Blog Archives

Profile: Billy Wilder

The A-Z of Movie Directors

Or more specifically, my A-Z of movie directors. Everyone has their own, and I invite everyone to share theirs. Although you can probably guess, it’s a list of directors sorted alphabetically, with one director for each letter of the alphabet, for example, the letter A could be Akira Kurosawa or Paul Thomas Anderson, depending on whether you choose to sort alphabetically by the first letter of the first name or the last name. Either one is optional, you don’t have to restrict it to using the first letter of the surname.

Anyway, here’s my list.

A

Paul Thomas Anderson: The greatest living American director today, Paul Thomas Anderson has consistently served excellent films about the human condition, live in the San Fernando Valley and character studies.

Best Movie: There Will Be Blood (2007)

B

Ingmar Bergman: The king of European cinema, the late Ingmar Bergman was a man who knew everything about cinema, and made films that covered various excellent moments in human life, confronting topics such as religion, sexuality and human relationships.

Best Movie: Persona (1966)

C

Francis Ford Coppola: In the 70s, at least, this dedicated man went through Hell (from the time constraints of The Godfather making to the infamous tragedies of the Apocalypse Now shoot) to make some great movies and cannot be ignored.

Best Movie: The Godfather (1972)

D

Darren Aronofsky: A man whose knowledge of cinema has resulted in some moving, horrifying images put to screen, Aronofsky tests the limits of film and uses his strong filming tactics to create original, studied pieces.

Best Film: Requiem for a Dream (2000)

E

Edgar Wright: From fast-paced, extra-extreme editing, to quick cuts, witty humour delivered with notable velocity and film reference after countless film reference, it’s nice to have a fresh British take on modern comedy.

Best Movie: Shaun of the Dead (2004)

F

David Fincher: A director whose understanding of the foundations of a decent thriller and whose analysis of human behaviour is fascinatingly key, Fincher has presented us with his own fresh outlook on darker societies.

Best Movie: Fight Club (1999)

G

Vincent Gallo: A doubtful and surprising choice, I know, but this man deserves his place here for his simple cleverness and accuracy in either comedy (Buffalo ’66) or deep-seated tragic drama (The Brown Bunny). An interesting, misunderstood man.

Best Movie: Buffalo ’66 (1998)

H

Alfred Hitchcock: One of the founders of action thriller, Hitchcock has managed to, time after, time, produce interesting, thought-provoking thrillers, and earned his name among the best of Hollywood’s directors.

Best Movie: Rear Window (1954)

I

Alejandro Gonzalez Iñàrritu: A Mexican film director whose movies examine racism, prejudice, coincidence, chance and human connections unlike any others, Iñàrritu is a man who knows what he films, and makes strong, beautiful movies.

Best Movie: Amores Perros (2000)

J

Joel Coen: One of a duet of extremely talented brothers, Joel Coen and Ethan Coen have consistenly and regularly produced interesting, often hilarious, always moving movies that have taken their place in great movie history.

Best Movie: Fargo (1996)

K

Krzysztof Kieslowski: Though the man only made four movies (and one ten hour movie split into ten “episodes”), those films are beautiful, masterful films of exploration and deep meaning about humanity. His premature death is a sadness, but his films live on.

Best Movie: Three Colours: Red (1994)

L

David Lynch: Probably the most original film director in Hollywood at the moment, Lynch is a man who can formulate mammoth, confusing tales, and decorate them with his original, unique and poignant outlook on life, America and humanity. A fantastic, strange man.

Best Movie: Mulholland Dr. (2001)

M

Michael Haneke: A fantastic director whose techniques involving violence and sex are unique, clever and smart. Read my full article about his career here.

Best Movie: Cachè (2005)

N

Christopher Nolan: Reinventor of the Batman franchise and director of twisting, unbelievable films, Christopher Nolan is a man whose vast knowledge and superior opinions of use involving special effects is mind-boggling. His films are accurate, yet will always be questionable in the annals of film discussion.

Best Movie: Memento (2000)

O

Orson Welles: From Citizen Kane to The Muppet Movie, Orson Welles is a man who dominates the screen with his presence, as well as his inventive imagination and timeless visionary representations of life and living.

Best Movie: Citizen Kane (1941)

P

Alexander Payne: An offbeat filmmaker whose indie gems are held in high consideration among others, Alexander Payne’s films are clever, interesting and fun to watch.

Best Movie: Sideways (2004)

Q

Quentin Tarantino: A man whose movies excel in glorious violence, subtle humour and beautifully written and choreographed scenes of fantastic acting, Quentin Tarantino’s movies have become famous for their awesomeness.

Best Movie: Pulp Fiction (1994)

R

Robert Altman: From the annoying yet cinematically awesome touch of overlapping dialogue, to the true cleverness into which he weaves the tales of various characters, Altman’s films are brilliant works of art.

