Who is your favourite Director?

Okay, so, I did a bit of research into this because I thought the answer was going to be super simple and then it wasn’t. And the reason it wasn’t is that people aren’t super simple. Our tastes change as we grow and learn, but the styles and techniques of the films we love have been immortalised and don’t change. Obviously.

I’m not a film theorist, but something I do enjoy doing is watching video essays exploring film theory, specifically screenplay analysis and critical theories I’m familiar with within literature put towards the visual medium. I promise, if this isn’t the kind of thing you’re looking for, I’m not going to to go in heavy with this stuff (even though I love it!). But if you are interested, I’d recommend checking out the following youtubers: Lindsay Ellis, Lessons from a Screenplay, and Nerdwriter1. But it’s due to my over-zealous nerdiness that I found choosing my favourite director so difficult. It’s no longer about just watching a film and thinking ‘Good Job! – I enjoyed that’, because I’m more aware of the work they’ve put into it.

So here are some honourable mentions:

John Hughes: 

I went through a phase of only watching John Hughes films on repeat, and considering I’m a being with a very short attention span, I think that says a lot! It was all about the dialogue, the soft colours, (sometimes musical interludes) and the sincerity of the stories Hughes crafted. 10/10 John. Would recommend.

Wes Craven: 

“Wes Craven has become synonymous with genre bending and innovative horror, challenging audiences with his bold vision.” – that’s straight from his IMDB page. For me, it was the intelligence it invoked in the audience watching his many, many films and television shows. The Twilight Zone, Scream, Nightmare on Elm Street. His horror films make you feel intelligent with the dialogue and plotting, before pulling the rug from under you and scaring the living daylights out of you. And it’s psychological enough that you don’t have to worry about it not being terrifying on a second viewing.

Sophia Coppola: 

I would describe Coppola as an ‘auteur’ – AKA a director creating content that explores authorship in contrast to the ‘shallow superficiality of Hollywood’ (thanks Lindsay Ellis). She’s a great director, with a distinguished style and personality. And the interior meaning within the work is inherently feminine – which for me is important because I don’t believe femininity should be considered a negative trait at all. She was the first female director on my list when I started thinking about my favourites (which says something about the very heavily masculine world she’s working in). She was almost usurped by Patti Jenkins or Lone Scherfig who arguably have more works and more recent works worth noting, but she’s the queen for me.

Okay so – for the favourite directors:

I took a few things into account when curating this list. The first was the emotional and psychological impact these directors had on me as I grew up. The second was the adult analysis of their skills (with what little qualifications I have on that) and the third was, petty, but the sheer number of 10/10 in their portfolio.

3. Edgar Wright. 

I’ve not met an aesthetic I’ve liked as much as Edgar Wright’s. And if you’re unsure what I mean then check out this video that goes through it. The man is a genius. His style lends itself so perfectly to visual comedy (another video if you’re into it) but he’s also not afraid to let his audience feel. Baby Driver has some really dark moments, framed in bright colours with white noise so you can feel them without feeling rushed to move on with the plot. Hot Fuzz gives you the complete understanding of the main character’s isolation from a short montage of images. Wright spent days filming one shot for Shaun of the Dead because it had to be perfect. His detail orientated, character-driven stories and authenticity are what makes him so bloody fantastic! (in my humble opinion).

2. Joss Whedon. 

Joss Whedon is not a nice person. He’s “allegedly” fired actors for getting pregnant, cheated multiple times, emotionally abused his wife, he’s included rape subplot storylines that seem to be there for the pure conflict of it all, clearly isn’t as pro-feminist as he’d like to be, and his main characters might be female, but they’re tiny and they’re put through the absolute shitter. Excuse my language. But Buffy, Angel, Dollhouse, Firefly, Serenity, and Doctor Horrible are all a part of who I am as a person now. And he directed that shit so…

1. Ang Lee. 

I didn’t even know Ang Lee had such an important role in my film tastes until I looked into it. His subtle genius has given us the best adaptation of my favourite Austen story Sense and Sensibility, Brokeback Mountain, Life of Pi and Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. Do you know how good a film has to be to get a ten year old interested in subtitled films!? And before Marvel created the MCU, Ang Lee gave us Hulk – a film way before it’s time, science fiction and fantasy, action and intrigue. The man’s a genius and well deserving of all his awards an accolades. He is an auteur, and his films are classics for good reason. He’s my number 1.

Do you use Sarcasm?

