Film Directors: A sort-of A-Z: B

Lots to choose from in B. You are still left with a lot of scope for your own favourites.

Bruce Beresford is an Australian director of some renown, though it has been some time since he worked on a major film, as he is involved in a lot of TV productions these days. He is responsible for three of my personal favourite films in certain genres though, so was always going to feature on my list. Few films have ever been made about the Boer War, but in 1980 Beresford directed the wonderful ‘Breaker Morant’, based on the true story of the Court Martial of Australian soldiers serving in the British Army during that war, in 1902. As well as remarkable performances from a cast including Edward Woodward and Bryan Brown, Beresford delivered a film that was completely convincing, and unforgettable too. In 1989, he took on the adaptation of the play, ‘Driving Miss Daisy’, lovingly recreating life in the deep south of America, following WW2. This little gem of a film walked away with four Oscars, and deservedly so. Two years later, Beresford showed his real flair as a director, with the breathtaking ‘Black Robe’, the biopic of a Jesuit missionary in 17th century Canada. This rarely-mentioned film is one of the best historical dramas I have ever seen, and the cinematography by Peter James is simply outstanding.
More people should watch this film, believe me.

A female director is still something of a rarity, even in the 21st century. But there are many excellent examples of the work of a dedicated woman behind the camera, including the films of Kathryn Bigelow. I first noticed her with the 1987 film, ‘Near Dark’. This tale of modern-day vampires in the badlands of America is still one of the best in the genre. With a great cast, tight script, and remote locations, it delivered so much more than it got credit for back then. After that, she was on a roll. The unusual crime caper, ‘Point Break’ was followed by the dark and compelling ‘Blue Steel’. By the year 2000, Bigelow had become a big name in the industry, and went on to make huge hit films like ‘The Hurt Locker’, ‘Zero Dark Thirty’, and ‘Detroit’.

French director Luc Besson tends to divide audiences, with his often over the top style, and choice of stories. I am firmly in the ‘like’ camp, as far as most of his films go. Starting out in the modern school of French film-making, Besson impressed immediately, with ‘Subway’, and ‘The Big Blue’. This was followed in 1990 by one of my all-time favourite films, ‘Nikita’. Besson got the best from a wonderful cast, and showed how well he could direct action, and exciting set-pieces too. This got him noticed in America, and he began to work on films in the English language. ‘Leon’, ‘The Fifth Element’, and ‘The Messenger’ were all substantial hits, and two of those saw him working with Milla Jovovitch, who he was once married to. He also introduced the world to the young Natalie Portman, with her outstanding performance in ‘Leon’. Since then, he hasn’t stopped working, and despite a hit and miss career, his output continues to attract critical acclaim. (Or sometimes not)

One of my personal favourites again, and luckily both his names start with a ‘B’. Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci has made some simply sublime films, many of which would feature in my top fifty of the best ever made. He has an amazing eye for sweeping panoramas and impressive crowd scenes, as well as the art and design of his sets and locations. He made his first film in 1962, and is still working today, receiving numerous awards along the way, including a Golden Lion, and a Palme D’or, for his career achievements. From the long list of the films he has directed, I have to mention ‘The Conformist’, ‘The Last Emperor’, and of course his magnificent historical epic, ‘Novecento’.
Here is a trailer for that one.

60 thoughts on “Film Directors: A sort-of A-Z: B

  1. Luc Besson!

    My Besson films on DVD: “Nikita” (1990) / “Léon: The Professional” (1994) / “The Fifth Element” (1997) / “The Transporter” (2002) / “Angel-A” (2005) / “Transporter 2” (2005) / “Transporter 3” (2008) / “Taken” (2008) / “Taken 2” (2012). I’ve seen “The Big Blue” (1988) and “The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc” (1999), but don’t have them on DVD. I want to see “Lucy” (2014), and understand he’s making a sequel. I’m also curious about “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” (2017), as the reviews were all over the map, though negative overall.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think Besson worked on the ‘Taken’ films as screen writer, but not as director. I would have to look that up. I have seen ‘Lucy’, which is worth it (but only) for Scarlett, in my opinion. I also bought the DVD (cheap) to watch it again later. His career was and is all over the place indeed, but I had to include him for ‘Leon’ and Nikita’, still huge favourites of mine. (And I liked Jovovich as Joan of Arc too)
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s so cool to see you mentioning Near Dark. It’s a film that is not really well known, but definitely very high on my list of favorites as it was a completely unique, and quite frankly awesome take on the vampire genre. That said, she is an awesome director.
    The other one I definitely would add to the list myself is Tim Burton. While I don’t like all his films, he has certainly made a few terrific films.
    And just for the occasional guilty pleasure, and numb brainless films I’m adding Michael Bay as well 😂😂
    I’m loving this series of posts!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks, Michel. ‘Near Dark’ had great casting, and was such a tight little film.
      I have to look up Michael Bay, hang on…Oh, him! (I knew really, just teasing) I have seen ‘The Rock’, Armageddon’, and (unfortunately) the awful ‘Pearl Harbour’. But he is the king of ‘bad remakes’, so needs his legs slapping for that! And ‘Transformers’? Come on, I’m 65… 🙂 🙂
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Haha 😂😂 That comment on Bay was priceless. 😂😂
        Yeah Bay is Bay…you either love him or hate him. While I certainly don’t enjoy all his films, he has certainly made a couple of fun action movies, the Island being an, in my opinion, being a bit of an underrated movie. As for Transformers, that was my favorite toy as a kid, so that is purely sentimental reasons that I enjoy those.
        Near Dark had definitely great casting. Lance Henriksen especially was awesome in this movie 😊😊

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes, Mel Brooks with the trio of “The Producers”, “Blazing Saddles” and “Young Frankenstein” – certainly an impressive run – also for Peter Bogdanovich, who in the early 70’s had “The Last Picture Show”, “Paper Moon” and “What’s Up Doc?” I agree with the addition of Danny Boyle as well: “Trainspotting” and “Slumdog Millionaire” just two examples…and his interesting sci’fi/outerspace horror effort “Sunshine” – those in addition to your terrific choices, Pete and yes, Bergman will no doubt be raised by many as well!

    Liked by 4 people

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