Saturday, July 24, 2010


Written & Directed by Angela Ismailos

Where & When: Nuart Theater, West Los Angeles, CA. June 30, 2010  5:10PM

Being a hardcore movie buff, I was really looking forward to seeing this documentary, "Great Directors" by Angela Ismailos in which she interviews ten film directors.

They may not be household names and their films are far from your typical Hollywood fare but they are certainly a very important part of cinema.Their work is powerful, controversial and challenging but you can also see in them the innovation that has continued to influence and inspire today's film makers. It's clear that it was necessary for each of these directors to create motion pictures that are of their own unique vision, without compromise.

These brilliant directors are from around the world and have created some of my favorite films. They are:

Bernardo Bertolucci, "The Conformist" (1970), "Last Tango In Paris" (1972), "The Last Emperor" (1987)

Catherine Breillat, "Romance" (1999), "Fat Girl" (2001)

Lilana Cavari, "The Night Porter" (1974)

Stephen Frears, "Dangerous Liaisons" (1988), "The Grifters" (1990), "The Queen" (2006)

Todd Haynes, "Poison" (1991), "Far From Heaven" (2002)

Richard Linklater, "Dazed and Confused" (1993), "Before Sunrise" (1995), "Before Sunset" (2004)

Ken Loach, "The Wind That Shakes The Barley" (2006)

David Lynch, "Blue Velvet" (1986), "Mulholland Drive" (2001)

John Sayles, "The Brother From Another Planet" (1984), "Passion Fish" (1992), "Sunshine State" (2002)

Agnes Varda, "Cleo From 5 to 7" (1962), "The Beaches Of Agnes" (2009)

This is an impressive line-up.

Now you would think with all of this talent and all of the fascinating stories I'm sure they would all have to share, that this would be a compelling film that all fans of the cinema must see. I am sad to report that this documentary is a disappointment and an opportunity to properly showcase these artists is squandered.

While the idea is great and it's a smart selection of film makers, the problem begins and ends with the pretty and blond, Ms Ismailos. She has seemed to have gone to the Michael Moore school of documentary film, because she has placed herself front and center in this piece. I don't know who Ms Ismailos is or what her background is but what I do know is that she's no Michael Moore. She doesn't have the skill nor any known authority to use herself in this film without being way too disruptive. I really didn't want to see her on camera or hear her ramble on about her thoughts on these film makers. I would have preferred to just only hear directly from the directors themselves, like a proper documentary should.

Now, while it was fascinating to listen to these different film makers discussing their history, influences and ideas, I hated how these interviews were assembled in this documentary. Too often there seemed to be no rhyme or reason and they jumped back and forth between the directors without any visible connection between their discussions.The film clips that were used from some of the director's finest work were not used to their best advantage and didn't link up to anything they were talking about.

My suggestion would be to skip "Great Directors" and if you haven't seen any of the films that I have listed above, go and see them. That will give you a better idea of who these directors are and what they have to say.