Before he directed Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, which was recently released on video, acclaimed director Brad Bird made his name in the world of animation by directing award-winning films such as The Iron Giant (1999), The Incredibles (2004) and Ratatouille (2007). Is Bird deserving of a place in VOH’s Hall of Visionaries?
Titanic, one of the the most successful films of all-time, was re-released in 3D earlier this month. The respectable box office receipts thus far are a testament to the enduring appeal of director James Cameron‘s passion project. A technical marvel that pushed the limits of special effects technology of its day, the film also catapulted star Leonardo DiCaprio into super-stardom and established Cameron as a filmmaker who could continue to create big budget blockbusters, while operating with relative autonomy. However, Titanic, like Cameron’s most recent film Avatar, succeeded despite a relatively clunky and cliche-ridden screenplay. Which begs the question, can we really consider a writer/director with a tin ear for dialogue a visionary filmmaker?
Now that Kevin Smith‘s latest production, the atrocious AMC reality series Comic Book Men, is no longer airing, we have decided to take a closer look at Kevin Smith as a director. Despite a filmography that includes spectacular critical and financial failures such as Jersey Girl, Mallrats, and Zach and Miri Make a Porno, Smith still retains a cult-like following due to his gregarious personality, self-deprecating sense of humor, and of course the impact of Clerks, one of the pioneering films of the low budget American indie film movement of the 1990’s.
Is Kevin Smith a visionary or a hack?
Last month, director David Fincher’s latest film The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011) was released on video. The film performed fairly well at the box office and was reasonably well-received by the critics. However, despite his big reputation as a director, Fincher has not yet been recognized as a member of our own VOH Hall of Visionaries. In light of the most recent addition to his filmography, should David Fincher now be considered a visionary filmmaker? Read More
Ever since HBO’s groundbreaking series The Sopranos changed the television landscape forever with its debut in 1999, the cable television drama has rapidly developed into a vital art form that has, in many ways, stolen a substantial amount of thunder from the Hollywood motion picture industry. Cable television series, such as Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones and The Wire, have deservedly received critical acclaim, while pushing the envelope of cinematic storytelling. Among the most influential of the series currently airing is AMC’s Mad Men, a dramatic series created by showrunner Matthew Weiner. With its unique brand of dark, edgy drama and black comedy, Mad Men has made an indelible mark on pop culture, both in terms of fashion (the return of the 60’s) and the creation of new stars, such as Jon Hamm and Christina Hendricks.
However, Weiner will make his feature film directorial debut in 2013 with You Are Here, which will star Zach Galifianakis, Owen Wilson and Amy Poehler. Will Weiner’s skills translate from television to the big screen and can a visionary TV creator/showrunner become a visionary feature film director?
Did we really need a sequel to the 2010 clunker-of-a-remake Clash of the Titans? Absolutely not, but Wrath of the Titans opens nationwide today. Like the first movie, Wrath of the Titans stars the rapidly fading Sam Worthington and Liam Neeson, but this installment was directed by hack director Jonathan Liebesman, who directed the craptastic Battle Los Angeles, instead of hack director Louis Leterrier, who directed the only bad recent Marvel Studios film, The Incredible Hulk.
Although he is conspicuously absent from VOH’s Hall of Visionaries, Park Chan-Wook is one of the most acclaimed and respected filmmakers in the world. And with his upcoming film Stoker, Park will make his English language directorial debut. Not much is currently known about the film, which will star Matthew Goode (Watchmen), Mia Wasikowska and Nicole Kidman. However, it should be noted that the track record of international filmmakers that have made the transition to Hollywood film is mixed at best, especially for the filmmakers who were not native English speakers.
Visionaries such as Fernando Meirelles (City of God, The Constant Gardener), Guillermo de Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy), Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (Amores Perros, Babel), Luc Besson (La Femme Nikita, The Professional) and Bernardo Bertolucci (The Conformist, The Last Emperor) have all successfully made the transition. However, there are countless others, such as Wim Wenders (Wings of Desire, Paris, Texas), Wong Kar-Wai (Chungking Express, My Blueberry Nights) Ringo Lam (Maximum Risk)and George Sluizer (The Vanishing), whose skills did not completely survive the translation.
Does Park Chan-Wook have what it takes to make the leap to directing English language films? There is no way to know for certain until at least Stoker comes out, but at this point we can still make determinations regarding whether or not Park is a visionary filmmaker, as we can place much more confidence in an international visionary’s skills surviving a transition to Hollywood, based upon the successes of people like del Toro, Meirelles and Bertolucci. Furthermore, if Park is not a visionary, we should not even care whether or not his skills will get lost in translation, since Hollywood is already filled with fungible, replacement-level directors.
In our second installment of The Hack’s Toolbox, we will explore one of the most fundamental tools utilized by the hack filmmaker, the obligatory scene featuring people fleeing from an explosion in slow motion. Everybody has seen this scene at least a thousand times, with about five hundred of the scenes featuring a juiced-up Nicholas Cage running in slow motion from an explosion in films directed by people like Michael Bay or Simon West.
Recently, an extreme amount of nerd rage has been directed towards Michael Bay, the producer of the upcoming Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, over the announcement that his team will be changing the TMNT origin story.
These turtles are from an alien race, and they are going to be tough, edgy, funny and completely loveable.
As if that quote was not ominous enough on its own, Bay threw even more gasoline on the fire using word choices that exuded that classic Michael Bay swag when Bay responded to the irate fanboys with the following message on his website:
Fans need to take a breath, and chill … They have not read the script. Our team is working closely with one of the original creators of Ninja Turtles to help expand and give a more complex back story. Relax, we are including everything that made you become fans in the first place. We are just building a richer world.
Not exactly reassuring words coming from the man who directed films that transformed the once heroic Optimus Prime into a homicidal lunatic . However, the combination of TMNT fanboy anger and Bay’s arrogant, “nerds, go back into your mother’s basement” response serve to highlight one of the core skills that every hack director must keep in his locker — the ability to effortlessly piss off fanboys.
MIRROR MIRROR, the fourth feature film directed by acclaimed former music video director Tarsem Singh, will be released theatrically on March 30th. The film, which is a retelling of the classic fable of Snow White, will star Julia Roberts, Armie Hammer (THE SOCIAL NETWORK) and Nathan Lane.
Despite a rather modest filmography (THE CELL, THE FALL, IMMORTALS), Tarsem has been labeled by many as a “visionary” filmmaker, so highly regarded that he is known on a first name basis by the film community. Is he deserving of such acclaim or does his spotty track record as a feature filmmaker contradict his considerable reputation?