HEADS :: David Keith Lynch

- b. 1946 Missoula, Montana, USA
- Director: 10 feature films (1977-2006)

Jess's favorite: INLAND EMPIRE (2006)
Paul's favorite: Eraserhead (1977)

Standing by a parking meter




The Deer Hunter - This is this

Character development is not crucial to every film. I'd go as far as to say that, in some films, it's downright unnecessary. But, when a film is lacking in it, it's the first 'flaw' people are able to extract in their adorable analyses. (Horror movies are the biggest scapegoat in this misconception). That aside, it's obviously the focal point & anchor of many films - sometimes successful, sometimes merely adequate, & sometimes missing the mark completely & landing somewhere in vague blandness or, conversely, broad stereotype.
Generally, in the 'character study' sub genre, it takes the span of the entire film to adequately ground its purpose & create a full character arch. The reason it takes this long is because, if it were established too quickly, it'd result in that aforementioned 'caricature crisis.' So, the reason The Deer Hunter is such an amazing achievement is that, in its 3 hr. running time, it establishes its characters thoroughly & eloquently in one 7 minute scene.
Deer Hunter is so rigidly secure in a traditional structure that it's nearly untraditional; there are three acts & each act is stringently divided into their own respective hour. & so not coincidentally, the first act culminates with a scene of (most of) the principal characters preparing to go deer hunting. This 'preparation' acts as a flawless showcase of character development; each man getting their own moment through interaction with the other(s). It's expertly placed within the framework of the film - acting as one final push to create empathy (& sympathy) for where we're going next. But much more so is the achievement in the writing & the performances themselves. It's not at all uncommon to have this kinda scene in a movie -- but to have one this crisp & candid is unrivaled.
- Paul


HEADS :: John Wilden Hughes, Jr.

- b. 1950, Lansing, Michigan, USA
- d. 2009, New York City, New York, USA
- Director: 8 feature films (1984-1991)

Jess's Favorite: Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)
Paul's Favorite: Plains, Trains, & Automobiles (1987)



HEADS :: Allan Stewart Konigsberg

- b. 1935 Brooklyn, New York, USA
- Director: 45 feature films (1966-2011)

Jess's favorite: Manhattan (1979)
Paul's favorite: Sleeper (1973)



Saving Private Ryan - Dog One is open

Very rarely do I hear people refer to Spielberg as an auteur. If I had to make a guess as to why this was, I would say it was due to the rarity of his name as a writing credit, along with his overall accessibility - publicly & critically. But, that's what makes Spielberg Spielberg.

The true fact of the matter is that SeƱor Spielbergo may be the truest auteur filmmaker working today - specifically because he rarely writes original material for what he directs. People like Quentin & P.T. firmly establish their respective voices in their respective original screenplays, & their directorial efforts act as a continuation. Of course, their material would look & feel different in someone else's hands, but inaccurately so, which is why they themselves are decent examples of the auteur theory.

The admirable thing about Spielberg is that, not only does he put his specific mark on material written for him (& it is specific) but he embarks on his own unique continuation, & ultimately becomes a writer with the camera; the best illustration of this being Saving Private Ryan. The film's credited screenwriter is Robert Rodat, who also penned the screenplay for the 2000 Roland Emmerich farce, The Patriot. I won't compare the quality of the two films, but I bring it up to suggest the likely triviality of Ryan's physical shooting script. & while Ryan will most likely remain a classic over other films like The Patriot - or Shakespeare In Love for that matter - the first 25 minutes is the clear standout (& to some, standalone) sequence that will act as the primary example as to why it's groundbreaking. The film in its entirety chronicles the first several days of the D-Day invasion - as well as a less compelling, but nevertheless necessary narrative thread - but it's the initial Omaha Beach landing on June 6th that is not only startling in its craft & realism, but structurally so to the rest of the film.

I've seen only the first two Lord of the Rings films, & while I can recall barely anything about them, the one thing that did stick was that the tone of the second film was a sorta building tension to an epic battle - a battle which, ultimately, was head-scratchingly dull. But, regardless of that, that is in essence a basic, familiar story structure. Ryan opens with something that most films can only dream of crescendoing to. Spielberg takes us from the landing craft to the pillbox in what seems like an endless journey, & a movie unto itself. & in this little movie within a movie, we're already cheering on the protagonists whenever they're able to catch a break - & their first big break comes when Dog One is breached in an explosion of sand & smoke.

There are so many films - great films - that unfold & progressively get better with every act. Ryan does that, sure. But so few films can make me excited about just how much movie is left before the credits roll, & evetually leave me wanting more. 

- Paul







HEADS :: David Paul Cronenberg

- b. 1943 Toronto, Ontario, Canada
- Director: 19 feature films (1969-2011)

Jess's favorite: The Fly (1986)
Paul's favorite: A History of Violence (2005)




Reservoir Dogs - Mr. Orange blows his cover

It's unfair to call Reservoir Dogs Quentin's weakest film - it's always kinder to use the phrase "freshman effort." But this isn't about fairness - or the overall quality of Dogs.
Though, I will say, while the film ironically feels like one of the many post-Pulp indie ripoffs, it does introduce the most scrutinized Tarantino-esque motif in all of his movies: violence. Not that Quentin single-handedly introduced violence to cinema - or even his own self-branded style of violence - but he has perfected it. & what that style ultimately was & has become is best illustrated in his freshman effort.
The most controversially fun scene in the film depicts Michael Madsen torturing Kirk Baltz with a straight razor, while at the same time singing & dancing to Steeler's Wheel. For most people - especially people who demonize his work - this is the generic Tarantino equation by which they can draw a straight line from any vaguely-stylized hack flick to any one of his: graphic violence + ironic music choice = faux-hip. Furthermore, the aesthetic & literal angle of the scene that has been examined to no end is the horizontal tilt/pan away from the violent act -- a move most find tasteful in its intentions, but I find laughably clumsy in its execution.
 What the real Tarantino equation is - what his style really is - is to illustrate how cool movie violence is (and, yes, to deliver it with stylish eloquence). & the way he does this is with dramatic pace changes that bring everything to a halt before they become sensationalistic, while simultaneously allowing the the story to continually unfold.
As much as it turns our stomachs, we love a bit of gore mixed with pop music; but then the song sharply ends, & we realize we really don't wanna see Marvin Nash burned alive, & in watching this 'first film,' we don't know what this filmmaker is capable of or where he'll take us. & we're brought out of it with a literal bang of a plot twist that, at least for me, gave proof as to who the most badass Dog was.

- Paul


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