Sunday, April 26, 2009

$100 Million. No Questions Asked.

Twitch asked a great question on Friday that has been dancing around in my head naked all day: which auteur would you like to see handed a huge pile of money ($100 mil') and complete freedom to make whatever the hell kind of picture they wanted to make with it? Our pal JA answered (always worth a read) and I should, too.

My five.

Jonathan Glazer. Birth and Sexy Beast are both so well directed and imagined with limited budgets. They're also the kind of features that scream 'this director will have trouble getting his films financed!' Imagine how pissed the cinephiles of 2050 are going to be if his feature career ends with Birth, only his second, a movie that will undoubtedly be revered by then.

Terry Gilliam. He makes every list like this... and that's out of more than pity. Even when he doesn't have a lot of money, the visuals are memorable. And an always fascinating if not always great filmography that includes Baron Munchausen, Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas, Tideland, The Brothers Grimm, Brazil, The Fisher King ... he so deserves a major comeback.

Paul Thomas Anderson
. Because, for such a contemporary auteur, he does period incredibly well (Boogie Nights & There Will Be Blood) and I love that its hard to predict what he'll come up with. That said he's never going to get $100 million to work with since he's never made a sizable hit. That's the audience's fault, not his. His films are so thrilling. Why isn't everyone lining up every opening weekend? He should be a household name by now.

Warren Beatty. Mostly because I want to see him work again one last time. He's getting up there in years (72) and he's only directed four pictures: Heaven Can Wait, Reds, Dick Tracy, Bulworth; none of them looked cheap so he'd need a lot of money to play with. No conditions but if there's another Reds in him, my god it needs to come out.

I'm cheating for the last picture with both conditions, cast and theme. I want a Women's Picture omnibus film. Each entry must be as obsessed with actresses as your average Almodóvar picture and Dianne Wiest must appear in all ten segments.

portraits from Portroids

Other suggested cast members: Kristin Scott Thomas, Julianne Moore, Jane Fonda, Kerry Washington, Samantha Morton, Emmanuelle Béart, Holly Hunter, Ari Graynor, Ludivine Sagnier and Catherine O'Hara. The following 10 directors gets $10 million and 10 minutes for their entry: Lynne Ramsay, Jonathan Demme, Claire Denis, Jane Campion, Richard Linklater, Wes Anderson (but only if it's completely about Angelica Huston), Patrice Chéreau, Brad Bird, Brian de Palma and Jodie Foster (provided her segment is an abbreviated version of Flora Plum. That's the only way we're ever seeing it)

I know that only 20 people would buy tickets but I love all 19 of you who'd join me in the theater.


rosengje said...

Add Todd Haynes to the omnibus list and I would be there opening night.


i was leaving Todd out because I figure he's already made some classic "women's pictures" same reason Almodovar isn't there, bless them both.

Daniel T said...

I completely agree with you on this Nathaniel. It pisses me off how Hollywood gets such bland directors to make summer films(mm..Zach SYNDER!)I don't get it at all, why would you want such bland directors directing those projects. Imagine what someone like Terry Gilliam could've done with Harry Potter, Watchmen or etc.. Or Imagine someone like Quentin Tarrantino directing a super hero movie, they would be so damn unforgettable. But instead we got some douchebag like Zach Snyder to f--k it up.

Sorry about my rant )=

adam k. said...

Darren Aronofsky, if only to see what he could've done with The Fountain, had his original budget been left intact.

And John Cameron Mitchell. Cause you know that shit would be awesome.

Bernardo said...

Well... giving 100m to von Trier would be too much...

Kar Wai Wong would make something extraordinary with a massive budget. However, I'd have the condition that it'd have to be in Cantonese, so he's a no go, since this is no questions asked.

Sofia Coppola could also benefit from a massive budget. However, I think Sofia works better with the tiny, so she's not the right choice.

Baz Luhrmann... OH Wait! He already did that... and we got Australia. Forget it.

OK, I think I have my finalists...

MICHEL GONDRY would certainly craft something visually incredible. However, I believe he is already a bit too famous to need my help.

JULIE TAYMOR could craft something even better than Across the Universe. However, she seems to be getting nice funding, even for making Shakespeare, so forget her.

JOHN CAMERON MITCHELL is brilliant, but I believe that a bit of his charm comes from the obvious lack of budget in his films.

So my $100 million goes to...

MIRANDA JULY!!! Imagine "Me and you and everyone we know" with $100 million dollars! =D

Bernardo said...

oh! and I so agree with Aronofsky!

Sadly, I believe that the people who visit this site are also the only people who liked The Fountain...

Derreck said...

This is actually really hard for me. Most of the directors i like are usually given 100 Mllion or so to do whatever they want like Spielburg, Scorsese, and more recently Lurhrmann with Australia (even though i was kind of disappointed with the final result)

But now that i think about it, i would say:

Tim Burton. I just love whatever he happens to do. I think it was only yesterday i was raving about the Corpse Bride on this site.

Wong Kar-Wai. Though before he gets the 100 mil,
he must promise me that it will be dark, sexy, stylish, and glam. That wonderful Dior commercial he did with Eva Green can be used as a reference. :) But then, that wouldn't allow complete freedom, wouldn't it? I guess i wouldn't say anything and hope it ends up like i wanted.

David Cronenberg: A History of Violence was great and Eastern Promises became an instant favorite for me, so something along the lines of those would be great....but would he really need a 100 million for that?

and speaking of Birth, my Kidman bias aside, the movie had an interesting concept and was super-compelling.....until the end. Those last couple of minutes with the "reveal" and the ending really disappointed me.

Anonymous said...

there was no "reveal" in Birth. - as much as people think there is. why does something have to be either black or white? there is obvious gray area in that film.

Derreck said...

and Alfonso Cuaron.

He can handle big-budget flicks like Harry Potter, (i'm not sure if Children of Men had a big-budget) and sweet little films like Y Tu Mama Tambien. I'll trust him to make the best of it.

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to thank you for having the foresight on Birth at the time of its release. You were one of the few at the time who actually "got" it!

Derreck said...

Anon - there was no "reveal" in Birth. - as much as people think there is. why does something have to be either black or white? there is obvious gray area in that film.

I could see what you mean if the film had some sort of open ending, but it didn't. Something clearly was said about Little Sean. What happened in those last few minutes was just inconsistent, not gray.

I'm a huge spoiler-phobe, so i didn't want to ruin anything for anyone else, but you can see what i;m getting at.

wow, i get to talk about Birth. This never happens outside this blog. awesome.

Michael C. said...

Let's see....

- Werner Herzog -First name that popped into my head. He makes such indelible images without a big budget I can scarcely imagine what you would get if a blank check was entered into the equation.

- Woody Allen. But only if he was forced to spend every penny. Not that I think it would produce a great film. I would just be so damn curious to see what happened, wouldn't you?

- Francis Ford Coppola - There's always a small, small chance that he's got another masterpiece in him. As long as we're throwing cash around I think it worth paying to find out.

- Paul Thomas Anderson - I'll agree with everyone. He is the obvious choice. After Blood I think he should pretty much have free reign, right?

-MIke Leigh - This is just Topsy-Turvy love speaking. Not that Mike Leigh needs to increase the scope of his films. I just think that if he wants to write a film that's setting requires the complete recreation of a bygone era he should bloody well be given the money to do it.

I was going to say Alexander Payne but he seems to be doing just fine without any help. Don't fix what's not broken.

Anonymous said...

i totally disagree with you. i think that the "reveal" you're speaking of was actually the opposite result that you would assume and made things very gray which perfectly fit the tone of the film.

to say that the film didn't have an open ending isn't accurate because people have debated it ever since the film's release back in October of 2004.

Derreck said...

Anonymous said...

i totally disagree with you. i think that the "reveal" you're speaking of was actually the opposite result that you would assume and made things very gray which perfectly fit the tone of the film.

to say that the film didn't have an open ending isn't accurate because people have debated it ever since the film's release back in October of 2004.


I would love to argue this much further, but honestly, my memory is still a bit hazy about it. I've seen the film once and everything i've said so far, was just my initial reaction after watching the film back in 2005. I didn't consider it an open ending because I thought it was a done deal considering what happened, but i'm willing to accept that there could have been something more. I've always been meaning to watch it again and all of this talk just gives me more incentive.

btw, anonymous, sign up or sign on! i'd love to know who i'm talking to. :)

Herzog said...

Michael C:
Woody Allen actually has this "dream project" ; a jazz period piece that takes place in New Orleans and some other cities like Chicago and NY. He said he would need at least 90 million which is a lot considering his 15-20 million regular budget.

Michael C. said...


Well, I'm sold.

It sounds like a Radio Days type deal. Wonderful, but wildly expensive and uncommercial. I'm in for twenty bucks. Anybody else?

rosengje said...

I want to see that Woody Allen movie. But I would still kill to see what Todd Haynes would do with the money. Imagine all the different ways he could photograph Julianne Moore.

Glenn Dunks said...

In regards to Birth it's actually two endings in one. There is the ending that is narrated by Cameron Bright's character which makes sense and is far more logical, but then if you're willing to let those final moments of Danny Huston and Nicole Kidman on the beach play with your mind then it's far more ambiguous. It's however you want it to play out, really.

In regards to the initual question, I would've liked to see Robert Altman get $100, just to see who he could cast.

BeRightBack said...

I would give the money to Jane Campion or Sarah Polley.

Glenn said...

Also, didn't Beatty have, like, $100mil for that ridiculous Town & Country debacle. I know his name isn't the one with the director credit, but it's obvious to anyone who can read who it really was.

Howler said...

