Sunday, August 30, 2009

Inglourious Basterds and the director's form

Following film via director's pedigree can be fraught - but ultimately very rewarding.  Few people can be pitch perfect all the time, and those who succeed well can also fail big.

Take Terry Gilliam.  Aside from the Monty Python films (which are largely turkey shoots), his first major critical success was the acclaimed Brazil.  His imagination shines glorious, in both the writing and direction.  Yet he perennially suffers from an ambition far greater than a capacity to realise, so he has crashed spectacularly.  Persistence was rewarded with the wonderful 12 Monkeys, but his record remains understandably patchy... but he's still worth watching for the times he pulls it off.

Jim Jarmusch, similarly uneven.  Early winner with Stranger Than Paradise, persistence richly rewarded with Dead Man. (But how could he come up with Ghost Dog?)

Christopher Nolan.  More consistent, in that his failures are only relative to his stunning successes.  See Memento and be a fan for life; The Prestige is another payoff.  Dark Knight, for all its violence, is obviously the product of a very skilled filmmaker.

TarentinoPulp Fiction: top notch writing, top notch directing.  Some of his later films such as Kill Bill were little more than stylised ultra-violence.  But Inglourious Basterds (US, 2009) is Tarantino at top of form.  Again with more violence than necessary, but so well crafted, so well written.

You can come to a film by accident, or you can follow form assiduously.  Don't expect a payout every time, but it's worth the wait for the jackpot.

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