Best Movie: Short Cuts

S

Martin Scorsese: The King of comedy… and gangster movies, character studies, psychological thrillers, street dramas and others, Scorsese is a powerful presence among all cinematic directors. Awesome.

Best Movie: Goodfellas (1990)

T

Lars von Trier: Whether or not you think he’s an egotistical Anti-Semitic bastard, that his films are pointless, narcissistic, and hate-driven, you have to admit von Trier is smart, clever and knows how to make a movie. Feel free to disagree, but I freakin love this guy’s films.

Best Movie: Dogville (2003)

U

Edgar G. Ulmer: Sure, he’s only made one or two good films, and you may not recognize his name or even his movies, but he’s a suitable enough choice as any for the letter ‘U.’

Best Film: Detour (1945)

V

Gus Van Sant: Love him or hate him, this is a man whose smarts for the film industry is original and interesting, and who seems to perfectly capture whatever he wants with a camera in a perfectly acceptable (though rarely accessible) manner.

Best Movie: Elephant (2003)

W

Billy Wilder: A man whose excellence has resulted in some of the best movies Hollywood has ever had to offer, Wilder is a talented man that no one will ever forget.

Best Movie: Sunset Blvd. (1950)

X

Xavier Dolan: Though I’ve only seen one of his movies, it was fair enough and he’s deserving of a place here. Besides, how many directors have a name beginning with X?

Best Movie: I Killed My Mother (2009)

Y

Terence Young: His Bond movies weren’t the best, but nevertheless they were still Bond, and decent ones at that. And I must remind you how stressful it is to find directors whose names begin with a certain letter.

Best Movie: Dr. No (1962)

Z

Robert Zemeckis: He’s made some great American movies, ones that will never be forgotten, and he’s a fitting way to end this alphabetical list of 26.

Best Movie: Forrest Gump (1994)

Phew! So that’s my list. Leave a comment below telling me what you thought of it, and what some of your own favourite directors are.

Thanks for reading.

100 Things I Love About the Movies

Recently, John at The Droid You’re Looking For made a sequel to his hugely successful “100 Things I Love About the Movies” post, and being a fan of both posts, I’ve decided it’s about time I did my own. It was a very inspirational and thoughtful post, and if you read it yourself it might just make you want to do one of the same. For now, here’s mine:

1: Hi-hi-hi there, at last we meet.

2: The shaking fence in Evil Dead.

3: A rape depicted through the clever usage of a silent movie in Pedro Almodovar’s Talk to Her.

4: Qantas never crashed.

5: Whatever you want, Leo Getz.

6: The stunning ending to Lars von Trier’s Dogville.

7: Dave. Stop, Dave. I can feel it. My mind is going. There is no question about it.

8: The best movie cut of all history in Lawrence of Arabia.

9: The theme that plays when we see the man with the Harmonica in Once Upon a Time in the West.

10: Everybody’s Talkin’ At Me…

11: The abrupt ending of Bonnie and Clyde.

12: I’m a star. I’m a star, I’m a star, I’m a star. I’m a big bright shining star. That’s right.

13: The final perfect five minutes of Irreversible…

14: …and how The King’s Speech stole the music!

15: Ellen Burstyn’s monologue in Requiem for a Dream.

16: The hand emerging from the water in Deliverance.

17: The final half-hour of Audition.

18: Jimmy Schtewart.

19: The emotion and raw energy with which Kirk Douglas delivers this line in Paths of Glory: “I apologise to you, sir, for not informing you sooner that you’re a degenerate, sadistic old man, and you can go to Hell before I apologise to you now or ever again!”

20: John C. Reilly shining his flashlight into the camera in Magnolia.

21: Blood Simple to True Grit and everything in between.

22: Hello… Hello, Dimitri? I… I can’t hear, could you turn the music down? That’s great, you’re coming through fine. I’m coming through fine, too, am I? I agree with you, it’s great to be fine. Now then, Dimitri. One of our generals… he went a little funny in the head… you know, funny. And he went and did a silly thing.

23: Tracking shots. All of them.

24: The Monty Python movies (“I fart in your general direction!”)

25: Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television. Choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players and electrical tin openers. Choose DIY and wondering who the fuck you are on a Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing, spirit crushing game shows, stuffing junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pishing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, fucked up brats you spawned to replace yourself. Choose your future. Choose life.

26: Jim Carrey in Liar, Liar.

27: Steve Martin in The Jerk.

28: Isabella Rossellini begging Kyle MacLachlan in Blue Velvet (“Hit me!”).

29: In Heaven… everything is fine.

30: Did You Know You Can Use Old Motor Oil to Fertilise Your Lawn?