Tarsem Singh or Darren Aronofsky, hands down. And it would be amazing if these 100m were given to them instead of Zwick. Have you seen "Defiance"? Yuk! It was plain awful (an "F" for me all the way): stupid, bad-acted (quite an achievement with this cast) and looking cheap. I'm shocked that films this bad can be more successful than imaginative masterpieces like "The Fall".

Adam said...

PT Anderson would work wonders, and I feel it necessary to always have minds like David Lynch and John Waters working, so they're in. Wong Kar-Wai would make something mesmerizing, and since genre fans are so neglected, I'd love to see Dario Argento back on the big-budget so he could make a proper finale to his Three Mothers Trilogy or something else with his past visual splendor.

Ben said...

Tom Tykwer. His films are often patchy but there were real moments of visual invention in Run Lola Run, Perfume and The Princess And The Warrior.

Heaven also features my favourite ever Cate Blanchett performance, despite not really liking the film as a whole.

Glendon said...

After watching Bruce McDonald's Pontypool, I wonder what the man would do with a budget at his disposal.

Christine said...

In addition to the already-mentioned PT Anderson, von Trier, and Herzog, I would love to give 100 mil to Ken Russell. He does over-the-top crazy so well, even on a small budget. I'd like to see what he would do if money was no object.

Michael W. said...

I would definitely give it to Woody Allen so he could make his jazz picture before it's too late. It would be great :-D

Daryn G said...

Not every great director knows how to do big budget pictures well (I'm talkin' to you, Scorsese!). In addition to Werner Herzog, Almodovar and PT Anderson, I will say Terrence Malick.

pomme said...

herzog,von trier,sara poley,hanneke and noe!

Timothy Griffiths said...

Rian Johnson should be added to this list. Especially after I saw the Brothers Bloom recently. Not a great movie, but I was blown away by how he stretched a relatively small hollywood budget ($20mil) with three marquee actors (Brody, Weisz, Ruffalo), locations in Eastern Europe, explosions, hot cars, etc.

I mean, the guy just owned it, no question. Even in Brick ($500,000 budget) you can see every dollar up on the screen. He just does beautiful work. A visionary in the making, admittedly a young one who has some work still to do on his craft. I can just see him owning a summer blockbuster though.

Wayne B. said...

Nathaniel - That would be an awesome film! I'd be one of the other nineteen.

Fellow Commenters - Y'all took the best names already! :)
Tried picking my list based on one movie of theirs that I loved. I really wanted to throw Sarah POLLEY on this list but I haven't seen "Away From Her" yet so that wouldn't be fair.

DARREN ARONOFSKY - He's made three thought-provoking films this decade, all of them guaranteed to be considered classics in the future. Can't wait for the next.

CHRIS EYRE - Watching "Smoke Signals" for the first time was an experience. It has its share of weaknesses but its nice to see fellow First Nations portrayed semi-realistically. Would love to see what he would do with some artistic freedom.

KASI LEMMONS - "Eve's Bayou" is so haunting and wonderful. Lynn Whitfield, Debbi Morgan, Jurnee Smollett and Meagan Good are all awesome in their roles. She could tackle a "womens picture."

THOMAS McCARTHY - "The Station Agent" was so original and lovely in showing the creation of a surrogate family. I know he just made a movie but hey $100 million would light a fire under anyone.

FRANCOIS OZON - "8 Femmes" was a delicious treat for the eyes and ears. If only he would work with large female casts all the time, $100 million buys a lot of talent.

I had the urge to throw Jodie Foster on here so she could finish that Leni bio-pic but she's already been picked enough. :)

adri said...

Emma Thompson.
Stephen Fry.
and on the other side of the Atlantic:
Don McKellar
Griffin Dunne (he brings out the best in his actors)
Helen Hunt (so she doesn't have to act in the movie too)

Carl said...

Jim Cameron would put every dollar on the screen, but I doubt he could be talked into doing something with such a tiny budget, even with total creative control (he kinda gets that anyway.)

I think I would like to see Vincent Ward get another crack at a feature film. "What Dreams May Come" is one of my truly guilty pleasures.

Bernardo - someone has already done a treatment for the Miranda July opus.

Paul Outlaw said...

Give the $100 mil to Gus Van Sant, Sidney Lumet, Julian Schnabel, Sean Penn, Don Roos, Greg Mottola or Ed Harris.

Or hell, just give to ME so I can do my first feature.

Gustavo H.R. said...

2050 - Birth, a movie that will undoubtedly be revered by then.BIRTH, no. THE VILLAGE, yes.

rexx said...

$100 million. No questions asked. Terry Gilliam. (is there some way i can alter the universe where Gilliam directed all the Harry Potter films?) He's masterful in creating artifacts from his imagination and he's earned it. The others: Sidney Lumet although how old is he? I suppose Linklater except it has to be a project for adults. And Woody, although would he even want $100 million for one picture?