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Who do you feel are the greatest, best, your favorite directors WORKING today? (1 Viewer)

Reggie W

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I thought this video essay might provide some food for thought on why director driven projects are vital in promoting great cinema and not just the C word.

 

TravisR

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I do want to introduce more directors to this thread because while Scorsese, Spielberg, and Cameron are still working directors and all still are key figures in the film industry, I'd like to also mention some other guys too.

I think these guys probably split a lot of people between love them or hate them but I think the Safdies are a couple of outstanding young talents. Perhaps destined for a career like the Coens but then again maybe not as the pictures they have made so far don't seem to mesh with the trajectory of where motion pictures are headed.

They came to my attention with Good Time and then sort of blew me away with Uncut Gems allowing Adam Sadler to deliver his career best performance, I think. I look forward to whatever it is they come up with next and hope they don't get stuck just on a streaming service.

View attachment 94207
This might sound like a joke but Benny has a role in the new Obi-Wan Kenobi mini-series coming to Disney + next year. I'm guessing it's a relatively small part (like Werner Herzog in The Mandalorian) but after his excellent performance in Good Time, I look forward to seeing him in something else.

And if you haven't seen the Scorsese Short disc from Criterion, there's a real fun conversation between the Safdies and Ari Aster on there.
 

Walter Kittel

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In terms of younger directors; someone who impressed me a while back was Jeff Nichols with the films Take Shelter and Mud. He has kind of dropped off of my radar. (I haven't seen his 2016 feature Loving). He is currently working on an animated series and I wonder if he will get back to films.

- Walter.
 

Walter Kittel

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He did a film called Midnight Special within the past few years as well - I remember liking it in a low key way.

I've seen it as well. I found it to be a bit of step down from the two films I listed, despite Michael Shannon's presence. Not a bad film, but not as satisfying as his earlier two films from my prior post.

- Walter.
 

bujaki

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In terms of younger directors; someone who impressed me a while back was Jeff Nichols with the films Take Shelter and Mud. He has kind of dropped off of my radar. (I haven't seen his 2016 feature Loving). He is currently working on an animated series and I wonder if he will get back to films.

- Walter.
I've seen all his feature films, including his first and hard to find, Shotgun Stories. The DVD, its only release, is OOP and I got it from someone who knows Nichols. He sent it me via the friend.
The talent and promise were already there.
 

Reggie W

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This might sound like a joke but Benny has a role in the new Obi-Wan Kenobi mini-series coming to Disney + next year. I'm guessing it's a relatively small part (like Werner Herzog in The Mandalorian) but after his excellent performance in Good Time, I look forward to seeing him in something else.

And if you haven't seen the Scorsese Short disc from Criterion, there's a real fun conversation between the Safdies and Ari Aster on there.

It's also pretty cool Benny is playing Joel Wachs in the new Paul Thomas Anderson picture.
 

Reggie W

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I've seen it as well. I found it to be a bit of step down from the two films I listed, despite Michael Shannon's presence. Not a bad film, but not as satisfying as his earlier two films from my prior post.

- Walter.

So, this is something that comes into play when I want to call somebody a great/good/favorite director, they make a picture that blows me away but then the next picture...well...not in the same ballpark.

I will give a couple examples...

Jim Mickle - This guy makes a couple low budget indie horror films with Stake Land and We Are What We Are that show he definitely has talent and some interesting ideas. Then he makes Cold in July which I just found to be a truly awesome neo-noir and I am thinking he really came into his own with this picture and was very excited to see what he would do next. Now a key thing here is Mickle not only directed these pictures but he wrote them as well. Then he goes off for a while and does some TV series work because probably that's where the opportunity lies when you write and shoot the kind of material he does. He finally returns to making a feature film after 5 years, for Netflix of course, called In the Shadow of the Moon which is interesting but a bit of a step down from Cold in July. There is something different here in that he did not write In the Shadow of the Moon so perhaps this is why it seems a lesser film that did not quite have that Mickle feel. Anyway, so he is a guy I am interested in following but this is primarily based on Cold in July, a great picture, but hard to say at this point if that will be his one standout film. He makes a return to TV with Sweet Tooth and no features currently on the docket for him.

Dan Gilroy - Gilroy directed and wrote Nightcrawler, quite honestly a brilliant picture. It also falls into the category of neo-noir (so maybe this is where my issue lies I just love this genre) and interestingly was released the same year as Cold in July, 2014, so perhaps 2014 was just a great year for neo-noir. He follows up in 2017 with the quirky Roman J. Israel, Esq. which is a solid film with a great performance from Denzel Washington. It's very good and well written (he also wrote it) and so I think this guy is on a roll. He then makes Velvet Buzzsaw in 2019 (same year Mickle does In the Shadow of the Moon) and of course this is for Netflix. Obviously because smart films made for an adult audience have now been pushed to streaming over theatrical release. This picture is interesting and weird but not as good as his previous two pictures and I start thinking maybe Nightcrawler will just be the best thing he ever does. Still I am curious to see his next picture because Nightcrawler was just one of the best pictures of the last decade and his writing is always very interesting. Next up for Gilroy is Faster, Better, Cheaper which sounds promising.
 

