There have been many incredible, legendary filmmakers- Hitchcock, Scorcese, Kurosawa- the list is long. But even Scorcese can’t be said to be ‘flawless’- when a director makes so many films, they may not all be 100% masterpieces, correct? As great as George Lucas’s films have been, he made ‘Howard the Duck,’ a mediocre film. I haven’t even begun to study film yet, and this will elicit groans, but I think Quentin Tarantino may be one of a few filmmakers whom I see as ‘flawless.’ Maybe Kurosawa? Let’s make a list!
I feel like Tarantino is one of the most logical, sensible, energetic, and creative filmmakers so far. In terms of planning, I can think of no other filmmaker who planned his career so well.
It seems as if all his movies are 100% perfect in concept, energy, and execution, and his trademarks- the surprises, the drawing from other films, the incredibly skilled use of music, the non-linear storytelling, the pop-cultural references- they all seem perfect. It seems like it was absolutely necessary for a Tarantino to exist in the film world; someone had to do things the way he does. [/admiration]
Oh, but I’m limiting myself to his four movie filmography (the ones he wrote/directed). I know ‘Four Rooms’ is bad, but I heard his segment is, well, over the top on his trademarks but one of the better two of the four. His other scripts he did not direct I am not including.
I don’t think Tarantino is a flawless director. Firstly, his output is rather tiny, four films is not exactly an impressive number. Secondly, while I enjoy his movies I do not leave the cinema thinking “wow, awesome characterization” or “wow, what a beautiful picture” or “wow, an incredible story with a brilliantly delivered message” etc. I leave feeling hugely entertained (which is more than I can say for 99% of films) and reminding myself to pick up the soundtrack. That’s good, but it doesn’t equal flawless.
Kubrick fits the bill better, in my opinion. From satirical comedy to epic sci-fi to period drama to horror, everything he did was, if not perhaps flawless, definitely worthy of viewing.
I don’t have a name to add, but I’m such a huge fan of Fincher and Tarantino, and have really liked much of what I’ve seen from Kubrick, that I now must make it a point to see some of Malick’s and Renior’s work.
My possible, too-early-to-tell future nominees: CHRISTOPHER NOLAN: Memento, Insomnia. Definite promise. Insomnia wasn’t amazing, but I thought it was well directed. Pacino was good and didn’t become Cartoon Pacino, and the atmosphere was right. He used the ice fields and all the sunlight very nicely. I think Memento was terrific, 'nuff said. He’s doing the new Batman movie this summer, and I think the buzz is good.
SPIKE JONZE: Adaptation, Being John Malkovich. Same issue. Only directed two major movies, one good and one excellent. And he does very unusual stuff. As long as he keeps working with Charlie Kaufman now and then, I expect his stuff will be at worst interesting and thought-provoking, and at best really great and unique.
If you look at anybody with a large body of work, like Hitchcock, you’re going to find some duds. I like Kubrick and I’ve seen all of his major movies - there are only 10 - except Barry Lyndon. I’m not sure that output is flawless. Spartacus is bloated and he’s not the kind of director for that material. Peter Sellers in Lolita did something you’d never expect an actor in a Kubrick film to do: he took the movie and just ran away it. So he result is uneven. Full Metal Jacket feels like two movies. If any of his works are flawless, I’d say Dr. Strangelove is and 2001 and A Clockwork Orange might be. I’m not sure I can say that about the others. It’s been a few years since I’ve seen his stuff, but that’s my assessment for now.
George Lucas also directed Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and if you’re a more discriminating Star Wars fan, you could hold part of Return of the Jedi against him. No way is he on this list. Maybe I’m just the wrong age, but I didn’t even like American Graffiti that much.
I agree in principle. But Columbus - who I really hate - has made some serious clunkers. The two Harry Potter movies he did were incredibly stiff, and while I didn’t see Bicentennial Man, I know it got panned. Zemeckis’s Polar Express got the same treatment, I think.
