Wednesday, February 03, 2010

My Favorite Living Director

With Eric Rohmer's sad passing, I've been trying to answer a question--who is my favorite living director? For years it was Ingmar Bergman. Then Eric Rohmer. But now I'm not sure.

I think I have an answer though. Or at least one I can try on for awhile.

I thought about Wong Kar-Wai. But Wong's movies are so wildly inconsistent. For as awesome as In the Mood for Love and 2046 are, My Blueberry Nights was a disaster. I didn't care too much for Ashes of Time. Others are very solid. I just find Wong such a crapshoot that I can't make that commitment.

The Coen Brothers are great, but their output during the 2000s wasn't great, though with a significant recent uptick. I really like the Coen Brothers, but I don't get super excited to find out when their next film is coming out. So I guess I'm not feeling the passion.

Martin Scorsese is always a possibility. But I feel that I've been watching skilled but somewhat impersonal movies from him for years. Obviously, he's one of the all-time greats. But much of that reputation comes from very old work. Bergman on the other hand was making great movies (though proxies to some extent) until the day he died.

Pedro Almodovar is someone I greatly respect. But I only love a couple of his films. So I can't claim he's my favorite.

Farther down on the list we have John Sayles (but when was the last time he made a movie you had to watch? 15 years?) Mike Leigh (love him but also deeply inconsistent), Ken Loach (so many highs, but a lot of lows), Wim Wenders (but he totally fell apart when he came to the U.S.), and others.

But I think I can go with Arnaud Desplechin. I haven't seen his early movies, but that doesn't matter too much. Kings and Queen and A Christmas Tale are both awe-inspiring masterpieces. Kings and Queen was on my decade's top 50 and had I seen A Christmas Tale before I wrote it, it would have been in the top 15. What a fantastic film. I don't think any director created 2 such magnificent pieces of art in the last decade. I am amazed.

So for the time being, I'm going with Arnaud Desplechin as my favorite director. We'll see how this suit fits.