The second installment, which is twice as good as the first, or maybe not!
Picking up where I last left off, these are the remaining five directors, the creme de la creme if you will, of directors currently working. Remember, following every individual entry is a list of all the films I have seen from that director. Enjoy,
5) Jee-woon Kim
I’m usually a substance over style kind of guy, but when you have as much style as Jee-woon Kim I’m willing to join in on the style gravy train. Kim-ssi is very similar to Quentin Tarantino in the sense that he freely and openly cribs from other directors and previous films. The reason that I adore Kim-ssi and loathe Mr. Tarantino is that Kim-ssi takes from others and does something new with the material. He’s always offering his own take on the material he uses, and unlike Mr. Tarantino he brings new insight and a freshness to the table. Kim-ssi’s camera is large, and yet it is also capable of capturing intimate moments. I feel jazzed when I watch one of his films, and I love feeling jazzed when watching a film.
Janghwa, Hongryeon (A Tale Of Two Sisters, 2003)
Joheunnom Nabbeunnom Isanghannom (The Good, The Bad, The Weird, 2008)
4) The Coen Brothers
Their films aren’t as absurd as they may seem. Absurd actions take place and even their most serious of films have darkly comedic undertones. What the Coen Brothers do that fascinates me to an almost unhealthy level is to offer a take on observations of the absurd. The characters in their films do absurd, comical, and compelling things, but it is the characters who observe them that are the true draw of the Coen Brothers experience. They are able to use the observational tone they employ to create wonderful worlds and characters that are rich with life. Even their films that don’t live up to their reputation offer nuggets of wonder and never cease to observe those observing the absurd.
Blood Simple. (1984)
Raising Arizona (1987)
Miller’s Crossing (1990)
Barton Fink (1991)
The Hudsucker Proxy (1994)
The Big Lebowski (1998)
O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)
The Man Who Wasn’t There (2001)
The Ladykillers (2004)
No Country For Old Men (2007)
True Grit (2010)
3) David Cronenberg
Bodily horror was the name of his game for many years. From the very onset of his career until the mid to late 1990s David Cronenberg was concerned with the human body and the way it can be manged and contorted to make horror. But, while his films contained elements of visual bodily horror the revelation was almost always that the visuals weren’t the true horror, it was the base core of humanity that he splayed wide open that was truly horrific. From body horror Mr. Cronenberg transitioned into a fascination with sex, and the way we react to perverse acts. Here again the perversity was not in the sexual acts he portrayed on screen but in the way we as an audience reacted to the perversities of Mr. Cronenberg. In the most recent stage of his career Mr. Cronenberg has focused on genre, the audience reaction to genre elements, and the ideas of loyalty and human actions. Over the years his films have become less gritty and more staid, but they remain visually appealing and intellectually stimulating. Those who are willing to dig deep into the oeuvre of Mr. Cronenberg will be treated to a treasure trove of cinematic goodies.
The Brood (Uncut, 1979)
Videodrome (Unrated, 1983)
The Fly (1986)
Dead Ringers (1988)
M. Butterfly (1993)
A History Of Violence (2005)
Eastern Promises (2007)
2) Werner Herzog
The mad German, Werner Herzog is also the great chameleon. His personality has become the stuff of legend, and his voice is iconic in ways that few voices ever become. Something that should never be lost in all the hubbub about Herr Herzog’s personality is that he remains one of the finest directors to ever pick up a camera. He searches for truth and all that may imply. The truth to Herr Herzog can be beautiful and it can be ugly, but it is always interesting. Nature is often seemingly a villain in his films, but a glance beneath the surface reveals that Herr Herzog views nature as a natural entity and the world humanity has created as the villain. He makes dramas, insightful documentaries, and robust comedies. No matter the subject matter or the genre, Herr Herzog is always searching for the truth and he is always a director deserving of the reverence given.
Auch Zwerge Haben Klein Angefangen (Even Dwarfs Started Small, 1970)
Aguirre, Der Zorn Gottes (Aguirre: The Wrath Of God, 1972)
Jeder Für Sich Und Gott Gegen Alle (The Enigma Of Kaspar Hauser, 1974)
Nosferatu: Phantom Der Nacht (Nosferatu The Vampyre, 1979)
Cobra Verde (1987)
Grizzly Man (2005)
Rescue Dawn (2006)
Encounters At The End Of The World (2007)
The Bad Lieutenant: Port Of Call – New Orleans (2009)
Into The Abyss (2011)
1) Hayao Miyazaki
Where do I begin with the man who I consider not only the best currently working director but the greatest director of all-time? I’ll begin with a phrase, simple complexity. Those two words together sound like an oxymoron, paradoxes that should not exist in the same realm. Watching a film from Miyazaki-san it quickly becomes clear that he tells his films in a simple way that reveals plenty of complexity. His films are earnest, heartfelt, scary, and thematically rich. Miyazaki-san makes the types of movies that are full of scene after scene that looks like it belongs framed on the wall of a museum. Most of all Miyazaki-san is able to glean emotion out of his characters and the situations they find themselves in with an ease that is scary. Some directors spend entire careers trying to master the art of bringing genuine emotion out of fictional characters and settings. For Miyazaki-san he had accomplished this feat five minutes into his first feature film and would go on to replicate this feat thousands of times. I marvel at the work of Hayao Miyazaki, and I do feel a tinge of sadness for the day when he will depart the world of film. Though he will one day stop making new films, the great films he has given me will live in my heart, brain, and soul for the rest of my time on this plane of existence. There has only ever been one Hayao Miyazaki, and the world of film has been enriched untold amounts because of his works.
Rupan Sansei: Kariosutoro No Shiro (Lupin The Third: The Castle Of Cagliostro, 1979)
Kaze No Tani No Naushika (Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind, 1984)
Tenkû No Shiro Rapyuta (Castle In The Sky, 1986)
Tonari No Totoro (My Neighbor Totoro, 1988)
Majo No Takkyûbin (Kiki’s Delivery Service, 1989)
Kurenai No Buta (Porco Rosso, 1992)
Mononoke-hime (Princess Mononoke, 1997)
Sen To Chihiro No Kamikakushi (Spirited Away, 2001)
Hauru No Ugoku Shiro (Howl’s Moving Castle, 2004)
Gake No Ue No Ponyo (Ponyo, 2008)
Hopefully you enjoyed the list, and I do hope that those of you you have yet to seek out any of the directors in my top ten will give them at least a shot someday. The great thing about film is that new faces will come along to reorganize this list, and I eagerly await the great films that will bring about that change. For now these are my top ten directors currently working, and boy do I love their work.
Jee-woo Kim is a filmmaker is a name I know of but have never seen. I’ve only seen one Miyazaki film in Howl’s Moving Castle as I think I will do a marathon of his work next year. I already did an Auteurs piece on the Coen Brothers this past March. David Cronenberg is already an Auteurs subject I will do for 2013. I’ve only seen some Werner Herzog films as I’m going to watch 3 more this month.
You have plenty of great films ahead of you then. 🙂
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