8.5/10 – Grilled Seal of Approval
Ahhh, so after that stream of excellent high school movies (The Way Way Back, The Spectacular Now, and The Kings of Summer [though I’m sure you already know the titles by now since I repeat them every other posting and because you are completely addicted to my writing – aren’t you? Aren’t you… yes… yes… yes… that’s it… stare into the spinning circle… yes… you’re getting sleepy… very sleepy… now when I snap my fingers… you will remember nothing from your previous life… nothing at all… because you are now a bird… a bird who flies high above the treetops and the wooden blocks and the crystal blue oceans… when I snap my fingers you will be a bird… and only a bird… and have always been a bird… now… fly away… *snap*]) we now finally reach those oft-troubling years of middle school.
I looked this film up because I had remembered always seeing the cover in my local videotape store. I’m dating myself by referring to a time when video cassette tapes were used and there was such a thing as a brick and mortar video shop within five miles of my home. I could also rent Sega Genesis games there so that shows you how far back we are talking. No, I’m lying. Not about the Sega Genesis, but about the reason for watching the film. I was actually researching an article I was tentatively planning on calling – “Awesome Little-Seen Debuts By Great Directors.”
Todd Solondz is a great director, a weird director, a New Jersey native, and also the man behind Happiness – one of the many great movies that starred the late great Phillip Seymour Hoffman. But anyway, after I saw Welcome to the Dollhouse, I realized it wasn’t even Solondz’ first film, so pooey on that!
Now, I’ll be the first to admit I didn’t have a very high probability of getting the article published by any of the movie sites for which I was planning to submit it to, but I liked the idea enough so whatever, it’ll be my own personal project. And since I was right (and by right I never actually wrote the article nor even submitted the idea to be potentially written) without further ado here goes my TEN AWESOME LITTLE-SEEN DEBUTS BY GREAT DIRECTORS list:
Primer – Shane Carruth. This was actually the film that inspired the list. Or, more closely, Carruth’s amazing sophomore film, Upstream Color, was the reason I sought out his debut. Can we call a director “awesome” when he only has released two films? Apparently yes!
Pusher – Nicholas Winding Refn. Great movie by a great director. Drive! Bronson! Pusher 2! Pusher 3! Valhalla Rising! (We’ll just forget about Only God Forgives, shall we?)
Animal Kingdom – David Michod. Oh shit, actually THIS was the movie that gave me the idea for the list, and THIS is also the director that has only released ONE film thus far! How crazy am I to put the “awesome” label on a director with only one film under his belt? Animal Kingdom is really really really good! That’s why! Also, his upcoming sophomore film – The Rover – looks amazzzzing.
Blood Simple – The Coen Brothers. Excellent movie. Underseen.
Pi – Aronofsky. When you get to the point where you only need your last name to be identified you KNOW you’re killin’ the game. (Also, it helps to have a distinctive name.)
Duel – Steven Spielberg. I mainly wanted to focus on directors debuting in the past 25 years or so, but Duel is pretty damn awesome, and it’s pretty damn weird it came from Spielberg and is still relatively unknown.
As Tears Go By – Wong Kar-wai. He’s a master! Auteur! Master auteur!
And then the rest:
Kicking and Screaming – Noah Baumbach
Spanking the Money – David O. Russell
Shotgun Stories – Jeff Nichols
Amores Perros – Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu
Alright, I’m gonna separate these a little bit. The top four are movies that sit on my HD waiting to be watched, but I haven’t had time. I’m sure they are all good though, and the directors are awesome therefore I put them in potential contention.
Bottle Rocket – Wes Anderson
Hard Eight – Paul Thomas Anderson
Eraserhead – David Lynch
Bound – Wachowski Brothers
El Mariachi – Robert Rodriguez
Hunger – Steve McQueen
Layer Cake – Mathew Vaughn
The rest of these titles are films I have seen that are excellent and I may have included in my list if I ever wrote it. Some (Eraserhead, Hunger) are questionable because I feel too many people have seen them. Others (Actually I’m just looking at you Mathew Vaughn) are questionable because of the strength of the directors body of work. Yeah, Mathew Vaughn you are quite questionable. On the one hand you did direct Kick-Ass and X-Men: First Class (which were totally enjoyable superhero flicks), on the other hand those films PALE in comparison to everything else that has been listed here… Soooooo… why are you here? Well, it’s because of Layer Cake. Layer Cake – you god damn muther fucker – is really good. Reaaaaally good. It’s actually a personal favorite of mine. So, yes, I am a little biased, but aren’t all film reviewers?