270 Great Directors: Philip Kaufman

“They are always very lax about putting restrictions on violence for children’s movies, which I think is much more harrowing than sexuality for children.”

What Got This Director Here?
: The 80s meant it was very easy to look good but if you slipped up, you’d be knocked off easily.

My Favorite Past Experience Was…: Nada.

What Did I Watch: One well regarded work and one not so much: The Right Stuff and Quills. (Wanted to knock off some Oscar bait with the latter.)

Where Does He Fit: The Right Stuff is best watched at 7:15 while waiting for your baby’s car since it’s a whole lot of movie, enough to jet lag you. After a prologue that makes it seem like it will be the worst kind of Oscar bait, it happily recovers, with Sam Shepard and Dennis Quaid in particular giving the sort of performances that seem all too lacking in Hollywood nowadays. It’s like slow cinema, but a crowd pleaser, a long and slow and mesmerizing blockbuster. All the effort that goes into getting one of these things off the ground becomes mesmerizing in the same vein as what I presume Jeanne Dielman is.

Alas, Quills was the point in which this director’s style began to become something aimed at the dumber sections of an audience, with a hideous green look that makes all the frames look queasy. It’s a stage for Geoffrey Rush to shout and ham it up, getting thrown a Best Actor nomination like a dog who won’t stop barking is thrown a bone. It’s all about anti-censorship, blown up into a massive Point that no doubt every audience is in favor of. Who actually likes censorship? I would not mind it if it meant this movie was quieted down, it’s a familiar story given way too much heightened drama. Everyone has a mad scene by the time this is over, and Kate Winslet/Joaquin Phoenix clearly just want to get out of Rush’s way. So did I.


Most Valuable Asset: Knows (knew?) how to please an audience in a smart way.
Most Excited For: Unbearable Lightness of Being.
Did They Deserve a Spot?: Undecided. Leaning no due to his best days likely being behind him.

Coming Up Next: Miniature madman Jan Svankmajer.


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