Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Tuesday Talkback: Good movies from bad talent

I'm sure every moviegoer has had the experience of being let down by one of their favorite filmmakers, but how many times has a director or writer you dismissed as a hack totally surprised you? Can you recall ever seeing a good movie by someone you thought was a bad filmmaker?

The first film like this that comes to mind for me is Red Dragon, directed by Brett Ratner. I haven't liked a Ratner movie prior to this or since it, but Red Dragon was incredibly well-done. I know this is probably sacrilege, but I liked it a lot better than the previous adaptation of that novel, Michael Mann's Manhunter. Not only was it more faithful to the book (save for the expansion of Hannibal Lector's role), but it felt more intense, the film was paced better, and as much as it pains me to say this - it was more visually interesting.

Yeah, I can't believe I actually gave Ratner a "win" over Mann, either - especially since Collateral is one of my favorite movies and Heat was pretty cool too.

So how about you? When have your favorite whipping boys impressed you?


  1. I think Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes left me with a great taste in mouth. Is by no means a perfect movie but a great improvement over Ritchie's latest output.

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  3. (Sorry, forgot to add a bit to my original post)

    Akiva Goldsman has to be my #1 criminal in the writing world - and yet clearly I know nothing, because despite being the man who gaves us 'Batman & Robin, 'Lost In Space,' 'Deep Blue Sea,' 'Practical Magic,' the world's biggest continuous product placement commercial 'I, Robot' and lest we forget both 'The Da Vinci Code' AND 'Angels & Demons', he won an Oscar for 'A Beautiful Mind.'

    Now, I'm not denying that in some aspects he's gotten a lot better over the years, but in my humble opinion the man's written an unholy amount of crap and yet seems to be a well-known name despite all of this.

    However - and I know this is technically TV and not a movie - he delivered two fantastic episodes of the otherwise patchy TV show 'Fringe' which genuinely made me rethink my opinion on the guy. Now my up is down, cats and dogs are living together and I just don't know what to think any more.

    Is there a lesson in this for any of us, I wonder?

  4. Martin Campbell's Casino Royale. Never much cared for Goldeneye (other than the N64 game) or the Zorro movies. He's not a BAD director, just very workmanlike. Casino Royale was great.

  5. Avatar. I'm not a big James Cameron fan. I prefer Alien to Aliens any day of the week, and most of what he's made since then has been trite shlock. But trite shlock with very pretty, ground breaking effects. Avatar had some wince-inducing lines and was basically Dancing with Wolves/Fern Gully/Pocahauntus, but it was still a really fun movie. A movie movie, if you will.

  6. Ok, I thought I was the only one who would defend Rattner's directing in Red Dragon. Mind you, I still think he's a hack, but after seeing this film, I was like, "wait, Brett Rattner directed this?!"

  7. Event Horizon by Paul WS Anderson.

    I still can't quite believe this was made by the man who gave us the Resident Evil movies.

  8. Monster Zero - Totally agree on Akiva. Of course, so many of his credits are on films that presumably went through many, many writers I guess it's hard to know how much of the blame falls on him. (And on FRINGE, there's always the chance that the showrunners rewrote him.) But yeah, the phrase "Oscar-winning screenwriter Akiva Goldsman" always makes me throw up in my mouth a little bit.

    Having said that, I'd love to see what the Batman vs. Superman script looked like before he got his hands on it and rewrote Andrew Kevin Walker's draft.

    vertigoanton - I'm willing to grant there's a very small chance that Ratner has some talent as a director and up until now has been content to play in the box they've put him in. That's a very hard concession for me to make, though, considering he directed X3: The Last Stand.

  9. Wow. I thought Event Horizon was one of the worst films I've ever seen.

    I don't really have any directors or writers in mind, but I kind of can't stand Chloe Sevigny except in Shattered Glass, where she's terrific.