Category Archives: Auteur of the Week
I went to a screening of Thank You For Smoking in February of 2006 because I was a big fan of his father, Ivan Reitman (Ghostbusters, Kindergarten Cop, etc.) and wasn’t sure what to expect. I ended up really loving the film and actually got to meet Reitman afterwards and told I thought it was an amazing debut feature film and I looked forward to seeing more from him in the future. Jump to over four years later and he’s now a four-time Oscar nominee, twice for directing. Suffice to say, he has not let me down.
My first experience with Sofia Coppola was when I was about 15 or 16 I think, when I rented The Virgin Suicides. When the film was first in theaters I was really into Josh Hartnett, and I remember being on the 8th grade trip to the Hilton in Reno and seeing that it was playing at the casino’s theater, but because the film was rated R and I was only 13 at the time I couldn’t go see it. Then I forgot about the film for a few years before renting it. I remember thinking it was one of the darkest films I’d seen at that point and also one of the films with the strongest point-of-view from its director. Since then I’ve kind of had a love/hate relationship with Coppola. Regardless, she has maintained her strong point-of-view in all of her films. I’ve yet to see her most recent film, Somewhere, but it has received wide-critical praise so far, including winning the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival over the weekend, becoming the first American woman to win it.
I first discovered Anton Corbijn, or at least put a name to his work, in the summer of 2005 when The Killers released their video for All The Things I’ve Done. It was directed by Corbijn and was most definitely an homage to Russ Meyers’ cult classic Faster Pussy Cat Kill Kill. I decided I had to watch everything he’d ever done, which is an impressive amount of really fantastic music videos starting as early as late 80s. I also discovered that he was the photographer responsible for some of the most iconic rock photographs of the last 35 years. About two years later I discovered the band Joy Division, a band that has subsequently become my all time favorite band. Corbijn is responsible for some of the most haunting photographs taken of that short-lived post-punk band, so it was a natural choice, I think, to have Corbijn helm the 2007 biopic of Joy Division’s ill-fated lead singer Ian Curtis. I actually was working for The Daily Californian at the time and reviewed the film at that time, which you can read here. Corbijn has directed two extremely solid films in the last three years and I absolutely cannot wait for him to make another film.
Julian Schnabel only has three films to his name (with a fourth coming later this year), but all three films are both visual and visceral masterpieces. Coming from a fine art background, Schnabel has made three of the best, most visually stunning biopics in the last fifteen years. Schnabel’s films are kind of like his art, they’re bold and they’re colorful and they’re a mixture of all sorts of things and in the end they are celebrations of life itself.
I’ve been a fan of Baz Luhrmann since I saw his version of Romeo + Juliet when it was first released in theaters. It was unlike anything I’d ever seen before. He wowed me again five years later with Moulin Rouge! a film that is so dear to my heart. Luhrmann is a showman in every sense of the word and his films are some of the showiest films to come out in the last twenty years.
Danny Boyle has been a favorite of mine since I first saw Trainspotting about nine years ago. I have to thank Ewan McGregor for turning me on to Boyle. I loved Ewan in Moulin Rouge! and decided to see everything I could that he’d been in. This included Danny Boyle’s first three films. I think they were some of the stranger films I’d seen up to that point in my life.
I have loved the work of Tim Burton as long as I can remember. I’ve seen all of his films – except his remake of Planet of the Apes; the original series is too dear to my heart and I refuse to have them tainted. Incidentally, I saw all but two of his feature films in the order that they were released, and most in theaters.
My first memory of Spike Jonze came about when I was 13 years old and I read about his upcoming film Being John Malkovich in a Q&A between John Malkovich and then Time Magazine reporter Joel Stein. At the time I was madly in love with both Malkovich and Joel Stein. I was an odd child. Needless to say the movie did not come anywhere near my little hamlet of a town and I had to wait and rent it. At the time we still didn’t have a DVD player so I had to rent it on VHS tape and I hadn’t gotten my own TV/VCR yet (a present I would get upon 8th grade graduation a few months later) and thus was stuck watching it out in the living room. Let’s just say every time a parent or my brother came out of their respective rooms to get something from the kitchen, I immediately turned it off and pretended I was watching something on television. I really do not think I could have watched that in mixed company. Regardless, I really loved it and it marks the beginning of my love for strange, offbeat films.
We often hear about an actor’s range and praise them for working in a variety of genres, etc. Rarely, however, do we hear the same praise for directors. Sam Mendes is one of those directors who never does the same thing twice. His debut film, 1999’s American Beauty was a slice of life family drama. It went on to win five Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. His second film, 2002’s Road To Perdition was a period crime drama. In 2005 he made the dark comedy/war drama Jarhead. Three years later was the 2008 literary adaptation/period drama Revolutionary Road, which he followed up less than six months later with the indie dramedy Away We Go. Each of these films is so different from the other, but what they all have in common is Mendes’ strong direction, resulting in a plethora of amazing, complicated, compelling performances.