As a kid I fell in love with movies mainly for the stories and characters, and every once in a while, maybe some special effects. As I got older, my love affair was renewed when I discovered the Cult of the Director. The Cult of the Director allows one to look at movies in a far more personal way. It's an ongoing game; one can discover long-forgotten works, or piece together old puzzles, but one can also look ahead and guess how a director's career arc will come together. Basically, there are roughly four kinds of directors. The most common is the kind with no personality, and perhaps very little skill, someone like Brian Robbins, the director of Meet Dave (58 screens). Many of these folks eventually disappear without ever making much of a mark. After that, we get the craftsman, someone with lots of skill and talent but still no personality. These guys are the most interesting to talk to; they're unpretentious and tell the best stories. Brad Anderson, the director of Transsiberian (81 screens), is a good example.

Then there's a weird category of directors who have somehow come to popular attention, despite a lack of skill and/or a lack of personality. These can range from moneymakers like Brett Ratner to Oscar winners like Ron Howard. But of course, since we're talking about live human beings here, there's a lot of wiggle room in these categories, and I could probably establish several sub-categories. Not to mention that any director's career can suddenly change course at any point. Yes, even Brett Ratner could suddenly make a good film. (I'm not saying he will, just that he could.) These people manage to stay on top through a lucky combination of subject matter and promotion. Even though films like Brick Lane (31 screens) and Mongol (16 screens) have no skill or personality, they seem like great films because of their stories and packaging.

categories Columns, Cinematical