The movie directors who could use a good boss

Odd List Simon Brew Ed Kegenof 20 Jun 2014 - 06:41

They're talented, individual, but could, possibly, do with a bit of editorial guidance. Could these directors use a boss, we wonder?

In truth, we're a bit frightened about this one. Several times in pub/coffee shop/cider drinking in the park conversations, we've chatted about film directors who perhaps have got too powerful, that they seem to be able to get their own way without having someone to call bullshit on them - be it a good boss, or a very good friend that they trust and listen to.

This can be a very good thing. After all, we want film directors to be free to tell their stories. We don't want studio suits calling the shots. And some directors use their independence wondefully well, without losing what bought it to them in the first place (so, Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Christopher Nolan, Robert Zemeckis and such like).

Still, there's merit in the argument that filmmaking is a collaborative process, and there's a sense that some particularly individual directors could use, from time to time, a tap on the shoulder and a quiet word in their ear. We don't know for certain that that hasn't happened of course.

So then: we've put the case for and against each of these entries (the majority of which, inevitably, relate to running time of features), as we're not even sure that we agree with them all ourselves. And it's important to note: in every case, there are things - sometimes lots of things - that the director in question has done that we legitimately love. But we felt that there were still discussions and debate worth having here, and this piece is written very much in that spirit.

Now if you'll excuse us, we're off to get our flame suits on. We've a funny feeling we might need them...

ZACK SNYDER

Why he works well without a boss:

Zack Snyder is, whether you like him or not, a visionary director. The vision may be divisive, but few tackle big films in quite the same way as he does. He came to attention firstly for the surprisingly strong remake of Dawn Of The Dead. Working with limited resources, he was the closest to a director for hire on that as he's ever going to be, and turned in an impressive horror that paid due respect to the original.

Yet 300 changed everything. Snyder pushed his style through, made a star of Gerard Butler, and turned the film into a monstrous hit. Using the currency he built up from that, he got Watchmen made. And, at times, Watchmen has some of his best filmmaking in it. It's a muddled, almost impossible film certainly. But there are lots of flashes of brilliance to it.

Why might he need a boss:

Because Snyder untethered is no longer working quite as well.

Sucker Punch was pure, 100% Snyder, and while one or two warmed to the film an awful lot, the majority seem to regard it as an unimpressive, sexist failure. It's visually excellent at times, but as a complete film? It surely could have used someone with a bit of clout calling bullshit on it a few more times.

With Man Of Steel, he sort of had a boss, having been given the nod to make the film by Warner Bros director of choice Christopher Nolan. The cloak of Nolan gave Snyder the space to reboot Superman, and reboot it he did. A harsher film that the five that preceded it, Snyder correctly argues that it touches on areas of Superman that the comic books venture into but the films hadn't.

Yet it's another case of excess going unchecked. Does someone at Warner Bros have the power to stand up to Zack Snyder and rein him in a little? Right now, it doesn't feel that way. And given that Snyder has the keys to Batman, Superman and Justice League for his next two films, his individual style arguably needs a little tempering sooner rather than later. We suspect that won't happen.

Chances of us getting lynched in the comments section for suggesting he may need a boss:

Outside of a fair comment about what's the point of having a visionary director if you want to temper that vision, we'd say about 3/10.

MICHAEL BAY

Why he works well without a boss:

The one-man hit machine, with the power to take not very good films, turn the volume up on them, and turn them into billion dollar juggernauts.

Again, history tells that as Bay has enjoyed more and more success, it seems that more and more control has been ceded to him. That's the way the business works. Pearl Harbor was probably the real turning point. Until then, there was an element of restraint, and a whole lot more fun, to Michael Bay features. Bad Boys? The Rock? Armageddon? We've got time for all of them. Lots of time for a couple of them. But off the back of Armageddon, Bay had the power to do pretty much anything. Sadly, he pretty much did.

Why he might need a boss:

Pearl Harbor has occasional flashes of inspiration, but it's hard to think of a more crass retelling of such a haunting story of war. This was supposed to be Bay taking on board what made Titanic work, and growing into a director with more pathos. Instead, the action worked, yet everything else fell flat. And then you remembered that this was all a true story, mangled. It still leaves a bit of a sour taste.

Further evidence followed. Bad Boys II showed what Bad Boys would have been had Bay had more clout back then. There was a sense of control, and the ongoing running time creep of Bay films was really kicking in too. To be fair to Bay, he used his growing Hollywood power to get The Island made, the only problem being it didn't turn out too well in the end.

And thus Transformers came calling. The first one is okay if you're in the mood for it, but since then, they've got longer, more exhausting, louder and less controlled. If Bay's not leering at his latest female lead, he's messing around with his computer or putting together action sequences where it's virtually impossible to see what's going on. Yet we're clearly in the minority here, as the box office numbers have kept growing. Transformers 3 is the seventh biggest film of all time.

Even Bay's smaller project that he sandwiched in between Transformers 3 and 4  - Pain And Gain - turned into something of a carnival of excess, albeit a cheaper one. Next up? Next month's sort-of-reboot-but-not of Transformers where we'd be amazed if he hadn't been calling the shots from top to bottom for the past couple of years. The now confirmed 166 minute running time for Transformers: Age Of Extinction - once mooted to be the shortest film in the series, and now the longest - suggests that he has.

And we've not even touched on his producing work...

Chances of us getting lynched in the comments section for suggesting he may need a boss:

We think you might have our backs on this one. 2/10 at most. 0/10 if you're Mark Kermode.

WOODY ALLEN

Why he works well without a boss:

Because without question, Woody Allen's best work has come when he doesn't have one. He makes economical, quick films, on his own terms. It works more often than not too, even accepting that Allen tends to go through very pronounced peaks and troughs. At the moment, he's very much near the peak, thanks to two of his last three films being Midnight In Paris and Blue Jasmine, both of which have lots going for them. The one in-between was To Rome With Love, which doesn't have so much to praise about it, but we're coming to that later.

Basically, if Woody Allen retired tomorrow, he'd have a body of work that very few directors in the next 100 years would ever be able to match. In the past 20 years, he may have lacked the consistency of a Scorsese, a Spielberg or a Paul Thomas Anderson. But every year, he steps back up to the plate, and writes and directs another movie. Very few of them are outright bad.

Why he might need a boss:

Because it hurts when Woody Allen goes through a rough patch. His films have given us so much pleasure over the years, that when he gets stuck in a run of a couple of disappointing films, you can't help but wonder who, if anyone, he listens to about it. Across the 2000s, until recently, he's been down to two bad films for every good one (Hollywood Ending is genuinely terrible too), although even in his weaker films - such as the aforementioned To Rome With Love - he finds things to say.

Maybe we've just been spoilt. Allen's career has always been marked by a run of successes, with fallow moments in between. And just because the fallow periods are a little more obvious now, does the man who just directed Cate Blanchett to another Oscar need us to tell him who he should be reporting to? He does not.

Chances of us getting lynched in the comments section for suggesting he may need a boss:

High, and deservedly so. 8/10 at least.

JOHN LASSETER

Why he works well without a boss:

The world needs more John Lasseters. His drive, enthusiasm and vision gave birth - over a long period of time - to Pixar. His feature film directing debut, Toy Story, was a prolonged labour of love that Lasseter fought for. It came off the back of years of experimentation in animation, leading to an Oscar for his incredible short film, Tin Toy. Lasseter is a filmmaker who pushed at the boundaries of technology, without ever losing sight of telling a story. How many others can say that?

The result of this was the aforementioned Toy Story, a film that - with no exaggeration - changed the face of mainstream animation forever. He then co-directed Pixar's next two films, A Bug's Life and Toy Story 2, proving that it wasn't a fluke. Lasseter was truly a brilliant filmmaker.

And what's more, he's a brilliant filmmaker who's surrounded himself with brilliant people. Granted, behind the happy image there must be a degree of steel, and a side we don't get to see, as the push for better intensifies. But he's put across a passion and love for his work, that makes him arguably the most revered figure in modern day feature animation.

Further proof? Not only Pixar's incredible run of hits - in spite of some critical tumbles, the studio has never had a flop - but also what he's overseen at Walt Disney Animation Studios. Lasseter has, bluntly, been pivotal in turning it around. Could Frozen, Wreck-It Ralph, The Princess And The Frog et al have happened had Lasseter not reversed many of the decisions of the previous regime there? Plus, he killed the awful straight to DVD sequel culture that was poisoning Disney. In short, Lasseter is a modern day filmmaking legend.

Why he might need a boss:

The Cars films. The irony isn't lost on many that the two weakest films that Pixar has put out to date are Cars and Cars 2. Both of these were John Lasseter projects, and they were the last two films he directed.

Cars 2 in particular is a muddled mess. It has moments where it catches fire, but they're few and far between, and for all the exquisite animation, the film itself simply wasn't very good. It makes you fear for the already-announced Cars 3.

When Lasseter made Cars, he was just heading up Pixar, although that in itself is a full time job and a half, surely. With Cars 2? He was juggling Pixar, Walt Disney Animation Studios (and the retooling of many of its projects behind the scenes), and trying to direct a nine-figure blockbuster movie as he did so. Lasseter reportedly directed chunks of the film remotely via iPad. That in itself wouldn't be a problem, were it not for the fact that the film didn't work as well as we'd hoped. As such, you can't help but point at something like that and wonder if it was a good thing.

But then here's the other question: if your boss is making a bad film, what do you do about it?

Pixar has a reputation for putting projects into turnaround if they're not working, and replacing directors where necessary. You can't help but think had another director been making Cars 2 (and co-director Brad Lewis left the project, and Pixar, fairly early into the project), that different decisions would have been made. But with John Lasseter's name on the proverbial director's chair? The man with the power to put the project into turnaround was making the film in the first place...

Chances of us getting lynched in the comments section for suggesting he may need a boss:

If you've not seen the Cars films: 10/10.

If you've seen the Cars films: 3/10.

We still love John Lasseter though. He will be remembered and talked about long after us. And rightly so.

PETER JACKSON

Why he works well without a boss:

Peter Jackson clearly has a brilliant brain. What's more, he's gradually built up his career, from the low budget ingenuity and horror of Bad Taste, Braindead and Meet The Feebles, to the outright stunning Heavenly Creatures. Who else could have made a film like that, one that still strikes hard today?

