I had this in drafts, and thought I would publish it today.
My first A-Z series of 2018 is about film directors, or as they tend to be called these days, ‘Film-Makers’. I am calling it a ‘sort-of’ A-Z, as I will only be writing about those whose work I have seen, so some letters will possibly be missed out. But I have seen a lot of films, so who knows? The letters will refer to the surnames of the directors only, not their first names, so please bear that in mind if you add your own choices in the comments later. As before, I will mention some, and add a personal favourite at the end.
I couldn’t miss out the prolific Woody Allen from ‘A’. Although I have not enjoyed his later efforts, his early work offered up some really excellent films, and he even starred in most of them too. ‘Annie Hall’ and ‘Manhattan’ captured the feel of the urbane wealthier classes in big city America so well. The memorable one-liners, sharp scripts, and above all great casting made for a rewarding experience that was not soon forgotten. I could even forgive him for casting himself as the romantic lead, as that delivered a fine sense of irony too.
Robert Altman later specialised in films with a large ensemble cast, and converging story lines. Few carry off that format with such style as he managed to do during his career, with ‘Short Cuts’, ‘Gosford Park’ and ‘The Player’ standing out for me. Add the film ‘M.A.S.H.’, and ‘Nashville’, and you get the idea. He had a long career, starting out in TV, and directing his first film in 1956. He died in 2006, but left behind a long list of credits.
British director Anthony Asquith may not be so well known in the 21st century. But you might know some of the many excellent films he made over the years. From 1927-1964, he directed more than forty feature films, including the wartime drama, ‘We Dive At Dawn’, and the spy thriller, ‘Cottage To Let’. He worked with many of the leading British actors of the day, including David Niven, on ‘Carrington V.C.’, and Robert Donat in the original film of ‘The Winslow Boy’. As late as 1960, he directed ‘The Millionairess’, starring Sophia Loren and Peter Sellers’, and his last film was ‘The Yellow Rolls-Royce’, starring Rex Harrison.
Regular readers know that I love World Cinema, and films with subtitles. Spanish director Pedro Almodovar has had a distinguished career already, and is still young enough to do a lot more. His sometimes farcical comedies are known for their lurid use of colours, ensemble cast, and outrageous plots. But he also makes very serious films too. If you don’t know the name, you might know the films. ‘Bad Education’, ‘Volver’, ‘Tie Me Up, Tie me Down’, ‘Talk To Her’, ‘All About My Mother’, and many more. He is one of my favourite modern directors, and has established a unique and easily identifiable style. Despite the occasional ‘dud’, he has constantly made films on issues that challenge the viewer, and his casting is flawless in the main. Here’s the trailer from one of his earlier films, and one of my personal favourite performances, from Carmen Maura. ‘What Have I Done To Deserve This? (1984)
I hope you will add your own favourites in the comments. I left a lot of scope!