Oct 142010

Maltmonster posed an interesting List: not content to discuss the five best trilogies, he posited a selection of the best three movies made by a single director.

With that in mind: please list five directors who each have three movies that are superlative beyond the norm.  Just to make life interesting, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Sidney Lumet or Billy Wilder are not to be a part of your final list.  You are also to exclude any self-contained trilogy (or any of its individual constituent films) like LOTR, Bourne, Jurassic Park, Mad Max and so on.

Gentlemen, have at it.

 Posted by at 3:39 pm

  22 Responses to “Best Five Director Tryptich”

  1. Maltski, you asked, you got.

  2. Oh man…too easy. Coming this eve after work.

  3. Don’t be too quick. I am asking for – though I may not get – really superlative films here, not just the three films by five directors you happen to know (I refer to this as the “Ginger Buddha Workaround”). And, while I know you will, I’d just like to emphasize that you should defend your choices and give me your reasons.

  4. Let’s start it off ————————————

    Jim Jarmusch

    1-Dead Man (best movie ever made)
    2- Ghost Dog
    3- Broken Flower (All things Bill Murray)

    I always start with characters rather than with a plot, which many critics would say is very obvious from the lack of plot in my films – although I think they do have plots – but the plot is not of primary importance to me, the characters are. Jim Jarmusch

    John Huston

    1 – The African Queen
    2 – Moby Dick
    3 – The Life & Times of Judge Roy Bean

    The true triple threat actor, writer and director

    Quentin Tarantino

    1 – Reservoir Dogs (I like the use of colors)
    2 – Pulp Fiction
    3 – Kill Bill

    Ridley Scott

    1 – The Duellists (2nd favorite Movie of all time)
    2 – Blade Runner
    3 – Hannibal (It puts the lotion in the Basket)

    Not sure of the 5th choice . Will update when I make my section

  5. I should have put in more exclusions 🙁

  6. 1 Coen Brothers.

    a) No Country For Old Men – Stunning movie, so typical of McCarthy’s writing. Brought to the screen completely faithfully and it translated oh, so well.

    b) Fargo – I really shouldn’t need to explain this.

    c) The Big Lebowski – Style over substance? Nope. Depth, development, plot and brilliant characters/acting. Not to mention…infinitely quotable.

    * It was hard to narrow it down to just these three from the Coens*

    2 Quentin Tarantino.

    a) Pulp Fiction – Possibly my favorite movie of the last couple of decades.

    b) Inglourious Basterds – Brave and bold, original and absolutely visionary.

    c) Reservoir Dogs – This was the film that made me love Tarantino. Would love to see this done on stage.

    3 Martin Scorsese.

    a) Goodfellas

    b) Raging Bull

    c) The Departed

    Where do you stop with Scorsese? So many to choose from. I refuse to even justify Scorsese.

    4 David Mamet

    a) The Spanish Prisoner – The film that made me love Mamet. Brilliant twist, great dialogue and Steve Martin in an unforgettable role.

    b) Heist – Mamet’s twists may be too much for some, but I love him.

    c) Spartan – Great film. Dark and twisted. Lance and I see eye to eye on this one.

    5 Oliver Stone

    a) Platoon – One of the greatest war films ever. Killer soundtrack, great score, imagery is amazing and one of the best in-film singalongs ever (possibly second only to ‘Almost Famous’)

    b) Natural Born Killers – Again…Style over subtance? F*ck no!! Visually stunning…a story bastardized from Tarantino’s script…social satire (think Romero)…and knock ’em dead performances. Director’s Cut…not for the squeamish.

    c) JFK – Simply brilliant. A movie that actually led to new theories being expounded and changed the investigation of the murder.

    Sigh…really? Stop at just five?

