Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Film directors and my favourite films by them

Updated. Originally published on 12/2/2013. 
- Martin Scorsese:
Taxi driver
Mean streets
The aviator
Gangs of New York
Raging bull
Alice doesn't live here any more
Cape fear

- Stanley Kubrick: 
Eyes wide shut 
A clockwork orange
Dr Strangelove 
The killing 
Barry Lyndon 
2001: A space odyssey

- Wong Kar- wai:
Chungking Express
In the mood for love
Happy together 

- Clint Eastwood:
Absolute power
True crime
Million dollar baby
Mystic river

- Zhang Yimou:
To live
Raise the red lantern
Red sorghum
Shanghai triad 

- Paul Thomas Anderson:
There will be blood
Boogie nights 

- Christopher Nolan:
The dark knight
The prestige

- Jim Sheridan:
My left foot
In the name of the father

- Francis Ford Coppola:
The godfather
The conversation 

- Charlie Chaplin:
Modern times
The great dictator
The kid
The circus
City lights

- James Cameron:

- Peter Jackson:
The lord of the rings trilogy
The hobbit
King Kong

- Steven Spielberg:
A.I. Artificial Intelligence
Catch me if you can

- Ethan and Joel Coen:
No country for old men 
Burn after reading
True grit
The big Lebowski

- Darren Aronofsky:
Black swan
Requiem for a dream

- Tim Burton:
Edward Scissorhands
Corpse bride
The nightmare before Christmas

- David Fincher:
The curious case of Benjamin Button
The girl with the dragon tattoo
The social network

- Elia Kazan:
A streetcar named Desire
East of Eden

- Chen Kaige:
Farewell my concubine

- Roman Polanski:
The pianist
Knife in the water
Oliver Twist

- Sam Mendes:
American beauty
Road to perdition

- Pedro Almodovar:
Talk to her
Women on the verge of a nervous breakdown
All about my mother

- Francois Truffaut:
Day for night
The last metro

- Ang Lee:
Life of Pi
Brokeback mountain

- George Cukor:
Gone with the wind
The Philadelphia story

- Brian de Palma:
Carlito's way

- David O. Russell: 
The fighter 
Silver linings playbook

- Sidney Lumet: 
Dog day afternoon 
Before the devil knows you're dead 

- Bong Joon-ho: 
Memories of a murder

- Woody Allen: 
Play it again, Sam 
Midnight in Paris 

- Alfred Hitchcock: 
The trouble with Harry 

- Frank Darabont: 
The green mile 
Shawshank redemption 

Further notes: 
In many cases here, the reason I only like a couple of a director's films may be because I have not seen many by him and perhaps have not seen most of his acclaimed films. Eg: Hitchcock, Brian de Palma, Elia Kazan, Woody Allen, Ang Lee, Francois Truffaut...
In some cases, it's because their films aren't really my type. Eg: James Cameron, Steven Spielberg... I'm not interested in action and sci-fi films in general. 
By Elia Kazan I've seen only 2 films. I like both.  
I haven't seen anything by George Lucas. 
By Luis Bunuel, I have watched "That obscure object of desire", "Belle de jour" and "Tristana". I don't really like any of them. "Belle de jour" is the one I like better than the others, but Catherine Deneuve is the imperfection of that film. "That obscure object of desire" is interesting. 
I haven't seen anything by Orson Welles. 
By Bernardo Bertolucci, I have watched and kinda like "Last tango in Paris". Did see "The dreamers" but stopped in the middle. But I do somehow find myself in the characters in it. The name "The dreamer" a few times used for my blog came from it. 
I acknowledge Quentin Tarantino's talent, especially his use of music and the cinematography of his films, the camera angles. I like "Inglourious basterds" and the 1st half of "Django unchained". His films in general aren't my type, or at least that's the impression I've got. Will see more.
By David Lynch I have only seen "Blue velvet". It's OK. 
By David Lean I have only seen "Doctor Zhivago", which is quite a disappointment because it isn't like how I imagined reading the book. But I have no opinion of him yet, for I haven't seen "Lawrence of Arabia" and "The bridge on the river Kwai". 
I haven't seen anything by Fritz Lang. 
By Lars von Trier I haven't seen much. The whole of "Dancer in the dark", which I like. "Melancholia", which I consider messy. A bit of "Breaking the waves", a bit of "The idiots", a bit of "Dogville", a bit of "Antichrist". No opinion, but there's a slight negative prejudice because he likes to have unsimulated sex scenes in his films. 
Kim Ki Duk in my opinion is a kind of M. Night Shyamalan. "Spring, summer, autumn, winter... and spring" is a masterpiece, a true work of art, very zen and very poetic. I do not like "Dream". "The bow" is rather silly and "Pieta" is a shockingly illogical and sick film. 
By Oliver Stone, I've watched the 2 "Wall Street" films. The 1st one is very good. I refuse to watch anything else because of his political view. 
I believe I haven't seen anything by Ingmar Bergman. 
By Akira Kurosawa, I have watched only 1 film- "Ran". A masterpiece.
I think Terrence Malick's overrated. Above, when I say about some film directors that their films aren't my type, it can be understood that I may not like their films because of a lack of interest in action and sci-fi films or a difference of taste, but I do acknowledge their talent, such as the cases of James Cameron, Steven Spielberg, Quentin Tarantino... Terrence Malick I consider overrated, after watching "The tree of life" and "To the wonder". 
I haven't seen much by Chen Kaige and Ang Lee. But enough to find Ang Lee talented.
I love Zhang Yimou in his old days- before "Hero". Some of his films were masterpieces, "Raise the red lantern" and "To live" for instance. In the recent years he has sold his soul to the CCP. Which is painful, he used to be my no.1 favourite director. And now in spite of my contempt for his political attitude, my acknowledgment and admiration remain the same- Zhang Yimou's 1 of the rare geniuses of Asian cinema.
By Jean-Luc Godard, I like "Vivre sa vie". 
Some people prefer directors who keep experimenting and trying to push the limits of cinema or who make (so-called) artfilms or at least visually beautiful films. I pay more attention to the content, the story, the human aspect. That's why I love Clint Eastwood and Sidney Lumet though there's nothing remarkable in the techniques (cinematography, visual effects, camera angles...). 
Wong Kar-wai still has a special place in my heart, 1st because he was the 1st person who put 'that idea' into my head (which I won't reveal), 2nd because of the cinematography of his films, 3rd because he's the best at dealing with melancholy and nostalgia and a sense of lost and disorientation. I confess, however, that I don't like him as much as before. Wong Kar-wai is known to direct films without a screenplay, even without a detailed plot- he makes things up as he goes along with the making of the film. I do not condemn his way of working, but its disadvantage is that it's only suitable of only 1 type of films, the 1 type he's best at. "2046", "In the mood for love", "Chungking Express", "Happy together" and "Days of being wild" all have that very Wong Kar-wai atmosphere, the characters are melancholic and nostalgic and lonely and dreamy and sort of stuck and uncertain of the future, etc. With such trademarks, his films are quite easy to recognise. When he tries his hand at something else, eg, a different genre- wuxia film "Ashes of time", a different group of people- "As tears go by" deals with gangsters (influenced by "Mean streets") or a different country- "Blueberry nights" is set in the US with American and English characters, he doesn't succeed. In his 'comfort zone', he's original and great and better than most directors. His strength is there and nowhere else. Which is why I hesitate to check out "The grandmasters". Therefore the discovery of Stanley Kubrick obviously changes my perception of Wong Kar-wai. On 1 hand I believe one must be in the right mood for his films and perhaps that's why I stopped watching "Fallen angels", on the other hand I'm afraid one may grow bored with him after a while, especially after watching most of his films. In some ways Wong Kar-wai is very similar to Haruki Murakami, and in his films one can always hear 'his voice' speaking. 
The 2 film directors I love most at the moment are Stanley Kubrick and Martin Scorsese. 
Who more? That's a difficult question. With Stanley, I love 5 out of 7. With Marty, I love 9 out of 13. Marty's much more prolific. This comparison can be seen in 2 ways. In the 1st way, I personally can't say whether I prefer Stanley Kubrick or Martin Scorsese because they both are masters, both have never made a truly bad film, and both are inspiring, but they are very different. Marty's films are more realistic and may be more touching on an emotional level, especially "Raging bull" and "Taxi driver" and "The aviator" and "Alice doesn't live here any more", while Stanley's films are full of symbols and more thought-provoking. Visually the films by both are beautiful.
Objectively, however, Stanley Kubrick's greater than Martin Scorsese in talent. 1st, his films can be interpreted in multiple ways by different people or by the same person at different times. 2nd, he makes films and good films of various genres- "Dr Strangelove" is political satire, "The shining" is horror/ thriller, "2001: a space odyssey" is sci-fi, "A clockwork orange" is dystopian, "Barry Lyndon" is period drama, "The killing" is film noir/ heist film, "Lolita" is drama with a bit of comedy, "Eyes wide shut" is drama with a bit of suspense/ thriller, "Spartacus" is historical epic, "Full metal jacket" is war film, etc. 3rd, while Stanley Kubrich's a true auteur, at the same time his films are extremely different when placed beside each other as though they're not made by the same person. 
(Check this out:
And that is rare, very rare. 
Stanley Kubrick inspires and intimidates at the same time. 

[This "further notes", as I now look back, is more like a confession and a self-reminder. 1st, I'm determined to find something by Orson Welles. I've postponed "Citizen Kane" for too long.]

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