your petrochemical arms (erdbeermund) wrote in artfilm101,

favorite directors

I've never really thought about a list of favorite directors but I've been watching these Alain Resnais movies and it's sort of crossed my mind just because I'd put him on any list, even if he seems to specialize in flawed masterpieces. Of course, it occurs to me that flawed masterpieces are exactly what I love. It's always been easy to answer people when they ask who my favorite director is. I mean, it's like my being gay, for many people it's been so obvious they wouldn't even think to ask about it. Rainer Werner Fassbinder, right? Naturally.

I also used to LOVE Fellini and Bergman but I haven't much by the two of them in a long time. I love the handful of Bresson films I've seen and the seven or so Mizoguchi films I've seen. The ten or so Alain Resnais films I've seen. Half of the Kurasawa films I've seen. I enjoy Hitchcock, Wilder, and Cassavetes, but there's something so much more compelling about these old European and Japanese masters that hits me in the gut of my soul and submerges me in this aching beauty for hours or days that comes back at me like waves or acid flashbacks for years. It's funny when I look at films the way you look at different drugs when you're a polysubstance abuser it doesn't seem like Hitchcock's movies are too interesting on a deeper level. They're like cocaine where it's thrilling but when it's over it's just over.

As for modern directors, there's PT Anderson and Francois Ozon and though Anderson might be more ambitious (maybe) there's something about Ozon's games that haunt me just like more serious films.

As for the female directors, it's Agnes Varda all the way. Sure, Ida Lupino films are interesting and compelling. Jane Campion films are fine. There's Margarethe von Trotta, Doris Dorrie, Agnieszka Holland, Lina Wertmuller. Leni Riefenstahl? I'm sure I could think about other female directors I enjoy if I sat here for a while but I don't think anyone has done as well as Varda has done. She's made some truly remarkable films and there's such a striking range. Like, the woman who made Cleo from 5 to 7 was also behind Vagabond, The Gleaners and I, and The Beaches of Agnes.
She's one of the few female directors that has made it into the pantheon alongside the men. Of course, I'm really interested in learning more about the work of a more diverse field of artists. I know almost nothing about African film. I've just sort of picked up on this wave of great Korean cinema and am relatively ignorant about many world cinemas including major countries like Russia. And I'm certain there are more female auteurs out there and many on the ascendant. Maybe Sarah Polley has the potential?

Then there are the directors I like but still need to get to know better, like Demy and Malle and Ozu and Tarkovsky. And those I think might be overrated or not quite my style but feel I should explore further, like Truffaut and Godard.

It feels like making these lists is terribly arbitrary in some ways but that there is some value found in saying, "This I like and this I don't." I've noticed pitfalls in lists where people will make sure they have one of these and one of those and they'll want to resist being conventional so they'll put inferior movies in place of those that are expected. Then they'll put things they feel impelled to put because they're en vogue at the moment. And you find yourself worrying how many Italian Neorealist films/filmmakers should be represented on a list five, ten, twenty, a hundred. How many films of a director do I have to see to say I like the director's work instead of I like these particular films? Do I like Ikiru and Rashomon enough to make up for Kurasawa's films that bored or annoyed the hell out of me, such as The Seven Samurai?

Fassbinder
Bresson
Mizoguchi
Varda
Rossellini
Resnais
Bergman
Fellini
Wilder
Lang
Allen
Maddin

I feel like trying to make a list like this makes the whole concept of making lists seem silly. How do you compare Jacques Demy to John Cassavetes to Elia Kazan to Francois Ozon? Hawks to Cukor to Minnelli, let alone to Pedro Almodovar? How about Almodovar to Bunuel? In some ways Almodovar does what Bunuel wanted to do but more directly but weren't Bunuel's films more beautiful? Or am I mistaken what is contemporary for less beautiful? I suppose there is more depth in the films of Bunuel? But does that depth matter when Tarkovsky, Bergman, and Bresson films touch closer to the sublime?

What do you think? Who are your favorite directors? Does anyone read this anymore?
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