Monday, October 25, 2010

15 Directors Who Shaped My Movie Love

So there's this meme going around that Paolo tagged me with. So why not? The idea is that you list 15 directors, mainly off of the top of your head, that contributed to the way you experience and think about the movies. This is not a list of my all time favorites though half of the list would probably overlap. This is the list I come up with when I think briefly on the formative masterminds and/or the ones that have or had some sort of claim on my soul if you will. Three of them I could definitely live without at this point but I'm trying to be honest about the exercize.

Wise with Wood ~ West Side Story 
So here goes in no particular order... 

ROBERT WISE (1914-2005)
When I was a kid West Side Story and The Sound of Music were the most Epically ! Epic !!! movies to me. At the time I didn't quite grasp the auteur theory but at some point I became aware that this guy had made both so therefore "He must be the best director of all time!" Later I discovered that he wasn't but I still think he's a stronger talent than he gets credit for being nowadays.
first encounters: The Sound of Music and West Side Story (on television) 

As I said in my Rope retro, he's training wheels for any young budding film buff who is curious about The Man Behind the Curtain (Hitch or otherwise).
first encounter: North By Northwest (I think I saw it here, the place I saw many old movies for the first time. My parents didn't know what a monster they were creating by taking me there regularly.)

For the same reason as Hitchcock really; it's impossible to think you're watching anyone else's film. Woody was the first director I "followed", eagerly anticipating and attending each movie as soon as I could. As a result, he'll always have a place in my heart.
first encounters: Broadway Danny Rose (in theaters... my older brother's idea), The Purple Rose of Cairo (in theaters, my idea)

Wyler meeting Charlton Heston's son.
WILLIAM WYLER (1902-1981)
The auteur theory isn't everything. This man understood dramatic storytelling and didn't dumb it down but made accessible all the nuances and fine points. Plus he could wring top notch work from all kinds of actors. His resume is deservedly overstuffed-with-classics. Just last month while watching The Best Years of Our Lives I even dreamed of watching all of his movies chronologically in a row for a blog project. I bet it would be an awesome journey. 
first encounters: Ben Hur (revival house) and Wuthering Heights (VHS) 

Because everyone loves him and therefore he was ubiquitous when I was growing up and still is to a degree. There was no question that he was shaping Hollywood and more than one moviegoing generation. I never felt personally attached but he was always present in the movie menu.
first encounters: Raiders of the Lost Arc & E.T. (in theaters)... the latter is the only movie I can ever remember seeing with my Grandma *sniffle*

Because I seriously wish he was mandatory study/viewing for anyone assigned to direct a mainstream action film. He's never created an action sequence that was boring or difficult to follow (few others can say the same) and even if the dialogue is and was a bit clunky, his films are such masterful pop(corn). Plus, like all the greatest directors, he doesn't ignore female characters but makes them crucial players.

first encounters: The Terminator (cable), Aliens (in theaters... one of the very first R rated movies I ever saw in theaters. Ooohh.)

Pedro and His Muses celebrate All About My Mother's Oscar win
Truth: I look forward to no one else's movies more. Pedro always gives audiences something for the heart, the brain, the eyes and the groin and rare is the filmmaker who understands to provide us with all four pleasures in each and every film. 

first encounters: Women on the Verge... (in theaters), Law of Desire (VHS) 

Ridley with Veronica Cartwright on 
the Nostromo in Alien (1979)
Because he made two movies that I remain deeply in the thrall of (Blade Runner and Thelma & Louise) and kicked off one franchise I obsessed over regularly for a good long while (Alien). And he helped inform my love of Art Direction within movies. All that but I could never work up much enthusiasm for anything in between or after those three peaks which just goes to show you: even if you love someone's something, you never know how it's all gonna shake out in terms of fandom.

first encounters: Legend (in theaters), Blade Runner (I can't remember how I first saw this...? There's too many versions!)

TIM BURTON (1958-)
He started off so very strong and stylized. Few things are as pleasureable as the weird and whimsical as long as they're genuinely felt and not manufactured. Unfortunately...  no, no, let's not go there! I can't deal.

first encounters: Pee Wees Big Adventure (I think on cable?), Beetlejuice (in theaters)

Sirk with Dorothy Malone on the set of Written on the Wind (1956) 
Why is she reading My Antonia?

