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Left-brain directors: http://www.imdb.com/list/ls076383682/
Right-brain directors: http://www.imdb.com/list/ls076383214/
Chi l'ha vista morire? (1972)
Stop watching at the half-hour mark and imagine your own ending
"Who Saw Her Die?" starts with the murder of a young girl on a snowy mountainside. This sets the bleak tone for the first half-hour of the film. We go to another young girl, whose parents are played by George Lazenby and Anita Strindberg. The girl is stalked by an unseen stranger while her parents remain oblivious. Even if you can predict what is going to happen to her, the suspense becomes almost unbearable. This section of the film is excellent.
At approximately the 32-minute mark, there's a sex scene between Lazenby and Strindberg. I highly advise you to stop watching at that point, because the whole film falls apart quite rapidly from there. All the suspense that was built up until this moment dissipates into boredom, and Lazenby spends most of the remainder of the film wandering around aimlessly. The film plods along until it reaches its laughable conclusion. It's so bad that it almost retroactively ruins the first part.
If you feel the need, imagine your own ending. It couldn't possibly be worse than the one they came up with.
The Great Gatsby (1974)
Too faithful for its own good
As Roger Vadim once famously said, "A film is not a book." When adapting a novel to a film, it is necessary that certain changes be made in order for the story to work in the new medium. Despite what book purists may claim, a good adaptation is not always a faithful one. One need look no further than Stanley Kubrick's very loose, yet brilliant, adaptation of The Shining for evidence of this. When a director sticks too close to the source material, even with good intentions, it can sometimes result in a film that's confusing, emotionless, or just plain boring. Such is the case with Francis Ford Coppola and Jack Clayton's adaptation of The Great Gatsby.
With this film, Coppola and Clayton have essentially filmed the novel word-for- word, with the actors reciting the book's dialogue verbatim. The performances are serviceable, but they are undercut by the passionless directing style. There seems to have been very little thought put into the cinematography, which often involves awkward static shots of people standing still. The editing doesn't help matters, and many shots feel either longer or shorter than they ought to be. In the end, it's a cold, dry film that leaves no impact on the viewer.
Having seen both versions, I will assert that the 2013 adaptation is far better, and I highly recommend you see that one instead.
Seul contre tous (1998)
Tries to be disturbing, but is ineffective for several reasons
I Stand Alone, directed by Gaspar Noé, attempts to be a "disturbing" film in the vein of A Clockwork Orange and Salò: 120 Days of Sodom. However, it falls flat for several reasons.
For one thing, Noé uses gimmicky directorial tricks that severely cheapen the film. He shoots the entire film with very wide lenses and heavy yellow filters. To his credit, it's an interesting visual style in small doses, but when used for the entire film, it becomes distracting and irritating. As is typical of many 1990s thrillers, the film frequently employs MTV-style editing in an effort to intensify the violence. This style of editing has not stood the test of time, and the frequent jump-cuts and speed-ups come off as schlocky rather than intense. In addition, the main character narrates over the whole film in a dry, monotonous voice. This narration sucks the emotional impact out of several potentially intense scenes. It brings to mind the theatrical cut of Blade Runner, and not in a good way.
The climax, in which the main character has a fantasy about murdering his daughter, perfectly demonstrates many of these problems. The scene could have been quite effective in the hands of a different director, but any tension it could have potentially had is deflated before it even has a chance. At the beginning of the scene, there's a 30-second bumper that warns the audience that something extremely violent is about to happen. Inevitably, this buildup makes the scene itself seem underwhelming. The gore isn't as graphic as the warning would have you believe, but it would be quite shocking...if you weren't warned beforehand that it was about to happen. The scene itself also has the aforementioned filming style, editing, and narration.
When watching this film, it becomes quite clear that Noé had not yet found his voice as a director. His later films, particularly Irreversible and Enter the Void, stand out because they have a strikingly original creative style and bring new ideas to the table. I Stand Alone, on the other hand, tries to be "clever" at the expense of leaving an impact on the viewer, or for that matter, actually having a message. It's as if Noé was saying, "Hey, check out these cool tricks I can do!"
All in all, I Stand Alone does not work at all on an emotional level. It's more annoying than it is disturbing, and it is probably Gaspar Noé's weakest film.
Almost Human (2013)
Not great, not bad, just so-so
I just finished watching the pilot episode. Overall, I thought it was okay. I found it entertaining, but not particularly engaging or thought-provoking. The themes of man vs. machine, what makes a human, etc. have all been explored before. The visuals weren't very original either, taking many cues from Blade Runner, Minority Report, Battlestar Galactica, and (insert any first- person shooter here). There was also a lot of shaky-cam, fast cutting, and orange/blue contrast, giving it a very generic look.
On the positive side, I thought Karl Urban and Michael Ealy both gave excellent performances. I loved the contrast between Urban's angry, violent, Jack Bauer-esque antics and the calm, pacifistic demeanor of Ealy's character. I thought the two of them played off of each other very well, and I look forward to seeing them in future episodes.
Cheesy script, but good atmosphere
A lot of people dislike this movie because of its various plot holes and bad dialog. I partially agree with them, but I don't agree with them that it automatically makes this a bad movie. For one thing, I love the atmosphere. Right from the opening credits, it has a very dark tone that it maintains throughout the movie. I also love the soundtrack. The theme by Metropolis perfectly captures the feel of the movie, and the jazz piece in the final scene is beautiful.
Like I said before, I still think that this movie has its weaknesses. The dialog is painfully bad at some points, and the continuity is almost nonexistent. Then again, this is a slasher film, so those flaws are to be expected. Overall, it's a fun watch.