Hearing some of the news coming out of Cannes regarding Richard Kelly's SOUTHLAND TALES inspired this post. It's about directors (and writer/directors) who really need someone over their shoulder, helping guide them sometimes.
Because sometimes, well, many times, they'd make a much better movie if only they listened to other opinions.
Look, I don't know if Southland sucks or not, who knows, it might blow me away. But EVERY review has been horrible, so it doesn't look good for it. Even Richard Kelly was quoted to say something like "I'm not sure what we're going to do........" Not a good sign.
You see, these guys are given too much rope, and often hang themselves with it. Here's some good and bad examples:
Richard Kelly - He did Donnie Darko, which I liked. Not loved. Mainly because of his music choices, when you think about it, that movie loses a ton of power at the end if you take away the cover of Tears For Fears "Mad World." But regardless, it's a great debut. Apparently, he's dropped the ball on Southland. We'll see.
Terrence Malick - Didn't see the New World yet, but I'm mainly referring to Thin Red Line. It was a good movie, but wildly overrated by some. If you take out 40 minutes of gibberish you'd have a kick-ass movie. And I'm not talking about action scenes. Jarhead didn't have much "action" but I was enthralled by it. No, I'm talking about the gibberish while we see a 10 minute shot of morning dew....and then a lady bug walks by! Dude, this is a war movie, and the grunts you are portraying aren't staring off into the dense foilage thinking "Where's the light within." No, they're thinking "I hope I get out of these fucking woods alive without an assful of malaria."
Quentin Tarantino - Did we really need two movies (3+ hours) of Kill Bill? Hell, no. He's pissing away his talent on that crap. Did it have some cool sequences and kick-ass fights? Sure, but c'mon. We didn't need two movies. Saw Jackie Brown the other night on HBO again, good damn movie. Somebody should've pulled him aside and said "Dude, make one kick-ass 2 hour movie and move on."
Peter Jackson - I loved King Kong. But it was too damn long. There was no reason to make that movie 3 hours long. Again, Kong as a 2 hour flick would kick major ass, we simply didn't need to know that much about old NY and who really cares that her play is shutting down. Snooze, bring on the monkey!
Georgie Lucas - I've ranted about this one too many times, so I won't get into it too much. He's a master of production & F/X, I just wish he had let someone else write and direct the prequels. They're your babies George? Sure, ok, crackhead mothers have babies, too, and they aren't the best mothers in the world.
Cameron Crowe - Elizabethtown - nice idea for a movie, but it seems like something some low-budget indie kid from Mumblefuck USA might make. Nothing wrong with making a personal story, but at least make it interesting.
Some good examples:
PT Anderson - Magnolia walks the line, but I was blown away by it, and with Hard 8 & Boogie Nights also under his belt, this dude knows what he's doing. Punch-Drunk Love is terrific in my book.
Wes Anderson - his Amex commercial reminds me of why I like him. He could have made The Life Aquatic 3 hours long I'm sure. But he didn't. And while it was no Royal Tennenbaums or Rushmore or even Bottle Rocket, well, his other movies are Royal Tennebaums, Rushmore & Bottle Rocket, and The Life Aquatic makes a fine addition.
Marty - Gangs of NY walks the line, too, but it's got a lot of story to tell. Unfortunately, most of that story is a pretty lame revenge tale, but it's still a fascinating film, and Daniel Day-Lewis absolutely blows my mind in that one. The Aviator wasn't my cup of tea, but it seems like he's back on track with The Departed.
Jimmy Cameron - Yeah, Titanic was long, but at least it didn't take 2 hours to get onto it, you were on it from the beginning. Plus much of it is brilliant filmmaking. He's sure taking his time with his next feature film follow-up though, hopefully it'll be worth the wait.
Look, all of these guys are great filmmakers, don't get me wrong. But sometimes, they're not right, and maybe during the writing phase (like Richard Kelly or QT) someone should have torn apart their scripts instead of just nodding their heads screaming "brilliant!"
Any other examples?