DOUGLAS SIRK (1900-1987)
Because he influenced so many directors I love but I came to him after his ancestors which is like a glorious reminder that there's always more to experience from the past. When you sift through cinematic history you might even love someone so much that you wish you could jump in a time machine and shake the person's hand or give them a million kisses or a bear hug or promise them your first born child, depending on how they react to you arriving in the time machine in the first place. Maybe you should just send a thank you note in the machine.

first encounters: Lured and All That Heaven Allows (on DVD)

Because he's a true original and yet his highly personal films resonate with so many people. It's like he was practicing Inception long before Nolan ever thought it up; his dreams and nightmares became ours. Plus, he made me believe in television as a powerful artistic medium in its own right and for its own reasons and not just the cinema's poor uglier relation. 

first encounters: Dune (in theaters) and Twin Peaks (television)

Campion's Bright Stars
Because there were so few female directors when she rose up but it was no kind of affirmative action enthusiasm -- she could have been a genderless space alien and would have still completely vaulted to the top of Directors Whose Movies You Must Watch!

first encounters: The Piano (in theaters), Peel (on VHS)

INGMAR BERGMAN (1918-2007)
It's not only that he made deeply great movies. I am fascinated that he ever existed at all... or rather, he has come to represent a myth / reality that I did not experience firsthand but am always fascinated to think on: the 1960s and 1970s and how adventurous movie fans once were. (See also: Federico Fellini.)

first encounters: Cries and Whispers and Persona (VHS)

ROBERT ALTMAN (1925-2006)
Movies should be crowded with true character... and characters. And they should be alive with possibilities as if the camera could follow anyone offstage and there would be a whole new movie waiting, tantalizingly out of reach.

first encounters: Fool For Love (VHS), The Player (in theaters) 

Bale & Haynes hit Goldmine!
Because he keeps growing and therefore keeps us guessing. And because his one of his pet themes, the fluidity of identity, is among the most cinematic of themes.

first encounters: [Safe] (VHS), Velvet Goldmine (in theaters) 

If you ask me who are the "best" or my "favorite" directors the list would have to change at least by a third, maybe even a half. But that would require more careful consideration. If you ask me who from the past I'd like to resurrect to make one last motion picture the list would look crazy different. But that might be a fun list to make some time. Hmmmm.

I don't know who to tag since this meme has been going around for some time now. So I say YOU in the comment section: which 15 directors shaped your ideas about the movies in your formative film years.


stjeans said...

Ingmar Bergman-Woody Allen-John Waters-Bertrand Blier-Claude Chabrol-Todd Solondz-Todd Haynes-Jane Campion-Pedro Almodovar-Arthur Penn-Francis F.Copola-Peter Greenaway-Andrej Zulawsky-John Cassavetes-David Cronenberg...

Andrew K. said...

I vaguely remember you doing a post a bit similar to this sometime last year, I'm a bit surprised that James Ivory doesn't make the list, but I love the diversity (kudos especially for Wise who DOESN'T get recognised as he ought.)


yeah, well it was off the top of my head and James Ivory i thought of after I'd hit post, damnit. :)

Brian Darr said...

Hmm. Formative directors, in approximate order of my awareness of their existence/influence over the films I loved. Film titles in parenthesis: Title I'd seen at the moment when I realized there was a directorial presence behind it all:

1. George Lucas (Star Wars)
2. Jim Henson (the Muppet Movie)
3. Woody Allen (Take the Money and Run)
4. Don Bluth (The Small One, the Secret of NIMH)
5. Alfred Hitchcock (Rear Window)
6. Francis Ford Coppola (the Outsiders, the Conversation, the Godfather, Tucker: the Man and his Dream)
7. Terry Gilliam (Time Bandits, Monty Python & the Holy Grail, the Adventures of Baron Munchausen)
8. Tim Burton (Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, Beetlejuice, Batman)
9. Spike Lee (Do the Right Thing)
10. Wim Wenders (Wings of Desire)
11. Werner Herzog (Nosferatu the Vampyre, Aguirre: Wrath of God)
12. Peter Greenaway (Drowning By Numbers)
13. David Mamet (House of Games)
14. Francois Truffaut (L'Enfant Sauvage)
15. Jean Cocteau (Beauty and the Beast)

This basically takes me up through the early 1990s, before I became interested in Classic Hollywood (outside a few titles), Asian cinema, or the avant-garde, three categories which are now undoubtedly my most major obsessions. So, no, few of these directors would be on my current al-time favorite list (perhaps on ly Hitchcock and maybe Herzog). But I still have a great deal of affection for most of them. Making this list was a fun exercise! Thanks for putting us up to it, Nathaniel.

