Saturday, 9 September 2017

Top Directors

60. John Boorman (cinematically active 1961 – present, UK)
Greatest Works: Deliverance, Point-Blank, Hell in the Pacific, Excalibur, Zardoz

59. Alfred Hitchcock (cinematically active 1922 – 1976, UK)
Greatest Works: Rear Window, Psycho, The Wrong Man, Notorious, Frenzy, Vertigo

58. Costa-Gavras (cinematically active 1958 – present, Greece)
Greatest Works: Z, The Confession, Missing, State of Siege

57. Max Ophüls (cinematically active 1931 – 1955, France)
Greatest Works: La Ronde, the Earrings of Madame De…, Lola Montes, Letter from an Unknown Woman

56. Gaspar Noé (cinematically active 1985 – present, France)
Greatest Works: Irréversible, Seul Contre Tous, Enter the Void

55. Nuri Blige Ceylan (cinematically active 1995 – present, Turkey)
Greatest Works: Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, Uzak, Climates

54. Shohei Imamura (cinematically active 1958 – 2002, Japan)
Greatest Works: Vengeance is Mine, Profound Desires of the Gods, Intentions of Murder, The Insect Woman, The Ballad of Nayamara

53. Apichatpong Weerasethakul (cinematically active 1993 – present, Thailand)
Greatest Works: Tropical Malady, Uncle Boonmee who can Recall his Past Lives, Syndromes and a Century, Cemetery of Splendour, Blissfully Yours

52. Yoshishige Yoshida (cinematically active 1960 – 2004, Japan)
Greatest Works: Eros + Massacre, Heroic Purgatory, Akitsu Springs, Confessions Among Actresses, Coup D’etat, Bitter End of a Sweet Night

51. Sidney Lumet (cinematically active 1957 – 2007, US)
Greatest Works: Dog Day Afternoon, 12 Angry Men, Network, Prince of the City, The Offence, The Pawnbroker, The Hill

50. Jacques Tati (cinematically active 1947 – 2002, France)
Greatest Works: Playtime, Traffik, Mon Oncle, Mr. Hulot’s Holiday

49. Abbas Kiarostami (cinematically active 1970 – 2016, Iran)
Greatest Works: Close-Up, Through the Olive Trees, Where is the Friend’s Home?, Certified Copy, The Wind Will Carry Us

48. Sayajit Ray (cinematically active 1955 – 1991, India)
Greatest Works: The Music Room, Charulata, The Big City, Pather Panchali, The World of Apu

47. Stanley Kubrick (cinematically active 1951 – 1999, US)
Greatest Works: Paths of Glory, Dr. Strangelove, The Shining, 2001: a Space Odyssey

46. Paul Schrader (cinematically active 1974 – present, US)
Greatest Works: Mishima: a Life in Four Chapters, Affliction, Cat People, Light Sleeper, Autofocus

45. Fritz Lang (cinematically active 1919 – 1960, Germany)
Greatest Works: M, Metropolis, Die Nibelungen, Destiny, The Big Heat

44. Paul Thomas Anderson (cinematically active 1988 – present, US)
Greatest Works: Magnolia, There Will Be Blood, Boogie Nights, Punch-Drunk-Love, the Master

43. Hsiao-Hsien Hou (cinematically active 1980 – present, Taiwan)
Greatest Works: A City of Sadness, Flowers of Shanghai, The Puppetmaster, A Time to Live & A Time to Die, The Assassin

42. Michael Haneke (cinematically active 1989 – present, Austria)
Greatest Works: The Seventh Continent, The White Ribbon, Cache, Amour

41. Charlie Chaplin (cinematically active 1914 – 1967, UK)
Greatest Works: City Lights, Modern Times, The Gold Rush, The Great Dictator, The Circus, The Kid, Limelight

40. Mikhail Kalatozov (cinematically active 1927 – 1969, Russia)
Greatest Works: Letter Never Sent, The Cranes are Flying, I am Cuba

39. Alejandro Jodorowsky (cinematically active 1957 – present, Mexico)
Greatest Works: The Holy Mountain, El Topo, Endless Poetry, Santa Sangre

38. Stan Brackhage (cinematically active 1952 – 2004, US)
Greatest Works: The Act of Seeing with One’s Own Eyes, Dog Star Man, Mothlight, Window Water Baby Moving

37. Dario Argento (cinematically active 1970 – present, Italy)
Greatest Works: Deep Red, Suspiria, the Bird with the Crystal Plumage, Phenomena, Opera, Tenebrae