    Honorable mentions:

    – M. Night Shyamalan (shaddup, haters)
    – George A. Romero
    – David Fincher
    – Tim Burton
    – Judd Apatow
    – PT Anderson
    – Stanley Kubrick
    – Francis Ford Coppola
    – Woody Allen (yep)

  7. I’m beginning to think I left this too wide open even with my restrictions. I’ll do better next time around.

    My first pick:

    Ridley Scott is my boy. The guy studied art before becoming a director, and it shows in the cinematography of almost all his films; but he also consistently makes intelligent movies too. I’m left ruefully scratching my head wondering which three, but here goes:

    1. Blade Runner. Futuristic film noir never looked this good, or sounded this good or had a concept so cerebral. Even if you read “Do Androids Dream of electric sheep?” on which the film is based, you can’t help but be amazed how it got to be this way up in the screen.

    2. Matchstick Men. A con within a con, and the way in which a veteran scam artist is made to realize he doesn’t really want to do this any longer (and maybe never did). Scott is masterful in how he uses light and shadow to indicate Cage’s state of mind.

    3. Kingdowm of Heaven. I liked but was unimpressed by Gladiator; the extended cut of Kingdom of Heaven gives new weight to the term epic and succeeds on every level: action, visuals, story, philosophy.

    I wish I could chose more, so I’ll add my honourable mentions: hell yes, Duellists was awesome for a first feature and showcased many of the elements of visual style and intelligent story that Scott carried through his career; Black Rain made Gordon Gekko a cop in an anthracite-neon lightfest; and Black Hawk down was masterful in its spatial gemetry and stark clarity of men in action in an urban setting.

    • Matchstick Men? Are you serious?

      • Sure I’m serious. I take it from the incredulous tone of your comment that it did less than enthuse you, but look at it again and watch the character interplay and the visual strategy. It’s an underrated film.

    • I did like the movie Kingdom of Heaven, but I thought it unfairly portrayed the Poor Fellow- Soldiers of Christ (Templar) as religious fanatics. As for Matchstick Men I thought Nicolas Cage was miscast in this Disney Classic and will have to watch it again based on your comments (will try drunk and then maybe stoned).

      • Well, everything I’ve read suggests that all crusaders were religious fanatics, but many used it as a mask for naked power grabs. The Templars were pretty good at both.

        Which Disney classic is MM based on? I’m missing the reference. If here was a similar movie, I missed it, and thus was able to enjoy it on its own terms

        • The Templars were originally entrusted with keeping the pilgrim road safe after the first crusade.They learned for a time to coexist and trade with an enemy that surrounded them before Saladin. There fighting force was fierce (Would have been quite a site to see the charge of the heavy horse) but only presented a small part of the order which were mostly merchant / bankers admistrators. Sure I will concede its all about power with any organization.

          I really like Peter O’Toole in Lawrence of Arabia and Nicolas Cage in Leaving Las Vegas but O’Toole like Cage can easily over (Act) power a movie. I found Cage over acting his role in Matchstick Men. The reference to Disney was based on his roles in the National Treasure movies and Sorcerer’s Apprentice which once again he overpowers his characters.

  8. Second Pick: Fritz Lang

    Ole Fritz was a demonic, fascist bastard of a filmmaker, but his movies were stunning for their time. These three represent my opinion of his best.

    1. Metropolis (1927). I watched the 1997 restoration in a small art theatre in Berlin and it blew me away. Filming without sound, at the height of German Expressionism, Lang somehow created a world with special effects that hold up even now, over eighty years later, and which filmmakers drew on for decades afterwards: Dark City, Blade Runner, Strangelove and all mad scientists descend directly from this one seminal film

    2. M (1931). The first police procedural, the first serial killer film, and a searing indictment of the cooperation between cops and criminals. Lighting, angles, cinematography, stylism, all fuse into an early masterpiece of noir.

    3. The Big Heat (1953): The human cost of unthinking ethical stands has rarely been as thoroughly eviscerated as in this small gem of moral ambidexterity starring Glenn Ford and Lee Marvin. This and the other two picks establish Lang (in my mind) as one of the cinema’s great architects of evil.

