Tuesday, July 20, 2010

5 once-respected movie directors who’ve lost their creative mojo

Sometimes a well-regarded movie director’s streak of good films comes to a screeching halt.
Like a pro athlete who falls into a slump, some movie directors start failing and it begins to affect their thinking. They start worrying about their performance instead of doing what comes naturally and having fun. They second guess themselves, get cautious, or try to make a hit movie instead of something that interests them personally.
Then they make one bad movie after another until they’re pushed aside by new directors with fresh ideas.
Some directors who make bad movies continue to get work if those films are box-office successes. While they might make the studio executives happy, they get no respect from film critics and cinephiles.
Here’s a list of five once-hot movie directors who’ve lost their creative mojo:

1.
M. Night Shyamalan

Shyamalan was red hot after making three critically acclaimed movies in a row – “The Sixth Sense” (1999), “Unbreakable” (2000) and “Signs” (2002). Then his ego got the best of him and he thought he could do no wrong.
He has cranked out four big-budget turkeys in a row, each worse than the last. His latest, “The Last Airbender” (2010) got only 8% positive reviews, according to Rotten Tomatoes.
Maybe he can start to turn things around with “Devil,” a horror thriller for which he provided the story and is producing, but not directing. It’s set for release on Sept. 17. (See poster above.)

2.
Cameron Crowe

I loved the first three movies Crowe directed – “Say Anything” (1989), “Singles” (1992) and “Jerry Maguire” (1996). But then his cinematic sensibilities went out the window.
I did not like “Almost Famous” (2000), though some critics did. Then he did “Vanilla Sky” (2001) and “Elizabethtown” (2005), which were universally panned.
Next up is an untitled Pearl Jam documentary, scheduled to come out next year, according to the Internet Movie Database.
Hopefully that will provide a step toward a comeback.

3.
John Carpenter

Carpenter was my favorite director at one time.
He made fun, original genre pictures – science fiction, horror and action movies. He seemed to fare best with low-budget movies.
Carpenter had an amazing streak of 11 good to great movies: “Dark Star” (1974), “Assault on Precinct 13” (1976), “Halloween” (1978), “The Fog” (1980), “Escape from New York” (1981), “The Thing” (1982), “Christine” (1983), “Starman” (1984), “Big Trouble in Little China” (1986), “Prince of Darkness” (1987) and “They Live” (1988).
Then the magic ended.
He’s turned out one clunker after another since then.
Maybe he can get his spark back with “The Ward,” a horror movie due out Sept. 24. Fingers crossed.

4.
John McTiernan

As an action director, McTiernan was a force to be reckoned with in the late 1980s.
His string of good movies included “Nomads” (1986), “Predator” (1987), “Die Hard” (1988) and “The Hunt for Red October” (1990).
After that, he couldn’t put together back-to-back successes, either critically or financially. I happened to like “Last Action Hero” (1993) and “The 13th Warrior” (1999), but I’m in the minority.
His most recent movies “Rollerball” (2002) and “Basic” (2003) earned just 4% and 21% positive reviews, respectively, according to Rotten Tomatoes.
McTiernan’s personal life lately has been more interesting than his movies. He’s facing criminal charges in the Anthony Pellicano wiretapping scandal.

5.
Rob Reiner

Reiner was once a highly regarded director. His first seven films gave him an enviable track record – “This Is Spinal Tap” (1984), “The Sure Thing” (1985), “Stand by Me” (1986), “The Princess Bride” (1987), “When Harry Met Sally” (1989), “Misery” (1990) and “A Few Good Men” (1992).
The first chink in his armor was “North” (1994), which was panned by critics. (It mustered only 11% positive notices, according to Rotten Tomatoes.)
He was back to form with “The American President” (1995). But that was his last good movie.
His next five theatrical movies were stinkers. His most recent flicks were “Alex & Emma” (2003), “Rumor Has It” (2005) and “The Bucket List” (2007). They garnered 10%, 21% and 41% positive reviews, respectively, RT reports.
Well, at least, he’s moving in the right direction.

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