernan made it fresh, engaging, mysterious and thanks to Ah-nuld via Shane Black, highly quotable.

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Ridley Scott (Kingdom of Heaven) – Another visual genius (I guess by now you can see what kind of directors I appreciate) on this list is perhaps my favorite. While his films can be hit and miss with audiences I don’t feel he’s ever made a bad movie…just ones that are less appreciated. After Gladiator, Kingdom of Heaven had a lot to live up to but really it was a different story so it can’t be so easily compared and criticized. Scott has proved time and time again that his way is always the right way…will the studios never learn??

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Sam Mendes (Road to Perdition) – One of the best visually oriented directors out there, he can frame a box of paper clips and make it beautiful and intriguing. If the rainy street scene in Road to Perdition and the famous “rose petal” scene in American Beauty aren’t enough to sell you on his heavy visual preference, see what art he creates with the very simple scenes in Away We Go. I never thought living in shambles could be so appealing.

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Luc Besson (Leon/The Fifth Element) – For wham bam shoot em ups, look no further than this action mastermind. As well as eye popping physics defying firefights and a high octane story, Besson makes everyone look so damn good…even the extras who look dressed to the nines in Louis Vutton and Prada. Brilliant set pieces, imaginative, um everything, his visionary style has few equals. He can be wild and out there but also conservative and down to earth. Although in either case the end results are Earth shattering explosions and stunts that raise the bar with each film.

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HONORABLE MENTION:

Stephen Chow (Shaolin Soccer) – Another of the “not too serious” variety Chow makes things that are absurd passable even, almost, believable. Shaolin Soccer is a little tamer than Kung Fu Hustle, but still is inventive as all get out. Intentionally funny or not his films are not stop laugh riots and you’ll find you have a hard time reading the subtitles because you’re laughing too hard.

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Ron Howard (Willow) – Good old Archie Cunningham discovered pretty quickly that he could tell a darn good story. His pictures are well crafted, he focuses on story and the close interaction between characters. From Gung Ho, to Willow to A Beautiful mind, though the stories are wildly different the characters are always more compelling than any of the visuals…though they are always pretty good too.

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Martin Campbell (Casino Royale) – In short, a man who can reboot a failing franchise TWICE (Goldeneye and Casino Royale) will forever win points in my book with his ability to adapt and keep his finger on the pulse of modern cinema.

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So as that fulfills my obligation to this Meme, allow me to pass this wonderful exercise on to other deserving cinebloggers (you may direct all hate mail to marc@goseetalk.com):

  • Steve @ The Film Cynics…because Steve is just that cool, here’s just one more cool addition to his site.
  • Matt @ Cynicritics…because Matt and Luke’s opinions offer great insight into film and actors I thought I knew.
  • Darren @ The M0vie Blog…because having been an increasing fan of his blog, I’d love to find out what directors he’d pick.
  • Napier @ Napier’s News…because while he does “Movies, Music and More” this would fall under the “More” category.
  • Kai @ The List…because if lists are what he does, then he should have no problem with this!
  • http://kaispace.wordpress.com Kaiderman

    Can’t fight the logic on why you picked me so I’ll put it up later this week. Love the honorable mention for Steven Chow BTW… he is an awesome filmmaker!

    • http://www.anomalousmaterial.com/movies Castor

      Muahahha you got had Kai

      • MarcC

        Don’t get too happy Castor, you narrowly missed getting tagged for this one…oh wait Kai subsequently tagged you on his post. I guess there really is no escaping these things:P

    • MarcC

      Yeah I wanted to put him in the main 15 but in his case, he hadn’t done enough compared to the rest I thought.

  • http://flixchatter.wordpress.com rtm

    Great list, Marc, somehow I knew you would not leave out John Carpenter! :) We have a few in common, and Fincher, Tarantino and Campbell would easily make my Top 20. Awesome write-up for each director, leave it to you to go above and beyond what’s required with this meme!

    • MarcC

      Well I just thought naming them wouldn’t do this exercise any justice. But thanks a million for the comment:) Yes Carpenter had to make an appearance and like it says on Aiden’s list, he needs a comeback in a big way. Though I LOVE the inclusion of Richard Donner and Michael Mann on your list. Nice picks Ruth!