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5 Directors I Need To See


The history of cinema is populated with highly celebrated and regarded filmmakers.  Most people have seen at least a film or two from the likes of Scorsese, Coppola, Spielberg, Kubrick, Allen and Hitchcock.  They’re accessible directors with accessible films, available in any Best Buy and in most remaining rental stores.  But what about the less accessible or the less publicly touted?   There’s so many director’s whose names get whispered by a small faction of cinema fans instead of shouted by the masses, and some of those whispered names deserve a thundering herald for the work they’ve done.  Of course, I understand the lesser known filmmakers generally made movies a long time ago, and in other languages, and have since exited the public consciousness.  But in a Netflix/Google/IMDB world, these individuals deserve to finally get all the praise heaped on their more contemporary peers.

As soon as I got my Netflix subscription I began banging through the likes of Kurosawa, Bergman, Bunuel, Fellini,Murnau, Renoir, Lang, Godard, Eisenstein, etc.  But, sadly, there’s still many filmmakers I haven’t even been introduced to yet that deserve my attention.  Last night I finally dove into the cinema of Krzysztof Kieslowski (The Double Life of Veronique) and I was upset that it took me so long give him my attention.  The film was stunning and haunting at the same time.  So I got to thinking, what other major filmmakers am I neglecting?

Here’s my Top 5:

Jean Vigo

Very limited career with only four films on the resume, but one of them is L’Atalante, widely considered one of the greatest films of all time.  I can forgive myself for this one since the film hasn’t been available from Netflix in quite some time.  But now that Criterion has put out a box-set of his works, I can dive in.

Satyajit Ray

“To have not seen the films of Ray is to have lived in the world without ever having seen the moon and the sun.”Akira Kurosawa.  That’s enough for me.

David Lean

The man made some of the most sprawling epics ever put on film, and I haven’t seen one of them.  Lawrence of Arabia, Bridge on the River Kwai, Doctor Zhivago. None of them.  They are time consuming films, for sure, but I’ve watched longer films and not minded them a bit.

Jacques Tati

He might be the top man on this list.  I love French films, and from what I hear his films were generally comedic, whimsical tales with an eccentric, goofy protagonist.  It sounds like a fun ride that I need to barrel into very soon.

Ernst Lubitsch

Truthfully, I don’t know much about the man, but I’ve read about and heard of enough of his films to pique my interest, specifically Trouble in Paradise, Ninotchka, To Be or Not To Be, Heaven Can Wait,  and The Shop Around the Corner.

Of course there are others (Wim Wenders, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, King Vidor, and Douglas Sirk to name a few), but those five represent my biggest regrets thus far.

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. November 8, 2011 at 1:34 am

    That’s a heck of a list and I’m honestly guilty about two of them, myself. I took a brief attempt at Satyajit Ray, didn’t like what I saw, and never re-visited it. There’s not much available, either. The second I can find a copy of the Apu trilogy, I’m all over it.

    And I have no idea why, but I’ve never done anything by Lubitsch.

    Tati is a loving homage to the classic American silent comedians- Lloyd, Chaplin, and Keaton. There’s a lot of playful criticism of modernization (much like Chaplin’s Modern Times) and his primary character- Monsieur Hulot- is as lovable as they come.

    I’ve seen some Lean films that felt like they were 8 hours long, some that felt like they were 30 minutes long, and they’ve all been excellent. Bridge on the River Kwai was my favorite.

    And I just did the Vigo set not too long ago. It’s really not much of a time commitment, amazingly. I think all four films amount to 2.5 hours or so. One of them is a 9 minute short and another is only 25 minutes long. Both are available on Youtube.

  2. November 8, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    I wonder why Lubitsch falls through the cracks like that. “Heaven Can Wait” is on Netflix Instant, gotta check that out before they remove it like all the other Criterion titles.

    Thanks for the tip on the Vigo shorts. I pretty much just stood in the Criterion section at Barnes & Noble for about an hour staring at the Vigo set and Tati’s “Playtime”, deciding whether or not to buy them. I picked up Satyajit Ray’s “The Music Room” the other day too. I think they do that 50% off sale to tantalize and torment at the same time.

    I know you’ve spoken pretty highly of Tati, so I think that’ll be my next pick-up. “Playtime” on Blu should be pretty sweet.

  3. November 9, 2011 at 9:43 am

    For what it’s worth, Playtime was my least favorite of the four Criterion selections he has. His humor rings through much, much more in M. Hulot’s Holiday and Mon Oncle.

  4. November 9, 2011 at 9:22 pm

    Thanks for the heads up. I’ll pass on “Playtime” then until it works its way up my Netflix queue. I usually like to work my way chronologically through each director, so maybe that’s the play on Tati.

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