Cinematic Convolutions: My Personal Top Directors

Irish_Director_Graham_Jones

A director might perhaps be the most important aspect of a film. His or her interpretation and image of the film can be the very thing that makes or breaks it. And so, I’d like to give my own personal list of my own favorite directors.

(Note this is a personal list, in no way am I making any claim that any of these are the greatest of all time or any such lunatic statement, just my favorite directors)

In no particular Order:

4. Steven Spielberg

Steven_Spielberg_Masterclass_Cinémathèque_Française_2_cropped

I put Spielberg on this list not for any insane masterpiece or mastery of technical techniques, but really for just his gigantic body of work. I mean just look at this list:

 2012Lincoln
 2011War Horse
 2008A Timeless Call (Documentary short)
 2005Munich
 1999The Unfinished Journey (Documentary short)
 1997Amistad
 1991Hook
 1990The Visionary (Video) (segment “Par for the Course”)
 1989Always
 1985Amazing Stories (TV Series) (2 episodes)

The Mission (1985)
Ghost Train (1985)
 1984Strokes of Genius (TV Mini-Series) (introductory segments, uncredited)
 1983Twilight Zone: The Movie (segment “2”)
 19791941
 1975Jaws
 1973Savage (TV Movie)
 1972Something Evil (TV Movie)
 1971Duel (TV Movie)
 1971Owen Marshall, Counselor at Law (TV Series) (1 episode)

 1971Columbo (TV Series) (1 episode)

 1971The Psychiatrist (TV Series) (2 episodes)

 1971The Name of the Game (TV Series) (1 episode)

LA 2017 (1971)
 1969-1971Night Gallery (TV Series) (2 episodes)

Make Me Laugh/Clean Kills and Other Trophies (1971) … (segment “Make Me Laugh”)
Night Gallery (1969) … (segment “Eyes”)
 1970Marcus Welby, M.D. (TV Series) (1 episode)

 1968Amblin’ (Short)
 1967Slipstream (Short) (unfinished)
 1964Firelight
 1961Escape to Nowhere (Short) (as Steve Spielberg)
 1961Fighter Squad (Short)
 1959The Last Gun (Short)

I mean come on! Just look! Its ridiculous! And this is just his directing work, his production work is an even larger list! This dude was basically a part of my childhood and older adolescence growing up: E.T, Indiana Jones, Saving Private Ryan, Jurassic Park, etc. He’s got timeless classics to his name, but as a directer he has had complete flops, such as War of the Worlds, and many others, which I feel detract from his legacy. But you can’t say he wasn’t ambitious, and with a body of work this large, its no wonder some of his work was a little below standard (or a lot.) Regardless, Spielberg helped usher in this modern day era of “New Hollywood” and is easily one of the most acclaimed and famous directors today, as well as one of the wealthiest. His influence on cinema is undeniable.

3. Quentin Tarantino

Que

Kill Bill: Vol. 3 (character The Bride – as Q) (announced)
 2015The Hateful Eight (written by) (filming)
 From Dusk Till Dawn (TV Series) (screenplay “From Dusk till Dawn” – 9 episodes, 2014) (based on the film screenplay by – 1 episode, 2014)

The Take (2014) … (screenplay “From Dusk till Dawn”)
Boxman (2014) … (screenplay “From Dusk till Dawn”)
La Conquista (2014) … (screenplay “From Dusk till Dawn”)
Pandemonium (2014) … (screenplay “From Dusk till Dawn”)
Place of Dead Roads (2014) … (screenplay “From Dusk till Dawn”)
 2012Django Unchained (written by)
 2009Inglourious Basterds (written by)
 2007Death Proof (written by)
 2007Grindhouse (written by – segment “Death Proof”)
 2006Reservoir Dogs (Video Game) (screenplay) / (story)
 2005CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (TV Series) (story – 2 episodes)

Grave Danger: Volume 2 (2005) … (story)
Grave Danger: Volume 1 (2005) … (story)
 2004Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (character The Bride – as Q) / (written by)
 2003Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (character The Bride – as Q) / (written by)
 1997Jackie Brown (written for the screen by)
 1996Curdled (Gecko Brothers news report)
 1996From Dusk Till Dawn (screenplay)
 1995Four Rooms (written by – segment “The Man From Hollywood”)
 1994Natural Born Killers (story)
 1994Pulp Fiction (story) / (written by)
 1993True Romance (written by)
 1992Reservoir Dogs (background radio dialog) / (written by)
 1987My Best Friend’s Birthday (written by)
 1983Love Birds in Bondage (Short)

I have Quentin Tarantino on this list because there is a time where I don’t want to go look for camera angles, themes, or a bigger picture. Sometimes what I want to see is a violent, character driven epic that’ll blow me away while still impressing me visually and stylistically. And when that’s the case, Quentin Tarantino is the man for the job. Known as the King of Dialogue, Tarantino expertly does something that I feel many directors, writers, and producers leave out: letting their characters breath. Too many times I feel like we only see main characters interact and speak solely within the context of the story. They only do things or say things to advance the plot. But that’s not how real life is. We have conversations. We get sidetracked. And that aspect of real dialogue is what Tarantino does expertly. He breathes life into his characters, they are real and gritty. Tarantino is not scared to go R-Rated with his language and gore, his trademarks.

(Warning: Explicit Language)

His movies are stylized and have that spaghetti western/neo-noir feel to them that makes Tarantino movies unique. He’s got an intense cult following following from his early hits Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, a following rightfully earned, and is still in the game today with movies like Inglorious Bastards and Django Unchained, the highest grossing film of his career.

