The Hack’s Toolbox – Recycled Cliches

Michael Bay's Epic Opus The Rock

by HakSnider33
Previously, we examined one of the tools used by visionary filmmakers such as Quentin Tarantino, Orson Wells, Park Chan-Wook and Martin Scorsese – the long take.  Today, we will look at one of the most prominent tools in the hack filmmaker toolbox – the recycled cliche.  A cliche is something that is trite or overused, and according to our definition of a hack filmmaker, one of the primary things that make a filmmaker a hack is the creation of dull, unimaginative, mediocre or banal work. Read More

George Lucas – Visionary or Hack?

Lucas arrested for crimes against Star WarsDirector George Lucas is one of the most famous filmmakers in the world due to the enormous success of his Star Wars series of films.  Starting with the original film, STAR WARS:  A NEW HOPE, Lucas has done much to change the game, when it comes to blockbuster films and the selling of licensed merchandise.  Even three decades after the original film, the marketplace for Star Wars collectibles should be considered an economy onto itself.  George Lucas the marketer and business is obviously one of the titans of industry.  However, what about George Lucas the film director?  Should we consider him to be a visionary filmmaker or is crass hack, only interested in the bottom line? Read More

Homage vs. Unoriginality Part II

Quentin Tarantino

Tarantino - Visionary or Plagarist?

by HakSnider33
Previously, we explored what happens when a hack director pays homage to a scene from a superior film by clumsily directing a scene that plays like a pale facsimile of the original scene.   However, when done correctly, an homage can breath new life into a cliched or inferior scene.  The man who is obviously known as the master of this is Quentin Tarantino.  Although his detractors label him a poseur without an original bone in his body, his films have exposed many film aficionados to older and forgotten films through his clever homages.

Examples include KILL BILL VOLUME 1 (2003), which introduced many to 70’s cult Asian films such as LADY SNOWBLOOD (1973) and MASTER OF THE FLYING GUILLOTINE (1977), PULP FICTION (1994), which introduced younger viewers to films by French New Wave directors such as Truffaut and Godard and of course, Tarantino’s JACKIE BROWN (1997), which started a revival of interest in Blaxpoitation films such as FOXY BROWN and SUPERFLY.  However, it is the homage that Tarantino’s first feature film, RESERVOIR DOGS (1992), pays to Ringo Lam’s 1987 Hong Kong gangster film CITY ON FIRE that his critics point to as evidence of his originality. Read More

The Visionary’s Toolbox – The Long Tracking Shot

Touch of Evil

Touch of Evil (1958, dir. Orson Welles)

by HakSnider33
One of the trademarks of the hack filmmaker is the way that they often bombard you with a dizzying array of MTV-style short takes. Such rapid-fire ADD sequences may be used to mask a multitude of film-making sins, including poor fight choreography and mediocre shot composition. This visual style only requires the hack director to worry about coverage, as the footage will be handed over to a professional editor to “make the magic happen”. Conversely, a true visionary filmmaker possesses the confidence to let the action in front of the camera speak for itself.
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Is ‘X-Men: First Class’ Director Vaughn the New Comic Book Adaptation King?

Matthew Vaughn

Does Vaughn have the X-factor?

by HakSnider33
English filmmaker Matthew Vaughn first burst on to the international film scene as a producer of his friend Guy Ritchie’s breakthrough films LOCK, STOCK AND TWO SMOKING BARRELS and SNATCH.  He then made to transition into directing with the 2004 film LAYER CAKE, which starred Daniel Craig and Sienna Miller.   Layer Cake, a stylish British gangster film based on a hit novel, not only established Craig as a superstar (and the new 007), it turned Vaughn into a hot commodity in Hollywood.

His next two films, STARDUST and KICK-ASS, were adaptations of popular graphic novels.  The 2010 Kick-Ass was an independently financed film that Lions Gate placed high hopes on after footage from the film stole the show at the 2009 San Diego Comic-Con.   Unfortunately, the film underperformed badly at the box office as the marketing campaign for this R-rated film failed miserably.   However, his work on the film impressed 20th Century Fox enough to select him to be Bryan Singer’s replacement as director of the upcoming X-MEN:  FIRST CLASS, which opens nationwide on June 3rd.  Does Vaughn have the chops to resuscitate an X-Men film franchise that has suffered nearly mortal wounds due to pathetic films directed by hack filmmakers such as Brett Ratner (X-MEN:  THE LAST STAND) and Gavin Hood (X-MEN ORIGINS:  WOLVERINE)?

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13 Assassins Director Miike – Too Prolific to be a Visionary?

Takeshi Miike

Takeshi Miike - Hardest Working Man in Show Business

Japanese director Takeshi Miike’s latest film, 13 ASSASSINS, a big budget remake of a 1963 classic samurai film, has been receiving a lot of hype due to its current simultaneous theatrical and VOD release by Magnolia.  Starring, top acting talent such as Koji Yakusho (SHALL WE DANCE, BABEL) and Yūsuke Iseya (MEMORIES OF MATSUKO), it has already been positioned for top awards since its premiere at the 2010 Venice Film Festival.   However, Miike first made his mark directing straight-to-video Japanese “V-Cinema” exploitation films, churning numerous films each year, including an insane 15 films in 2001 and 2002 alone.  Read More

Thin Line Between Homage and Unoriginality

Zach Snyder

Mr Unoriginality Zach Snyder

by HakSnider33
In the year 2011, it has become very difficult to stay original as filmmaker.  Everything has been done before, so it is really difficult for director to come up something that feels fresh.  Often, the next big thing may end up just becoming a trendy short-lived gimmick such as the Matrix bullet time camera or the Saving Private Ryan strobe light battle scene effect, unless your name is Ridley Scott in which case ripping off Private Ryan becomes a way of life.   However, there is a way to redo ideas that have been done before in a stylish way, which reinvigorates the referenced material so much that the resulting end product feels like a classy homage or a new scene altogether.  Read More

Neill Blomkamp

Neill Blomkamp

Neill Blomkamp

Director Neill Blomkamp made a huge impact on the world of cinema in 2009 with his Oscar-nominated feature debut, DISTRICT 9.  How did Blomkamp go from being a virtual unknown to directing a science fiction blockbuster produced by Peter Jackon?  Well, it was a series of short films, including ALIVE IN JOBURG, the short mockumentary that ‘District 9’ is based upon and TETRA VAAL, a mock commercial for a real-life “Robocop”, that got him noticed. Read More