Granted, pleasing me is probably not very high on their priority lists. But I'm in a quarrelsome mood, and I need to start banging out Filmtalk articles again, so here we go.
- Guy Ritchie - Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels came out just as I "discovered" film as a teenager. It was all the buzz at the time, and, at the time, I liked it. High energy. Creative. Funny. Now, I haven't been keeping up religiously with every single Ritchie offering since, but my general impression has been he's just telling variations of the same joke over and over again - and it ceased to be funny a long time ago. (Except for that desert island movie he made with Madonna. That was a whole different joke, and a whole different type of unfunny.) Bottom line: I enjoyed Lock, Stock because it was strikingly original. Get original again, Ritchie.
- The Coen Brothers - Less a director than a directorial unit, I suppose, but same problem. Dude, what happened? I watch O Brother Where Art Thou and Intolerable Cruelty and while I can see they're trying - I can even see what they're trying for - I can also just as plainly see they're not succeeding. Unfortunately, I can't put my finger exactly on what's not working. On the other hand, there's enough of their early work to re-view until they get it together.
- Ed Norton - Ed Norton is a fine actor. When he announced he was going to tip his toe into the waters of directing, I recall much excited speculation about what project he would choose. This was back in the late 90's. His first directorial effort ending up being the pleasant, harmless large-scale priest-and-rabbi joke Keeping the Faith in 2000. And while I thought it was brilliant of him to choose a comedy, thus relieving a lot of the first-time director pressure, I was also anxious to see him take on a drama, or anything with some real meat to it. Fast forward to seven years later, and still nothing. Except something maybe perhaps in the works. Sigh.
- Vincent Gallo - Oh, god. Where to start. It's in reality a short story. I love Buffalo '66. I can't comprehend anything else he's created since. This may be one to cherish fond memories of and then let go.
- Robert Rodriquez - El Mariachi is one of my favorites. When I first saw it, I loved its rawness and charming cheesiness. It looked like it was a lot of fun to make, and that spilled over into watching it as well. But it's been a bumpy ride from there for Rodriquez, at least in my eyes. He's kind of been all over the place, from Desperado to Spy Kids to Grindhouse, and it doesn't seem as if it's all meshing into a coherent philosophy. Not to press the auteur theory where it's not wanted, but I know for a fact that as a director he's very much in control of his individual works - so why does his body of work not display similar control? His career choices seem to be based on whims. Maybe I'm just not looking at the right things. I think he's very talented. I wish he would push it a bit harder sometimes. It would be interesting to see what he could do if he stepped out of the deliberate b-movie realm.
I suppose, on reflection, that most artists end up disappointing, in some way, in some time. If they didn't, there would be no such thing as journalistic criticism. And just imagine how disappointing a world without that would be.