And who else would gamble absolutely everything on bringing J R R Tolkien's Lord Of The Rings trilogy to the big screen? It's easy to overlook now just what a massive risk that was all round. Stories of the first showing of footage at the Cannes Film Festival suggest that the pressures of Lord Of The Rings were immense, with nothing close to certainty of success. 

Yet Jackson pulled it off. More than that, he managed it three times, creating one of the most memorable trilogies of films in cinema history. He is clearly a brilliant filmmaker, and few would quarrel with that.

Why he might need a boss:

Because he seems to have lost a key skill that he once clearly possessed: the ability to tell a story with a degree of economy.

This isn't just about splitting The Hobbit into three movies either, although that certainly doesn't help. Even within each of the two Hobbit movies to date, they both feel really very long. They are long, of course, but back when he was doing Lord Of The Rings, Jackson had an ability to make lengthy films feel short.

However, since Lord Of The Rings gave him a lot more independence, we've had his three hour take on King Kong, and even his apparently smaller project, The Lovely Bones, clocked in at 135 minutes, with more prioritised over less.

The running times themselves aren't the core problem. The problem is that none of the films concerned felt like they should be that long. The stories didn't feel like they needed to be stretched. Appreciating that something like The Lovely Bones wouldn't have even made it to the screen without the power of Peter Jackson behind it, we still yearned for the economy of Heavenly Creatures.

The Hobbit has brought the running times of Jackson's movies into very firm focus, and rightly so. The internet has long since dissected the decision to split a relatively thin tome into three films. What's perhaps just as surprising, though, is that the films we've seen are so lengthy in themselves. And as much as we like Peter Jackson taking us around Middle Earth on the big screen, it would be fair to say that these days, he takes the very scenic route. Nobody seems to be advising him otherwise.

Chances of us getting lynched in the comments section for suggesting he may need a boss:

An even 5/10. Fans of genre cinema owe Jackson an awful lot, and nothing's going to hold us back from seeing the final Hobbit film on day of release. But in that first Hobbit film, it still took a sing-song, some washing up and 30 minutes of screen time to even get out of the front door...

QUENTIN TARANTINO

Why he works well without a boss:

How could you possibly want to curtail a writer and director as individual as Quentin Tarantino? When he's on top form, there's nobody else who comes close to doing what he does as well as him. And yet there's a growing excess in his most recent films. Contrast the usually brilliant but sometimes bloated Django Unchained with the lean economy of Reservoir Dogs, for instance. Appreciating that budget, scale and the needs of the story have a huge part to play here, the difference is pronounced.

Perhaps a better comparison is 1994's Pulp Fiction against either Django or Inglourious Basterds. In Pulp Fiction, across its three interlocking stories, it rarely felt like there was a moment wasted. There was a vitality to what Tarantino was putting on the screen. The same applied to Jackie Brown: a taut, often brilliant adaptation of Elmore Leonard's book. Tarantino's earlier films, as he explored and pushed his directorial talents, are his tightest.

Why he might need a boss:

Because his films, more and more, feel like they go on too long.

In particular, as highly as we regard Django Unchained, it felt a good 30 minutes too long, even if we wouldn't pretend to know where best to cut it. We're just end customers when it comes to it. But still, Basterds also seemed to lose its pacing, dragging things out when perhaps a little more economy and some of the tightness that defined early Tarantino would have helped.

Yet who would stand up to Tarantino now? Always an individual filmmaker, and at his best because of it, Harvey Weinstein has all but said that he has a blank cheque to make whatever films he likes, once describing his former home Miramax as "the house that Quentin built". The Weinsteins now need Tarantino far more than Tarantino needs the Weinsteins, and with Django Unchained proving to be a major box office hit - as well as earning Tarantino another Oscar - he's a filmmaker with more power than ever before.

So who, in truth, is going to have the power, clout and influence to say to Quentin Tarantino that his film is too long, and expect him to do something about it? 

Chances of us getting lynched in the comments section for suggesting he may need a boss:

Well, we're probably in a bit of trouble here, in truth. Let's go 9/10. But where do you draw the line? Nobody wants neutered Tarantino filmmaking, but surely there's more than one or two of us who think his films may be getting too long?

WES ANDERSON

Why he works well without a boss:

Wes Anderson's track record speaks for itself: with such films as Bottle Rocket, Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums, Anderson's built up a remarkable body of work. Admittedly, his style of filmmaking isn't for everyone, but there's one thing that even Anderson's detractors would admit: you know you're watching one of his movies within a second or two, and that isn't something you can say about many directors currently working.

It's also important to point out that Anderson gets away with making defiantly individual films at a time when more and more filmmakers are having to make compromises just to gain financing. Who else but Anderson could get a film as quirky as The Grand Budapest Hotel through the American filmmaking system? Not many, we'd argue, and fewer still could attract such a star-laden cast: Andersons' reputation is such that he can afford to casually throw in great actors like Tilda Swinton, Harvey Keitel and his old friend Bill Murray in relatively minor roles.

