Blogger Q&A: Who’s On Your Directors’ Mount Rushmore?
In the Blogger Q&A series, we ask our bloggers here at Flickchart to share their opinions on a movie-related question. Got something you want to ask the bloggers? Submit a question on our official Flickchart Facebook page and it could be featured in a future post!
Imagine: someone will build a monument to your favorite film directors. It will be seen and recognized the world over; who do you choose to represent the best in film? Here’s what some of our bloggers have come up with to answer this question.
David: Akira Kurosawa, Stanley Kubrick, David Lean, John Ford
With an Akira Kurosawa film at #1 and six others in my top 100, he’s a shoe-in. In my Rushmore schema, he’s the George Washington: a foundational figure who inspired later greats like Lucas and Spielberg. Plus, like Washington, Kurosawa wasn’t born in the United States of America. I haven’t met a Stanley Kubrick film I didn’t like, so with four films in my top 100 he’s my second selection. His aesthetics were experimental and progressive, and often overpoweringly beautiful. Teddy Roosevelt, patron president of our National Parks, would have appreciated them. John Ford is already closely associated with large rock formations — specifically the ones in Monument Valley, Utah, where he and his longtime collaborator John Wayne shot a whole mess o’ gorgeous Westerns and helped to define one of America’s most potent mythic figures: the lone cowboy standing tall in a wide, wild land. He’s got 7 films in the top half of my chart and slots into Jefferson’s niche. I don’t think there’s an easy comparison to be made between Abraham Lincoln and the British director David Lean, but I can’t leave him off. His Lawrence of Arabia and Bridge on the River Kwai have everything I want in a movie, and in a national monument: wide vistas, compelling figures, and space to reflect on the meaning of it all. – David Conrad
Jeff: Quentin Tarantino, Edgar Wright, Jean Rollin, Mel Brooks
Please note that I am definitely not going to be as historically connected as David is. I’m fine with that. I’m only vaguely familiar with Mount Rushmore – I have never personally been there, so I’m taking it at everyone’s word that it exists.
Starting with Quentin Tarantino: He represents something that I feel needs to be more prevalent in Hollywood. When he creates a film, he takes almost complete control over it – the studio mostly stays out of his way. And based on his track record, it’s not hard to see why. He has a singular vision for each film he makes, and is not willing to compromise with anyone over it. He’s somehow both a renegade in the film world and an established mainstay. Not many can claim the same.
Next we have Edgar Wright. What I admire so much about him is his attention to detail. Almost every single shot in his movies is so specifically framed for its own effect. Take Hot Fuzz, with Timothy Dalton exhibiting the same smile as his framed picture behind him. But it’s not a ham-fisted joke – the reference isn’t slammed in your face, it’s floated up there for you to appreciate without insulting your intelligence. I also admire his wide range of emotion present in his films. Shaun of the Dead, for example, has you frightened, laughing, and deeply saddened.
Jean Rollin. An obscure one, I admit. What he represents for me is an entire genre of films that I appreciate more than I ought to. I previously wrote about one of my favorite movies, Zombie Lake, in my Depths of Obscurity post on Nazi Zombies. Take a horror genre, mix it with no real scares, but basically only atmosphere, random and excessive nudity, and a loopy, droning soundtrack. It’s a winning formula every time.
Lastly, there’s Mel Brooks. He is someone I admire and appreciate so much. Take something horrible and make fun of it to diminish its effects on society. Take The Producers, for example. Either version. His character creates a musical that’s meant to offend everyone, but ends up being wildly successful. The featured number is called “Springtime for Hitler,” and the dance number features a number of performers dressed in Nazi-style uniforms twirling around to a jaunty tune. Brooks takes a man renowned forever in history as a mass-murdering dictator and reduces him to a failed Broadway number. Mel Brooks shows the entire world that we need to laugh at tragedy to move on from it. – Jeff Lombardi
Nigel: David Fincher, Christopher Nolan, Steven Spielberg, James Cameron
I don’t know how to answer this in any way other than by picking four directors whose movies I have always enjoyed. I can’t pick four directors that represent a different cross-section of filmmaking to paint a full picture; I can only pick my favorites, and thus, directors with multiple films in the top tier of my chart. David Fincher‘s dark eye fascinates me. Never have I observed a director more meticulous, and even his lesser films (Gone Girl, or Alien 3, whose failure was so not his fault) feature amazing camerawork, astonishing attention to detail, and haunting visuals. I have seen every one of Fincher’s feature films as of this writing, and he’s the only director I can claim that for. I will also be able to claim it for Christopher Nolan, once I get to the Interstellar Blu-ray that is mocking me from my shelf. Nolan has a knack for making the unrealistic seem plausible, whether it’s a man who fights crime in a giant bat suit, or thieves invading a person’s dreams. Steven Spielberg birthed the modern blockbuster. Though some may consider this a blessing that is mixed, at best, there’s no denying that the man behind Jaws and Indiana Jones has created some of the most enduring entertainments in modern film history. And the same goes for James Cameron: Though he may be finding himself lost on Pandora of late, he brought us Aliens, The Terminator and The Abyss, all while pushing the limits of film technology more than almost any other filmmaker. – Nigel Druitt
Ben: Charlie Chaplin, Howard Hawkes, Michael Curtiz, Orson Welles
The first spot goes to the once most recognizable person in the world. Charlie Chaplin left an indelible stamp on early cinema, his iconic Tramp bridging the silent and sound eras. Six of the films he directed have been added to the National Film Registry (including The Gold Rush, City Lights, and Modern Times).
