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: