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Who Do You Trust? Directors and Faith…

I remarked last week that I wholeheartedly trusted Christopher Nolan when he decided not to recast the Joker role in Batman 3, despite the fact that the character was rumoured to play a large in the planned sequel to The Dark Knight. However, it got me thinking as to what my reaction would have been had he announced that he was recasting the role, and that it was essential to the finale of his planned trilogy, and that (having worked with his star) Heath might even understand. I don’t know – I probably would have been a little skeptical and uncertain; I may even have hesitated at the suggestion. I accept, however, I probably would have trusted him on it. It’s a scarce commodity these days when the internet has given everyone a voice with which to trumpet their opinions and everybody has an opinion on everything. So, when should we trust a director? When do I trust a film maker, no matter what they choose to do?

Now that's trust...

I think it’s a rare commodity, and it’s perhaps one that is rarer than most of us would admit. Trust means supporting a director no matter what. There are any number of directors who would attract my interest no matter what they do – Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino are always at least a little bit interesting, no matter what they do or say. That doesn’t mean that they’ll always hit it out of the park, and one must accept that with experimentation comes risks. They aren’t being safe, and should be commended as such, but I don’t have absolute faith in them, no matter what they announced they were doing.

It’s also worth stating or clarifying that because a director lacks or has lost my trust doesn’t mean that I’ll stop following them or anything so dramatic. I’ve found Spielberg increasingly erratic over the past decade, but he’s still one of America’s greatest living directors and well worth my attention. Michael Mann has had a misfire or two in his time taking risks – and that’s part of the reason why I love him – but I’ll still keep my ear to the ground when it comes to his releases. It just means, for instance, that I’ll allow little snippets of information coming from his recent project to inform my expectations – up or down.

It isn’t necessarily a conscious decision – it’s certainly not one I can quantify or control. It just happens. I’ll find my anticipation or interest weakening as a string of information I consider to be disappointing streams from a project – the fact that I don’t have absolute trust or faith in a director means that such things can impact how much I look forward to a given project.

Okay, Clint! I trust you!

In contrast, there are directors who will always find themselves among my most anticipated of the year – even if it turns out to be a movie based on Poccahantus starring smurfs. In case you are wondering, James Cameron recently managed to get himself crossed off my “absolute trust” list (I’m sure he’s devastated). If I were to select a bunch of directors who would be on such a list, it would be fairly short:

  • Danny Boyle
  • David Cronenberg
  • Clint Eastwood
  • Christopher Nolan
  • Martin Scorsese

I’ll concede that a few of the directors on the list have had a few “less than perfect” films, but none of those films reflect cases where my trust was misplaced (to be more precise, it’s often on ideas that I was equally sold on, rather than being skeptical of – for example, Martin Scorsese and Daniel Day Lewis collaborating on a period pice should have been awesome, but Age of Innocence fell short; Danny Boyle directing Leonardo DiCaprio in a mind-bending movie like The Beach should have been a home run, but wasn’t; Clint Eastwood focusing on the flag in Iowa Jima should have been the stuff that acolyde is made of, but… well, Flags of Our Fathers wasn’t great).

If these directors announced tomorrow that they were adapting Run, Spot, Run for the big screen, I’d more than likely support it. If they decided they were going to unite to form a Beatles tribute band, I’d probably buy the album. If they announced that they were planning to direct their next feature through the medium of interpretive dance… well, I’ll learn interpretive dance.

It’s a short list, I’ll concede – but then trust is generally in short supply. It’s earned over a long period of time, after all. It’s a vital part of any longterm relationship, but absolute trust is still hard to come by. And, as crazily stalker-ish as this sounds, don’t we all have a relationship with our favourite directors. Maybe not in the same way as we do with friends or family (though your milage may vary), but in the way that we truct our local grocer to give us the best fruit and veg or the butcher to give us the best cut. In a way, that’s what they do. And how much we trust them defines how far out of our comfort zones we are willing to let them take us.

So, tell me, who do you trust? Or do you trust any film maker blindly?

15 Responses

  1. Ideally Eastwood would be on my list, but the past decade, specifically the past three movies, have not done fared well in my books. It has now flip-flopped to the point that I almost have no trust in him anymore at all. Hopefully him and Leo working together will fix that problem.

    I have a few more than you. f I had to make a list, it would probably be (in no specific order):

    -Cronenberg
    -Nolan
    -Peter Jackson (I knew Lovely Bones would be a hard film to adapt, and I think it’s a movie that will age well with multiple viewings. Either way, it was a bold movie that he took a risk with.)
    -Guillermo del Toro (Understand how stoked I was for the Hobbit? Two prequels of my favorite movies of all time with two of the few directors that I have absolute blind trust in…*sigh*)
    – Alfonso Cuaron
    – Darren Aronofsky
    – Fincher
    – The folks at Pixar. 🙂

  2. Aronofsky
    Mann
    Nolan
    Scorsese
    Anyone at Pixar

    Trust in a director’s hand is so hard to gain, yet so easy to lose grasp of. That’s what makes these directors so much the better.

    • Yep. Not too sold on Aronofski, to be honest. The Fountain was… interesting, but not necessarily great.

      • The Fountain is still up in the air for me. I’ve seen it about 5 times now, and I still can’t really comprehend it fully. But with each viewing, it inches closer to being a great movie for me. And if not great, certainly a bold feature by a director that’s not afraid to take risks.

      • Yep, I’ll give it that. I liked it more than most did, but I’m still not entirely sure where it sits on the “good to great” spectrum.

      • The Fountain was what did it for me. My favorite film of the past 30 years.

  3. Well I love The Age of Innocence (really, honestly love it) so Scorsese….I trust him always ALWAYS.

  4. Wow, that’s such a high trust over directors. I have no faith in any directors but Stephen Spielberg, he seems to be missing in action lately. But I remember the time when I still follow his every movies.

    After Spielberg ‘gone’ .. I just watch whatever seems good in trailler. My judgement over a movie always based on trailler…and so far it rarely dissapointedd me.

    As for animation…I will always follow Ghibli Studio. I will try to watch every animation they made (it’s a bit hard to find it…but I keep on trying. )

    • Yep, I think Spielberg has had a rocky decade, though. I doidn’t love Minority Report, was meh on Munich and only really loved War of the Worlds, which was critically underrated. And, if we’re talking about studios, I think Red hit the nail on the head when he said Pixar.

  5. Does anybody trust Tarantino?

    • He’s always fascinating, but a little too scattershot for me. Deathproof was a prime example of Tarantino going overboard.

  6. Or the Coen Bros.?

    • I have alot of faith in both directors, but not blind trust. The Coens are getting there though, even if I thought Burn After Reading was extremely sloppy in it’s second half. I still really enjoyed it for its comedy.

  7. My list would include:

    Park Chan-Wook
    Lukas Moodysson (despite the odd slip)
    Pedro Almaldovar
    Quentin Tarantino
    Takashi Mikke (at least for something different)

    I guess you can’t really bash Ridley Scott

    And cheers for the meme tag, will get on it soon!

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