The second spot goest to Howard Hawkes, who had a long, successful, and wide-ranging career. He demonstrated mastery of many genres: the screwball comedies Bringing Up Baby and His Girl Friday, the complex noir The Big Sleep, the sweeping western epic Red River, and the musical comedy Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
In the third spot, Michael Curtiz is best known for directing one of greatest films of all time: the romantic drama Casablanca. He also directed many top-notch swashbuckling adventures: Captain Blood, The Adventures of Robin Hood, and The Sea Hawk. His career showed plenty of range, including the inventive noir Mildred Pierce and the musical romantic comedy White Christmas.
Orson Welles deserves the final spot for the first (and almost only) film he directed: his masterpiece, Citizen Kane. Welles demonstrated a mastery of filmmaking technique that was often ahead of its time, resulting in mixed reactions from critics and audiences. Despite struggles with the studio system, he eventually went on to direct more excellent films: the period drama The Magnificent Ambersons, the atmospheric noir The Lady from Shanghai, and the thrilling noir Touch of Evil. His later work is just as good: The Trial, Chimes at Midnight, and F for Fake. – Ben Shoemaker
Jandy: Alfred Hitchcock, Billy Wilder, Jean-Luc Godard, and Joel & Ethan Coen
There are a lot of ways you could approach a Mount Rushmore of film directors. You could go with most historically important, most influential on the history of film, most consistently high-quality films, pure personal favorites. Mine’s probably a combination of all of those, or at least I had all those measures of quality in mind when making my choices. There’s little question Alfred Hitchcock is my favorite film director of all time – three films in my Top Ten (including my #1, Rear Window), six in my Top 100, and 16 in my top 1000 (out of over 3500). There’s also no question that he’s among the most well-known, well-respected, influential, and consistent filmmakers of all time. People are still calling a certain type of thriller “Hitchcockian.” He was always innovative, never willing to sit back and do things the same old way, even when he did stay close to his favorite genre of suspense. Billy Wilder was perhaps not quite the influential innovator that Hitchcock was, but he was incredibly good at making popular entertainment with a deeper edge, and, along with Preston Sturges, paved the way for writer/directors in Hollywood. He also had a knack for genre-hopping with ease in a way Hitchcock couldn’t manage. For pure, consistent and sometimes scandalous entertainment value, Wilder can’t be beat. Jean-Luc Godard encapsulates my love for French cinema, particularly the French New Wave. He’s experimental and playful, but also deeply thoughtful about cinema and what makes it work, constantly testing its boundaries and then blowing right past them. I admit to not having seen a lot of his post-1968 work, but the fifteen films he made before that all rank pretty high for me. He’s also quite influential as a representative of the anarchic side of the New Wave, allowing for a new cool filmmaking style that would heavily influence filmmaking in the 1960s and 1970s – and right up through Tarantino and beyond. Some might argue that Joel & Ethan Coen haven’t been around long enough to fit in the same company as my other choices, but I disagree. They’re still working today, turning out a film every other year or so, and they have very few films in their thirty-year career that fall short of greatness. They also genre-hop with ease, while maintaining a firm style as both writers and directors (a Coen script is as recognizable as a Coen shot), and their films consistently interrogate deep existential questions with a variety of tones, while never ceasing to be surprising and entertaining. – Jandy Hardesty