Monday Morning Quarterback Part II
By BOP Staff
October 9, 2013
Kim Hollis: Alfonso Cuaron's last three films are Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Children of Men and now Gravity. Name a director who you think has had as many high quality films consecutively, if ever.
Edwin Davies: I'd probably pump for Paul Thomas Anderson, who directed the one-two-three-four punch of Boogie Nights, Magnolia, Punch-Drunk Love and There Will Be Blood all in the space of ten years, which is pretty staggering to me (I like The Master, too, but I haven't rewatched it since last year so don't know if it holds up as well as all the others do). Going back a bit further, and for fear of showing my Britishness, David Lean had a pretty great streak from 1954 to 1965, when he directed Hobson's Choice, Summertime, The Bridge on the River Kwai, Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago, and Michael Powell directed The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, A Canterbury Tale, "I Know Where I'm Going!", A Matter of Life and Death, Black Narcissus and The Red Shoes in one five year burst, and Edgar Wright is doing pretty great with his last four films. Then of course you have Stanley Kubrick, who directed ten or eleven (depending on how you feel about Eyes Wide Shut) masterpieces or near-masterpieces in a row.
Basically, I think that there are a bunch of directors who have managed streaks as good as if not better than Cuaron's, whose streak actually runs a little longer if you throw in the brilliant sex comedy Y Tu Mama Tambien, though that doesn't take away from what a rare run of form he is in these days. Long may it continue.
David Mumpower: The consecutive part is what trips up most potential candidates. As an example, Steven Spielberg always seems to do a disappointing film every third outing. There was A.I. Artificial Intelligence (a movie I personally love but most do not) after Amistad and Saving Private Ryan. Minority Report and Catch Me If You Can were followed by The Terminal. His movies before and after Schindler's List and Jurassic Park were Hook and The Lost World. Even if we go back the 1970s, Jaws and Close Encounters of the Third Kind were followed by 1941. The greatest living director struggles to create three solid films.
That knowledge reinforces how impressive Cuaron's run has been. To my mind, he crafted the second best Harry Potter movie. In addition, I judge every potential number one film of the year using a "Children of Men" test. While there have been innumerable releases in the 2000s that have impressed me, I use that movie as the measuring stick for greatness. That is the story that strikes me as the most memorable and haunting. Gravity is like 98% on the Children of Men scale upon first blush. It will go up or down based upon repeat viewings...and I can assure you that there will be many of those.
I have spent the past two days trying to think of other film trifectas that are as great as this trio. The name that eventually leapt out at me was Steven Soderbergh. He had a glorious five film run of Out of Sight, The Limey, Erin Brockovich, Traffic and Ocean's Eleven. Two of those movies, Out of Sight and Ocean's Eleven, are among my 50 favorites of all time. I love The Limey almost as much and have a world of respect for Erin Brockovich. I consider those three movies at least in the conversation although I think that I like Cuaron's trifecta more.