The end of the auteur?

Auteur theory says a director’s vision is present in every frame. What happens if they turn out to be a liability? Handing out the Oscar for best director three weeks ago, Emma Stone prefaced the award by suggesting the power and influence of that figure in the film-making process. “It is the director whose indelible touch is reflected on every frame,” she said. In any other year, that statement would have sounded uncontroversial; it has, after all, been integral to the notion of auteurship since it was first expounded in the late 1940s by André Bazin. And it was Andrew Sarris, courier of those ideas to English-speaking readers in the early 60s, who explained that an auteur should have an “identifiable personality” and bring “interior meaning”. But these are more than usually troubled times in the film industry, and the assumption that the director is present in every frame becomes problematic once that same director turns out to be a liability. It is one thing separating the art from the artist: reprehensible people frequently make great films, and vice versa. But how do we square that with the cult of the auteur? If the value of a movie can be attributed to a single film-maker, it becomes that much harder to argue that extracurricular misjudgments – and even crimes – can be expunged from what is on screen. Continue reading… [hmp_player]

Wes Anderson movies – ranked!

With his incomparable aesthetic vision and offbeat sense of humour, Anderson is one of today’s quirkiest film-makers. New stop-motion release Isle of Dogs is possibly his most out-there story yet – but how does it rate? Related: Isle of Dogs review – Wes Anderson’s scintillating stop-motion has bite Continue reading… [hmp_player]