36. Ritwik Ghatak (cinematically active 1951 – 1977, India)
Greatest Works: A River Called Titus, The Cloud-Capped Star, Subarnarekha

35. Masahiro Shinoda (cinematically active 1960 – 2003, Japan)
Greatest Works: Pale Flower, Double Suicide, Assassination, Himiko, Captive’s Island, Silence, Under the Blossoming Cherry Trees

34. Wong Kar-Wai (cinematically active 1988 – present, Hong Kong)
Greatest Works: In the Mood for Love, Chungking Express, 2046, Happy Together, Days of Being Wild

33. David Cronenburg (cinematically active 1966 – present, US)
Greatest Works: Dead Ringers, Crash, The Fly, Naked Lunch, A History of Violence, Eastern Promises, Spider

32. Roman Polanski (cinematically active 1962 – present, Poland)
Greatest Works: Chinatown, Knife in the Water, Repulsion, The Pianist, The Tenant

31. Werner Herzog (cinematically active 1962 – present, Germany)
Greatest Works: Nosferatu the Vampyre, Grizzly Man, Aguirre Wrath of God, La Soufrière, Woyzeck

30. Terence Malick (cinematically active 1973 – present, US)
Greatest Works: The Thin Red Line, The New World, The Tree of Life, Badlands, Days of Heaven

29. David Lynch (cinematically active 1977 – present, US)
Greatest Works: Blue Velvet, Mulholland Drive, The Elephant Man, Eraserhead

28. Robert Bresson (cinematically active 1934 – 1983, France)
Greatest Works: A Man Escaped, au hasard Balthazar, Pickpocket, Four Nights a Dreamer, Diary of a Country Priest

27. Sergio Leone (cinematically active 1946 – 1984, Italy)
Greatest Works: Once Upon a Time in America, Once Upon a Time in the West, the Good the Bad & the Ugly, For a Few Dollars More

26. Sam Peckinpah (cinematically active 1958 – 2004, US)
Greatest Works: Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid, Straw Dogs, the Wild Bunch, Bring me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, The Killer Elite, Cross of Iron, Ride the High Country

25. Krzysztof Kieślowski (cinematically active 1966 – 1993, Poland)
Greatest Works: Dekalog I, Three Colours Red, Three Colours Blue, Dekalog VI, Camera Buff

24. Michael Powell + Emeric Pressburger (cinematically active 1940 – 1960, UK)
Greatest Works: The Life & Death of Col. Blimp, The Red Shoes, A Matter of Life & Death, The Tales of Hoffman, Black Narcissus, A Canterbury Tale, Peeping Tom

23. William Friedkin (cinematically active 1962 – present, US)
Greatest Works: The Exorcist, The French Connection, Sorcerer, To Live & Die in L.A, Bug, Cruising, Killer Joe

22. Glauber Rocha (cinematically active 1959 – 1980, Brazil)
Greatest Works: Black God White Devil, Land in Anguish, the Age of the Earth, Antonio Das Mortes, Barravento

21. Carl Theodor Dreyer (cinematically active 1919 – 1964, Denmark)
Greatest Works: Ordet, The Passion of Joan of Arc, Vampyr, Day of Wrath, Gertrud 

20. Jean Renoir (cinematically active 1925 – 1970, France)
Greatest Works: The Rules of the Game, La Grande Illusion, A Day in the Country, La Bête Humaine, The River

19. Larisa Shepitko (cinematically active 1966 – 1979, Russia)
Greatest Works: The Ascent, Wings

18. Andrzej Żuławski (cinematically active 1969 – 2015, Poland)
Greatest Works: On the Silver Globe, Diabel, The Third Part of the Night, Cosmos, Possession

17. Buster Keaton (cinematically active 1917 – 1966, US)
Greatest Works: The General, The Cameraman, Sherlock Jr., Steamboat Bill Jr., Our Hospitality, Seven Chances

16. Yasujirō Ozu (cinematically active 1927 – 1962, Japan)
Greatest Works: Late Spring, An Autumn Afternoon, Tokyo Story, Tokyo Twilight, Floating Weeds, I Was Born But…

15. Michael Mann (cinematically active 1981 – present, US)
Greatest Works: The Insider, Heat, Thief, Last of the Mohicans, Miami Vice, Collateral, Ali

14. Akira Kurosawa (cinematically active 1941 – 1993, Japan)
Greatest Works: High & Low, Seven Samurai, Rashomon, Throne of Blood, Ran

13. František Vláčil (cinematically active 1950 – 1988, Czech Republic)
Greatest Works: Marketa Lazarová, The Valley of the Bees

