Thursday, January 18, 2007

10 directors to watch

I stumbled upon this this morning at Variety, and just couldn't resist "borrowing" their insight. Though none of these directors will have movies playing in my little corner of the world anytime soon, there's some fascinating stuff to set your Netflix queue up with in the near future.

Tauja Waititi
Waititi, a Kiwi Maori from New Zealand, arrives at Sundance this year with his first feature, "Eagle vs. Shark," a deadpan comedy about two social misfits who find love. The film's two leads are Lily, a sexually repressed fast-food waitress played by Loren Horsley, and a tormented videostore clerk named Jarrod, being played by Waititi's former standup partner Jemaine Clement.

Sarah Polley
I just love Canuck Sarah Polley in so many ways, so I hope she finds great success in directing. Her first feature, "Away from Her," chronicles the effects of Alzheimer's disease on an elderly couple. One tidbit from Variety: Sarah turned down the chance to star in "Almost Famous" to make a short film of her own. Sarah as Penny Lane? I can already see it in my mind, and it looks incredible.

Joachim Trier
Count this dude as one former skate punk who has come a long way. Trier, who got his start shooting skateboarding vids, is in Park City with "Reprise," a tale of literary rivalry, romantic agonies and madness that also tracks how young people make the transition from punk rock to parenting.

Jim Strouse
Strouse has also made a rapid rise, from location manager on Steve Buscemi's 2005 film "Lonesome Jim" to now bringing his first feature, "Grace is Gone," to Sundance. It certainly helps when you have a star like John Cusack on board. The flick is about a young father (Cusack) whose soldier wife has just been killed in Iraq. Rather than tell his two daughters the news, he decides to take them on a cross-country road trip to an amusement park. The story was inspired by a similar trip Strouse made with his older brother and his two children several years ago.

Andrea Staka
Staka nabbed the Golden Leopard at Locarno with her flick "Fraulein," and now she's making the rounds with it at Sundance. The movie explores themes of immigration and loss among a community of Bosnians and Croatians, as far as I can tell.

Jarrett Schafer
Count this as one project I just can't get behind because, well, it sickens me. You can't deny, however, that Schafer has huevos for taking it on. His first feature, "Chapter 27," is the story of the days leading up to the 1980 assassination of John Lennon, told from the perspective of his killer, Mark David Chapman. Schafer cast Jared Leto as Chapman and Lindsay Lohan as Jude, a fellow Lennon fanatic who befriends Chapman. Like I said, not much to add because I simply find this abhorrent from the start.

Jorge Hernandez Aldana
In case anyone missed the memo, the Mexicans are taking over the film world, and they're bringing their friends with them. Mexican scribe Guillermo Arriaga, the former writing partner of director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (you might just have heard of him), has tapped Venezuelan Aldana to adapt his novel, "El bufalo de la noche," for the big screen. I'm not sure what it's about, but Aldana already has his eyes on a new project: A film about the Mars Volta. Huzzah, indeed.

Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
Von Donnersmarck has managed quite a coup with his debut feature, "The Lives of Others." The tale of an East German writer under surveillance by a Stasi agent is Germany's nominee for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.

Nelson George
George has been a prolific writer of nonfiction (his "Hip Hop America" is a must-read) and an occasional screenwriter (the less successful "CB4"), and now he turns to a personal tale for his first stab at directing. "Life Support," Sundance's closing-night film - about a woman, played by Queen Latifah, who is HIV-positive - is based on the life of his own sister.

Andrea Arnold
Now that's what I call a debut: Arnold, a former children's TV host, won the Grand Prix du Jury at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival with her first feature, "Red Road." Set in the bleak housing projects of Glasgow, Scotland, "Red Road" is an emotional thriller about a surveillance camera attendant who becomes dangerously obsessed and entangled with a man from her tragic past.

So, there you have it. I hope you found some new names and flicks here. These are definitely some folks to keep your eyes on.

9 comments:

Marina said...

Excellent post. I don't actually recognize all of the names but I can add a little more to the few I know.

Sarah Polley's "Away from Her" is a great first feature for the talented actress. She has said that she wants to do more directing and if this first film is only the beginning, she has a great career ahead of her behind the camera.

I'm not sure where Florian came from but "The Lives of Others" is a masterpiece and the thing is that the story, when I first read it, didn't even sound all that impressive. This guy is one to watch for sure.

Again, great list.

Reel Fanatic said...

I'm definitely looking forward to seeing Florian's work, Marina .. I've only heard great things about it .. I know that the Foreign Language Film category is down to nine flicks, before being whittled down further to five Tuesday, but I don't know if he's still in the running

Anonymous said...

Hmm it's nice to see kids still want to make movies even in the YouTube age. I love the democracy of the web but film is the most beautiful medium.

Reel Fanatic said...

I'm definitely with you on that, Mo!, But I'm absolutely addicted to wasting time at work on YouTube!

FrancesDanger said...

Sarah Polley is divine. She broke my heart in The Sweet Hereafter. If she brings ¹/10 of her acting talent to directing then she is going to be incredible.

Thanks for the list. Rearranging my queue now!

Reel Fanatic said...

I'm definitely with you there, Frances .. I even liked her in that zombie movie remake with Ving Rhames .. I think it was Dawn of the Dead

Marina said...

Oh yeah. "The Lives of Others" is still in the running though the competition is going to be tough!

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I have read about Joachim Trier , the other directors are new ones to me, Joachim Trier's debut film Reprise from 2006 received several national awards, including the Amanda Award and the Aamot Statuette... right??