  9. Third Pick – Martin Scorcese

    Hot damn Scorcese s good. That reslessly moving camera, the themes of guilt and betrayal, the sheer inventiveness and psychological depth of his films. He is in the first rank of directors from any era. Picking any one of these is a real problem, but here’s what I came up with, in no order:

    1. Good Fellas is Scorcese at his absolute apex. The fictionalized picture of Henry Hill covers a generation, and hits all the emotional pressure points. Pride, joy, betrayal, lust envy and swift, merciless murder. The last act, which covers a single mad day in Hill’s disintegrating life, fueled by spaghetti, paranoia and a drug deal, is one of the best sequences ever committed to film. Joe Pesci steals the show as the homicidal sidekick, and De Niro turns in a mesmerizing, cobra-like performance as Jimmy the Gent, but there isn’t a weak note in the whole thing.

    2. The Departed. Remade from a very good Hong Kong flick “Infernal Affairs”, this film masterfully ratchets up the tension as a mob mole in the police seeks his alter ego – a police rat in the mob…and vice versa. As with all Scorcese crime drams, guilt, betrayal and suspicion merge to produce swift and unexpected deaths at almost every turn.

    3. The Age of Innocence. Yes, I expect to be excoriated for excluding Taxi Driver and the other undoubted greats, but this quiet drama with Daniel Day_Lewis is stunning in its depiction of the Brahmins of New York, and how great passions are overlaid with a veneer of civilized behavior and gentle, deft speech. No overt action takes place here, but coiling underneath everything said and done is an enormous well of emotion. If you were to take points on the soul, this may be one of the most violent movies Scorcese has ever made.

    I can’t leave someone like scorcese languishing with just these three, so out come the also-rans: Taxi Driver, Mean Streets, Bringing Out The Dead, the unappreciated King of Comedy, Raging Bull and The Last Temptation of CHrist.

  10. Fourth Pick – Yasujiro Ozu

    It was a toss-up between Kurasawa and Ozu, but Ozu’s quiet and powerful family dramas put him in a class by himself and edges out the other Japanese master whose work I revere.

    1. Tokyo Story (1955). Out of seemingly commonplace elements – the visit of aged parents to their grown-up offspring in Tokyo – and exactly one camera movement throughout the entire film, Ozu constructed one of the most powerful and wrenching of all family dramas, and one that is absolutely and emotionally true. What a great and wonderful movie

    2. Late Spring (1949). Two people – a widowed father and unmarried daughter – who love each other and are content in each other’s company are torn apart because of their innate decency and desire to please others. Sad, beautiful, slow and once again, wrenchingly accurate depiction of human emotion.

    3. Floating Weeds (1959). A drama between an ageing actor and a failing troupe, his mistress, illegitimate son who does not know his parentage, and other who orbit them. What could have been a mawkish melodramatic fluff piece is elevated by visual style and mastery of tone into a meditation on human nature.

  11. Fifth Pick – John Ford

    John Ford for me not so much redefined the western as mythologized it. Of course, ever since the silents, since Tom Mix and the radio serials of the Lone Ranger, the Western was the iconic image of America and its hard bitten rough-hewn frontier image. But Ford was something special:

    1. Stagecoach – this revolutionary Western, the first sound film for Ford, elevated the form from cheap archetypes of B-films to a level of sophistication and maturity that proved immensely popular and durable…and set the stage for most westerns that followed

    2. My Darling Clementine – foreshadowing the great classic westerns of complex themes and ambiguous charcters (e.g. Valance, and Searchers), this deceptively simple story revolves around the civilizing of the west by law, order and schoolmarms. Simple, direct and powerful.

  12. Ahh, crap, what was I thinking, limiting myself to five directors? I know so many more…Hitchcock, Huston, Herzog, Gilliam, Kubrick, Besson, Bunel, Cameron…the list just keep growing. Maybe I’ll come up with more lists. Anyway, it was fun thus far. On to the books

  13. Mine are updated

  14. My 5th and final selection was a difficult choice. I couldn’t decide between Sir David Lean, Luc Besson and Radley Metzger , but was inspired by Curt’s section of Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killer ( You just put me on amber alert with this one ) and Lance’s selection of John Ford ( only whisky no rum allowed movies ) . So for my final choice I have to go with Radley Metzger for is visually stunning and awarding winning The Opening of Misty Beethoven directed under the pseudonym Henry Paris along with The Private Afternoons Of Pamela Mann and Barbara Broadcast .


    Am I ambivalent? . . . . Well, yes and no

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