July 04, 2008

12 Notable Movies with Multiple Directors

With the news that Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson will be co-directing Tin Tin (although, due to Director's Guild rules, only Spielberg will be credited), we thought it'd be interesting to take a look at some other famously co-directed movies. It was.


When it was released a little over a year ago, Grindhouse rode a wave of internet hype so high and fast it had the industry believing. And why not? It was two feature length movies -- one directed by a revitalized Quentin Tarantino after the success of Kill Bill, and another directed by Robert Rodriguez, himself flush from the success of Sin City. So, what went wrong? Well, maybe most people who talk about how excited they are about a movie on the internet stay on the internet when that movie is released, perhaps to talk about the next movie they're really excited about. Or maybe they just saw the running time was over three hours and figured they'd rather watch nine sitcoms instead. Whatever the reason, Grindhouse mightily disappointed in the box office, scrapping plans of a sequel. Critically, though, it flourished. Apparently, in some cases there is accounting for taste, but there's no accounting for laziness.

There's Something About Mary

The team of Bobby and Peter Farrelly have directed a few hilarious comedies together -- and, more recently, a few not-so-hilarious comedies. While their debut, Dumb and Dumber, was a box office phenomenon, There's Something About Mary took their success to another level and became a touchstone of the 90s. How many times have you seen the hair gel scene parodied? (Answer: Far too fucking many.) It represents a level of commercial and critical success that neither they nor many other comedies have achieved since, and with the disaster that was The Heartbreak Kid, and with Mary now ten years behind them, it seems that the comedy world has passed them by.

The Big Lebowski

This list could be populated almost entirely by Coen Brothers movies and, while it would be stupid and pointless, it might be kind of tough to argue with. It might have made sense to exclude teams of brothers; does it really count as having been directed by multiple people if the people involved seem to share one brain? I guess it has to, but what I can do -- and have done -- is limit every team to one selection. So why The Big Lebowski over Oscar winners Fargo and No Country for Old Men. Could it be because The Big Lebowski is the best fucking movie ever? That might just be the reason. Brilliantly acted and simultaneously hilarious and meditative, Lebowski is an iconic film that's not only one of the most quotable movies ever made, but is also one of the most purely enjoyable ways to spend two hours ever invented. Disagree? Shut the fuck up, Donny. You're out of your element.


When Todd Phillips signed on to make Borat, he was maybe the hottest comedy auteur in Hollywood. He had just followed up a solid comedy and one-of-the-movies-that-enjoyed-a-popularity-bump-by-way-of-riding-Tom-Green's-briefly-worn-coattails in Road Trip with Old School, and he seemed unstoppable. Then, part of the way through production on Borat, Sasha Baron Cohen went to a rodeo in character, stood up in the ring in front of the crowd and sang the "Kazakhstan National Anthem" ('Kazakhstan is number one exporter of potassium / All other countries have inferior potassium.') to the tune of the U.S. National Anthem. The crowd didn't like it (kind of the point), and neither did Phillips.

He left the project and was replaced more than adequately by longtime sitcom guru Larry Charles, who helmed the movie to the type of success that inspires almost immediate backlash due to a disgusting level of oversaturation. In the meantime, Todd Phillips has struggled to get anybody from Old School interested in making Old School Dos. Also, School for Scoundrels was terrible. Don't see that.

Casino Royale

No, this is not the 2006 reboot of the James Bond franchise. This is the 1967 disaster of a movie that proves the adage, "Too many cooks spoil the broth, and also they fail miserably when they try to collaborate on a movie together." If you're like me, you Netflix'd this bad boy when you saw the names of Billy Wilder, Woody Allen, Terry Southern, Peter Sellers and Joseph Heller under the 'writing credits' section of imdb. I don't just like all of those guys, I love them. If it was feasible, I'd impregnate them all. Or let them impregnate me. Don't care. At any rate, as someone who was aware of the above adage, I was skeptical. And I was write to be, as, although Casino Royale brings together as much or more comedy talent as any movie before or since, it is a confusing mash-up of loosely related plots and settings that fails at pretty much everything it attempts. It is not only the weirdest James Bond movie -- weird enough that it's pretty dissociating that it even exists -- it's one of the strangest movies ever.

Superman 2

Originally, Richard Donner signed on to direct the first two Superman movies in one extended shoot. His (and the studio's) plan was to shoot both movies back to back, then edit them and release them both in relatively short order. However, with the photography on Superman complete and 3/4 complete for Superman II, the decision was made to halt production so that Donner could settle down with his editors and prepare the first movie for release. After a series of intractable disagreements with the producers -- most notably the fact that they decided to cut all of Marlon Brando's scenes from the movie as a result of his demands for over 10% of profits -- Donner was replaced on the project by Richard Lester, who rejiggered the entire project to suit the whims of the producers as well as the ideas he'd fermented while working as an uncredited producer on the original shoot. When it was finally released, Superman II proved to be a disappointment. Eventually, in 2006, the original director's cut was released on DVD, although much of the footage shot by Lester still had to be used due to the aforementioned fact that only 75% of the movie had been shot before production halted. The results aren't always pretty, but they're certainly interesting.

