Nov 09 2010

Five Movies That are Uncharacteristic of Their Directors

Published by at 9:00 am under Movies

Have you ever watched a film and been blown away by who the director is?  Or in the same token watch a film whose director you know and by the end of the film think to yourself,  “I can believe (so and so) directed that movie!”  If you haven’t I’m not surprised because it’s fairly rare.

The reason it’s rare is because like many actors, directors have a specific style.  Some are known for romance movies whereas others are known for action movies just like some actors are action movie actors, etc etc.   Sometimes going out of their “comfort zone” is a good thing and sometimes it winds up pretty badly.

In the following five cases, it’s not really a sense or good or bad as it is a shock that these movies were directed by these directors……

Spike Lee – Inside Man


I guarantee that if a person saw this movie for the first time and didn’t know Spike Lee was director?  There’s zero chance you’d know it was Lee who directed it.  I mean bottom line this is a “caper” movie.  Usually Spike Lee explores race, makes statements, and has some pretty strong commentary in his films.  This one?  Yeah there’s a tiny bit of it but overall it’s just a really really solid film about a bank robbery.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and feel that Lee was probably thinking “let’s see if I can make a really awesome movie movie.

Martin Scorsese – The Age of Innocence


When you think of period films (as in renaissance and “dangerous liaison” type times) I wouldn’t exactly say that Scorsese is at the top of the list of directors.   At the same time this was a very solid film and Scorsese definitely captured the vibe.  The only other film in Scorsese’s bucket that might not be representative of his normal “dark,” “gangster” type films would be The Last Temptation of Christ but for some reason I just thought Age of Innocence fit better.

Steven Spielberg – Catch me if You Can or The Terminal


I happened to really enjoy both of these films.  However, when I think of Spielberg I think of two things:  imagination and history.  Spielberg’s strong films are those that capture our imagination in action, and those films that do justice to certain stories and places in history.   However, Catch me if you Can and The Terminal were much more light hearted, airy, and frankly fun.  I feel like Spielberg stepped back and just wanted to make some movies that weren’t stressful.   And I think he did a fantastic job with these.

The Wachowski Brothers – Bound


I guess I can understand it now that one of the brothers is named Lana.  But seriously.   These are the guys that made The Matrix and they made Bound?  I mean this movie is about a tough female ex con and her lover Violet who concoct a scheme to steal millions of stashed mob money and pin the blame on Violet’s crooked boyfriend Caeser.  Not exactly bending spoons are we?  Plus this movie has a kick ass lesbian scene.  I don’t know.  It just isn’t Wachowski is it….

David Fincher – Alien 3


Every director has to start somewhere and doing a sequel is definitely not where I’d have pinned David Fincher to be.   If you’ve actually seen Alien 3 it’s pretty badass and does look very “Finchery.”  However, I think those that are Fincher fans know exactly what I mean here.  It’s not that the movie isn’t his style.  It’s more of the “I can’t believe David Fincher directed Alien 3” vibe.





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17 responses so far

  • Jeremy

    Two that always surprise me compared to their prior films/roles are Woody Allen with “Match Point” and Ben Affleck with “Gone Baby Gone”.

  • crentist

    David Lynch directing The Straight Story was a pleasant surprise in my opinion

  • Jeff

    I was expecting Wes Craven’s “Music of the Heart” to be on this list.

  • Guy Incognito

    James Cameron with Piranha II. The Lovely Bones for Peter Jackson though really The Lord of the Rings was a shocker at that point in his career as he had only done a bunch of horror movies. If you look at Gore Verbinski’s career The Ring stands out as the lone horror movie. It should also be noted that Fincher has moved away from thrillers with Benjamin Button and Social Network.

  • Josh

    David Fincher got his start doing hundreds of music videos. He’s only done like 10 since Alien 2 came out (Most recently was Nine Inch Nails’s awesome video for Only and A Perfect Circle’s video for Judith), but his start was definitely in music videos much like Spike Jonze was.

  • http://chordian.net Chordian

    Also, “A Good Year” by Ridley Scott.

  • Guy Incognito

    @ Josh

    Michel Gondry also started with music videos and still does a few each year.

  • lewarcher

    Don’t forget Kikujiro by Takeshi Kitano; prior to this movie, his other films were crime dramas. Kikujiro was a comedy/drama about a boy looking for his mother with the reluctant help of a gruff older man. Great movie, but very different to Kitano’s earlier work.

  • JoeAndMarysOtherSon

    Check out Meet the Feebles and Bad Taste and keep in mind that this is the same guy who would eventually make the LOTR trilogy.

  • woody

    i don’t get why Alien 3 is up there. also i don’t get why ‘Jack’ isn’t. yknow, that film with Robin Williams dicking about like a kid? directed by Francis Ford Coppola?

  • Marko

    What about Wes Craven directing Music of the Heart?

  • Jake Stone

    Ummm…. The Hughes Brothers. Directors of Scratch, American Pimp,Dead Presidents & Menace II Society. They directed Johnny Depp, Heather Graham, and Ian Holm in “From Hell”. Shocking.

  • kyle

    Inside Man is something Lee would do…all the bad guys are white, all the good guys are black.

  • Sam

    Inside man is probably my favorite spike lee “joint” with the 25th hour in a close second.
    As for other surprising directors I would add: kubrick-spartacus, burton-planet if the apes (even though not really surprising, it just doesn’t fit his style), brett ratner- red dragon, richard donner-the omen
    I have to say I was surprised when I found out michael bay didn’t direct con air.

  • http://free-sk.t-com.hr/T800/index.html T800

    I don’t know why people rank Alien 3 as worse-than-alien1/2 etc.
    Alien movies are the only movies where each next part is better than the previous one. For me, Alien 4 is the best one ever made.

  • Torquil

    I’d say Kundun for Scorcese. At least Age of Innocence took place in New York.

  • Ned Diegel

    Surely directorial debuts should be discounted. How can they be uncharacteristic if its their first?

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