posted on June 01, 2007 02:02
"My candidate for the worst movie-star director of all time has to be Clint Eastwood. Because he's still a big star and he stays on budget, Hollywood continues to indulge his directorial fantasies, yet in nearly 40 years of half-assed attempts at directing he has never developed a style of his own. Every directorial chop Eastwood displays was stolen from Don Siegel or Sergio Leone - real filmmakers who taught him what little he knows. Clint's only original theme, present from Play Misty for Me all the way to Million Dollar Baby, is that of a paternalistic white male who exercises the power of life or death over a woman: invariably, he chooses to kill her." Alex Cox, May 25th 2007
Isn't that one of the best Hollywood Sacred Cow assassinations of all time?
It's from a recent Alex Cox column in the Film and Music section of the Guardian newspaper. Alex Cox, for those of who may not be up to speed on your bitter independent film directors, is British and is best known for his 80s low budget output - Sid 'n' Nancy, Repo Man and, perhaps, Straight to Hell starring the late great Joe Strummer. I know him best for his simply brilliant early 90s late night BBC2 slot, Moviedrome, where he introduced his favourite movies and seemed to have free reign. For young impressionable movie fans like yours truly, Moviedrome's diet of sexy, sometimes violent, but always intriguing cult films was manna from heaven. He's probably more responsible for this blog than anyone.
A list of the movies shown on Moviedrome with some of Cox's characteristically dry intros can be found here. What a list! Opening with The Wicker Man, through to Barbarella, Five Easy Pieces, Get Carter and Badlands, Moviedrome was a movie education. I note that in the 1992 season, Cox showcased a Play Misty for Me directed by Clint Eastwood... ahem...
Cox's assassination of Clint Eastwood may be tongue in cheek (maybe?). But there is definitely some truth in the observation that Eastwood is a director without a signature note. Unlike his contemporaries (Scorcese, De Palma etc) who's movies are identifiable almost from the opening reel, Eastwood's movies cannot be regarded as the work of an auteur. Eastwood's movies are watched almost out of duty (except for the truly wonderful Unforgiven).
Anyway, as Cox is an inspiration for this column, I thought it appropriate that I assassinate my own Sacred Cow. And I invite you all to do the same below.
Lars von Trier. Even saying his name makes me feel bilious. I've walked out of two movies in my life (I've also been marched out of a movie... but that's a subject for an entirely different blog) - one was Out of Africa (I was young and bored). The other was The Idiots, a movie about idiots, directed by an idiot, made for idiots. Von Trier's movies are pretentious, affected, disheartening, wilful, empty, intellectually bankrupt and just plain threatening. Letting his actors stay in character (i.e. actors pretend to be spastic for our entertainment) for hours on set, he even claimed this technique as his own even though the great Robert Altman, in honour of whom this blog is named, had been doing it for years. Yet this sadistic man has devotees all through the movie-loving world. He sagely agrees that he is difficult with his actresses as this extraordinary interview with Newsweek describes under the headline, Meet the Punisher.... Couldn't have put it better myself.More ...