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New Directors Section at Amoeba

Posted by Amoebite, July 11, 2011 02:49pm | Post a Comment
Amoeba Hollywood's new Directors Section, located on the mezzanine level, gathers directors from across the world in one convenient place. America, Latin America, Asia and Europe are all strongly represented by some of their most praised filmmakers. The genres captured there include horror, drama, comedy, action, cult, documentary, and animation, just to name a few. FDirectors Section 1rom A to Z you can find a everything available from director Woody Allen to Zhang Yimou, with cards that list their complete filmography.

We realized that people are more than just curious about the works of certain directors; some look to their work for a distinct and consistent vision that caters to their tastes and standards. In film criticism they call this the "auteur theory." Certain directors have developed a reputation and a prestige that transcends generations. Many see directors as a film's primary artist, using an assemblage of talented cinematographers, musicians and editors to bring their image to the screen. And while some may disagree with the concept, opting to praise a screenwriter or producer instead, who can deny the feeling one gets from a certain director's work? We recognize that film is a collaborative process, but we'd also like to recognize many directors whose technique and style has influenced more than just cinema.

Horror
SuspiriaFor horror aficionados there's plenty to discover and revisit. Saturated colors, Giallo influences and dizzy scenarios can be found in practically every Italian horror film. The Directors Section is home to many influential Italian horror directors who inspired several genres of film. Dario Argento is arguably the most popular among them. His films Suspiria and Deep Red were groundbreaking for '70s horror, and the violent surrealism of all his work remains a comparative staple in the genre. Mario Bava and Lucio Fulci are two other Italian directors who share a similar style, though Fulci has a heavy emphasis on gore and Bava, eroticism.

In terms of American horror directors, you can find films by John Carpenter, Wes Craven and David Cronenberg, a Canadian filmmaker who primarily works in the U.S. Vastly different than the aforementioned directors, Craven, Cronenberg and Carpenter presented films that took inspiration from social constructs, general phobias and impenetrable boogeymen. Craven is the most well-known among them, mainly because many youngsters saw A Nightmare on Elm St. and Scream fairly early. Perhaps this claim is biased due to the generation it applies to, but Craven is a safe place to start in American horror.

Cronenberg deals more with fears and social commentary, as seen in films like Videodrome, Dead Ringers and The Brood. His films deal with society and fear via otherworldly transformation. For instance, Videodrome makes a bold statement about media control and sexual alternatives that exist in a digital space. Carpenter dives into the world of both horror and science-fiction with surprising ease, which can be credited to his broad sources of inspiration from a number of genres. From his filmography, The Thing, Christine and Big Trouble in Little China come highly recommended.

Comedy and Drama
Comedy and Drama can sometimes have an invisible border in cinema. That's the joy of both these genres; they're the day and night of our human experiences, offering catharsis and a mirror of sorts for those who wish to explore certain truths. Woody Allen, Wes Anderson, Mel Brooks, Christopher Guest, John Hughes are well known for their comedy. Out of the three, Brooks has more outlandish plots while Allen, Anderson, Guest and Hughes add a cozy sense of hilarity to everyday life. These directors are/were most certainly influenced by many other before them, but their films, at their best, changed the direction of modern comedy.

Mean StreetsIf you're looking for drama films that can be as demoralizing as they are thrilling, check out the works of Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola and Spike Lee. The two former directors are Italian-American, and both approach family, violence and the American Dream in almost all of their films. Scorsese deals with crime and the battles of the flesh and mind. His Catholic faith and family background is also very present in his work. There is also large amount of racial prejudice and machismo. Coppola's films vary in range. Favorites in his filmography include The Outsiders and Apocalypse Now. With Coppola, one can find a sense of thoroughness. Regardless of the genre, but especially in his dramas, there is rarely a sense of mystery or confusion. This open-armed sort of storytelling is comforting, even when the subject matter, such as war, is unsettling.

Do the Right ThingLee's films vary as well. His early works were almost exclusively about community, family dynamics and racial tension. Like Scorsese and Coppola, he uses many of the same actors/actresses repeatedly, and many of these performers were practically unknown beforehand. His later work, including Inside Man and 25th Hour, has more to do with the inner struggles of men and the effects of crime than they do with race and family. Scorsese and Lee have both directed several documentaries that carry a sense of urgency and social responsibility. It comes as no surprise, then, that Scorsese taught Lee at NYU.

There is also an abundance of foreign directors who work with similar themes. Ingmar Bergman, Francois Truffaut, and Jean-Luc Goddard are wonderful places to start. Bergman is a Swedish director whose work resonates a more autobiographical tone, with the fear of death and the loss of faith omnipresent. He uses many of the same stars, including Liv Ullman, Harriet Andersson and Kari Sylwan. The simplicity of his scenes and the familiar cast helps the dialogue advance to the point of almost being a conscience. The control he has over color, music and setting is also what gives his films such a harrowing effect.