Most importantly, The Grand Budapest Hotel has proved that Anderson can please audiences as well as critics: with a healthy return at the box office, the film's financial success, particularly in the UK, means that he'll almost certainly have the freedom to make his quirky films for many years to come.

Why he might need a boss:

Here's where we have to choose our words carefully.

We've long admired Anderson's films, and found something to enjoy or even love in every single one of them. Yet the release of The Grand Budapest Hotel felt like the culmination of his obsessively controlled style: the geometric shots, the handmade special effects, the arid, deadpan humour. It was a brilliant film, as crafted and alternately warm and sharp as anything Anderson's made.

At the same time, it left us quietly hoping that it marks the start of a new chapter for Anderson - one where he puts aside some of the tics and quirks we now associate with his filmmaking, and tries something surprising and new. This isn't to say that we'd like to see Anderson suddenly take on a gigantic summer film - far from it - but we would like to see him apply his talent to something different. What would a noir thriller directed by Anderson look like? Or a science fiction film, or a western? If Anderson went back to the budget level of say Bottle Rocket or Rushmore - still our favourite films of his - what would his films look like then? As much as we look forward to Anderson's films, we'd love to see him push his abilities into different avenues in future.

Chances of us getting lynched in the comments section for suggesting he may need a boss:

Incredibly high, we're guessing. We've sewn leather elbow patches onto our fire-retardant suits just to be on the safe side.

JUDD APATOW

Why he works well without a boss:

There are lots of entirely correct reasons to be grateful for Judd Apatow.

His willingness to back talent has led to, for a start, the likes of Freaks And Geeks, Undeclared, Girls et al getting through the television system (although not for long in some cases). Furthermore, he's nurtured the people he works with - there's never a sense that he hires someone and doesn't invest time in them.

Freaks And Geeks - one of the best TV shows of the past 20 years for our money - generated three Hollywood screenwriters amongst its young cast of then unknowns (Seth Rogen, John Francis Daley, Jason Segel), along with three directors (Rogen, Daley, James Franco) and a producer (Samm Levine). Furthermore, Apatow backed its creator, Paul Feig, and did so again with movie projects, paving the way to Bridesmaids.

Without Judd Apatow, it's not certain that the likes of Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, Martin Starr, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Linda Cardellini, Steve Carell, Will Ferrell and such like wouldn't have found fame. But he certainly gave them a sizeable helping hand.

Why he might need a boss:

Because the films he directs are becoming way too long.

The 40 Year Old Virgin, his first, came in at just under two hours, and threatened to outstay its welcome. Knocked Up, his second, was 129 minutes, and for all the film's many qualities, it did feel it as well.

But it was with the sorely underrated Funny People that bum ache really set in. Funny People feels like two films uncomfortably welded together, and it comes in at just under two and a half hours long. And not for nothing was the title for his latest movie, This Is Forty, adapted into the running gag 'This Is Forty Minutes Too Long'.

Thing is, we like Judd Apatow. Both This Is Forty and Funny People in particular are willing to do things that mainstream comedy movies don't. They're brave films in different ways. But both really do outstay their welcome, and there's no sense that anyone's pointing this out when it matters.

On the one hand, you can't help but admire the fact that Apatow consistently gets his cut, on his terms, through the studio system. But on the other, a few more weeks in the editing room really wouldn't hurt.

Chances of us getting lynched in the comments section for suggesting he may need a boss:

2/10. We think you might be with us on this one.

Not included: George Lucas. He's retired. Andrei Tarkovsky. He's dead.

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Your spot on with them, what they need isn't so much studio interference but rather a trusted friend that will speak to them honestly.

We all need a friend in our life that will say 'you're being a d**K' or just no and these guys are no exception. a strong editor who stands up in the editing room is worth his weight in gold as it will at least make the director think.

It's not just Directors look what happened to the Harry Potter books when JK Rowling was at her peak, we got order of phoenix.

It is a balance though, you don't want interference from execs but rather you need 1 or 2 collaborators that the director trusts. it's no accident that the best Star Wars films are the first two where a lot of help came to lucas's vision

I call bullcrap on Lasseter. Cars is great, but whilst Cars 2 is not so great, the kids still love it.

I wish people would get off this frankly tiresome charade of questioning how Peter Jackson can turn a 300-page book like 'The Hobbit' into a full-blown trilogy!

For starters, it's a book wriitten as a children's bedtime story, and thus reads as such; Tolkien skims over major sequences in a few lines or a page at most, plus there's no real character development to speak of save for Bilbo, in addition to the fact the book is a linear and markedly episodic work that simply would not translate to screen verbatim in any real meaningful way. And if all that wasn't enough, Tolkien himself never stopped adding to the story throughout his lifetime, embellishments that would be published in the appendices to 'The Lord of the Rings' and the posthumous 'Unfinished Tales'.

In adapting the basic novel, Jackson and co simply HAD to embellish in order to give both characters and events the requisite depth for the audience to care and the story to work, that is why the film adaptation began as a duology and continued as such right up to the end of principal photography. But upon reviewing the vast amounts of rich material shot plus the material (almost exclusively from the aforementioned appendices) they wanted to but had yet to shoot, the decision was made not to cram the story into an arbitrary two-film format, but instead extend it to three films and let the story play out at a natural pace and with all the avenues of story explored.