31: That lucky occasion when you come across a really, really good TV movie (Indictment: The McMartin Trial)

32: Get away from her, you BITCH!

33: I am Death. I have long walked at your side.

34: The most striking and disturbing use of colour in any film, that of Sven Nykvist’s brilliant cinematography in Ingmar Bergman’s fantastic Cries and Whispers.

35: NOT LOVELY, LOVELY LUDWIG VAAAANNNN!!!!

36: The slow-paced and slightly comic final duel in Barry Lyndon.

37: The deadly silent arrival of Martin Sheen into Colonel Kurtz new jungle home, rudely interrupted by an obviously high Dennis Hopper in Apocalypse Now.

38: The first six or so minutes of Persona.

39: This is my rifle, this is my gun. This is for fighting, this is for fun.

40: The haunting piano music that plays throughout the latter half of Kubrick’s fantastic Eyes Wide Shut.

41: A surprise cameo from the greatest stand-up comedian of all time in a non-comedy role in Lost Highway.

42: Tom Cruise’s finest hour:

43: The perfect opening shot of Apocalypse Now.

44: Bernard Herrman’s shrieking violins.

45: Black and White movies in the era of Colour.

46: The nameless dystopian city in David Fincher’s Se7en.

47: Uncomfortably casual nudity in Short Cuts.

48: Marge Gunderson.

49: Nobody fucks with the Jesus.

50: Bring Out the Gimp.

51: Norma Desmond’s delusions of grandeur.

52: The drug deal scene in Boogie Nights.

53: I only got two things in this world: my balls and my word. And I don’t break em for nobody.

54: Robert Downey, Jr. in Natural Born Killers.

55: The “train going into the tunnel” at the very end of North by Northwest, a clever albeit overused sexual metaphor.

56: Ricky Gervais. Always. Always.

57: A movie set entirely within one room (i.e. Buried)

58: Rob Brydon’s cameo in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.

59: Nothing’s wrong with it, Tommy. It’s tip top. I’m just not sure about the colour.

60: I am Jack’s _____ ______.

61: Sean Penn in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, oh, and while we’re at it…

62: 80s high school movies. All of them.

63: The epilogue of Pink Flamingos.

64: Clerks. ‘Nuff said.

65: Try getting a reservation at Dorsia now, you fucking stupid bastard!

66: Silencio.

67: Earn this. Earn it.

68: The final shot of the rat at the end of The Departed.

69: Extended Director’s Cuts.

70: I’m mad as Hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!

71: The inability of Jack Lemmon to be able to watch Grand Hotel in The Apartment.

72: Memorable last lines in Billy Wilder movies.

73: We’re a loving couple that doesn’t touch.

74: Sunday nights, where I put aside a few hours to rewatch one of my favourite movies, no matter what it is or how many times I’ve seen it.

75: The creepy hidden camera shots in Michael Haneke’s Cache.

76: Amelie’s strange games with random people in the film of the same name.

77: Go round mums, deal with Phillip, grab Liz, go to the Winchester, have a nice cold pint and wait for all this to blow over.

78: Shelley Winters in The Poseidon Adventure: “In the water, I’m a very skinny lady.”

79: Sidney Lumet. Rest in Peace.

80: The final shocking moments of Planet of the Apes.

81: The meaning of Roger O. Thornhill’s middle initial.

82: Martin Scorsese’s cameo in Taxi Driver.

83: Gregory Peck’s powerful courtroom monologue in To Kill A Mockingbird…

84: …and the uniquely different but still subtly similar version presented by a suprisingly good Matthew McConaughey in A Time to Kill.

85: Dustin Hoffman’s moving turn as Ratso Rizzo in Midnight Cowboy…

86: …and the eerie subtle similarities between Jon Voight’s character in the same movie and Dirk Diggler in Boogie Nights.

87: Mr. Jingles.

88: I just wanted to hold the little baby.

89: You mean the man who inserted rubber fist in my anus was a homosexual?

90: The stunning revelation at the end of Spoorloos (The Vanishing).

91: How quickly a director can take my interest, and how stunningly tight their grip remains on me within the shortest of times, and how it can last seemingly forever, as evidenced by my recent delve into the films of Ingmar Bergman.

92: Hit Girl.

93: Bill Murray waking up to the same nauseatingly repetitive jingle every morning in Groundhog Day.

94: Reese Witherspoon humiliating a disfigured Kiefer Sutherland in Freeway.

95: The little bit of low-budget masterpiece that was Sex, Lies and Videotape.

96: Dogme 95.

97: The Criterion Collection.

98: The little things in movies that so few directors really think to care about.

99: How movies affect my everyday life, the way I do things, the little idiosyncrasies that people rarely notice, and how I think and perceive things.

100: “I’m finished.”