Personally, I could sit and watch the likes of Catherine Breillat, Agnès Varda, Ken Loach and Stephen Frears talk about the ups and downs of their work, helped by liberal clips of their films, for hours. But once you pull back from their presence in this collection of ten interviews with ‘great’ filmmakers and consider the context of the film, it begins to feel a bit odd. Essentially a vanity project by Angela Ismailos, a first-time New York filmmaker who puts herself in frame as a glamorous sage, ‘The Great Directors’ could be more truthfully tagged ‘Some Great Directors’ or ‘Some Great Directors and a Few Good Ones’ or maybe just ‘Good Directors I Like and Could Get Hold Of’. Four are independent American voices – Todd Haynes, David Lynch, Richard Linklater, John Sayles – two are French (Varda, Breillat), two are Italian (Bernardo Bertolucci, Liliana Cavani) and two are British (Loach, Frears). Maybe not even Ismailos thinks that Cavani (‘The Night Porter’) is so ‘great’, as she gives her little screen time. Greatness is subjective, but that loaded word in the title makes this film feel even more wonky and self-satisfied.
Friday April 1 2011