Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Need More Of... These 10 Auteurs

So here's my personal shame(s). These are top-notch film-makers, and I've seen one of their movies each, but that's as far as it goes. Just one! So, along with Kurosawa, these need the follow-up from me that they deserve. Not surprisingly, a lot of them are foreigners, the type you're not exposed to early on. But no more excuses!

Links are to Wikipedia, the Internet Movie Database, and some 3rd place - the most interesting I could find. Then the sole movie I've actually seen, with linkage. Then some other nonsense...

1. Werner Herzog (b. 1928) [Wiki ~ IMDB ~ Misc]
Grizzly Man (2005)
Pathetic! Not that this documentary's no good - it's great. Fits right in with classic Herzog's obsessive maniacs. But still, it's absolutely unconscionable that I haven't explored beyond that. The theme of standing at the brink of insanity and leaping over, crazy-eyed with dagger in clenched teeth... just seems so right for me. Got to go with one of the Klaus Kinski collaborations, probably Aguirre, The Wrath of God (1972).

2. Yasojiro Ozu (1903-1963) [Wiki ~ IMDB ~ Misc]
Tokyo Story (1953)
So Japanese, in its style and tone, and apparently all of Ozu's work is of a piece. A reserved and deely effective family drama about the missed connections between generations (younger/urban and older/rural), it's placid where an American film might be hysterical. Currently looking forward to: Floating Weeds (1959), about the personal complications of a traveling Kabuki theatre troupe.

3. Jean-Pierre Melville (1917-1973) [Wiki ~ IMDB ~ Misc]
Le samourai (1967)
Like a reservoir dog hitman in slate gray Paris. Wait - strike that, reverse it. More like Leone's man with no name in a flat black suit. Alain Delon's assassin keeps the chatter to a minimum... cool. Cool when the cops are putting on the heat, cool when he's shot in a burn attempt. So should I proceed with the pre-New Wave heister Bob le Flambeur (1956) or the French Resistance Army of Shadows (1969)? Can't really lose either way.

4. Jean Renoir (1894-1979) [Wiki ~ IMDB ~ Misc]
The Rules of the Game (1939)
The son of a great artist (painter Auguste), Jean managed to make his own mark in a different medium. This is a savage satire of everyone, high and low, sneering at humanity the way Dylan would a generation later. I think the next step would be obvious: the equally influential, anti-war Grand Illusion (1937). Anything the Nazis hated as much as these films is right on with me.

5. Luis Buñuel (1900-1983) [Wiki ~ IMDB ~ Misc]
The Milky Way (1969)
Well, I have seen his and Dali's nutty experiment Un chien andalou (1929), but that doesn't count. I don't really know what to expect, beyond a taste for surrealism and a heretical streak. I'm stuck in the middle of the late period. Should I go backwards to the depraved Viridiana (1961) or continue the loose trilogy with The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972)? Anything that the fascist power elite and Catholic Church hated as much... Ooooh, a ruckus!


6. Costa-Gavras (b. 1933) [Wiki ~ IMDB]
Z (1969)
This is the only Costa-Gavras movie I know anything about. But it's one of my all-time favorites, and definitely among the best overtly political films of all. And apparently that's the kind of thing he continued to work on, although with less acclaim. Since I don't have much info, I guess I could move on to any of them. Just the first available probably...

7. Federico Fellini (1920-1993) [Wiki ~ IMDB ~ Misc]
I'm not so sure Fellini's my bag. is impressive, and important, but not something I'm drawn back to. Seems prudent to go with something more down-to-earth, maybe Amarcord (1973).

8. Ingmar Bergman (1918-2007) [Wiki ~ IMDB ~ Misc]
The Seventh Seal (1957)
Same thing with Bergman. I mean, Max von Sydow playing chess with Death! But I saw it years and years ago (and have been a Woody Allen fan quite awhile), and have never taken that next step. It's weird to think it's from the same year as The Seventh Seal, but because of the thematic similarity to Kurosawa's Ikiru, I think I'd check out Wild Strawberries (1957) next.

9. Nicolas Roeg (b. 1928) [Wiki ~ IMDB ~ Misc]
The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976)
I'm not sure you can top a David Bowie-Rip Torn alien freakfest, but if so... Hard to choose between the "Mick Jagger sex, drugs and gangsters cult film" and the "gorgeous and haunting Australia-set walkabout." But I'll go with the hallucinatory parental nightmare, Don't Look Now (1973). Sounds like art-horror to me!

10. Errol Morris (b. 1948) [Wiki ~ IMDB ~ Misc]
Gates of Heaven (1978)
I really like documentaries, and this is one the great ones. Especially given the subject matter of pet cemeteries. Can't believe I've never seen A Brief History of Time (1991)... Seems like something I would have caught already. Most of his movies, to tell the truth.

A Brief History of Time
I'll come back with an update after I've knocked at least half of these off the checklist...

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