Sunday, January 14, 2007

How the topic can change so swiftly...

Brett Ratner
Just to rectify some details. I have only seen two Brett Ratner films - 'Rush Hour' and 'Red Dragon'. As far as 'Rush Hour' goes, its alright although not really my type of comedy. So that is not so much a directorial problem - more a personal preferance on comedy because the film was successful enough - thus funny enough across the board - to warrant two further sequels.

'Red Dragon' on the other hand is AWESOME! Ratner uses a script written by Ted Tally, the writer of 'Silence of the Lambs' script, and there is a huge influence of the stand-out director Jonathon Demme - director of 'Silence of the lambs'.

Yes, yes, It's all preference. I get that, but I would be interested to see how Brett Ratner - a director who is no Tarantino or Fincher - gets so much criticism from Mr Jo Gudgeon. Ratner has never claimed he is brilliant - unlike Shyamalan who, although I like him, I can see why he can rub people up the wrong way with his really arrogant attitude. Brett Ratner is a director who seemed to do a good job with 'Red Dragon' - he didn't try to 'make it his own' he simply studied 'Silence of the lambs' and tried to make it live up to that, which, I think it comes close.

I have friends who think that 'Red Dragon' is in fact the best one of the three.

Nevertheless, looking at Ratners directing credits on IMDB (a whopping 16!), very few of them are that successful. X-Men 3, I have heard, is not great - but everyone cocks up at one point and it hardly warrants a lifetime of disgust from avid film fans - such as Mr Jo Gudgeon.

Is it possible that I can get an informed, fair and just review from Mr Jo Gudgeon stating why Ratner is such a bad director? Has Gudgeon seen enough of Ratners films to put together a whole-hearted opinion on the subject? I can admit that I have seen very, very few on the whole of Ratners film - and music videos - to really claim whether he is any good or bad. I am really waiting to watch X-Men 3 before placing any kind of offensive or insulting judgement on the man.

I doubt that the film is as bad as 'Cube' though.

I await peoples responses (that goes for everyone!)

P.S. The single point I was making about Mel Gibson was: How can you say he is a bad director when you have only seen one film? Could it just be a fluke bad film? Or a film that simple 'wasn't-your-thing'?


Rebecca said...

Having been a fan of the book "Red Dragon", as well as the original movie "Manhunter", I went into "Red Dragon" with trepidation because frankly I hate remakes and I didn't see the point of it. "Manhunter" was good on its own and I thought they were just monopoloizing on Anthony Hopkins and trying to squeeze more more money out of the franchise. (Don't even get me started on the new Hannibal movie, although I'll probably see it, of course...) Anyway, in the end, I would probably have to concede that it MIGHT be the best of the three films. Whether this had to do with Brett, or the six main actors (Norton, Fiennes, Watson, Keitel, Hopkins, and the ALWAYS underrated Phillip Seymour Hoffman) is debatable. I was only familiar with Brett through is music videos and the truly insufferable movie "The Family Man" starring Nicholas Cage, a movie that I have so many issues with that this comment box isn't nearly big enough for me to get started on, but I left the cinema feeling fairly excited by the movie, something that doesn't happen often.

I am choosing NOT to get into the Mel Gibson/"Passion" debate because I have two cents worth of comments on that which nobody would want to hear, but keep it up boys because it defintely makes for good reading. :-)

Pete said...

Brett Ratner...Well I haven’t even seen the latest Hannibal movie so that’s not good. I know a fair bit about the bases for the movies because one of my uni friends who studied English used to say a lot about Thomas Harris because he thought he was the number 1 writer ever. On a side note I have good things to say about cube so you might want to take that into consideration when reading the rest of this.
I enjoyed the film and think he did do a good job of it as stipulated by you Simon, he paid homage to the original. But looking at this list of films on IMDB I can't help but be hit in the face with mediocrity. That’s no small thing in an industry where you have to be brilliant to get OK. But what has he really done? Red Dragon is the highlight. I though he did good things with X men 3 a movie that suffers from an antic-climax plot and a seemingly lost writer who just didn't didn’t seem to know what to do. But some of the shots and effects he used to draw out the atmosphere were really good, as it is with red dragon.
I see the point, in other words, one film is not enough to say he's a bad but it is enough to say he, or she, made a bad film this time. It’s not a matter of 'couldn’t it be a one off?' yes what does that have to do with the mistakes he made here in this one? Brett Ratner has done good things, but he’s done nothing to make me lift him above he’s ok, he might do I wouldn’t say he couldn’t but I certainly would say he hasn’t.
As for Mel Gibson, he said boldly steeping into the middle of the room, well I think he has made a number of films that were not only immensely successful but very good. He is extremely good at tapping into the consciousness of his audience for the theme he has chosen to tap into. Ok some people didn't like ‘The Passion’ because it was so violent but that is how Mel Gibson wanted to portray it. He wanted to exhume horror and awe at what Jesus went through. No one can say he didn't do that well, damn well, he directed it perfectly because he displayed exactly what he wanted to display and he made you feel it. Again if you think that isn't the 'right' thing to display or if you think there is a better rendition of the story that’s fair enough but I don’t think you can say he failed to evoke exactly what he was trying to invoke. The same with brave heart, and the same with The Man Without a Face. These are the films I have seen of his. What I would say is that Mel Gibson does an extremely god job at expunging these emotions from his audience but how far has he really stretched himself? With the budget’s and the stories he has used it could be argued that he has never strayed to far away from things that he knows how to pull from his audience it is easy to horrify people by the amount of blood in a film, easy to make someone follow the protagonist went hey are against a big evil enemy that does mean things to your family, and easy to follow the protagonist who is helping a troubled young boy and is then punished because everyone thinks bad things of you because you’re, essentially, ugly. We know what’s right and wrong and we are given the extremes in the characters.

