Ten Independant Filmmakers You Should Know About: Jonathan Levine

Discussion in 'Archive: The Amphitheatre' started by Nevermind, Jan 23, 2012.

  1. Nevermind Jedi Grand Master

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    Thomas McCarthy

    Best movies: The Station Agent (2003), The Visitor (2008), Win Win (2011)

    "Any respectable list of the best actors-turned-directors that lacks the name Thomas McCarthy is instantly null and void. When he?s not shooting elegant yet inconspicuous stories about everyday people, the New Jersey native is acting in films as diverse as Meet The Parents, 2012, and Flags Of Our Fathers (fans of HBO's The Wire will remember him as Scott Templeton, the unscrupulous reporter from the final season). But, frankly, we?d much rather see him remain behind the camera from here on out.

    Not that McCarthy isn?t a decent performer?in fact, he?s a damn good character actor. It?s just difficult to envision the man as anything other than a director after experiencing his wonderfully conceived movies, honest and poignant human interest tales that preach softly yet impact strongly.

    For example, Win Win, one of last year?s most underrated knockouts, looks and feels like a simple comedy, yet it?s actually an enthralling examination of one man?s (Paul Giamatti) reluctance to come to terms with his grown-up responsibilities. It?s a simple, nuanced case study that?s purely McCarthy."
  2. Nevermind Jedi Grand Master

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    Christopher Smith

    Best movies: Creep (2004), Triangle (2009), Black Death (2011)

    "The genre market needs more daring and original thinkers a la Christopher Smith. Hailing from Bristol, England, the horror specialist has displayed more diversity in his brief eight-year career than heavyweights like George A. Romero and Stuart Gordon have in their entire, much longer filmmaking histories. And, best of all, Smith?s movies are all different and all really damn good.

    In the spirit of most horror newcomers, Smith went for gory craziness with his debut, 2004?s Creep, about a deformed killer spilling guts inside London?s wretched sewers. He lightened up a smidge two years later with the comedic slasher flick Severance, and then stripped away all humor to write the complicated and downright superb 2009 brain-scrambler Triangle, a spellbinder that deserves to become a new-age cult classic.

    Last year, Smith delivered his most thought-provoking picture yet in Black Death, a medieval chiller that starts off in King Arthur territory, twists into a supernatural creeper, and culminates with god-fearing torture and dismemberment. One of our favorite movies of 2011, the grandiose-looking Black Death should have Smith?s phone buzzing with Hollywood studio requests; if not, chalk up another ?L? for the majors."
  3. Mastadge Manager Emeritus

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    I like Smith a lot. He's one of four new-ish genre B-movie directors whom I generally trust -- the others being Neil Marshall, Michael J. Bassett and David Twohy. Marshall seems to have peaked with The Descent, though, at least for now, and Twohy lost his edge when he got a big budget. I look forward to new projects by all of them, but Smith has been the most consistent.

    And going up a post, I also love McCarthy. The Station Agent and The Visitor are wonderful films; Win Win is good but a bit slight compared to the others, I think.
  4. Nevermind Jedi Grand Master

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    10 Independent Filmmakers You Should Know About
    By Matt Barone | Jan 15, 2012 | 8:59 am | Permalink


    Steve McQueen

    Best movies: Hunger (2008), Shame (2011)

    "You can?t open an entertainment magazine or visit a gossip blog these days without seeing Michael Fassbender?s name multiple times; inarguably 2011?s breakout actor, the Irish-German soon-to-be-A-lister hit all quadrants last year, winning over comic book nerds in X-Men: First Class, amassing period movie credibility in both Jane Eyre and A Dangerous Method, and staking his Oscar nominee claim as a sex addict in Shame. What makes the exceptional Shame more important than the others, though, is its director/co-writer: Steve McQueen. Why? Because without McQueen, those aforementioned mags and websites most likely wouldn?t even know that Fassbender exists.

    Hunger, McQueen?s visceral, prison-set 2008 debut, ushered in a startlingly gifted new director for critics to gush over, but it also introduced folks to Mr. Fassbender, the Robert De Niro to McQueen?s Martin Scorsese, if you will. And even though the actor is now officially a primetime player thanks to Shame, he?s not about to disrupt his working chemistry with this here filmmaker: Later this year, the duo will team up once again to shoot 12 Years A Slave, joined by the terrific Chiwetel Ejiofor and a promising up-and-comer named Brad Pitt."
  5. A Chorus of Disapproval New Films Riot Deterrent

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    I'm overly anxious for this thread's inevitable listing of Ed Wood...
  6. Nevermind Jedi Grand Master

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    Lynne Ramsay

    Best movies: Ratcatcher (1999), Morvern Cellar (2002), We Need To Talk About Kevin (2011)

    "Happiness isn?t a trait that?s easily accessible in a Lynne Ramsay film. Attracted to stories rooted in psychological dread and the darker sides of human nature, the Glasgow, Scotland, native specializes in profound bleakness. Yet somehow, through sheer talent, her movies find deranged beauty in the grim.

