Last year when I was reviewing the campaign for Marshall I was a bit surprised to see it was directed by Reginald Hudlin. That was a name I realized I hadn’t really caught in a few years. Looking into what he’s been up to a bit yielded an even bigger surprise: That he hadn’t directed a feature film 15 years. He hasn’t been idle, directing a lot of TV in that time, but here was one of the brightest, most promising directors of the early 1990s and he can’t get a feature gig? It was an important reminder that while we are absolutely having a necessary conversation about the opportunities given to women we also need to be mindful that men and women of color are often shut out of “mainstream” entertainment opportunities as well.
Since I didn’t get to it at the time around Marshall’s release, I’m taking this opportunity to correct and oversight and look at the trailers for Hudlin’s feature directorial work. While the movies may not always be revered as classics, he certainly had a knack for quick-witted comedy, though he was too often asked to try to serve a trend or movement Hollywood was trying to make happen despite all logic. Thankfully he seems to be gaining a bit of theatrical momentum, with last year’s Marshall and the news he would be directing Shadowman, an adaptation of a Valiant Comics character. So using that as an excuse to take a look at the director’s history to date, let’s dive in.
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When you look back over the directorial career of Kenneth Branagh, the man behind the camera for this week’s adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express, it provides an interesting picture of the last three decades of Hollywood.
Coming up in the late 1980s, Branagh leveraged his stature as a premiere interpreter of William Shakespeare’s works to steady work as both an actor and director. He came up when serious dramas were still a box-office draw, but just at the tail end of that system. While his strongest work has almost always been the projects he felt the most personally passionate about he also never really accumulate the reputation of auteur that was attached to those only slightly younger than him who made splashy entrances in the early 90s.
In the last 10 years or so, Hollywood has increasingly turned to franchises for box-office success and hired directors both old and new to helm them. That’s lead to some commentary on how directors are essentially disposable in a system that prioritizes the directional leadership of creative councils and producers who oversee vast swaths of intellectual property. Branagh has been swept up in that wave, with all four of his films since 2010, including Orient, being franchise entries or adaptations of existing IP. He’s currently in pre-production on an adaptation of Artemis Fowl.
His directorial filmography fits nicely into three (alright two and a half) categories that provide an overview of what kind of work he’s made for himself as well as what’s been offered to him over the years.
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No one has ever accused, at least not with any sort of evidence or other substantiation, director Darren Aronofsky of … Continue reading Darren Aronofsky – Director Overview
This week Logan Lucky hits theaters, marking director Steven Soderbergh’s return to feature films after a self-imposed five-year hiatus. That makes it a good opportunity to look back at how the previous films he’s directed have been sold via trailers.
Soderbergh, like the Coen Bros., is a tough nut to crack when trying to identify a grand unifying theory of his work. Instead of one overall theme that clearly stands out, it’s evident that he bounces from one genre and approach and story type to the next. That’s in part, it seems, to keep himself engaged and fresh and in part to satisfy all his various instincts and career desires. With that being said, there are a handful of genres his various films fall into that help bring Soderbergh’s approach to cinema into somewhat clear focus.
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It’s kind of surprising, but this week’s Detroit is the first movie Kathryn Bigelow has directed in five years. In … Continue reading Kathryn Bigelow – Director Overview
This week Criterion is adding Albert Brooks’ great Lost In America to their collection. It’s a great choice to be … Continue reading Albert Brooks – Director Overview