This decade for me was important in terms of exploring filmmakers (both past and present) and genres. Pre 2000, my favorite director at the time was Steven Spielberg. There was a childlike wonder he bestowed upon people with films like ET and Close Encounters and then changing it up with Jaws, Raiders of the Lost Ark & Jurassic Park. Then even going further by tackling epics like Schindler's List & Saving Private Ryan. I remember just sitting in the theater and seeing that beachhead sequence in Saving Private Ryan and having my jaw on the floor.
HIGH SCHOOL YEARS
Between 2000 and 2004 I came across a number of films I considered to be favorites without even knowing they were by the same director. I looked at the credits of both Back to the Future and Forrest Gump and they said 'Directed by Robert Zemeckis'. By then I started to track the directors I liked. Diving into their back catalog and seeing how someone like James Cameron went from Terminator to Titanic.
By 2003, I started getting interested in the works of David Fincher. Se7en was as terrifying as anything I had seen before and Fight Club was a complete visual assault.
Upon graduating high school in 2005, I would discover two of my favorite directors: Stanley Kubrick and Paul Thomas Anderson. I had seen a couple of the former's films (The Shining, 2001, & Dr. Strangelove) and was hooked. The Kubrick box set then made it's way into my grubby little hands and it was set in stone that Kubrick had become my new favorite director. The versatility he showed in hopping from genre to genre with relative ease and the ability to create a masterpiece in each genre was stunning.
The latter (PT Anderson) was a director I had found out about on a site called the Mike Portnoy Forum (forum for the drummer of the band Dream Theater). I ended up checking out Boogie Nights and was surprised at how well it balanced dark comedy, drama, and tension....sometimes all at once in a single scene! Not only that, but there was an exuberant energy running throughout the film. Even more surprising was how old Anderson was when he wrote the script...18. Then I got hit with the film Magnolia and the rest as they say, is history.
Oliver Stone made his way onto my radar after seeing Platoon. I had already loved 20th century history and I thought it was cool that a director devoted so many of his films to the history of that period. The director's box set which compiles his work from Salvador through Any Given Sunday is the type of DVD set I wish was released more often.
Along the way I made many more great discoveries: Joel & Ethan Coen, Quentin Tarantino, David Lynch, Michael Mann, Richard Linklater, Spike Lee & Kryzstof Kieslowski.
I'm always anxious to discover new directors and different ways stories are told. As a friend once said to me: "There's so many films but there's so little time to see them all."
Stay tuned for the 2nd part of this retrospective. It's a hell of a lot darker than than this one.