12. Elem Kilmov (cinematically active 1959 – 1985, Russia)
Greatest Works: Come & See, Farewell, Agony

11. Hiroshi Teshigahara (cinematically active 1953 – 1992, Japan)
Greatest Works: Woman in the Dunes, The Face of Another, Pitfall, The Man Without a Map

10. F.W Murnau (cinematically active 1919 – 1931, Germany)
Greatest Works: Sunrise: a Song of Two Humans, The Last Laugh, Faust, Nosferatu: Symphony of Fear, Taboo

9. Miklós Jancsó (cinematically active 1950 – 2012, Hungary)
Greatest Works: The Red & The White, The Round-Up, Red Psalm, Elektra My Love, Silence and Cry

8. Ingmar Bergman (cinematically active 1946 – 2003, Sweden)
Greatest Works: Persona, Fanny & Alexander, The Seventh Seal, Winter Light, Through a Glass Darkly, Cries & Whispers, Wild Strawberries, Hour of the Wolf

7. Béla Tarr (cinematically active 1978 – 2011, Hungary)
Greatest Works: Sátántangó, Werckmeister Harmonies, The Turin Horse, Damnation, Autumn Almanac

6. Masakai Kobayashi (cinematically active 1952 – 1985, Japan)
Greatest Works: Harakiri, Samurai Rebellion, The Human Condition, Kwaidan

5. Víctor Erice (cinematically active 1961 – present, Spain)
Greatest Works: Spirit of the Beehive, El Sur

4. Alain Resnais (cinematically active 1936 – 2014, France)
Greatest Works: Hiroshima mon amour, Last Year at Marienbad, Night & Fog, Providence, Muriel, Je T’aime Je T’aime, Mon Oncle Amerique

3. Theo Angelopoulos (cinematically active 1970 – 2008, Greece)
Greatest Works: The Travelling Players, Landscape in the Mist, Alexander the Great, The Hunters, The Weeping Meadow, Eternity & a Day, Reconstruction

2. Jean-Pierre Melville (cinematically active 1949 – 1972, France)
Greatest Works: Army of Shadows, Le Cercle Rouge, Le Samouraï, Le Silence de la Mer, Second Breath, Le Doulos

1. Andrei Tarkovsky (cinematically active 1962 – 1986, Russia)
Greatest Works: Andrei Rublev, Mirror, Stalker, Nostalghia, Solaris, Ivan’s Childhood

- The most prolific director here is Stan Brackhage, who directed 377 shorts over the course of 52 years.
- The director with the most ‘great works’ is Ingmar Bergman, with eight.
- The directors with the fewest ‘great works’ are Larisa Shepitko, František Vláčil and Víctor Erice- all with two.
- The longest career on show is that of Alain Resnais, who worked relentlessly over the course of 80 years. He directed his first short film when he was twelve years old.
- The most recent director, Nuri Blige Ceylan, started working in 1995. The oldest, Charlie Chaplin, began in 1914.
- The countries that produced the most ranked directors were the US (12), France (7) and Japan (7). The Japanese ranked the highest overall with a cluster of four in the top 16.

Monday, 21 August 2017

Their Mortal Remains

Ranking the albums of Pink Floyd has given me a fulfilling new experience with music. It’s inspired my own writing, as well as bred both distance and eventual intimacy as I struggled with objectivity and the cold, calculated stance I had first assumed in tackling music for the first time. Tackling what has very swiftly become my favorite band was no easy undertaking- but sufficed to say it’s made me want to work through Zeppelin, The Beatles, Deep Purple, Clapton, Crimson and all the others too- because looking at an artist from this perspective changed my relationship with their work with each passing day, and I’d be fascinated to see what it does to those ones too.
A lot of people I’ve spoken to spit and scream over the idea of an album not being 'Floydian' enough: That the essence of the band has to be absolute in every single second of their music… But to me for a group whose mercurial library has shifted like the sand from concept to completion with each release, I wonder if there is a Pink Floyd sound at all. Ubiquity and disassociation has fueled the fire of some of their finest work and, as we shall see, it is this astonishing flux in sound throughout the years that makes them such an intoxicating group.

