Film - Top 5 Directors


Because he can and we can't stop him, Steve Taylor-Bryant wants to talk Directors...

For some reason amongst the most popular articles on /G-f are the ones where I just waffle about what's in my head and then give you a list of things that I like. Why you all enjoy being in my head is for you and your therapist to decide but welcome, pull up a chair, there's plenty of room in here!

Today we are talking directors, those who take a vision and make it a cinematic reality that we then sit back and judge, often publicly and harshly, in a way which, when written like that, sounds barbaric and nearly makes me feel sorry for the man or woman who put their reputation on the line for our amusement... Nearly!

It's a difficult task to say what makes a great director. They are all different in their styles, subject matter, choice of actor and so on but what all of them have in common is the ability to produce something that we will commit hours of our busy lives to watch and hopefully enjoy. For the purposes of my list, let me state that this not my definitive list of who is the best and there are many directors that aren't in the list whose work I enjoy immensely. Duncan Jones for example doesn't make my list. Both Moon and Source Code are stunning films but they are just two movies and I like to compile my countdowns from a larger back catalogue than that. I personally believe Jones will one day be on such a list but it is too early to tell at the moment how strong his career will be, so the directors I have chosen have all done at least five films each that I can watch repeatedly without boredom. That's the only criteria really, can you entertain me over a substantial period of time?

5 - David Fincher

David Fincher

As a director, film is about how you dole out the information so that the audience stays with you when they're supposed to stay with you, behind you when they're supposed to stay behind you, and ahead of you when they're supposed to stay ahead of you.

Alien 3 is my favourite film of that particular franchise, much to the amusement of just about everyone, and was my introduction to Fincher in the longer form after years of loving his pop video work. More favourite titles from Fincher include Fight Club, Se7en, The Social Network and, most recently, Gone Girl and the U.S. reinvention of House of Cards on Netflix. I really liked his take on The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and so, from his future projects, I'm quite excited by the thought of The Girl Who Played With Fire.

4 - Roman Polanski

Roman Polanksi

I don't really know what is shocking. When you tell the story of a man who is beheaded, you have to show how they cut off his head. If you don't, it's like telling a dirty joke and leaving out the punch line.

I get condemned an awful lot for my love of Polanski films but I honestly don't care. I'm not one to get involved in the legalities of how someone lives their life, that's for the authorities to sort out. My job, if we can call it that, is to judge films and television and Polanski makes stunners. Rosemary's Baby, Chinatown, The Pianist, and Frantic are classics much loved and re watched but my two stand out films were The Ninth Gate, a demonic tale of book experts starring Johnny Depp, and The Ghost with Ewan McGregor and Pearce Brosnan which, again, involved books with McGregor ghost writing Brosnan's politician’s life story.

3 - Stanley Kubrick

Stanley Kubrick

The screen is a magic medium. It has such power that it can retain interest as it conveys emotions and moods that no other art form can hope to tackle.

Where do you even start with Kubrick? He made the best Vietnam War film with Full Metal Jacket, arguably the best sci-fi film with 2001: A Space Odyssey, definitely the best 'fucked up' film ever with A Clockwork Orange, the best comedy with Dr. Strangelove, and my favourite version of a Stephen King film with his take on The Shining. Add in Lolita and Eyes Wide Shut for good measure.

2 - Clint Eastwood

Clint Eastwood

Nowadays you'd have many battles before you blow it up, but eventually you'd take it down. And that's okay, I don't heavily quarrel with that, but for me personally, having made films for years and directed for 33 years, it just seems to me that I long for people who want to see a story and see character development. Maybe we've dug it out and there's not really an audience for that, but that's not for me to really worry about.

I can't get enough of Clint Eastwood. His gravelly snarl is one of the most recognisable voices in Hollywood but his touch behind the camera is also right up there with any greats you can think of. Sully and The Ballad of Richard Jewell are two upcoming films, based on real people and events, that have me giddy with excitement and in recent years Eastwood has really impressed me as a director with J. Edgar, Invictus, Gran Torino and Mystic River all making my Top 30 all time movie list (that'll come one day, you strange bunch). Films like Blood Work, True Crime and Absolute Power scratch my detective mystery itch and projects like Million Dollar Baby and The Bridges of Madison County are just beautiful films, hell I even love A Perfect World and The Rookie and I've only gone back 25 years! Imagine if I started talking about Heartbreak Ridge, Firefox, and The Eiger Sanction?

We love you Bronco Billy.

1 - Terry Gilliam

Terry Gilliam

The reason why I don't watch as many as I used to is that I'm not surprised any more. I loved movies because they opened up doors into worlds I never imagined. It seldom happens now.

Gilliam makes films only for me. You can't watch them, you don't 'get' them like I do. Okay, you can watch them too but know this - you don't have a psychic link directly into your soul from Terry like I do. This is why I love Gilliam films so much, it's like he's met me, understood what makes my life tick and then gone and made a film for just me. The fantastical and sometimes dark nature of his projects speaks to me, even Baron Munchausen was enjoyable. Twelve Monkeys and The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus are just superb and The Zero Theorem was a beautiful looking, if not slightly disturbing, film that left a smile on my face that actually ached it was that big. Brazil, The Fisher King, Fear and Loathing all entertain me with visions of the highest order and I can only hope that Amazon coming in finally sees Gilliam’s Don Quixote realised after thirty odd years. I'm off to re-watch Parnassus, I may be some time...

Image - IMDb.
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