Director´s Cut - Picturing Hollywood
In The 21st Century


MOVIE BOOK REVIEW by Willard Manus

Another worthy film book is THE DIRECTOR'S CUT--PICTURING HOLLYWOOD IN THE 21st CENTURY, edited by Stephan Littger (Continuum). Littger interviewed twenty-one top filmmakers on their craft. His focus is mainly American, but such foreign-born arts as Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Wolfgang Petersen and Mira Nair are also included.

"Who are these people, and what do they have in common?" asks Dan Kleinman, Dean of Columbia Film School, in a foreword. "Each one is an active director of Hollywood studio pictures, as distinct from independent films--though most have directed those, too, at the beginning of their careers, and a few still do. The whole question of how to tell an independent film from a studio film has become hopelessly complicated, but what matters here is that these directors are successful enough to have made films with large budgets."

The interviews in DIRECTOR'S CUT are aimed at illuminating the process artists go through in making a film. "It can teach us so much about the intricacies of the filmmaker's profession," notes Littger, "the concrete circumstances in which they work today, and the ways they bridge that gap between their own personalities and the structures that they attempt to make their own."

One can dip just about anywhere into the book and find a choice bit food for thought.

Here, for example, is Sidney Pollack on the essential traits a good director must have: "I think the primary one is patience...Also you have to be fluid inside your own personality in the sense that you have to be all of the characters. You can't take sides. You have to be the man and the woman and the crook and the bad guy and so on to make a really complex film that reflects life in some way; unless you're making a fable or a cartoon. But you need to be able to have the kind of imagination that allows you to be somebody else completely. And that's not always easy."

Later, Chris Seitz (American Pie) answers the question thusly: "There are two words that really bother me when people talk about directors: 'passion' and 'vision.' I think they are both sort of bullshit, because it takes a lot more than passion and vision to make a film. It takes Sitzfleisch--isn't that the German expression?--the ability to show stamina and to just stay on something."