Monday, 24 July 2017


I’m not a patriot. The sight of British battalions finally being freed from the deadly beaches of Dunkirk does not fill me with the same fanatical vigor that has caused Land of Hope and Glory to flood the minds of so many as the credits finally begin to roll. It makes me sad, in some part, to by virtue of revoking any real national identity be forcefully excluded from these feelings: I wonder what it’s like to take pride in the industrious classics of Hollywood so confident in their statement that America is the premier nation for great film-making. I sit and pine at the sight of Englishmen and women so irrevocably moved by the struggle of their grandfathers on the bleak dunes of that windswept wasteland, peppered with the blood and bodies of the fallen and altogether soaked in the shared sentiment of absolute failure. I am, however, a human being. A moment in time as saturated with struggle as the escape from Dunkirk pulls me in far deeper than any flag riding inside me could. It touches something that transcends borders and brings us all hurtling through history towards this pivotal event horizon of victory and defeat- something that has assured the transfixed gazes of many millions as they stand there watching 400,000 men and the unconscionably brave forces that flew and sailed to save them. It is this magnitude of odds that makes Dunkirk weight so heavily upon me, because it has not only failed to touch my mind- but my heart too.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Ugetsu Monogatari & Sansho the Bailiff

Of all my cinematic regrets, few measure up to the bitterness I feel in being utterly detached from the filmography of Keji Mizoguchi. Revered as perhaps Japan’s finest master, that title often bearing a sentiment that undermines the ‘over-stylisation’ of Akira Kurosawa in favor of a more disciplined cinematic method- I have failed to find the Greatness in a single one of his films. From main-body classics like The Life of Oharu, Story of the Late Chrysanthemums, 47 Ronin, Street of Shame and many others, I am left lost as to his supposed genius. In a last-ditch effort to grasp the inspiring work of Kenji Mizoguchi, I re-watched his masterpieces. 1953’s Ugetsu Monogatari and ‘54’s Sansho the Bailiff. I saw both for the first time about 3 years ago, the former gentling nestling a place among the latter end of my Favorite movies for its freshness. Ugetsu was one of the very first Japanese movies I ever saw, along with Rashomon, and its magical elements enamored me beyond any bluntness in technique at that time. On the other hand, the hotly anticipated Sansho the Bailiff washed away after 2 hours with only regret in its wake. A film that in theory I should absolutely adore felt devoid of life and ultimately unengaging to the point of tedium.

The question underlying this story of cinematic disappointment is: Has there been a change? Growing personally and critically, do Ugetsu and Sansho click with me now in a way they never could years ago. Is it still too soon, or is this tantalizing event horizon of realization I so desperately aspire to never coming to pass? We shall see…

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

A Separation

The enticing morality play of a husband and wife, Simin and Nader, whom cause the miscarriage of their hired carer and struggle to balance it among a neat little collective of contemporary dramas, A Separation is my first Asghar Farhadi film and will undoubtedly be far from my last; If only because I expect the promise of this man's greatness repaid. As it stands, my first outing with Farhadi rewarded me with a dull, dragging piece of work that I failed to engage with in any way. Jumping into the drama of Simin and Nader, as the opening scene swiftly dives into a heated divorce meeting- only serves to establish their situation and told me very little about the people they were. Farhadi seemed satisfied with that though, as few moments in the remaining 2 hours of screen-time lent any more light on their personalities bar what the plot demanded they say and do. 

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Director Retrospectives: Theo Angelopoulos

Theodorous Angelopoulos' was a cinema of singular moments. His work is quiet, unassuming, tragic and human- not in every moment exciting but always engaging. Where Tarkovsky's films are worldly and Bergman's are human- Angelopoulos' are both; and what's more they manage to tread that fatally fine line between tragedy and comedy with a charming warmth a lot of European cinema simply fails to capture for someone native to that part of the world. 

What also fascinates me about the man's strong 13-film body of work is his distinct playfulness. A lot of people associate breaking the fourth wall with contemporary directors, for which they can be labelled anything from stylish and creative to infantile and irritating. Its been done back as far as The Great Train Robbery in 1903 and famously at the end of The 400 Blows in 1959- but who could have guessed that a frighteningly niche Greek 'art-house' director infamous for laborious long takes and even longer running-times would so consistently and ingeniously decide to shatter the fourth wall- appealing directly to his audience in a far more subtle and subdued way than modern examples seem to prove possible. Its a method that really has to be seen to be appreciated so if you do decide to dive into the man's work keep an eye out for his ever-evolving visual sense of humor. 

At the same time, Angel ranks amidst the likes of David Lynch and Luis Buñuel as one of the screen's finest surrealists. Where this artist differs from his collages, however, is that his style is so understated that many of the strange moments in his movies are able to feel almost entirely organic- truer to the original principle of the surreal than either aforementioned director. Your reading of a scene as normal or ever so slightly bizarre speaks of the effective nuance Angelopoulos is able to fill his images with and makes for a cavalcade of delightfully "surreal?" scenes.