Flawless is a collossal stretch, so I’ll bend the criteria to consistent and under that description I’d list:
David Cronenberg–More often than not, his movies have been in the interesting to brillian range (Dead Ringers, Naked Lunch, Videodrome, The Brood, Crash, Spider). The only true clunker he’s done was M. Butterfly.
Lars Von Trier–I don’t expect much support for him here because I once made a thread about him and the only responses I got were a handful of snide remarks, but there’s probably no other director that I get more excited to hear is making a new movie. Breaking the Waves, Zentropa, The Idiots, Dancer in the Dark and Dogville are films many directors would kill to have on their filmography.
Krzysztof Kieslowski–Possibly the one truly flawless filmmaker. The Decalogue, The Double Life of Veronique, A Short Film About Killing and the Three Colors trilogy are just highlights in a career with no bad movies.
Chan-wook Park–I know that with only three full length features released so far he’s a stretch, but when those movies are Joint Security Area, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and Oldboy, an exception can be made.
Joel Coen would’ve made the cut a few years ago, but I cannot overlook Intolerable Cruelty and The Ladykillers.
Panic Room was fairly unimpressive, but otherwise David Fincher is doing well.
For a while, Tim Burton was batting 100, but post Ed Wood I’m not sure that he’s made anything great. Kubrick definitely was good and experimental–but whether I actually like the output is rather hit and miss. Ridley Scott has always been good and solid–not necessarily the most experimental, but still just a bit off from mainstream.
I’ll wait for Tarantino to make a second film before voicing an opinion–certainly he’s done interesting things with all the versions of his one.
What do people see in David Fincher? Talk about ALL style and NO substance And “Panic Room” shows he hasn’t learned any new tricks as he went along.
As for Fincher being flawless, “Se7en” has one of the most appalling errors of judgement I have ever seen in a film (or heard in a film) - why try to hide the identity of the killer right through the film when from the moment you hear his voice on the phone taunting the detectives, the whole cinema knows it’s Kevin Spacey…
Errors you can forgive if the director is aiming for something, Fincher’s films just seem like slick time wasters.
Stanley Kubrick on the other hand, one can forgive most any sin (even casting the egregious Nicole Kidman) because he is taking you somewhere. Not flawless, but magnifcently flawed.
And that the film he pinched from… Stanley Kubrick (vis The Killers)
Thirteen, actually, although that’s counting Fear and Desire (his suppressed to near nonexistence “student” film) and Killer’s Kiss (his first real film, which is okay, but nothing spectacular). You left out another from your total, The Killing maybe? Its his first film that you’d recognize as being Kubrickan, and is one of the few non-linear movies that actually works. Could’ve done without the narrator, although I suppose it was included in the fear people wouldn’t be able to follow it otherwise.
Do see Barry Lyndon, it’s my absolute favorite Kubrick movie.
Spartacus isn’t generally considered to be a Kubrick’s–he certainly didn’t consider it to be. His name is on it, yes, but he had very little input into its creation; the project was Kurk Douglas’s through and through.
Zemeckis? Never take any chances? The man who went to bat for a new animation style in Polar Express, which used a completely different process than his other animated effort Who Framed Roger Rabbit? And, like it or not, Forrest Gump could be hardly considered a “well-beatn path” film that took no chances in both subject matter and F/X technology, while Contact is one of the few literate sci-fi movies in the history of American cinema (even if they did f-up the ending). Surely you’re thinking of somebody else…
You left off his first feature, Following, an excellent, creepy little film. Nolan’s a good choice, but like you said, it’s too soon to tell.
Also in the “too-early-to-tell” category, I nominate Wes Anderson. Many critics panned The Life Aquatic, but they’re the same crirics that also panned Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums (I don’t know much about the critical reception of Bottle Rocket). I think he has one of the most fully realized styles of any director currently working, but manages to make his films have genuine emotion behind them.