The 400 BlowsTruffaut and Goddard are said to be the innovators of French New Wave, with Truffaut as one of the founders and Goddard's films being directly linked with the movement. Both have a unique style that has had an influence on directors across the globe. Truffaut is hard to place as far as tone, though many of his themes deal with relationships, whether they be romantic, parental, or institutional. Goddard's influential films have stunned audiences, and it's safe to say that his use of popular culture and politics has either been met with praise or controversy. In terms of French New Wave, his style is almost always referenced.

There are many dramatic directors who use a more historical approach to filmmaking. Their films tell us more about the times in which they're set than they do about the director. Many lace their plots with folklore, superstition, and/or surrealism, and the result is that it makes the past and future seem difficult to comprehend. Of these, Akira Kurosawa, Werner Herzog and Stanley Kubrick have brought us cinematic treasures for many years, and their influence has a permanence that can rarely be rivaled.

Action
When it comes to action, the presence of ultra-violence prevails in the works of Takashi Miike, Quentin Tarantino, and Park Chan-Wook. John Woo, Kinji Fukasaku and Johnnie To Kei-Fung also deal with violence, but in ways that are considerably more practical.

Miike's filmography is perhaps the largest and most accessible. His films Ichi the Killer, Audition, and the Dead Alive Trilogy are extremely popular, and each has characters and scenarios that are sadistic, mesmerizing, and provocative.

Tarantino's violence is known to bring about a well-earned batch of guilty laughter. Mixing martial arts, blaxploitation and several other elements, Tarantino molds features that are truly one-of-a-kind, though they pay homage others. He also uses a ton of great music and exceptional actors.

Park Chan-Wook is most known for what's considered to be his Vengeance Trilogy: Old Boy, Lady Vengeance, and Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance. The anti-hero elements of his work are what set him apart from other directors who also use violence to its full capacity. The Vengeance Trilogy is one in which there are no winners.

Chan-Wook erases innocence and guilt by giving all of his characters an equal batch of both. His films are like a coin toss; you're never sure who is going call which side of the coin. That's the sort of tension that makes violence work and helps you put the action into a realistic perspective.

Woo, Fukasaku and Kei-Fung draw thick lines between their characters. Even though you'd like to think that violence is uncalled for, these directors show that retaliation, justice and honor can sometimes be called upon to give it a redeeming quality on the screen. Of the three, Woo does this sort of theme more often, and the most popular film of Fukasaku, Battle Royale, actually leans more towards the level of violence and mayhem as Chan-Wook and Tarantino.

Cult
FargoThe Coen Brothers, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Peter Greenway, Derek Jarman and Jim Jarmusch have made several films, the bulk of them being considered cult movies. Cult films can be the hardest to describe, due in part to the fact that they usually exemplify several genres. This is especially so of the Coen Brothers. Their early works were mainly comedies, like Fargo and Raising Arizona, but even those put a hilarious spin on things that are quite serious in reality. The same can be said of their later work, like No Country for Old Men and The Man Who Wasn't There, which put a more serious spin on violence while making room for several comedy breaks. Jodorowsky, Greenway, Jarman and Jarmusch are more consistent with their plots, though the attention is often brought to their offbeat scores and non-linear series of events.

Documentaries
Three directors in the section represent documentaries: Ross McElwee, Michael Moore and Errol Morris. McElwee's films are autobiographical. Moore's are meant to provoke and deal with injustice, capitalism and various social issues. Morris deals with a wide range of subjects. His largest accomplishments, The Thin Blue Line and Fog of War followed subjects that have a powerful effect on you, and their success led to exposure of issues that had never been approached in such a stylistic way.

Animation
The films of Hayao Miyazaki, The Brothers Quay, Ralph Bakshi, Bill Plympton and Jan Švankmajer represent our two Animation sections. Miyazaki's feature-length anime films highlight some of the most endearing qualities of both imagination and the human condition. Brothers QuayThe Brothers Quay are the most eclectic of the group - and the least accessible - with experimental work that uses a variety of animation, including stop-motion and claymation. Many of their films use a haunting array of subjects, and their work has influenced many individuals in experimental and avant-garde film.

Švankmajer has had the same effect, though his films often have a political or social agenda, and instead of several types of animation, he's known for his use of puppets. Bakshi is the most controversial among the group, with groundbreaking features such as Coonskin and Fritz the Cat that are adult-oriented, and among the first to get an X rating in animation. Plympton is perhaps the least known among them. His profession as a cartoonist led to his style, which resembles characters seen in print or comics, and animation provided room to grow.


Directors Section 2We'd like to encourage you to explore the works of these directors in a concentrated spot because we understand how overwhelming it can be to shop for something specific. Sometimes you're in the mood for a movie that allows you to feel pathos, anger, elation, or even fear. With almost 100 directors (and hopefully more to come), you're sure to find something that interests you. Be sure to check out the Directors Sections at Amoeba San Francisco and Berkeley as well!


--Edythe Smith