Who? Me? Never…

I can only assume I started using sarcasm in primary school, and only because that’s where I learnt hitting people wasn’t ‘nice’. Even if they deserved it.

So I reserved the right to roll my eyes, make a cutting remark or sneer in derision. That’s actually where the word ‘sarcasm’ comes from – the Greek verb Sarkazein which meant ‘to tear flesh like a dog’, before evolving to mean ‘gnash one’s teeth’ or ‘to sneer’. Look it up. 

So I wasn’t so much taming my bad mood, as replacing my armoury. I’m trying to pinpoint a particular time I was sarcastic that doesn’t (out of context certainly) make me look like a massive bitch. It’s proving tricky.

I know when I started at one of the schools I taught at, I was told not to use sarcasm with any of my students. And I thought, in that moment, ‘that’s half my teaching practice – what am I going to do?’ The headmaster insisted that I shouldn’t use sarcasm because the student’s ‘didn’t understand it’. But if I was using sarcasm since primary school, these secondary school kids should surely recognise it?

I think there’s an intrinsic honesty to sarcasm that students can appreciate. Maybe not when it’s directed at them, but on the whole. But I do agree there’s a time and place for it. Responding ‘yeahhhhh…’ when a student asked if he was my favourite student is one thing. Responding ‘Nooo…’ when asked if you went drinking at the weekend would be different.

But I’m a very sarcastic person – because it amuses me – but I’m also (some would argue blindly) optimistic. And when I say ‘you can do it!’ sometimes I’d get looks from my students questioning whether I was being sarcastic or not. Which is fair. They get a constant stream of critique; from teachers, parents and their peers. But the way I see it, if I’m an intrinsically sarcastic person, but even I think this praise is warranted, it must be.

Also – and thank you Smithsonian for this tidbit of support for my continued use of sarcasm – being able to recognise sarcasm is a sign of a strong creative mind, able to problem solve quickly and more efficiently. So to anyone I’ve been sarcastic with, you’re welcome.

Do you use sarcasm? Let me know, and like and follow!

Have you ever done a prank call?

My friend’s house wasn’t like my house. My house wasn’t clean, but at least there was colour. Her’s was brown, and brown, and beige. Maybe there were more colours, and I don’t remember any more. In my mind’s eye, everything was brown in the way every council house has a faded brown and red upholstered sofa, with brown detailing which might have been ‘golden’ when the sofa was new, and leather sofa-cushions that deflate the moment you sit on them mimicking the deep sigh the adults release when they finally get to sit. Beige linoleum flooring in the kitchen, with brown rings where the cat bowl was put. Beige walls with scuff marks and posters in frames chipped corners and ring marks. Net curtains you could see in through. Waste of time if you ask me.

But for all the brown, it’s where I liked to be. In her room, on her bed, watching her straighten her long – don’t call it ginger – hair. Freckles on her nose. Blue eyes she’s pop wide to make me laugh. White shirt, untucked. School kilt – yeah we had those even in 2003 – rolled up around the waist like a thick belt. Or a thick belt with studs on, half the studs missing because she played with it. Black eyeliner, only on the bottom waterline of the eye. Mascara. Lipgloss if you were feeling fancy. And the strong smell of hairspray, to keep it straight.

For her birthday she had a sleepover, about six girls crammed into a small living room in front of the television to watch The Ring. Not a good film. But in the dark, girls crept out of their sleeping bags and hid upstairs with her mum, one by one, until it was just she and I left. The girls came back when the film ended, and my mum called to say good night. It scared the crap out of everyone, except me – who could see the caller ID.

It gave us an idea though. We could prank call someone. Anyone. Pick a number at random. So we did. Put in our area code and then six random numbers. No idea who it could be. It was late too, some people didn’t bother answering. Finally, someone did. She put on a voice, we tried not to laugh. They got angry, asked who it was. We laughed out-loud and hung up. Continued with a couple more numbers. Called people we knew, told them our friends fancied them. Or we knew where they lived. Or that their car had been stolen.

Then the first person called us back. Asked to speak to her mum.

We’d forgotten to do that 1471 thing – where you block your number. Her mum went mad. Not just because we’d wound people up late at night, but because we didn’t pay the phone bill. How long had we been doing for? Who knew. We kept pretty quiet after that.

When I went home, my mum asked what we’d gotten up to – and I told her about The Ring and how her phone call had freaked everyone out. She laughed, so I left it there and didn’t tell her about the prank calls. That was kid stuff anyway.