2. Alfred Hitchcock

Hitchcock,_Alfred_02

Memory of the Camps (TV Movie documentary)
 1985Frontline (TV Series documentary) (1 episode)

Memory of the Camps (1985) … (uncredited)
 1972Frenzy
 1969Topaz
 1964Marnie
 1963The Birds
 1962The Alfred Hitchcock Hour (TV Series) (1 episode)

 1955-1961Alfred Hitchcock Presents (TV Series) (17 episodes)

The Horse Player (1961)
Arthur (1959)
 1960Psycho
 1960Startime (TV Series) (1 episode)

 1958Vertigo
 1957Suspicion (TV Series) (1 episode)

Four O’Clock (1957)
 1953I Confess
 1948Rope
 1946Notorious
 1945Watchtower Over Tomorrow (Documentary short) (uncredited)
 1944Aventure malgache (Short)
 1944Bon Voyage (Short)
 1944The Fighting Generation (Short) (uncredited)
 1944Lifeboat
 1942Saboteur
 1941Suspicion
 1940Rebecca
 1936Sabotage
 1932Number 17
 1931Mary
 1930Murder!
 1930An Elastic Affair (Short)
 1930Elstree Calling (some sketches)
 1929Sound Test for Blackmail (Short documentary)
 1929Blackmail
 1928Champagne
 1927/IThe Ring

Easily, the master of….suspense and once again a massive body of work. What we have here is one of the greatest filmmakers to ever set foot behind the camera. Working mainly in the late 20th Century and 21st Century, Hitchcock’s use of visuals and angles to create suspense was beyond his time. He attempted to frame his camera in a way that mimicked a person’s gaze, and created a sense of voyeurism to maximize fear and anxiety from the audience.  His themes of spy thrillers and love triangles helped disguise the undertone for what was really psychoanalysis of the characters themselves. In addition, Hitchcock was not afraid to use psychology himself in his own films. Hitchcock is infamous for using what’s called the Kuleshov Effect while filming with Old Hollywood actor Jimmy Stewart. In essence, the Kuleshov effect is a phenomena in which an actor will deliberately have a blank face during a sequential shot after being shown something, and the audience will project their own emotion onto the actor. For example, after being shown an image of, let’s say, a dead child, the camera will cut to the actor who will have a blank face, but because of the Kuleshov effect, the audience will project seeing the actor with a saddened face, projecting their own emotions onto the film. Trippy stuff! But something else added to Hitchcock’s legacy and appeal….he was in his own movies! He placed himself within most of his works, like cameos, which, along with his controversial and thought provoking intros, only further peaked his popularity.  Some of his most famous works from this list include: North by Northwest, Rope, The Man Who Knew Too Much, and of course, his most famous film, Psycho, with the infamous shower scene that has become a landmark image in the world of suspense and horror films.

Now, to all my friends, I hate horror movies, I’m just too much of a wuss to watch them. But really, I secretly love them. They’re gripping and pump me with adrenaline. The basis of modern day horror movies has a huge part to do with Alfred Hitchcock which is why I have him on this list.

1. Stanley Kubrick

KubrickForLook

 1962Lolita
 1960Spartacus
 1953The Seafarers (Documentary short)
 1951Day of the Fight (Documentary short)
 1951Flying Padre: An RKO-Pathe Screenliner (Documentary short)
I have Stanley Kubrick on this list for two reasons:
A. He is considered, by some, to be the greatest filmmaker of all time.
B. He is absolutely, totally, completely insane.
Kubrick was a cinematic maestro, allegedly having a 200 IQ, creating absolutely timeless classics such as The Shining and 2001: A Space Odyssey. His visionary and directive genius captivated audiences with stunning elegance. In his mind, every frame was a painting, and in this Kubrick was the absolute, unrelenting perfectionist. Every piece, every actor, every little tiny speck of dust had to be perfect. And here in lies part B of Stanley Kubrick, his insanity. Kubrick’s idiosyncrasies are his calling card and some say added to the success of his films. For example, in his 1964 movie, “Dr. Strangelove” there are a number of scenes which take place in a War Room, where a central table is the focal point. Kubrick demanded that this central table, where the generals gathered, be green, much like the poker tables of Vegas. He wanted to give the impression that these generals were “gambling” with the lives of millions. Only one problem….Dr. Strangelove is a black and white film…. You heard me right. Kubrick demanded a green cover for a table that would ultimately be black and white. Then in the movie Full Metal Jacket, Kubrick needed to film the soldiers with some bombed out buildings, but instead of using props or finding actual ruined buildings, Kubrick actually demolished real buildings to create the background, using a whole 2 months to do so.
The next few insane events require to watch these scenes from The Shining, which you probably should already have to be honest:
For the first scene, you’d imagine that all those pages were merely copied after a master version right? Easy peasy! But you’d be wrong. For months and months and months, Kubrick made his secretary write that same phrase. Over and Over again. All of those pages were actually written. Do we notice that in the film? Nope! Does that change how we perceive it? Nope! But what we perceive doesn’t matter, it only mattered because Kubrick perceived it. For the second scene, you might have remarked about Shelley Duvall’s excellent acting, but Duvall isn’t acting. She’s literally crying. Why? Because Kubrick wanted, no, needed her to feel just like her character, trapped with a madman, and so he made her do this scene, not 10 times, not 20 times, not 30 times, but ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY SEVEN TIMES. That’s right, he made Shelley Duvall do this scene 127 times, and by the end it wasn’t even acting anymore. This gives just an inkling into the madness and genius of Stanley Kubrick, a man who blurred the lines between the two so much so that really, for Kubrick, there was no difference.
I hope you enjoyed my little Tops list and I hope you found it informative!
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