The Matrix

More brothers. Or are they brother and sister now? Sex changes aside, the Wachowskis scored a gargantuan surprise hit with The Matrix in 1999. It was a movie that I and many confirmed others ignored based on the previews, mainly because of deja vu over Johnny Mnemonic. Unlike the case with the Coen brothers, The Matrix is a no-brainer choice to represent the cooperative career of the Wachowskis, whose previous and subsequent to resonate with audiences failed to garner more than niche interest. I mean, come on -- raise your hand if you thought Speed Racer was some sort of elaborate prank the first time you saw the trailer. The Matrix, meanwhile, melded pop philosophy with kung fu and moderately attractive women in long leather jackets in a way that had never been done before. The special effects broke new ground, and we learned to love Keanu again. Well, sort of. We learned to tolerate him. And, somehow, it was actually believable that he knew kung fu.

Four Rooms

If, without looking at imbd, you can name either of the directors who worked on Four Rooms who are not Robert Rodriguez or Quentin Tarantino, give yourself a point. If you can also name a single movie either of them worked on, give yourself a round of applause. When Four Rooms was released, Rodriquez and Tarantino were hot commodities. Tarantino had released Pulp Fiction the previous year and was a critics darling; Rodriguez was the king of stylized action with his transition from the ultra-low budget El Mariachi to the ridiculous but also insanely entertaining sequel, Desperado. It's hard to say that anybody was eagerly anticipating the other two sections of the movie, except in that one of them featured Madonna, to the delight of probably somebody. All in all, Four Rooms was timed well enough to generate interest, but it wasn't good enough or cohesive enough (to be expected) to generate anything resembling a following, and has become an afterthought in the oeuvres of Tarantino and Rodriguez. Unfortunately for them, this was the pinnacle of exposure for the other two directors, Allison Anders and Alexandre Rockwell.

Menace II Society

Brothers again: this time, the Hughes brothers weigh in with by far their most appreciated and important work, although it should be said, their movies are generally underappreciated. Menace the story of one young man's descent into a life of crime in Watts, L.A. Gritty and deterministic, this movie's depiction of urban life went unchallenged for a few years until the release of the sickeningly gritty and frighteningly deterministic Kids.


As perhaps the best director working in animation today, it probably shouldn't have been a surprise that Ratatouille turned out as well as it did. However, given the track record of movies that've changed directors in the middle of production, it's hard to argue that skepticism was unwarranted. Indeed, the original director, Jan Pinkava, had been working on Ratatouille for almost five years when Bird replaced him on the the project for unknown reasons. Pinkava retained a co-director credit on the film, but has refused to comment on the switch and has since left Pixar. Bird, meanwhile, looks untouchable.

Sin City

The third entry to involve Robert Rodriguez, Sin City also marked the transition of comic book writer and artist Frank Miller to the director's chair -- a role he's playing fully for the hotly anticipated Christmas '08 release The Spirit. It was only logical for Miller to lend a hand in directing Sin City, as Rodriguez made the decision to translate Miller's unique visual style to the screen. Sin City has to be considered one of the most effective and seamless movies ever co-directed by two people who are not related to each other, perhaps a testament to the communication, the shared vision and the distribution of roles between the two. It probably didn't hurt that the movie kicked ass for two straight hours, either. Two sequels are in the works.

American History X

In one of the most publicized feuds in movie history, director Tony Kaye attempted to remove his name from the credits of American History X after... something happened. There are conflicting reports that that 'something' could have been either Tony Kaye's insistence on reshooting much of the movie while making peace and poetry a central theme, or it could have been Ed Norton's insistence that he be given more screen time. Whatever the case, Kaye ended up leaving the production and attempted to get the film credited to Humpty Dumpty. Unfortunately for him, the Director's Guild doesn't tend to allow any names other than 'Alan Smithee' to replace that of the original director, and additionally, Kaye talked to the press about why he wanted his name off the project: a direct no-no in the eyes of the Guild. So, while Kaye fought with the studio and the guild over what name would appear in the director's credit, Norton and the producers assumed the role of director for the final edit of the movie, which, it should be noted, contains a ton of screen time for Ed Norton. And not a lot of poetry.
[Via filmwad.com]


stenote said...

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He is a famous Japanese movie director.

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