Ryan said...

omg, I LOVE that picture of Todd and Christian!

here's mine:

Pedro Almodovar/ Ingmar Bergman/ James Cameron/ Jane Campion/ Jonathan Demme/ Todd Haynes/ Alfred Hitchcock/ Akira Kurosawa/ David Lynch/ F.W. Murnau/ Mike Nichols/ Michael Powell/ Steven Spielberg/ George Stevens/ Fred Zinnemann

Andrew R. said...

Since I was a semi-casual movie watcher until, say, 2000 (and then I made up for lost time) I can't really answer that without listing my 15 favorite/greatest directors instead.

But I do think Spielberg and Woody Allen would make my list.

adelutza said...

In the order of the impact they had upon my tastes ;-)

1.Max Ophüls
2.Luis Buñuel
3.Claude Chabrol
4.David Lynch
5.Ingmar Bergman
6.Pedro Almodóvar
7.Billy Wilder
8.Joseph L. Mankiewicz
9.Luchino Visconti
10.Jean-Pierre Melville

Iggy said...

Reading this I've just realized we must have a similar age. It's weird I haven't thought about it before.

I share some of those on your list: Allen, Spielberg, Hitchcock, Burton, Lynch... right now I might add Howard Hawks in the place of Wyler. And Almodóvar of course. Women on the Verge was the first movie I decided to go to see by myself (nobody else wanted to), got lost and ended seeing another one(which I also love for that reason). I remember that the huge success Women was provoked a re-release of Law of Desire (do those things happen anymore? spontaneously based on success alone, I mean) and of course I had to go to see that one too. I have no words to explain the excitement of seeing that movie in a movie theatre that might have been (I can't remember if it really was) the one appearing in the movie and the feeling of walking out at the end of the movie through one of those heavy curtains Carmen Maura appears through at the beginning.

I can't share the love for Wise though. I've never been able to sit through The Sound of Music (I know, this is when you ban me). I've come to the conclusion I'm not a fan of musicals because those I saw in my childhood (the first one I remember is Bedknobs and Broomsticks and have only very vague memories. Looking at the dates in IMDB it must've been a re-run, or else it's impossible)had their songs dubbed. And still today, when airing on TV dubbed, I find them cringeworthy. I've tried to re-educate myself, but some things just cannot be re-experienced.

cliff said...

I love that you love William Wyler. And Douglas Sirk.

Deborah said...

When I played on Facebook, this was what I posted:

15 in No Particular Order

1. Alfred Hitchcock
2. John Ford
3. John Huston
4. Robert Altman
5. Vincente Minelli
6. Deepa Mehta
7. Pedro Almodovar
8. Anthony Mann
9. The Coen Brothers
10. Howard Hawks
11. Walt Disney
12. Ang Lee
13. Bob Fosse
14. Clint Eastwood
15. Sergio Leone

And 10 More

1. Rob Reiner
2. David Lynch
3. Stanley Donen
4. Stanley Kubrick
5. Terence Young
6. Lisa Chodolenko
7. Sidney Lumet
8. Martin Scorcese
9. Quentin Tarantino
10. Don Siegel


CLIFF - i love that you love that i love them . in terms of classic hollywood people: george cukor, billy wilder and george stevens would have probably been the next to be included.

IGGY -- well, we all have our trouble spots (i'll never "get" horror... though over the years i've come to appreciate a litlte more what it is that people like about it. I still struggle with westerns unless I'm crazy in love with the actors (which is why I love RED RIVER and why I'm looking forward to TRUE GRIT)

RYAN -- ooh we have similar directors. Kurosawa and Murnau!!! (Murnau almost made my list)

BRIAN -- your list reminds me that what might be a more interesting list for everyone is when we first realized who these directors were at all (which i hinted at a little in my list). My first HERZOG was not until college though when I saw AGGUIRE THE WRATH OF GOD in a film class. I enjoy that one but for some reason I can't choose a favorite Herzog. It's almost like he's one of these directors I love more than i love the movies? even though i love the movies? does this make sense. David Lynch is like that with me, too. Lynch being greater than any one of his films.

Joe K said...

In alphabetical order:
Robert Altman, Darren Aronofsky, Danny Boyle, James Cameron, Jane Campion, Sophia Coppola, Alfonso Cuaron, Bob Fosse, Stanley Kubrick, Akira Kurosawa, Fernando Meirelles, Hayao Miyazaki, Andrew Stanton, Quentin Tarantino, Peter Weir.

cal roth said...

