Drag Me To Hell is out this week, marking a return to his horror roots for director Sam Raimi.
The film also marks a return to form after the critical drubbing of his last venture, mega-budget three-quel, Spider-Man Tres .
Join us for a look at other directors we think need to get the hindsight checked, and the lessons to be learned from their first features.
The Present: Planet Terror (2007)
What’s Wrong With It?: An homage to schlocky B-Movie horror it may be, but Rodriguez’ roots as a guerilla filmmaker continue to fade.
The Debut: El Mariachi (1992)
What’s Right With It: Creative, economic, original. A labour of love.
Lesson to (Re)Learn: The non-budget ingenuity that stunned audiences at Sundance.
How To Put It Into Practice: Cut his Predators budget by giving him a handheld camera, a guitar, an octopus and Danny Glover, then stand back and shout action.
Next: Steven Soderberg [page-break]
The Present: Che: Part One & Part Two (2009)
What’s Wrong With It?: Sure his cinematography is sublime, but this grand-scale storytelling isn’t as accessible and watchable as his debut.
Sex, Lies and Videotape
What’s Right With It: Honest examination of the human condition and sexuality that lets the characters do the talking.
Lesson to (Re)Learn: The small scale, economic approach to the intricacies of human relationships.
How To Put It Into Practice: Soderbergh may have learned this lesson with the upcoming The Girlfriend Experience (2009). Time shall tell.
Next: Eli Roth [page-break]
The Present: Hostel II (2007)
What’s Wrong With It?:
Retread of the original which offers few new ideas.
The Debut: Cabin Fever (2003)
What’s Right With It?: Inventive and with gags added the gag reflex, it's a balanced horror flick that makes you care about the characters.
Lesson to (Re)Learn: That horror is better with both laughs and gasps, and that if you're planning to go gruesome, do it in glimpses - it's far more effect than a gawp.
How To Put It Into Practice: A script that isn’t rushed, with real characters and humour balance, without all the mindless torture.
Next: Lee Tamahori [page-break]
The Present: Next (2007)
What’s Wrong With It?: Nonsense actioner that requires the suspension of so much disbelief that you have to be officially gullible to even buy a ticket.
The Debut: Once Were Warriors (1995)
What’s Right With It?: The brutal realities of life in poor New Zealand suburb, where racial, alcohol and spousal abuse are all part of daily life.
Lesson to (Re)Learn: Stories about real, flawed human characters will always make compelling cinema.
How To Put It Into Practice: A ticket to New Zealand, a modest budget and a real story.
Next: Baz Lurhman [page-break]
The Present: Australia (2008)
What’s Wrong with It?: The cinematic equivalent of biting off more than you can chew.
What’s Right With It?: A warm and inspiring under-dog story with enough feel-good factor to have them dancing in the aisles.
Lesson to (Re)Learn:
Less is more.
How To Put It Into Practice: Lose the A-List actors, the jaw-dropping locations and the grandeur aspiration, and make a film that people will connect with. In other words, do a Slumdog Millionaire .
Next: George Lucas [page-break]
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
What’s Wrong With It?: Apart from Hayden Christiansen, it was the strongest of the three prequels… which is like saying it’s the best type of Hepatitis.
The Debut: THX-1138 (1971)
What’s Right With It?: The unsettling vision of a future where emotion is outlawed. The themes Lucas explores are important, and his stark, sparse visuals serve this brilliantly.
Lesson to (Re)Learn: Cerebral science-fiction is the only science-fiction.
How To Put It Into Practice: A copy of "Rendevous With Rama" by Arthur C. Clarke. Touted as a project for Fincher, could mark a return to form for Lucas.
Next: Quentin Tarantino [page-break]
The Present: Death Proof (2007)
What’s Wrong With It?: If Jazz is the musical equivalent of masturbation, then this is the film equivalent of Jazz.
The Debut: Reservoir Dogs (1992)
What’s Right With It?: The sheer level of filmmaking talent on display is awe inspiring. There are moments of such genius, such technical brilliance on display, it’s easy to see how he became so revered.
Lesson to (Re)Learn: The economy of his style, reigned in from the unadulterated madness of recent years, is a marvel to behold.
How To Put It Into Practice: Confiscate his comprehensive film library, his Blockbuster card and his Netflix subscription and lock him in a screening room with a copy of Reservoir Dogs on DVD.
Any choices you agree/disagree with? Anyone else you think needs to revisit their first film? Let us know in the comments.
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