I think Jackson made the right choice and the films speak for themselves just fine... having built up Jackson during his LOTR trilogy, some elements of the press and public are now subjecting him to the sadly-inevitable backlash that always ensues, whether deserved or not. The two 'Hobbit' films to date are wonderful examples of fantasy filmmaking done right and done well, told by a genuine auteur because he loves the material, and who has the clout and the talent to do it right outside of studio meddling... would Jackson's critics rather a corporate suit be hanging over his every move, deciding what works or not based on focus groups and market research?

I thought not.

I'm pretty Ben Affleck is the man keeping Zack Synder in check. He brought in Chris Terrio, didn't he?

These directors don't need bosses so much as they need strong editors and a respect for those editors. Some of Spielberg's best output owes a great deal to Michael Kahn and Verna Fields, two great editors.

It seems pretty standard internet practice to slag off the Hobbit films, but I thought the first was enjoyable and the second a down right fantastic rip-roaring adventure (with the occasional very cheesy moment).

That was a hilarious read :) agree for the most part too, Anderson for me is becoming far too much about style over substance and could do with someone reminding him to push the boundaries and try new things. Appatow certainly needs a kick up the arse, too!

This should be called Snyder syndrome. I can't think of another director who is so inconsistent. Visually, he's one of the most impressive directors working today, but he is really weak on generating any empathy for his characters.

I hope he can pick up a few tricks from Nolan (didn't seem that way on MoS)

Tim Burton.

I enjoy the Hobbit too, but since king Kong Jackson has been a bit self indulgent and they wouldn't have been hurt by a good trim

I saw both Inglorious Basterds and Funny People on the same day, straight after one-another. It must have been one of the longest days ever.
And while Basterds' ending was about half an hour overdue, it was still a thoroughly enjoyable film, and perhaps Tarantino's best to date (maybe not as sleek, cool and tight as Pulp Fiction, but certainly more fun).
I could not, however, say the same of Funny People. A dull, depressing, dreary excuse for a film. Badly drawn characters that I felt no emotion for, extremely badly paced and structured, and specifically notable for it's complete lack of humour. If this film had been whittled down to a concise 80-90 minutes, it still would have been too long. Just, just awful.
Still, good article. I think you've hit the nail on the head with just about all of these.

Yeah, I have to agree. King Kong was massively self indulgent, and a real disappointment. To come off the back of such a successful series as the LOTR trilogy (both financially and critically) and to decide to remake a film that had a) already been seen by a massive audience, and b) already been remade once already, was an incredibly weak choice of film to make

Wasn't slagging The Hobbit films off, rather pointing out what I personally think are inherent problems in them. There's still lots of fun in them. - Simon

Great point.

I admire the spirited defense of the hobbit films, but I think that maybe after 'reviewing the vast amounts of rich material shot plus the material (almost exclusively from the aforementioned appendices) they wanted to but had yet to shoot' they could have trimmed some of the fat. There's that old expression that in the editing room you have to 'kill your babies' and get rid of some things that you love for the good of the film in terms of pacing and momentum. That's what a lot of directors on this list need to do. I personally felt like the first Hobbit film was treading water for a good amount of the running time. It felt like it lingered on scenes that weren't getting me to care more about the characters or telling me anything that couldn't be said quicker just as effectively. Essentially I felt like someone was knocking at the door shouting 'Story and adventure please!' and the film makers were sat there going 'Stall them. We're making a trilogy with only got two films worth of story and we can't find a decent ending point for this one. Just put something in there.' The added love triangle between lady elf, handsome hobbit and Legolas is adding nothing but screen time and as much as I love seeing elves kicking arse, drawing out the story that the book tells has done it no favours. I'll give the third one a go as I've watched the first two, but when you can see the decline in audiences enthusiasm (both general and hardcore) it's hard to deny that the hobbit films haven't turned out as well as most people hoped. In this case Northern Star, yes, I would have preferred a little interference.

It happens all the time though. Look at the Wachowski's. Given total free reign on the Matrix sequels and all the money and they ruined what could've been a much better trilogy by indulging themselves. Michael Bay used to make some (very) mildly entertaining films back when he was a bit limited by budgets and such (The Rock is the only Bay film I'd sit through now) but as his budgets and control have become limitless, he indulges himself to the detriment of everyone. Basically anyone that directs a film that goes on to become a mega hit should get 'Sometimes less is more' tattoo'd on their wrist so that when they make their next film for a studio that will say yes to any idea they throw at them, they know to hold a little back. Leave the audience wanting more, not less.

I'm pretty sure Zack Snyder was never, and should not be, called a visionary director until the marketing materials for Watchmen. Was anyone, other than marketing men, making that argument before or since? Is vision and being a visionary to some degree not required to be a director? I don't understand why the term 'visionary' so regularly prefixes such an average director as though he stands out above others. Did they change the definition to mean 'One who can create a striking image with no emotional resonance and fill entire films with lazy paper thin characterisation that wastes the talents of the cast'? I think it's more that Warner Bros put it on a trailer once and that worked as a sort of post hypnotic suggestion.

I think the only one I disagree with is Tarantino. Not a fanboy at all, but Basterds absolutely shot by. I sat down before I knew it, the movie finished. Django was fantastic but it was a touch too long.