Reggie W

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This next guy I want to mention I do believe is one of the truly great filmmakers working today. Funny thing is, he supposedly does not even consider himself a filmmaker. He's only made three pictures but each one showed this guy is meticulous in his crafting of each feature at what seems to be a Kubrickian level. He takes his time putting together his projects but they are always brilliantly constructed and photographed with outstanding acting that tends to linger long in your mind. His films are also very intense while displaying a high level of intelligence which also reminds people of Kubrick.

Honestly, I love each feature he has made and they are Sexy Beast, Birth, and Under the Skin. Each a unique experience which also again draws that Kubrick comparison. I am talking about Jonathan Glazer.

Jonathan Glazer.jpg


He has long been rumored to be working on a new project. As far as I know nothing has been leaked about what it is but word is he is in preproduction as I type this. I hope so because I can't wait to see what it is.
 

Jeffrey D

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So, this is something that comes into play when I want to call somebody a great/good/favorite director, they make a picture that blows me away but then the next picture...well...not in the same ballpark.

I will give a couple examples...

Jim Mickle - This guy makes a couple low budget indie horror films with Stake Land and We Are What We Are that show he definitely has talent and some interesting ideas. Then he makes Cold in July which I just found to be a truly awesome neo-noir and I am thinking he really came into his own with this picture and was very excited to see what he would do next. Now a key thing here is Mickle not only directed these pictures but he wrote them as well. Then he goes off for a while and does some TV series work because probably that's where the opportunity lies when you write and shoot the kind of material he does. He finally returns to making a feature film after 5 years, for Netflix of course, called In the Shadow of the Moon which is interesting but a bit of a step down from Cold in July. There is something different here in that he did not write In the Shadow of the Moon so perhaps this is why it seems a lesser film that did not quite have that Mickle feel. Anyway, so he is a guy I am interested in following but this is primarily based on Cold in July, a great picture, but hard to say at this point if that will be his one standout film. He makes a return to TV with Sweet Tooth and no features currently on the docket for him.

Dan Gilroy - Gilroy directed and wrote Nightcrawler, quite honestly a brilliant picture. It also falls into the category of neo-noir (so maybe this is where my issue lies I just love this genre) and interestingly was released the same year as Cold in July, 2014, so perhaps 2014 was just a great year for neo-noir. He follows up in 2017 with the quirky Roman J. Israel, Esq. which is a solid film with a great performance from Denzel Washington. It's very good and well written (he also wrote it) and so I think this guy is on a roll. He then makes Velvet Buzzsaw in 2019 (same year Mickle does In the Shadow of the Moon) and of course this is for Netflix. Obviously because smart films made for an adult audience have now been pushed to streaming over theatrical release. This picture is interesting and weird but not as good as his previous two pictures and I start thinking maybe Nightcrawler will just be the best thing he ever does. Still I am curious to see his next picture because Nightcrawler was just one of the best pictures of the last decade and his writing is always very interesting. Next up for Gilroy is Faster, Better, Cheaper which sounds promising.
100% agree with your take on Nightcrawler- great film. It was nominated for best original screenplay.
 

Reggie W

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He is said to be attempting to make one last picture but like Tarantino is calling it quits once he hits 50.

 

Walter Kittel

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Discussing a few of the films mentioned...

I am a pretty big fan of neo-noir myself and I believe that I have viewed Cold In July. It really seems familiar to me. I have to admit I am struggling to recall it specifically, but the cast and description makes it feel like I have viewed the film. Michael C. Hall was probably the attraction for me, on the basis of Dexter. Reviewing Mickle's work I see he was involved with Hap and Leonard which was a pretty interesting series, although I don't think I've seen the episodes with Mickle's involvement.

Still haven't seen Nightcrawler, but perhaps I will remedy that soon.

I haven't viewed it in a long, long time; but I recall really enjoying Sexy Beast. In particular, Ray Winstone's work in this feature. Films involving British criminals are almost always a sure thing for me. The language, accents, and settings along with the criminal subject matter all combine to usually hold my interest. Under the Skin was pretty frickin' weird, in a good way. The Kubrick comparisons feel strongest with this film, based on my recollections, and the abstract nature of certain plot elements. Haven't seen Birth.

- Walter.
 

JohnRice

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In terms of younger directors; someone who impressed me a while back was Jeff Nichols with the films Take Shelter and Mud. He has kind of dropped off of my radar. (I haven't seen his 2016 feature Loving). He is currently working on an animated series and I wonder if he will get back to films.