    Ramsay?s excellent 1999 debut Ratcatcher, about a 12-year-old boy?s harrowing coming of age within a decaying Glasgow slum, ushered in a fresh, distinct new voice, one that just so happened to be that rarest of moviemaking types: a female. At one time, Ramsay was primed for a mainstream crossover when she attached herself to the big-time adaptation of Alice Sebold?s best-selling 2002 novel The Lovely Bones, and we sure as hell wish that would?ve happened?Peter Jackson?s version, the one that eventually hit cinemas in 2010, is the pits.

    Kudos to Ramsay for sticking to her do-it-yourself guns, however, and co-writing her third feature, We Need To Talk About Kevin. Ostensibly a horror film, and arguably 2011?s most disturbing one, at that, Ramsay?s take on Lionel Shriver? 2003 novel about a mother?s grieving over her son?s Columbine-like murder spree is mesmerizing, sickening, and beautifully poignant, aided tremendously by leads Tilda Swinton and Ezra Miller. With Swinton generating tons of Oscar buzz, We Need To Talk About Kevin is Ramsay?s biggest look yet?let?s hope it?s not her last."
  7. Nevermind Jedi Grand Master

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    10 Independent Filmmakers You Should Know About
    By Matt Barone | Jan 15, 2012 | 8:59 am | Permalink

    Ben Wheatley

    Best movies: Down Terrace (2009), Kill List (2012)

    "Technically speaking, Ben Wheatley isn?t what you?d call a ?horror filmmaker.? Despite the fact that his latest movie, the tremendous mind-****** of a hit-man nightmare titled Kill List, is indeed a no-holds-barred scary movie, the England-born storyteller has no real previous experience in the fright genre. Furthermore, his 2009 debut, Down Terrace, is actually a bleakly funny must-see about an organized crime participant and his dysfunctional family?there?s nary a Fangoria-ready image to be seen.

    Kill List, however, is the stuff of weak-willed viewers? night terrors. Presented as an oblique puzzle-like narrative, Wheatley?s deeply troubling flick is a happy marriage of disconcerting music and sounds, intense performances, minimally used outbursts of gruesome violence, and religious disturbances. After Kill List, Wheatley could **** out a silent movie about Scott Disick and we?d fervently watch."
  8. Mastadge Manager Emeritus

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  9. Nevermind Jedi Grand Master

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  10. Nevermind Jedi Grand Master

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    Jeff Nichols

    Best movies: Shotgun Stories (2007), Take Shelter (2011)

    "Up-and-coming directors wish they were as lucky as Jeff Nichols. Only two movies into his career, the Arkansas native has had the good fortune of casting Michael Shannon in both of his projects, Shotgun Stories and last year?s powerfully haunting Take Shelter. The former, a look at how a man?s death causes his bickering sons to boil over with mutual contempt, features one of the Boardwalk Empire standout?s most dynamic performances, showing a more sympathetic side to contrast Shannon?s traditionally creepy and imposing characters.

    Take Shelter, on the other hand, is flat-out Michael Shannon?s best work to date. He plays a loving father/husband whose apocalyptic nightmares bleed into reality and cause alarming personality quirks that damage his closest relationships. As many actors will say, though, they?re only as good as the scripts and directors they?ve been connected with, and Shannon?s award-worthy turn in Take Shelter owes a tremendous deal to Nichols. Take Shelter?s screenplay is airtight, and Nichols? ability to balance unsettling sequences of mental horror with affecting domestic moments between Shannon and powerhouse co-star Jessica Chastain is seamless.

    Next up for Nichols: Mud, his first movie without Shannon as his leading man. Instead, the actor will play a smaller part and let stars Matthew McConaughey and Reese Witherspoon benefit from the writer-director?s unique chops."
  11. Nevermind Jedi Grand Master

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    Jay and Mark Duplass

    Best movies: The Puffy Chair (2005), Baghead (2008), Cyrus (2010)

    "Consider Jay and Mark Duplass as the Judd Apatow?s [sic] of the independent world. Like Mr. Apatow, the super-producer behind such smash hits as The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, and Bridesmaids, the Duplass brothers encourage improvisation on their movie sets, drafting lean scripts that leave wide-open gaps for their actors to pepper in original dialogue. Watching the naturalistic banter between John C. Reilly and Jonah Hill in their quietly funny 2010 flick Cyrus, one?s reminded of those scenes in which Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, and Hill shot the **** in Knocked Up.

    Are the Duplass siblings? works as laugh-out-loud hilarious as Apatow?s, though? Not quite, but that?s a byproduct of their preference for more cerebral comedy, exemplified in the slow-paced 2008 horror-comedy Baghead. However, their next effort, Jeff Lives At Home (opening on March 16th, with stars Jason Segel and Ed Helms), has the potential to send them that much closer to Apatow?s league."
  12. Nevermind Jedi Grand Master

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    Nicolas Winding Refn

    Best movies: Pusher (1996), Pusher II: With Blood On My Hands (2004), Pusher III: I Am The Angel Of Death (2005), Bronson (1008), Valhalla Rising (2009), Drive (2011)

    "Prior to September 2011, Nicolas Winding Refn was only known amongst hardcore cinephiles and art-house frequenters. That all changed once Drive, the Danish filmmaker?s first mainstream-recognized production, bumrushed unsuspecting action fans with its ?80s-inspired soundtrack, stylish ultra-violence, and movie star turn from the year?s it-man Ryan Gosling. Now, Winding Refn is a hot topic throughout film blogs and closed-minded critics? circles.

    If fans of Drive (our pick for 2011?s best movie) would start catching up with his previous gems as a result, we?d be more than happy. First, start off with the Pusher trilogy, a ferociously paced and meticulously crafted crime saga that?s infinitely better than any major studio?s recent gangster flicks. Then, check out Bronson, Winding Refn?s incredibly bizarre and nutty biopic about infamous English prisoner Michael Gordon Peterson, a.k.a. Charles Bronson (played by a then-unknown Tom Hardy, who?s now your next Dark Knight villain, Bane). The Winding Refn movie marathon should then conclude with Valhalla Rising, a mostly dialogue-free excursion into Viking hell that at times feels like a silent horror film."
  13. The_Four_Dot_Elipsis Force Ghost

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    He's got some interesting stuff in his back catalogue, but Drive is comfortably his most assured and complete work.
  14. Nevermind Jedi Grand Master

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    10 Independent Filmmakers You Should Know About
    By Matt Barone | Jan 15, 2012 | 8:59 am | Permalink

    Rian Johnson

    Best movies: Brick (2005), The Brothers Bloom (2009)

    "Rian Johnson's reputation is that of an unpredictable genre-hopper. For evidence, first start with his 2005 feature debut Brick (starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a brave and unique neo-noir murder mystery set inside a modern-day high school where the kids speak in old Humphrey Bogart/The Maltese Falcon-styled dialect. For his much anticipated follow-up, Johnson re-shifted his focus into a whimsical, lightly comedic realm, unveiling 2008?s twisty romance The Brothers Bloom, led by Mark Ruffalo, Adrien Brody, and Rachel Weisz.

    Rather than center his lovey-dovey premise around tired clichéd characters, Johnson fashioned a vibrant, breezy adventure about two con men (Ruffalo and Brody) whose deceitful pursuits get thrown off course by a cute new lady friend (Weisz). The only thing that Brick and The Brothers Bloom share in common is how guys-chasing-girls drives their narratives.

    Lest he cover romantic ground for a third time, Johnson?s next movie foregoes sensitivity in favor of hardcore sci-fi and forward-thinking violence. Scheduled for a September 28th release, Looper reunites the writer-director with Gordon-Levitt, who plays a futuristic Mafia hit-man who specializes in killing people sent back from the future, one of whom, it turns out, is his older self (played by Bruce Willis). Based on Johnson?s output thus far, all we can tell you is this: Expect the unexpected."
  15. Nevermind Jedi Grand Master

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    10 Independent Filmmakers You Should Know About
    By Matt Barone | Jan 15, 2012 | 8:59 am | Permalink

    Jonathan Levine

    Best movies: All The Boys Love Mandy Lane (2006), The Wackness (2008), 50/50 (2011)

    "Jonathan Levine?s name may very well be ringing loud bells come August, when his next movie, the zombie romance Warm Bodies, introduces chicks who love Twilight to quite possibly the next Robert Pattinson (the far superior Nicholas Hoult) and a new ghoul-loves-human story. It?s a project ripe for teenybopper embrace, and we?ve got every reason to believe that Levine will deliver a film that?s miles above those Taylor Lautner hack-fests in terms of quality.

    But, in a just industry, Levine?s directorial skills would?ve been celebrated by the masses last September, when his most recent endeavor, the heartfelt cancer comedy 50/50, hit viewers in the ticker with some of the year?s most emotionally potent moments.

    The 35-year-old New York City native, whose Big Apple roots were earnestly presented in 2008?s personal The Wackness, has his finger firmly planted on the youth?s pulse, and his brand of humbly powerful moviemaking is sorely needed?teens and twenty-somethings aren?t fortunate enough to have a filmmaker savvy enough to speak on their issues without pandering. That is, aside from Levine, of course."
  16. Mastadge Manager Emeritus

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    Jonathan Levine - Haven't seen any of his films yet. Looking forward to 50/50, but All the Boys Love Mandy Lane seems to be one of those films which has achieved some limited popularity only because it never received any US distribution. Most accounts find it a duller-than-usual teen-scream sort of affair notable only for an early performance by Amber Heard.

    Rian Johnson -- The Brothers Bloom was quite enjoyable but Brick never clicked for me. I'm curious about his new film, Looper.

    Refn's name has more or less hit the mainstream with all the acclaim for drive.

    Of the Duplasses, I've only seen Cyrus, which was fairly good but didn't inspire me to seek out their other work.

    I've got Jeff Nichols' debut film on deck, waiting only for Netflix to get me Take Shelter so I can watch them together, because I'm silly that way.
  17. The_Four_Dot_Elipsis Force Ghost

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    From Levine, all I've seen is All the Boys Love Mandy Lane and my response to that is NO NO NO NO NO.