1 - John Ford: I think The Searchers was the first absolute masterpiece I saw and could recognize and say: "that's great". It was the best movie I'had ever seen for a long time.
2 - Hitchcock: Vertigo, Psycho, and his best movie, Marnie.
3 - David Lean: so big, so intimate...
4 - Billy Wilder: it made me realize there was such a thing as a screenplay.
5 - Kenneth Branagh: that Hamlet told me what was storytelling. I knew that story already, but it was like I've never heard of it.
6 - John Cassavetes (and Gena Rowlands, co-author of all his masterpieces), in my point of view): Because I've never seen anything so deeply human and raw like Gena Rowlands in A Woman Under the Influence. It's still the best performance I've ever seen and the most intense movie ever made. And then I saw Opening Night, and Love Streams, and wanted all the movies to be like that.
7 - Lars von Trier: The second most intense movie? Breaking the Waves. Still haven't seen anything like that.
8 - Brian de Palma: I went to the theater to see Mission Impossible 4 times. That movie was SO brilliant. Then I discovered the best movie of the 90's, Carlito's way. "When he is gonna cut? OMG!"
9 - Michael Mann: NO, the best movie of the 90's was Heat.
10 - Clint Eastwood. Ok, not Heat. A Perfect World. No, The Bridges of Madison County.
11 - James Cameron: TRUE FUCKING LIES
12 - John Woo: Bullet in the Head. I couldn't stop myself wondering? How? How? How the hell?
13 - Jacques Tourneur: it was only one movie, but how can you recover from your first noir when it is Out of the Past?
14 - Philip Kaufman: I should be crediting my namesake Caleb Deschanel, but I learned what was cinematography with The Right Stuff.
15 - Sergio Leone - Once Upon a Time in America is the best movie ever? This guy led me to Once Uopn a Time in the West, and then to the Dollars trilogy - that means, Leone not only made some of the best movies ever. He also created my favorite superstar, THE CLINT.

cal roth said...

I think we should do that not only with directors. We should be allowed to mix up actors, writers, cinematographers, editors, production designers... Do you know who Joe Eszterhas? He was big once, and I've seen a few movies only because of him.

Sebastian Gutierrez said...

Wow, when I started this thing, I had no idea it would be this popular. Great list! Certainly agree with more than one of those.

Volvagia said...

I'm 20, so my love is still shaping. But my 15 are:

Powell and Pressburger
J.P. Melville
Raimi (For Evil Dead and Drag Me to Hell)
The Coen Bros.
PIXAR (I'm 20. Collectively, they're an obvious choice. The new Spielberg.)
Boden and Fleck (Note to self: Watch Sugar.)
Hal Ashby

Iván said...

QUENTIN TARANTINO 1st meet:Pulp Fiction
PEDRO ALMODOVAR 1st meet: Law of Desire
WONG KAR WAI 1st meet: Fallen Angels
MARTIN SCORSESE 1st meet: Taxi Driver
DAVID FINCHER 1st meet: Seven
P.T. ANDERSON 1st meet: Boogie Nights
TAKESHI KITANO 1st meet: Sonatine
ALFONSO CUARON 1st meet: Solo con Tu Pareja
STANLEY KUBRICK 1st meet: Clockwork Orange
TOM TWYKER 1st meet: Deadly Maria
GUS VAN SANT 1st meet: Drugstore Cowboy
MONTXO ARMENDARIZ 1st meet: Kronen Stories
FRANCIS FORD COPPOLA 1st meet: Apocalypse Now

Manuel said...

oooh I like this idea Nathaniel! Im a late 70s boy so the 80s and early 90s influenced me a lot:

01. Francis Ford Coppola
Introduced me to the meaning of adapting screenplay really is, Marlon Brando + Al Pacino + gangstermovies
02. David Lynch
Surrealism as art
03. Walt Disney
Love, fantasy, happiness, tragedy made for children equals The Lion King
04. Michael Mann
Beacause of Day Lewis I saw Mochicans. Thrilling awesome and electric chemistry between Day Lewis + Madeleine Stowe + Heat
05. Brian De Palma
My gangster love continues with Scarface + Carlitos Way
06. Lars Von Trier
Introducing weirdos + incredible female characters
07. Ridley Scott
Originality , technical genious in Blade Runner + Alien, strong female driven movie in Thelma and Louise
08. David Fincher
Bach Air on the G String, serial killers, Italian rennesance art, Brad Pitt could actually act, camera and cinematography genious
09. Jonathan Demme
I loved the book so I have to see Silence of the Lambs + Jodie Foster+ introduced me to Hopkins
10. David Lean
romance, epic, Julie Christie
11. Wlliam Wyler
my Christian upbringing = Ben Hur
12. Krystow Kristlowski
Pianomusic, a beautiful Binoche, poetry + mystery
13.Steven Spielberg
American popcorn enterainment and oh those dinos!
14. Arne Skouen
Ni Liv by legendary Norwegian director
15. Shekar Kapur
Introduced me to Cate Blanchett and it was love at first sight

Michael said...

I'm 16, but so far here's a list of 7 (that's, like, half of 15 basically):

Woody Allen
Jason Reitman
Howard Hawks
Sidney Lumet
Steven Spielberg (ubiquity that transcends generations)
Billy Wilder
Martin Scorsese

Deus Ex Machina said...

I’m actually shocked that Pasolini and DeSica are not included within the comments. They surely would be in my list of most influencial.

Dan said...

I'm fairly young, and even still I got into film pretty late compared to most of my friends. But it was all because of Peter Jackson and "Fellowship of the Ring." But Haynes, Disney, R. Scott, and Spielberg would have to be on my list as well.

Dimitra said...

I don't think I can give you a correct answer on this one, it would be much easier to make a favorites list. Besides, I'm 16 and I'm not sure if I'm still shaping or not.
Maybe George Lucas for Star Wars and Peter Jackson for Lord Of The Rings.

Volvagia said...

I am a bit confused why more haven't mentioned DeSica, but Pasolini seems too graphic to be a shaper of movie love. I'd think you'd have to cut your teeth on Roeg and Bunuel before stepping up to Pasolini.


Dimitra -- You're still shaping! And that's a good thing. Trust that my list reflects movies from childhood up to my 30s in one case.

the way i look we get shaped all our lives if we're paying attention (though the bulk of cinematic formation is in the first 10-15 years of moviegoing.)

Though maybe people develop their tastes way earlier now given how easy it is to access what they wanna see. I mean as stated when i wanted to see movies as a kid I hate to wait for television airings if my family didn't take me to the movies Now with DVD, Blu-Ray, streaming, instant watch, movie theaters, etcetera... so many options (which is why it's such a head scratcher that so many films take FOREVER to be seen... (hi- foreign language Oscar submission lists!)

Roark said...

My cinematic horizons really didn't expand until college. Up until then I was really all about
1) Steven Spielberg
2) The Marx Brothers (not directors, but c'mon)
3) Woody Allen
4) Alfred Hitchcock and
5) Francis Ford Coppola
Then I got to college and took some film classes, and fell for
6) Orson Welles
7) Stanley Kubrick
8) Charlie Chaplin
9) Carl Dreyer and
10) Federico Fellini
In the years since I've fallen in love with, and been deeply influenced by, the work of
11) Jacque Tati
12) Preston Sturges
13) Robert Bresson
14) The Coen Brothers and
15) Terrence Malick

That doesn't really begin to say it (leaving off Carol Reed, for example, who directed my all time favorite film, The Third Man), but those are the major touchstones for me so far.

Mostly I look forward to discovering who will come next!

Paolo said...

Yay! So happy I almost snapped my iPod's charger cord. And I'm commenting from said iPod because of ghetto issues.

But yes, I love your list, and some of the directors on your list are those I wanna explore more, like Sirk, Almodovar and Altman. Especially any director who broke ground in the 80's. What an underrated decade.

And I love the directors I see here. Cassavetes, Ashby, Kieslowski...I'm in the mood to rent out a whole video store now.

Anonymous said...

stanley kubrick. changed every genre he ever tackled. comedy. horror. war. sci fi. he did it all. and i have not looked at or judged films the same way since i first encountered his work in my teen years.

Orfeas said...

My list

01. Robert Bresson
02. Ingmar Bergman
03. Todd Haynes
04. Jean Luc Godard
05. Federico Fellini
06. Gus Van Sant
07. Patrice Chereau
08. Jacques Rivette
09. Theo Angelopoulos
10. Paul Morrissey
11. Philippe Garrel
12. Kenji Mizoguchi
13. Alfred Hitchcock
14. Krzysztof Kieślowski
15. Pier Paolo Pasolini