I'm going to be that guy: I don't get why everybody loves Wes Anderson so much. Royal Tenenbaums was okay but everything I've seen of his seems a bit try-hard.

I think MOS has 'having a boss' all over it. If that film had had a good script and was solely a Snyder film, I think we would have seen the the kind of superman film I would want. The Goyer/Nolan influence aborted it entirely

I thought the same until i saw Life Aquatic and Rushmore. Love him now.

Michael Bassett - athough for silent hill revelation, I feel that might have been the stuidos fault

Peter Jackson OH GOD YES SOMEONE REIGN HIM IN PLS. The less bloated he's gotten the more bloated his films get. GIVE THAT MAN SOME PIES.

Yes Cars 2 isn't great, Cars has its moments. But for the target audience, they are perfect. Cars products, I believe, make Disney more money than any other product of theirs (not including Marvel and so on).

...One of my biggest faults with Jackson's adaptation is for all the talk pre-release about giving the characters more depth and motivation than the novel, outside of Thorin, most of the Dwarves still seem to have the same level of depth as in Tolkien's novel (which is to say, almost none.)
Instead far more of the run time seems to be spent of big CGI set-pieces that go on for far too long, and ruin the pacing of the story.

...And as for this myth about all the material from the appendices they are including, 90% of it is pretty much made up by Jackson and co...taking at best the names of characters or events from Tolkien but almost never the details. The White Council meeting in AUJ is the closest to a proper adaptation from the appendices, while the entire Battle of Azanulbizar sequence is a great example of taking a name from the appendices then changing every detail but the location it occurred at and some of the characters involved. While the Radagast material is a great example of making up stuff completely to draw out the narrative (with the Ringwraith sub-plot even contradicting part of what we knew about them in LOTR.)

There are parts of The Hobbit films I love, and parts I loathe, and the parts I loathe aren't even necessarily changes from the book...the changes to Thorin's character are particularly strong. But what is incredibly clear to me, is how badly these films needed a thorough edit, the fact that the first film can go for nearly 3 hours and have them just cross the Misty Mountains is ridiculous!

Cars is okay - but a complete ripoff of Doc Hollywood. Cars 2 is rubbish. I don't think it even works for the intended audience - my kids get bored of it halfway through and the spy story is too convoluted for the youngest. They want more Lightning McQueen, not Mater. The best Pixar films have worked for all ages - Cars 2 is aimed at kids, but at the same time is cynical in a way Pixar hadn't been until that point. It feels more like something shat out of the Disney Corporation than a loved work of art. Pixar has higher standards than that - or at least it did.

Think it has been obvious since King Kong that there aren't enough/any people around PJ who are willing to say no to him. Or maybe there are and he ignores them.

All the action scenes in KK and Hobbit are bloated and over-long. Just because you can have a dinosaur stampede or a roller-coaster chase through a goblin dungeon or a massive game of dragon hide & seek, doesn't mean you should.

Sorry Peter, I only say this because I love you, but another Jackson (Michael) surrounded himself with yes men and look what happened.

n.b. Look what happened to George Lucas.

That's exactly how I've always felt about Tarintino. The talent is unavoidable, but every film he's made since Jackie Brown has been lightweight and baggy. He is in desperate need of a new editor.

I'd love to see Wes Anderson try something new, too. I'm a big fan of all of his films (Even The Darjeeling Limited), but it's been fascinating over the last few years to see his old friend Noah Baumbach become, as far as I can see, the more talented filmmaker- Frances Ha is nigh-on perfect; like a Wes Anderson film set in the real world, populated by real people living real lives, providing the audience with a real emotional connection. Having built up this fantastic body of work, I'd love to see him either ape Baumbach, or collaborate with him again (As per Fantastic Mr Fox and Life Aquatic) and play for a more naturalistic approach, or try a totally new genre, setting and story, such as the suggested sci-fi or film noir. How I'd love to see Rushmore in space.

I have to disagree with Woody Allen. Even his worst films tend to rise above those of other directors. It is clearly a case of being spoilt. And I agree, some movies hurt (even the occasionally charming To Rome With Love), but he always has a message and a wonderful OST and things to be rescued from the mess.

I also have to disagree a bit with Lasseter. I love Cars, the first one. It was a charming movie.

I think that Snyder and Anderson could do more with strong scripts than with editing. Their visuals are practically perfect, creative and with a strong personality, but their scripts tend to fall flat for all the beauty.

Jackson definitely needs an editor, or at least someone to tell him that a movie can last less than 2.5 hours without shame. Same goes for Tarantino from me, but then again, I've never been too much into him. I see what he does and why it is great, but I don't really like it.

Pulp Fiction was 2.30 long. Just saying.
And i´ll take any of his works over Jackie Brown every day.(Maybe not Death Proof).

I'd argue the problem isn't Snyder as a director, it's the writers he gets to work with. Technically he is always impressive (even the dire Sucker Punch looks great), but he works best with a good writer (James Gunn on Dawn of the Dead and David Hayter on Watchmen) and worst when he's writing solo.
Given they brought in Chris Terrio On BvsS, WB may well be trying to control what Goyer came up with.

