Great Directors: Movie Review

By Rainer, Peter | The Christian Science Monitor, July 16, 2010 | Go to article overview

Great Directors: Movie Review


Rainer, Peter, The Christian Science Monitor


'Great Directors' brings the likes of Bertolucci and Lynch out from behind the camera to talk technique.

Movie actors are notoriously inarticulate about their craft, but what

about movie directors? If the documentary "Great Dir-ectors" is any

indication, the returns are a bit more promising.

Director Angela Is-mailos set out to do more than simply interview

10 acclaimed international directors. She sought to celebrate them.

Her lineup of filmmakers is eclectic but, at least in Ismailos's

view, they share a cutting-edge psychosocial sensibility. Her honor

roll: Bernardo Bertolucci, David Lynch, Stephen Frears, Agnes Varda,

Ken Loach, Liliana Cavani, Todd Haynes, Cath-erine Breillat,

Rich-ard Linklater, and John Sayles.

A number of these directors are, for me, either minor, such as

Cavani (whose Nazi fantasia "The Night Porter," with Dirk Bogarde and

Charlotte Rampling, is an inadvertent camp classic) or, like

Breillat, somewhat unfamiliar. Loach, the British social realist, has

never been a big favorite of mine. The strong-arm politicking in his

movies often subverts their humanity.

There's a revealing moment in "Great Directors" when Ismailos,

strolling with Loach through what looks like an ornate garden estate,

is reminded by him that this is a movie location and not his own

grounds. Just in case we in the audience thought he was profiting

from his films.

Her interview with Sayles, who in some respects is an American

Loach, is much more open-ended, perhaps because, on occasion, he has

also been an actor. (He's also been a novelist and short-story

writer, something that Ismailos doesn't bring up, though she does get

into his sideline career as a Hollywood screenwriter/script doctor

for hire on everything from "Piranha" to "Jurassic Park.") Speaking

of his coal miner film "Matewan," Sayles notes that: "In America,

there is a class system and we don't want to talk about it."

Frears is an interesting case, and a good talker.

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