With DJ Caruso directing Preacher, it becomes the second cult western literary adaptation to be taken on by an averagely talented, workhorse director (although Caruso doesn’t even come close to Ron Howard’s league). This might be the natural evolution of “geek” properties being co-opted by Hollywood. A decade ago, it was Sam Raimi bringing his Evil Dead prowess to a web-slinging comic of note. Now, the grittier material is getting notice, but middling directors will start earning the paycheck. So it goes.
The list of directors who could bring the story of a Texas preacher man whose been imbued with the power of pure goodness and pure evil (and the power to command people to do his bidding) to life is a long one. So is the list of directors better suited than DJ Caruso.
Here are just seven of them (ranging from the obvious to the not-so), but feel free to brainstorm more:
This pick is obvious and a bit unfair considering that he jumps to mind for just about anything with teeth. The man’s work is virtually peerless, he’s unafraid to work with adult situations, and a hard R-rating seems to make him happier than Indiana Jones with a snake-less passage way to walk down.
His connection to DP Emmanuel Lubezki is another major reason to see him on this project. Imagine Preacher with the tracking shots of Children of Men. On the other hand, Cuaron might make the film bleaker than a sun-bleached longhorn skull, but that’s a risk audiences would most likely be willing to take.
Mungia finds himself on this list for one movie and one movie alone: Six String Samurai. His work hasn’t been notable since, but his cult film about an unwashed guitarslinger making his way through a post-Apocalyptic desert to Las Vegas to become the next King (after Elvis’s death) is a killer flick.
He’d have to work with a 4000% increase in dialogue, but he’s already made Preacher – just with different elements and a communist rockabilly band. He’s a wild card, but a wild card at least gives the chance for brilliance to occur. A tap will always produce tap water. A wild card might deliver some whiskey.
Michael J. Bassett
If the grittiness gets to be too much, Bassett would be a good antidote for it. He most recently wrote and directed the adaptation Solomon Kane, taking an iconic cult character and giving him due credit. That movie was more in the Cutlass and Jackboot genre of action adventure with just a hint of darkness. Sure, Solomon gets crucified and has to pull his hand off of the nails, but the focus of the film is the adventure even with the plague-riddled setting.
Plus, the supernatural is involved in a big way, and Bassett makes it organic without a hint of cheese. His version would undoubtedly be more purely entertaining than, say, Cuaron, but it would be light years deeper and more satisfying then Caruso’s. Too bad he’s not a household name (since apparently Caruso is?).
There’s little reason for Aronofsky to dig into a comic book adaptation, but since he’s doing The Wolverine, it would appear that he’s entering a new phase of his career. Doing Preacher would be a way to sneak into comic book adaptations with some dangerous material, and he’s sincerely delivered some moments on film that would make even twisted minds cringe. More of that would be welcome for a flick like Preacher.
This might feel like another obvious choice, but the experimental directions Aronofsky could take this thing would be the furthest thing from obvious. Anyone else ready for an arthouse Preacher getting eyebrow-raising Oscar love?
The man that directed the Japanese portions of Tora! Tora! Tora! is the same man who directed Battle Royale. That blew my mind the first I found that out, and it instantly came to mind when brainstorming for this list. Why? Because I want to see the man who took on Battle Royale take on Preacher.
There are no real thematic similarities (except for killing and cultural subversion), no real story similarities, and no real character similarities, but the prospect is one that gets the blood pumping. The type of R-rating he could get for Preacher would undoubtedly be worth the price of admission and the therapy sessions afterward. Sadly, Fukasaku passed away in 2003, yet he’s still better suited to make Preacher than DJ Caruso.
The Coen Brothers
The most obvious for last. A gritty, western-style movie with nihilism, murder, and religious overtones? The Coen Brothers must have been turning down offers for this left and right.
DJ Caruso has a lot of trouble connecting scenes and filling his films with anything resembling sense, which is why an ambitious project like this is troubling to see under his wing. It’s already confusing material, and Caruso only tends to add to confusion. The worst case scenario sees plot holes aplenty, nonsensical scenes that have nothing to do with the story, and bad CGI (which won’t really be his fault, but still).
He’s shown nothing in his career to prove that he can handle material like this, and it’s unlikely that he’ll suddenly learn how to make movies before rolling the cameras. It’s tough to remain optimistic, even if it’s a cool property, but something tells me we’ll be double featuring it with Jonah Hex when it comes out.
Cross your fingers for unexpected talent to emerge, and in the mean time, dream of a better director taking the reigns.
Who would you want?