- Walter.
Sometimes I just watch movies and leave it at that, so it completely escaped me that Take Shelter and Mud were by the same director. Both just solidly done films.
 

JohnRice

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This next guy I want to mention I do believe is one of the truly great filmmakers working today. Funny thing is, he supposedly does not even consider himself a filmmaker. He's only made three pictures but each one showed this guy is meticulous in his crafting of each feature at what seems to be a Kubrickian level. He takes his time putting together his projects but they are always brilliantly constructed and photographed with outstanding acting that tends to linger long in your mind. His films are also very intense while displaying a high level of intelligence which also reminds people of Kubrick.

Honestly, I love each feature he has made and they are Sexy Beast, Birth, and Under the Skin. Each a unique experience which also again draws that Kubrick comparison. I am talking about Jonathan Glazer.

View attachment 94294

He has long been rumored to be working on a new project. As far as I know nothing has been leaked about what it is but word is he is in preproduction as I type this. I hope so because I can't wait to see what it is.
Ditto what I said above for Sexy Beast and Under the Skin. It never registered with me they were the same director.
 

Reggie W

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Discussing a few of the films mentioned...

I am a pretty big fan of neo-noir myself and I believe that I have viewed Cold In July. It really seems familiar to me. I have to admit I am struggling to recall it specifically, but the cast and description makes it feel like I have viewed the film. Michael C. Hall was probably the attraction for me, on the basis of Dexter. Reviewing Mickle's work I see he was involved with Hap and Leonard which was a pretty interesting series, although I don't think I've seen the episodes with Mickle's involvement.

Still haven't seen Nightcrawler, but perhaps I will remedy that soon.

I haven't viewed it in a long, long time; but I recall really enjoying Sexy Beast. In particular, Ray Winstone's work in this feature. Films involving British criminals are almost always a sure thing for me. The language, accents, and settings along with the criminal subject matter all combine to usually hold my interest. Under the Skin was pretty frickin' weird, in a good way. The Kubrick comparisons feel strongest with this film, based on my recollections, and the abstract nature of certain plot elements. Haven't seen Birth.

- Walter.

Sam Shepard and Don Johnson are outstanding in their supporting parts in Cold In July. Hall is the central character that becomes involved in matters that are dangerous and way above his head but Johnson and Shepard really bring something special to this film as they are both given excellent characters to play.

Nightcrawler in some ways is like a Network for our times with a media obsessed central character going way too far to get his snippets of typically violent video which he is selling to television stations. Not the same story as Network obviously but there is that idea of how media can deeply affect the public's perception of things. It's a fantastic picture that, I believe, is one of the best films of the decade. Jake Gyllenhaal gives a tremendous and harrowing performance that proves he is one of the better actors working today. It is basically like his Taxi Driver. You are in for a treat with this one when you watch it. I recommend putting it at the top of your list.

On Mr. Glazer, I don't think he is making films similar to Kubrick's work in content but he seems to approach the material he does involve himself with in that very exacting Kubrickian fashion. I don't think he is attempting to copy Kubrick at all, it is really about how precise he is. Like Kubrick's pictures each of his is a little universe unto itself. Birth is a good film. The subject matter is bizarre and may be disturbing to some in that you have Nicole Kidman's adult female getting into a very bizarre and unbalanced relationship with a male child...who may be the reincarnation of her deceased lover. Freaky stuff but beautifully realized and it shows Glazer doing very different types of stories in a masterful way.
 

Walter Kittel

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Glad that you quoted my post, Reggie. It reminded me that I needed to catch Nightcrawler, which I just watched a short time ago. Short version - yeah, that film was very well crafted. As the opening credits rolled, I saw that Robert Elswit was handling cinematography and James Newton Howard was the composer; two individual credits that raised my expectations for the film.

The film clearly parallels Network in its portrayal of media manipulation and cynicism. Gyllenhaal's Louis Bloom plays like a slightly less psychotic version of Travis Bickle in some ways. (The nighttime settings (wonderfully photographed by Elswit) and the violence on the streets of Los Angeles bolster those comparisons.) I cannot make the connection in my mind, but the character of Louis Bloom reminds me of another character with his clear focus on advancement and the use of mottos as a means of reinforcement. Just can't place it.

Seeing Bill Paxton in a supporting role, just reminded me how much I miss him. Strong work by Rene Russo and Riz Ahmed as well in this feature.

I always tend to enjoy films that feature nighttime views of cities and did I mention how much I enjoyed Elswit's cinematography? :) One of the main attractions of the feature for me. Technically the cinematography was also very strong in a cinema verite fashion when it came to all of the news footage presented in the feature.

Terrific feature that I am very happy to have finally experienced.

- Walter.
 
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