Pauline Kael on Young Filmmakers

by James McNally on March 25, 2009

in Books,Critics

I’ve been dip­ping into Pauline Kael’s Deeper Into Movies lately and came across this deli­cious quote:

There’s a good deal to be said for finding your way to moviemaking—as most of the early dir­ectors did—after living for some years in the world and gaining some know­ledge of life out­side show busi­ness. We are begin­ning to spawn teen-age film­makers who at twenty-five may have a bril­liant tech­nique but are as empty-headed as a Hollywood hack, and they will become the next gen­er­a­tion of hacks, because they don’t know any­thing except moviemaking.

She said that in 1969 in the con­text of reviewing doc­u­mentary film­maker Frederick Wiseman’s High School. Wiseman had come to film after a career as a law pro­fessor and urban planner, and def­in­itely came to his films with some ideas about the world. Kael would prob­ably have a lot to say about some of today’s young dir­ectors, many of whom grew up com­fort­able with the tools of film­making but who have yet to find any­thing dis­tinctive to actu­ally say about anything.

What do you think? Can you give me some examples and counter-examples of young film­makers with nothing (or some­thing) to say?

UPDATE: Oh wait, there’s more! From a rather unfa­vour­able review of Canada’s own Alan King’s A Married Couple:

[Y]oung film­makers, who are rarely writers but are hooked on tech­no­logy, love an approach in which the thinking out in advance is minimal—an approach in which you shoot a lot of footage and then try to find your film in it. Young film­makers gen­er­ally know almost nothing about how to handle actors, but prob­ably all film­makers have unhappy or “unful­filled” friends eager to have a movie made of their lives; fame is prob­ably the cure they seek.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: