5 Auteur Filmmakers of the Modern Era
By Kabir Esuana
- Michael Bay. Known for Transformers, Pearl Harbor, Bad Boys.
One of the most commercially successful Filmmakers in history, but also the most critically panned. Bay has stated that he makes movies for “little teenage boys”.
Highly notorious for making visually stunning movies with sloppy storytelling characterized by fast cutting and explosive action sequences, Bay’s movies do not aim to convey a higher message. Instead, he aims to just entertain.
The epic depiction of property destruction in his films have become his defining theme. So much so that moviesgoers have coined the term “Bayhem”.
He has been regarded as a pioneer of American cinema’s technology sophistication, choosing to employ outlandish special effects in his movies that are tied to large explosions and fast action sequences.
In his films, Bay often tries to portray the blockbuster cinematic experience in its cinematic roots; unfiltered, pure, entertaining action. But this is often at the expense of a credible story that lacks substance or convincing character development.
His signature is visible in all his movies which makes it impossible for fans to mistake his work for that of someone else’s. Although, the way he repeatedly neglects dialogue has led many to conclude that Bay is incapable of balancing action and Visuals. This has led critics to compare Zack Snyder’s work to his. But one might notice the level of emotional ambiguity Snyder’s characters portray and Bay’s lack.
- Tim Burton. Known for Batman, Alice in Wonderland, Dark Shadows.
Known as the “goth” director, Burton makes movies centered on dark fantasy folklore. His 1992 sequel of Batman was deemed too dark and “unsafe” for children which made Warner Bros. replace him with Joel Schumacher in the third installment.
His films often feature main characters that are freaks, weirdos and loners, which he carefully weaves together to develop a compelling story.
He is also big on costumes, particularly costumes from the Victorian era, regardless of the time period the movie is set in. Helping give the narrative a gothic appeal.
Burton’s visual style have successfully incorporated goth with art and made it mainstream. Gothic architectural designs, as seen in Batman and Dark Shadows, hunted castles, ghosts and vampires are part of his unique storytelling style and separates him from other directors.
- Quentin Tarantino. Known for Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill, Django Unchained
Tarantino’s movies are heavy with extended scenes of dialogue and nonlinear narrative techniques that rival Christopher Nolan. While his movies are always meant to be entertaining, Tarantino usually employs a satirical subject matter aimed at delivering a message or criticizing an already established institution.
He uses a variety of of cinematic techniques in his films, constantly making references to popular culture and making use of ” soundtracks containing songs and score pieces from the 1960s and 1980s”.
Tarantino draws inspiration from traditional Hong Kong and Japanese films, as well as spaghetti westerns which is evident in Kill Bill. Even with his critically acclaimed achievements, he has been criticized for the excessive use of blood and the preposterous employment of violence in his films.
Also a prolific writer, Tarantino has all but created a while new genre for his movies and has gone on to inspire modern Filmmakers. We all wait for his take on star trek.
- Christopher Nolan. Known for The Dark Knight Trilogy, Inception, Interstellar
Among the most critically acclaimed Filmmakers in modern cinema, Nolan utilizes nonlinear storytelling that are deeply rooted in themes featuring human morality, its ambiguity and personal identity. He is also a big fan of practical special effects.
One of the most recurring theme is Nolan’s works is memory. Its reliability and unreliability. How it’s just an entity that ultimately shape what we regard as reality or the present. His fascination with memories are reflected in “Momento” and “Inception.
Much like Snyder’s, Nolan’s works also try to mirror philosophical concepts and create questions that do not serve any purpose other than create new questions.
The construction and manipulation of time are also amongst his themes, as noted in Inception, Interstellar and Momento. Almost all his movies at some point are rooted in the transcendence of time, teasing that it might be an illusion and at the same time not revealing the “truth”.
Nolan uses a number of writing styles such as; moving the point of view, using unreliable narrators, Flashbacks and Flashfowards and anticlimactic scenes. He has set himself aside from other Filmmakers in the modern era with his distinctive directing style, writing skills and preference for practical effects.”Dunkirk”, his most recent film is a prime example of this. It has been reported that over 80% of the movie’s effects were practical, making it another potential Masterpiece with an Oscar nomination.
- Zack Snyder
Known for 300, Batman v Superman, Watchmen.
A misunderstood genius, a master of visual storytelling and the pioneer of comic book movies that appeal to the human behavior or a hack who uses excessive symbolism in movies that lack character development and try to make up for this with overused CGI. This is the ultimate Snyder debate.
His movies spark discussion on a philosophical level that make even the most dedicated fans initially question his motives.
Genius or not, Snyder’s has a distinctive way of telling a story. He has become one of the most influential directors in the 21st century. Constantly compared to Michael Bay, critics have stated that Snyder sacrifices a good story for visual awe while glorifying violence at a level that seems almost offensive.
He employs the use of dreary color palettes and visuals straight out of a comic book. His signature includes the use of slow motion in between action scenes which has come to separate him from other Filmmakers.
For better or worse, Snyder has changed people’s perception on action movies. Even James Cameron stated that Snyder makes movies ahead of time. Batman v Superman went a long way in cementing his position as one of the most controversial Filmmakers in the modern world.
Snyder’s direction style, especially his influence in DC extended universe, has earned him a devoted and dedicated fan base. The recent release of Justice League proved that. His fans are convinced that the version playing in theaters was is not his original vision, making them start a petition for the release of the “Snyder cut”.
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