We don't normally agree - but dude, here I 100% totally agree. with those pies, give him pints... lots of them.

Why is Tim Burton not on this list?
This guy SERIOUSLY needs a boss.

Pros: Sure, when he makes his own material - like Corpse Bride - he totally kiss arse. Some of the best dark movies around... the guy in a genuis.

Cons: do not let him anywhere near some other works - he will totally wreck it. Not only wreck it... but destroy all semblance to the originals. He has total control and abuses it. It then gets worse, as people who are not used to the originals now think he is gospel - he is quoted in memes ect. He has not totally hijacked the originals.
Examples;
Planet of the Fail
Fails in blunderland
Batfail
Batfail won't quit
James and the Epic Fail
Mars Fails
sleepy Pigs Ear
Charlie and the Legendary Fail
Dark Failure

Every single one of these films is a total disregard for the source material. The school teacher in Sleepy Hollow is the bad guy and the ghost is fake....he cant even get that right. the planet the apes are on IS EARTH FFS..
Bloody dicksplash

Should stick to Frankenweenie

Great article, but you're wrong about Basterds and Django. Sorry. Just sayin.

I agree about Michael Bay for sure and to some extent Peter Jackson. I really think The Hobbit should have been one, maybe two movies at the most. The Hobbit trilogy that we are seeing is a bit overdrawn, and all the additions are muddling the story too much. Michael Bay needs someone looking over his shoulder to tell him that there needs to be some story there in between all that action.

I agree about Lasseter, I don't think he's made a bad film. Cars 2 wasn't a bad movie by any means.

I approve this message.

I would have agreed with you before seeing the actual movies. AUJ had it's moments, and had whole sections that were well done adaptation-wise. But Desolation of Smaug? That movie had so much bloat i at times forgot i was watching a film about The Hobbit. And the stuff they're "adapting" from the Appendices is ridiculous in it's invention from whole cloth. The last half hour of that film has almost nothing to do with what Tolkien actually wrote, and everything to do with the childish (not *childlike*) inner twelve year old, and Fran Walsh's and Phillipa Boyens' fan fic.

Peter Jackson's self indulgent tendencies started way back with bits of Return of the King (Legolas' antics, ghost armies), but was held mostly in check. Then with each subsequent film (esp. King Kong, which is 2/3 great, 1/3 just dumb) he's gotten worse and worse, to the point that he hasn't heard of a physically impossible, stupid computer generated gag that he can't fit in somewhere.

It had been re-made multiple times. I like Jackson's version better than the other remakes but it's biggest fault was the overly long scenes, specifically on the island.

Agreed. The author of the article finds two movies that he personally didn't like and cries that Lasseter needs to be reigned in? Complete nonsense. The rest of the directors he seems to make a pretty good case for.

Peter Jackson's King Kong was so long and dull that I feel like I'm still watching it

Agreed. He took an hour and a half 30s blockbuster and made his version (while as grandiose as the original) way too damn long... and then released an extended cut. Which made me groan when I saw it. I might have liked KK more if it was under 2 hours.

Wes Anderson needs Owen Wilson back as a co-writer.

We are commenting on two fronts now! =P
I never dared watch Cars 2 because everyone was saying it was so bad, I didn't want to taint my wonderful Cars memories. Maybe I'll give it chance this summer...

Every director needs a boss. The Wachowskis are another great example.

Give people too much creative freedom, give them the ability to throw money at every problem, and creativity suffers.

And another thing that Zack Snyder needs? He needs to read comic books written by someone other than Frank Miller or Alan Moore.

man, I can be a bit of a hater... but I'm right every time and I enjoy it! ;-) so I'll sabotage this very decent article with some evil digressions, 2 things to say...

Kermode is 100% correct about Michael Bay. the man is scum

and secondly just want to say how much I hate Lovely Bones. It's my worst film ever... for me... insanely bad

Not the case. I like Cars, although have trouble with Cars 2. I just think they're notably below the standard of everything else that Pixar has done. Ironic, given who's done them.

Lasseter remains a genius, who has made better films that I ever will. I'm entirely good with that.

Possibly some simple time and money limits would reign in most of these directors?

"If you go a minute over 1 hour 50 minutes then you don't get paid. If you go 10 minutes over then you owe us money" . . and a similar restriction for the money side.

If the directors want to get excessive, let them put it in the Extended Director's Cut Boxed set.

I love this article and have thought the same thing about most of these directors. However, I disagee that Bastards and Django where too long. Quite the opposite. I think there was more story and more stuff to delve into. Not telling more made certain sequences and/or characters feel hollow and dull, leading to uneven pacing and occasionally tedious storytelling. Bastards should have been two movies and I hope to see the Django mini series come to fruition.

THIS.

Micheal Bay needs to be fired. Forever.

Target Audience movies do not make Great Films. Cars/Cars 2 are terrible.

Cars 2 appeals to young kids, sure. But Pixar, at their best, appeal to EVERYONE.

I only have three things to say, Suckerpunch sexist? All the protagonists were women kicking ass! Sexist towards men maybe. The first Cars was pretty good, also Transformers 3 was much much better than 2, the opening shots on cybertron in 3D were particularly stunning.

