beavis wrote: ↑
July 9th, 2020, 12:28 pm
analyzing my favorites and looking at the people who made multiple favorites for me, on top for this decade are most surely:
- Carlos Reygadas: master in making a scene last exactly as long as it needs to be, and making something very personal into something universal. With both Nuestro Tiempo and Post Tenebras Lux he has become a big favorite and modern master, overcoming the fact that I did not really like his early work! at all
- Pedro Costa: already established as a modern master, and an important voice for Portugese cultural heritage, but with Cavalo Dinheiro he made a monumental masterpiece in my eyes, it moved me profoundly like only seldom happens
- Apichatpong Weerasethakul: also well established for me before this decade, but he still made two absolute favorites in this time, and his major influence on young filmmakers across the world became so apparent, that his import cannot be overstated
- Sergey Loznitsa: very prolific in this decade, moving from documentary into fiction with impressive results and also not losing those documentary roots. I am not much of a documentary fan, but I love his work in that field almost as much as his fiction. He is always expressing art, besides expressing a message.
- Paolo Sorrentino: perfected his style. While I can understand that both Youth and Loro will seem like a bit too much style for some, or just a repeat of personal tropes, it has been called indulgent, I don't think that criticism would stick to La Grande Bellezza. There is such a beauty and such a layering of themes there, coming together so satisfyingly... perfect, that I even watched it twice in cinema... which is something I almost never do.
very honorable mentions:
-Athina Rachel Tsangari, hasn't been very prolific, but everything she does is amazing. When the "weird greeks" came into the picture, everybody praised Yorgos Lanthimos (who is not bad), but seem to forget this equally unique and complex voice.
-Nicolas Winding Refn, I agree with Lonewolf that he has made his best work this decade. And again an example of a director I did not previously like, but the mastery of Drive is undeniable. His focus can pull a bit too much towards style, or his subject matter isn't very profound, to put it another way, but when that fits the subject so well like in Drive it can become more than just the sum of its parts (very similar to the perfect fit of Noe's shallowness to the nihilism of his masterpiece Irréversible in the previous decade).
- Bruno Dumont did his absolute best work at the start of the decade with Hors Satan and Camille Claudel 1915 and after that started to reinvent himself a bit, which has been a fascinating, if uncertain, journey so far.
- Olivier Assayas, a stable factor in French cinema with multiple favorites for me in the decade, not every film is as challenging or refreshing as one could hope, but I always like what he has to say.
- Eskil Vogt and Joachim Trier bring such psychological depth to their movies, elevating them high above the genre/concept they often work from. Thelma and Blind are stunning, Oslo 31 August is a moving update of Malle's Le Feu Follet. For me it did not surpass the original, making it a bit unnecessary, but for a lot of people it is their best work, so I would recommend that as well.
- Terrence Malick. while I'll always hold the Thin Red Line in high regard as a masterpiece and was initially very impressed by the Tree of Life, Malick has become a bit of a challenge with each new work for me. This is a good thing in one regard. He always makes me think. But I haven't been able to embrace his work as much anymore. Not sure if the many fanboys and copycat-directors are playing a role in this... turning his style into an empty gimmick, but he certainly is pushing himself towards that edge too. I would praise Song to Song and To the Wonder without hesitation though, and would also gladly re-watch and reevaluate his work in the years ahead.
- Terry Gilliam. Well established of course, but when you make two masterpieces like Zero Theorem and the Man Who Killed Don Quixote, you deserve to be mentioned!
and I'll close it of with debuting directors that haven't gotten many films under their belt yet, but everything they did shows great promise, great style and great originality:
- Aditya Vikram Sengupta, for Labour of Love and Jonaki
- Bas Devos for Violet, Hellhole and Ghost Tropic
I concur with your top group, but don't like Winding-Refn's films (despite his obvious talent as an image maker) which strike me as sick0-perverse, minsogynst, and inauthentic, almost like a trashy version of David Lynch.
Here's what I wrote about Drive, which is tame compared to the 2 he has made since:
While Nils-Winding Refn clearly has "artistic ambitions," I don't find his films all that interesting in the long run. Both the story and characters in Drive are nothing more than sketches that have been utilized countless times before, and the only thing that made the film different, and the slightest bit interesting to me, was the director's cinematic style, which tapped into techniques (including a dash of subtle sensation) that are uncommon to films of this type.
Refn prefers using minimalist storytelling and slick styling to make superficial associations without providing anything of real substance to sink into or explore, opting instead for typical Hollywood action pathways in the end.
People have called the driver "enigmatic" and "mysterious," but the truth is, he only seems so because virtually no information is provided about him beyond a few hints, and his strength is only demonstrated in his superhuman ability to out-think and out perform everyone else with the chips on the line just like John Wayne.
The entire movie actually resembled a template for a video game or contemporary action comic book. Just consider what is given import in the film, as well as where, and through what it aspires to take us, moreover how it ends up: Neither story nor character development stray very far from a basic plot, and there is a long, violent conclusion (actually a series of violent incidents, one after another, that end up nihilistically leaving no man standing).
If you want to see a movie with some similarities that actually develops an authentic story and character, with a real sense of place, try Bullhead, from Belgium. In fact, I would argue that the most interesting cinema these days is not being made in English, though it is only seen and appreciated by tiny minority.
...Drive does work in several ways:
1) because Refn creates his own brand of stylish cinema by crossing in elements of mainstream cinema, combining "realism" and the "potboiler" with touches of Bergman, using an artsy technique that mixes long takes and silence with quick edits, sound, and fetishist action/violence in a way that titillates a movie goer who has never seen anything like it, much less in the context of a genre film.
2) as a post modern, deconstructionist take on the genre film, a la Jarmush (think Ghost Dog, or the more deconstructionist Limits Of Control, which I couldn't stand), Cronenberg (Eastern Promises and History Of Violence), even early Tarantino and the later-day Scorsese. References to films like Mann's, Thief, are spot on, but there are also numerous references to Peckinpah (and Steve McQueen) in particular (The Getaway), as well as to Sergio Leone, which not only give it support, but make its contemporary take/styling more than just derivative.
I wonder what Godard would think of it? After all, Breathless was the first deconstructed "cool, hard guy" film to be made, more than 50 years ago.
Problem is, there was not one thing about Drive that I have not already seen dozens of times in American movies, beginning with the method-actor characterizations of the 50's and 60's (Brando comes first to mind, but carries right on down through Clint Eastwood, and just about every Hollywood action anti-hero).
The driver with no name, who rarely speaks: A toothpick in his mouth tough guy (with a sensitive soul) who looks like a GQ model, and whose only expression other than stone face is a glib smile that's supposed to mean everything he doesn't express... I already said that Gosling borrows a lot from McQueen, but he also uses James Dean and the young Mickey Rourke, who, of course tapped the young Brando.
Problem is, with each reincarnation of this archetype the meaning gets diluted, until it becomes only a posture and nothing more, effective only in how it conjures up these other actors and their movies, while contributing nothing to the archetype it is alluding to.
Driver actually has no character of his own, only mannerisms, and there is nothing substantial about the film. It's only interesting in terms of all the movies and characters it references from Hollywood past, trimmed down and reliant upon familiar archetypes and stories, done up with a contemporary styling that blends art house cinema and Hollywood.
At times Refn's postmodern, playful stew works wonders, but there are also times when it backfires completely, such as when the Driver boards the elevator and kisses the object of his courtly love (who's nothing more than the object of a fairytale knight's devotion) for the first time before pushing her aside and not only murdering the hit man standing next to him but stomping him repeatedly as we hear his bones crack. How dashing! How manly! Cut to the loving face of his Madonna as she backs safely into the garage.
Bottom line is that there was just not enough "new material" to really captivate me much less enrich the bare-bones' story, and it ended up being not much different from all of the other movies built around dysfunctional males who can only find their way (and know how to survive) as warriors, by means of repeated acts of violence against whatever "bad guys" are threatening them, or some innocent member of society.
The only thing I really wondered about in Drive is what made Driver the way he was, or why everyone in the movie had to die except for the girl? Talk about self-defeating.... Half way into the film (once I fully understood what the director was doing) I could pretty much intuit everything that was going to happen scene by scene, moreover how it would be portrayed.
For me, despite a few moments of genuine brilliance, this film was ultimately not very satisfying, even somewhat pretentious.