Jo said...

The phone is off the hook and lying in a pool of blood,

If I may I'd like to start with a certain Mr. Brett Ratner. The problem I have, and I think Pete touched on it, is that the man has a minimal output and what he has managed to produce (let’s just set Red Dragon aside for just a second) is phenomenally bland. Rush Hour managed to take two elements, fast talking guy meets fast kicking guy and squeeze the life out of the joke with reckless abandon. It's a middle of the road film- barely mediocre. That he is then given Red Dragon to direct is literally the most absurd thing to have happened in the history of Hollywood. To be put it bluntly- A List source material, A List ensemble cast and a director whose claim to fame is making Mariah Carey fight herself. Surely, you can't be serious?

I am, and don't call me Shirley. I thank you.

So while I have no distinct problem with Red Dragon because it is an interesting film with a great ensemble cast, to me it is still just okay and quite clearly it could have been a whole hell of a lot more. I'm no fan of Hannibal but I can still appreciate that Ridley Scott did some quite beautiful things. On occasion it is a majestic and tense film and it is clear that some effort has been put in to the scenery and whatnot. I need say nothing about Silence of the Lambs- it's a classic and I doubt that'll raise the temperature of even the most stubborn person here...

And so I say, why in hell pick a director with no artistic merit or experience with any depth to direct your serial killer/cannibal project? It doesn’t make any sense. Of course the more pertinent point, which you touched upon Simon, is that I have been personally aggrieved by Ratner's annihilation of the X-Men franchise. The first two films were excitingly and lovingly given life by the thoughtful and complex Brian Singer. When Singer left to do Superman Returns I managed to stay excited because of the promise of a cool Man in Steel flick and the feeling that Matthew Vaughan could bring a tasty grittiness to the X-Men. My hopes were cruelly dashed, firstly by the disappearance of the Layer Cake director and then by a Superman so boring it made Batman Forever look good.

And then on the horizon appeared Ratner, like a small rodent snuffling around in the crumbs of others hard work. And rather than bake any kind of loaf with the ingredients at his disposal he swept them to the side and baked a turd pie topped with plenty of whipped crap. X Men 3 was devoid of imagination, tension and emotion. Despite the huge budget and vast character potential it took ten steps backward and shot the plot with enough holes to sink a battleship.

So it be true when you say that one mistake does not a bad director make. Indeed Mr. Singer in proof of this, having been responsible for a series of great films before his super misstep I'm more than willing to give him another chance to do it right (first up, he needs to recast the two leads). However I move to suggest that Ratner has never done anything good. That's the whole damn point. He's given these awesome projects for no clear reason. And then he makes them average. Or he makes them bad. Those are the only two options, it's literally all he can do. And yet he still gets given work. Personally I'm praying (and not to Mel Gibson) that Hollywood wakes up and all the slimy little mofo can get by 2008 is Rush Hour 4.

Jo said...

Obviously I can't leave it there, there's an elephant in the room. Look, he's drunk and making inappropriate comments. It's Mel damn Gibson!

I acknowledge his success in financial and critical terms and therefore his movies have credibility, that is the truth. Indeed clearly his more recent work has stirred some passion and it's always good to have a debate. It's fun. Indeed his use such extreme violence interests me on one level because I like a good censorship debate (let’s rise up and destroy the MPAA & PTC!) and sometimes it's fun to be shocked.

Unfortunately I was not shocked by The Passion of the Christ. Indeed I failed to connect with the film on almost any level. And while this does not make it a bad film it is clearly a factor in putting me off actively pursuing what might essentially be, more of the same. Particularly when you consider it's being recommended to me by someone who strongly disagreed with my assessment of The Passion. Particularly when you consider there are so many other options out there that are infinitely more appealing to me.

And of course particularly when you consider that the director appears to be a relatively unpleasant man. This started with me drawing reference to the drunken comments of Gibson and it is there that I return. Here is a guy who, when all is said and done is probably a little anti-semitic (although not on the same level as his father). A man who has made an obscene amount of money off showing his very personal beliefs to the world. This is a chap who has never put in an acting performance that has made me think, what a jolly good actor he is. A gentleman who goes drunk driving, putting other peoples lives at risk, safe in the knowledge that he can easily pay off any victims and the publicity will provide a nice boost for his upcoming Pfälzischian masterpiece.

In short, why would I want to experience this knobhead in any way, shape or form when there are so many elements to his game that piss me off?