In our short lives, if we’re looking in the right places and have the want for such a search, we sometimes find perfect directors; that is, people who are still living and are actively working that make films that–for lack of better words or descriptors–have produced a series of perfect films. But that list narrows when we look for directors who are still alive, which only highlights the rarity of finding a perfect director.
As I’ve previously detailed, I only designate this title to films that–for whatever insanely complex designations, signals, and ultimate values that I am able to sort out from my lifetime of being a movie-crazy geek and the meaning my own over-educated existence has afforded me any such insight on the subject–I find perfect in my own purview.
All I know is that I likes what I likes. You may not agree, but the passion of art itself springs from the differences that all possible variations can encompass while also realizing that whatever the production amounts to, it is a hazard of a guess at best.
And it’s the delicious risk of creating cinema that the majority of the cinema audience misses aside from said geeks who are perhaps too invested in the insider process of filmmaking: that every film is a gamble, and while they may turn a profit in the present (or even more dangerously, a loss), it’s their permanent standing for all time that matters the most on a historical and artistic level.
So many directors make well-received and equally financially successful films but they may never attain an artistic credibility outside of the brief time they are allotted in the spotlight of mainstream recognition and short window to achieve financial success. Similarly, many directors toil for decades churning out masterpiece after masterpiece without ever attaining commercial success but will be regarded for decades afterwards as a major influence on the medium and imprinting their own incredible visions on generations of following filmmakers.
We live in a golden age of cutting-edge directors and the new technologies that help create their visions. What I’ll be approaching in these following essays is a shortlist, of course, and is nothing definitive, but then again if you’re reading a blog as a scholarly source, then you are barking up the wrong digital tree of knowledge.
Mostly it’s best to keep in mind that we are discussing something here and not defining. We are all in this together, and life is an adventure; I am only writing this because I love movies and admire the directors that make them so much that I can only enthuse, not define. When you watch these director’s films, I can only hope that you feel the same way I do, see the same things, and understand the same reasons as to why I have concluded they are perfect. Were I only independently wealthy and with the right connections that I could try to join their class; instead I can only appreciate their controlled brilliance and dream of the types of movie that they dream up–and with that make my masterpiece.
The other rhetorical question I keep returning to throughout these film essays is: why care at all? Maybe that’s why I like films so much: they make order out of the otherwise chaotic reality around us. Even if they need to because of the conventions of fiction, we are all subject to the metafiction of our own lives. But being alive and having grown up in the postmodern condition, we are all haunted by the stipulations that define us and largely have now created this new reality to stand inside of and try to interpret its significance, whatever it may be.
And postmodernity has both doomed and saved us, even in the short term: we can view the world based on archetypes and callbacks, and ultimately cultural collapse that can’t sustain such a heavy burden. It saved us because it makes old hoary storylines new again but has also spoiled the future by making the cleverness explicit, thereby destroying any sort of suspense or even connection to the characters. But maybe that’s the point: life’s a rough ticket and we all–if we live long enough–find the joy and feel of youth fade away. Maybe this feeling is just the first cut in a life-long search to avoid this awful, angry perception we acquire over the years that we encumber.
With this in mind, I’m going to detail some great–no, perfect–directors, according to me.
Not an easy list but here–just a short list–but are the directors whose films I will be writing about as “perfect” filmmakers:
P. T. Anderson
The Coen Brothers
I’ll be tackling these directors, and more if I can think of them, that have created what I consider a “perfect” oeuvre. These assessments will be in essay form, as usual, and will in no way be definitive or even complete. These are impressions that their films have made on me, and how I’ve interpreted their work and why I consider them perfect. Signature cinematographic styles, themes, characters, and overall purpose to their projects are what I’m aiming for; the details may come and go in these assessments, but the broad strokes by which they paint are what I’m aiming for. So join us, won’t you, as I take a trip into the works of directors whose work I find perfect.