(Off I-94 between Milwaukee and Chicago.)

No, I haven't been doing any of that, although this picture is in honor of a friend who very well may be after a lengthy hiatus. Speaking of which, I've taken an early summer hiatus myself--from blogging. Hopefully, I'll return in May (or more likely June), albeit with something a little different from what you loyal readers (all seven of you!) are used to.

Until then, Happy Spring.



Inspired by this, various Chlotrudis members are putting together their own lists. Here's mine:

My Favorite Seven Living Narrative Filmmakers (in no particular order):

1. Todd Haynes - The most original filmmaker of his generation--not necessarily in form, but in how ingenuously he shapes his content. I love how he gives modern lowbrow pop culture its due - from disposable pop stars to overblown melodramas - and continually alters how we perceive it, and what we can learn from recontextualizing it. Can't wait for his Dylan film!

2. Robert Altman - Despite his haphazard track record, his best work is the closest any American film has come to poetry, which stems from his ideologically simple but stylistically profound approach to simulate life as it naturally happens (ie--not on a sound stage) and capture it with his ever-moving/observing/scrutinizing lens.

3. Wes Anderson - I know people tend to either adore or abhor Anderson's precious, whimsical style, beyond-quirky humor and insane attention to detail. But for me, no other director's work holds up so well to repeated viewings, each one resonating more powerfully than the last.

4. Richard Linklater - Although a tad more accessible, Linklater is nearly as much of an original as Haynes. He's gradually building an impressive, diverse oeuvre that alternately redefines what a narrative film can contain (SLACKER, WAKING LIFE), and subverts the mainstream with an indie sensibility (DAZED AND CONFUSED, SCHOOL OF ROCK).

5. Tsai Ming-Liang - Tsai basically takes the Buster Keaton approach to slapstick and slows it down to an unprecedented degree so that when you finally reach the punchline, you're aware of every last tiny nuance that has gone into the joke. Thus, those patient enough to wait for it reap the mightiest of rewards. Who knew Taipei could ever seem so otherworldly?

6. Mike Leigh - Up there with Altman in portraying how we really communicate with each other, except with exchanges masterfully thought-out to the very last shift in tone instead of rampant, overlapping dialogue. Arguably no other filmmaker gets such consistently great performances from his actors, and no one else has given such a rich voice to the working class.

7. Woody Allen - a sentimental favorite, given his negligible recent output (apart from the half-great MATCH POINT). But I can't understate how fluidly he merged his self-deprecating stand-up persona with that of the self-reflexive auteur. Maybe he's simply self-indulgent, but he's also responsible for at least five of the funniest, most inventive films ever made, and even most of his lesser works exude a flavor and a character he's never compromised.

Ten Honorable Mentions:

Pedro Almodovar
Claire Denis
Atom Egoyan
Jean-Luc Godard
Werner Herzog
Wong Kar Wai
David Lynch
Guy Maddin
Alexander Payne
Zhang Yimou