Saturday, April 14, 2007

Time Goes By (For Directors)... slowly, unfortunately.

Now, you guys are all here for one reason: Movies. I know it. You know it. We all know it. Everybody has their own peeves when it comes to the movie business. Some can't stand movies over two hours. Others can't stomach remakes or sequels (so, what? you see three movies a year? teehee).

Two of my biggest peeves are release dates (a frequent topic of anger at Stale Popcorn) and directors who take too long between movies. I though I'd take a look at three of my favourite directors and their movie-making habits. Feel free to comment at the end about your favourite time-wasting directors. Do they do it to torture us? Do they it so we savor their films moreso? Eitherway, it frustrates me. I want more of the people I adore.

Baz Luhrmann

We all know Nathaniel's affection for Luhrmann's 2001 musical pastiche Moulin Rouge! Well, I love it too. Incredibly so. I also loved his first feature, the dance extravaganza Strictly Ballroom in 1992 and his first American film, the Shakespeare adaptation William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet in 1996. We all know Luhrmann is currently working on a new Australian-made epic entitled Australia starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman.

By the time that movie is released (probably towards the tail end of 2008) it will have been seven years since I saw the curtain open to the 20th Centry Fox logo on opening night on Moulin Rouge! In that time Luhrmann has staged a production of La Boheme and directed Kidman again in N° 5 the Film for Chanel.

Each of Luhrmann's film's look so pain-stakingly meticulous (can you believe Moulin Rouge! cost only $50mil! I think that silly new Halle Berry movie cost more than that) that I can sort of forgive him for taking his time. When Australia premiers I am fairly certain that it will the most excited I have ever been for a movie that didn't have Hugh Jackman shirtless. And, hell, Australia probably (hopefully?) has that too!

Terrence Malick

Terrence Malick's reputation is legendary. Four films in Thirty-Two years and nary a bad one in the bunch. I, unfortunately, haven't had the opportunity to see his first feature, 1973's Badlands starring Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek (and not through lack of trying). In 1978 he made one of my top ten films of all time, the Richard Gere-starring Days of Heaven. That movie was infamously filmed only during the "glory hours" of dawn and dusk. The film won the Best Director prize at Cannes plus the Academy Award for Best Cinematography. Of it's other three nominations Ennio Morricone (recent lifetime achievement Oscar winner) definitely deserved to win for that amazing music.

While it's not my favourite, quite a few consider 1998's The Thin Red Line to be Mallick's greatest. The film which came 20 years after Days of Heaven was nominated for, but didn't win, seven nominations including Best Picture and Director. It's a WWII film but if there's any director who would give us a "different" war film, it's Mallick. Comparing it to 1998's other WWII film, Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan, just makes it all the more impressive. Those who love it though are in good company. Martin Scorsese ranks it the #2 films of the 1990s. Impressive.

While his next film, The New World, was virtually ignored bar a Best Cinematography Oscar nomination (that's three in a row for Mallick's films) in terms of awards and box office, I personally think it's another masterpiece. It helps that I saw this one in the cinema though I suppose. Apparently Mallick has a film due out in 2008 entitled The Tree of Life, but considering it can take Mallick up to two years to edit a film, I doubt that will come through. I wonder if it has any connection to Darren Aronofsky's The Fountain?

Ray Lawrence

Lawrence may be an unfamiliar name to some of you, however if you have read my blog for a while you will surely know of my affection for this man. In 1985 he directed Bliss. A trippy little movie that won the Best Film prize at the AFI (Australian Film Institute, the closest we get to an "oscar"-esque awards show) as well as winning Best Director and Best Screenplay awards for Lawrence himself. It was also a contender for the Palme D'or at Cannes.

We had to wait, *drumrole please*, sixteen years for only his second film, the undisputed masterpiece Lantana. That film uptrumped Moulin Rouge! to win AFI awards for Best Film, Best Direction, Best Actor (Anthony LaPaglia), Best Actress (the amazing Kerry Armstrong), Best Supporting Actor (Vince Colosimo), Best Supporting Actress (Rachael Blake) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Andrew Bovell). That's an amazing haul. Apart from the four great award-winning performances Lantana boasts worthy performances by Daniella Farinaci, Barbra Hershey, Geoffrey Rush, Peter Phelps and Leah Purcell.

Thankfully we didn't have to wait another sixteen years to get Lawrence's third feature, the Raymond Carver So Much Water, So Close To Home adaptation Jindabyne. I've waxed lyrical on this movie, which I am crowning my #1 of 2006. It stars The Lovely Laura Linney as the wife of a fisherman (Gabriel Byrne) who tries to comprehend the actions of her husband upon his discovery of a dead Aboriginal girl. It's, funnily enough, released in America in two weeks (April 27) and in the UK on May 25. See it, please. Lawrence has no plans yet for a fourth film.

I didn't mean this to be so long, sorry

But, if you are wanting to read some more about the movies of these three, *nudge nudge*, then do so in the sake of cross promotion and click the links below to some of my Stale Popcorn entries about them.

Sofia Coppola = Baz Luhrmann

Moulin Rouge! and Lantana scoop some prizes at the 2001 UMA awards

An appreciation for Days of Heaven

Ray Lawrence got on helluva performance out of, Mrs Hugh Jackman, Deborra-Lee Furness in Jindabyne


J.D. said...

Emmanuel Lubezki should have at least two Oscars by now. Off point, but sooo true.

Glenn Dunks said...

Well duh


J.J. said...

Lantana is sooo good. My #3 movie of 2001. I'm glad you brought this up. Had no idea Lawrence's work was so infrequent.

Marius said...

Ah, shameless shelf-promotion. I love it! Anyway, I think John Cameron Mitchell spent way too much time on Shortbus (2.5 to 3 years?). I liked the film (it's a JCM film for goodness sake), but I was a bit disappointed. There are great things about the film, but he could have filmed it in less time, which would have given him more time to start working on another film.

Marius said...

Correction: he didn't actually spend 2.5 to 3 years filming it. I think 2 or 2.5 years were spent preparing his actors. That’s what I should have said.

Anonymous said...

Remember Baz spent a lot of time on the abandoned Alexander Project and he also produced a couple of kids. After watching Strictly Ballroom yesterday, at my 10 year old daughters request and with filming starting soon on Australia (at Fox Studios a mere 30min drive from my house) I am only just now allowing myself to get excited for the next Baz project. And I'm sure Hugh will be seen shirtless. If not then a good old chesty bond, possibly blue...

Alanna said...

I love Lantana. When I spent a semester in Sydney a few years ago, the Aussies I spoke to about it seemed really impressed that I had seen it, haha. As a huge Carver fan, I'm very excited to see Jindabyne, which just was released in New York this weekend.

SamuraiFrog said...

I always laugh when I hear that Quentin Tarantino is really, really, genuinely 100% going to make Inglorious Bastards this time. That's been his really for real next movie since, like, Jackie Brown, hasn't it? But it wasn't until six years after Jackie Brown that we got Kill Bill, and if Robert Rodriguez hadn't pushed him to finish Death Proof, would he even be working right now? I'm predicting IB sometime around 2014.

SamuraiFrog said...

Oh, and of course, there's always Kubrick's increasing delay. 13 years until Eyes Wide Shut?

Glenn Dunks said...

Kubrick was pretty frequent though until the tail end of his career, right?

The three guys I mentioned have been in the industry for something like 80 years between them and have only produced 11 movies. That's crazy.

Amy said...

Glenn, love, why do you feel the need to bring up Halle Berry in almost every one of your posts?

Glenn Dunks said...

eep, do I really do that?

SusanP said...

"King of the World" antics aside, I'm anxious for James Cameron's return with Battle Angel and 2009.

Unknown said...

Hello from Iran
I enjoyed your post.I am an Iranian translator.I have translated all works of fiction by Raymond Carver into Farsi.