Well I believe the target audicence think they are great movies.

i remember watching an interview with michael bay and jerry bruckhiemer about pearl harbour and them going on about how to make the fighting as fast and as exciting as possible, whilst im sure theres a certain thrill to combat there is also extreme horror and thats where the movie fell down for me, surely someone there could have reminded them

i also liked king kong but maybe 20 minutes could have been cut out, the last 10 minutes is just brilliant mind

The second Hobbit movie didn't feel long at all i thought it went quite quickly.

Don't have any major opinions on them except Tarrintino, who I am a big, big fan of. I see where you're coming from, though I disagree about IB and DU being too long, I thought they were a fine length. But they are 2.5+ hours a piece, so, like I say, I understand why they may seem to long for some people.

If you don't think Suckerpunch was sexist I worry for the women in your life.

I can't help but notice you didn't provide any reasons as to why it would be considered so, while I did provide a reason why it wouldn't. Empty words.

All the protagonists were women acting in ways designed to titillate men.
If you think that having all the women dressed in anime style stripper outfits or carrying out a lapdance as part of their escape plan is empowering you're mistaken.

Yes! The problem is not the length of his films! I have an attention span so I don't mind. The problem is his use of CG! The action scenes in the Hobbit are an embarrassment! And not just for the fact that they already look fake, they are so OTT and indulgent, they just stand out so far from the regular scenes for somehow obeying different laws of physics. The dino chase in King Kong, crap in an otherwise great film. The dragon chase in DoS, crap. The barrel chase- oh dear god, one of the single worst scenes in cinema history!

Nolan had no input in the film. His name was there to put on the credits. Snyder is a terrible director, he has yet to make a good film

Haha glad we agree on this Jonathan! Sorry about our earlier headbutting, I really should leave the Aintitcool attitude at the DOG door ;) ....we should start a forced-feeding petition.

X100000000000000000. And his new boss would say: remember when you were good? Do THAT again. Or be drowned in mascara you bellend.

I think Nolan's weakness is the characters, bar a bit of Dark Knight. It's like a flashy but sensible car - surface looks great, but no character at all. Not seen one movie where I got the feels for his charcters, whereas I have in some of Snyder's.

My theory on why modern movies are so long? Digital Projection.

Films used to be distributed on, well, film. A movie would usually come in (2) metal cans, each containing (3) reels. Each reel was about 20 minutes, 20 x 6 = 2 hour movie.

Go well over 2 hours (like most films today) and you're shipping a 3rd can, and shipping cost alone is 50% more.

And striking the film? Let's assume $2000 for a print X 3000 screens = $6,000,000! 50% more than that is $9,000,000. Your lack of editing just cost the studio 3 million bucks, or 1/3rd your salary as director. Good luck with that.

Now with digital project, it doesn't matter. They ship a hard drive and decryption key. 3 hour epic and 90 minute cartoon cost the same to distribute.

It's not just lazy directors without editors of course. Big SFX films get pushed so late in the schedule there's no time to test them and cut down. It's faster to make a long movie, basically (see Pirates sequels 2 and 3)

I heard (although cannot confirm it's true) that PJ wanted The Hobbit to be one or two movies but the producers would only finance it if it was three, so I would suggest he actually doesn't need a boss at all as they're the ones who mucked it up in the first place.

I totally agree. Although I actually like OoTP but there you go,

You're right ! ;)

I never thought I'd see the day when a film was (correctly) described as 'a complete ripoff of Doc Hollywood'. :-)

I can't see what you being pretty has to do with this.

Same here dude :) haha

And lace those pies with Gaffer Gamgee's special weed ;)

Just a few comments:

I thought Bay's The Island was surprisingly pretty good, good concept and although it went a bit straight actiony by the end, still worth a watch.

I thought Jackson's Return of the King felt the longest and most tedious of his drawn out films, mainly the seven different endings that went on forever, so I disagree that he started that AFTER the LOTR films. Though I guess I understand more WHY he did it with Return of the King, to make sure everything was wrapped up fully.

I thought Django felt pretty compact for a later Tarantino film. To me, and I know this isn't the popular consensus, the Kill Bill films were the most guilty of long drawn out boring parts that didn't add anything (while in contrast I thought Basterd's drawn out bits DID add a lot, and were the best parts).

I've always found Wes Anderson's stuff clever and interesting but not actually entertaining or particularly funny. But I get why people love them.

My kids don't think so, they find Cars 2 boring. Just because they are children doesn't mean they have to have poor art directed at them.

Actually Tim Burton needs a director to work with. Let him design the worlds of the film and some of the set pieces, but he needs someone else to come in and act as the actual director of his films.

I'm not entirely sure how much that would improve things. True, the model you describe basically reflects arguably the best thing with his name to it, The Nightmare Before Christmas (it's excellent; it's also about the only work of his I can stand), but a lot of the worlds he's created I just find to be quite unpleasant to watch (as in Edward Scissorhands or Alice in Wonderland). Others are ruined by certain character choices (I think Johnny Depp is an incredible actor, but Charlie and The Chocolate Factory was a good film until his Wonka showed up); I'm not sure how much of that would be changed by having Burton as producer but not as director. But it couldn't hurt.

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