Saturday, June 08, 2013

My Pantheon

I recently re-read "The American Cinema" by Andrew Sarris, partly in moist eyed remembrance of my most influential and favorite American film critic, but mostly due to the fact it'd been over ten years since I last read it. Having seen a large body of many of the directors mentioned certainly helps in appreciating Sarris and his razor-sharp analogies, and it struck me: what changes would Sarris make today, in 2013, if any? Does he still write off Aldrich, Lumet and others quite so easily now that time has given their canon lenghty and discussive analysis? And, more importantly, what would my pantheon look like? So, here, in quick succession with only a few minutes (and looks back over my best of lists for the past 30 years or so) is how I'd rank things (foreign directors accepted). If one is so inclined, comments and your own rankings on your own blogs is encouraged!

I. Pantheon Directors

Martin Scorsese
Jean Luc Godard
Jean Pierre Melville
John Cassavetes
Michael Mann
Olivier Assayas
John Frankenheimer
Coen Brothers
Wim Wenders
Francesco Rosi
Edward Yang
Tony Scott
Sam Fuller
Abel Ferrera

II. The Second Tier

Michael Winterbottom
Sidney Lumet
Johnny To
Robert Altman
Roman Polanski
Francis Ford Coppola
Frank Perry
Brian DePalma
John Carpenter
Emir Kusturica
Terence Malick (despite my love wavering the last 2 films)
Takeshi Kitano

III. Highly Regarded, but too soon to tell

Paul Thomas Anderson
Wes Anderson
Julio Medem
James Gray
Christopher Nolan
You Le
Fatih Akin
Andrew Dominik
David Fincher
Jacques Audiard
Darren Aronofsky
Rian Johnson
Wong Kar Wai



weepingsam said...

It's an interesting question. Film history has basically doubled since that book came out - 50 years or so... I know Sarris updated some of his judgments - Capra and Wilder got into the pantheon on second thoughts, for example - to my great relief. I don't know who he'd put in there from the last 50 years, but if I were trying - a quick crack at it:

- Pantheon -
Hou Hsiao Hsien
Edward Yang

- Might be In -
Wong Kar Wei
Tsai Ming-liang
King Hu
Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Pedro Costa
Claire Denis
Assayas (I hesitate, but maybe should't anymore)
Fassbinder (still too many films I haven't seen)
Coen Brothers

-Will probably get in, if they aren't there -
Wes Anderson
PT Anderson
Apitchipong Weeresethekul

Lots of people I still think of just on the outside, from Kore-eda and Miike to Desplechin to Almodovar to - well - Scorsese... any of whom might be a good retrospective away from godhood.

Joe Baker said...


I hesitated on Imamura, but could certainly see him in there. Hsiao-Hsien was a click away, on the few I've seen, but I recently tracked down all his films (even early 80's "The Sandwich Man" and others) and intend on devouring his stuff appropriately. I'll judge after that.