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Saturday, 19 March 2011

A Few Underrated Directors

This is a short list of directors who I think are terrible overlooked and underrated, hopefully it will get any of you that read this interested in these directors.
I don't just mean they are overlooked by the general public, that goes without saying, but also by many film buffs.

So here we have it, Three Frenchmen, Two Britons and One American, all great directors, and all too overlooked:

1. Abel Gance
A visionary French director, his most famous films are J'Accuse, Napoleon and La Roue. All are worth watching for their technical prowess alone, this man practically invented editing as we know it, in particular the rapid cut, as well as handheld cameras and freeze frames. He is one of the most inspirational directors in history in my opinion, for he achieved things that had never been considered before and actually weren't put into use until many, many years afterwards, such as pana-vision before panavision was created, he filmed on location and in exteriors which was very rare at his time. He was simply a genius.

2. Ken Loach
Nowhere near as well known as his contemporary English directors, Alan Parker and Mike Leigh. Yet Ken Loach has directed some truly ambitios films, throughout many genres and has proven many times that he is a very talented director. Sure he gets a fair amount of attention at Indie festivals around Europe but I feel film buffs should pay more attention to his work for it is a fine example of European Cinema, this is a director who hasn't sold out to Hollywood, ever, and I admire him for that.

3. Henri Georges Clouzot
This French Directors career was troubled and rather short, yet for me his work represents perfectly that of the post WW2 yet pre-New Wave French director. He often gets forgotten when naming the best French directors, but he really was talented, Les Diaboliques and Le Salaire De La Peur are often included amongst some of the best films ever, but his more little known films like Le Corbeau and Le Quai Des Orfevres are excellent as well.

4. Jim Jarmusch
Sometimes called "the father of US Indie film", He really is an influential director and has made some fantastic films, a lot of film buffs have heard of him but not so many have seen his films, his unique style and humour combined with the themes he often approaches make him one of my favourites, even if he can come off as a bit pretentious at times, my favourites of his, Dead Man, Ghost Dog and Down By Law.

5. Mathieu Kassovitz
This is a less obvious choice, because based on his more recent work one could be tempted to think that Kassovitz isn't a very reliable director, sure he directed flops like Babylon AD and Gothika. But he used to be a great director before selling out to Hollywood, his first film La Haine remains one of my all time favourites (literally in my top ten) and that alone would be enough to get him a place on this list, he also did some interesting work on Les Rivieres Pourpres and succeeds in elevating what would have otherwise been a thoroughly mediocre Thriller. I just love his directional style and wish he would make more great films. He also happens to be a fantasic actor, mainly know for his performance in Amelie (which I haven't seen) but also for Costa Gavras's Amen and Spielberg's Munich.

6. Michael Powell
Simply one of the best British directors ever. Often overshadowed by David Lean and others though, his films Black Narcissus, The Red Shoes and Peeping Tom are all masterpieces of film making here and all though his career ended due to the controversial Peeping Tom he still remains one of the best directors, despite being ignored often purposefully by many. See the three films I mentioned and you will surely agree with me.

Naturally this is only a selection of directors I think should get more recognition. There are many more, but I think all films buffs should familiarise themselves with these directors films at some point. 
They have all been influential in their own ways and to varying degrees and have all made at least a couple of great films. Of course there are many better directors out there, but these are the ones that often get left out.

Can you think of any other underrated directors? Please let me know in the comments.

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