The 12 Most Insane Genre Transitions Made By Directors
by David Christopher Bell
By no means are directors expected to make the same movie over and over again – but they also don’t tend to fly genre to genre like some kind of bipolar carnival game either.
Here are a few directors who – if they were to put on an autograph signing – would find themselves in the midst of a very polarized crowd of fans.
12. Guy Ritchie – Snatch to Swept Away
It’s not fair to say that the romantic Madonna horror-fest that is Swept Away had a fan base sustainable enough to actually appear at a theoretical Guy Richie autograph signing, however if they did exist I feel like they’d be the scariest bunch there.
I tried watching this movie once but got distracted trying to see how long I could hold my hand directly in an open flame instead.
11. Kevin Smith – Cop Out to Red State
Kevin Smith tends to joke about his lack of ambition when it comes to his own cinematic style, having focused more on comedic performance. While Red State takes a few steps forward, I personally thought the simplicity lent itself to this movie. He’s not whipping the camera around or showing us how many cool songs he knows – but rather lets the scenes play out naturally, making them surprisingly sinister.
That said, I don’t think the same lack of complexity will help him for his next horror film Tusk – which sounds so incredibly daffy that it even scared Quentin Tarantino off.
10. Shane Black – Kiss Kiss Bang Bang to Iron Man 3
Shane Black has been in the business for a long time as a writer – but that doesn’t make going from a $15 million dollar crime comedy to a $200 million dollar Iron Man 3 any less weird. Especially since the final product actually felt more like a Shane Black film than an Iron Man film, which is awesome depending on who’s watching it.
9. Alfonso Cuaron – Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban to Children Of Men
Harry Potter fans hated Prisoner Of Azkaban, which leads me to believe that Harry Potter fans have terrible taste. That said, I am a Harry Potter fan, and I liked Prisoner Of Azkaban, so now my world is turned upside down. It’s like the end of The 6th Day.
The film always did seem out of place, what with the natural but gray lighting and oddly artistic tracking shots. Only until Children Of Men did it become clear why: Cuaron was too good for Harry Potter. At least in terms of directing – acting-wise, nothing was too good for that scarred wizard freak, apparently.
8. Kimberly Peirce – Boys Don’t Cry, Stop-Loss, & Carrie
Stop-Loss was a straight-to-DVD film about the horrors surrounding the war in Iraq and the young men and women who had to endure it, odd meat in the sandwich that is the amazing Boys Don’t Cry and the freaking Carrie remake.
But considering that the film was inspired by Peirce’s own brother’s experience during the war – the bizarre shifts in genre are most likely just the director devoting herself to the stories that are most personal to her, so long as they make everyone else want to kill themselves with depression.
7. Matthew Vaughn – Layer Cake to Stardust to Superheroes
Odd pickle, that Matthew Vaughn. One assumes that producing enough Guy Richie gave him just enough cred to start a career in slick British crime comedies of his own – getting right to it with Layer Cake, a film that managed to set himself apart from the director he was most connected with at the time.
And had someone then told me he’d then be doing a film with Robert De Niro, I would have been off-my-shit excited about it. And that’s exactly what happened, with Stardust, the film about a magical world of… I’m guessing stardust.
In the end, that mean style of directing is doing much good – branching out to both Kick-Ass and then X-Men: First Class, it makes me want to see more stylized directors doing silly shit. Who’s up for a Tarantino Wolverine film?
6. John Patrick Shanley – Joe Verses The Volcano and Doubt
On paper, it appears that John Patrick Shanley made a quirky 90s romantic comedy, shrugged, and decided to take it easy for a few decades unless something with nuns came along. He literally has two credits to his name, one involving Tom Hanks dancing on a luggage raft and the other featuring Meryl Streep as a stern, award-winning nun.
The transition only makes sense when you realize that he wrote like, a butt-load of stage plays in-between, which I’m told is some kind of movie you see in real life. Sounds ridiculous.
5. E. Elias Merhige – Begotten to Shadow Of The Vampire
I’m guessing no one reading this has seen Begotten because they would have long torn their eyes out by now. Let’s just say that one of the actors in it is credited as the character “God Killing Himself” and be done with it. It’s 70 minutes long but felt like watching the work print of Apocalypse Now – only amazingly more insane.
Shadow Of The Vampire isn’t that much saner – however the amazement is that anyone saw Begotten and thought, “sure, I’ll give that guy money to make another movie.” It even stars John Malkovich and Willem Dafoe who, until recently, I assumed wasn’t into crazy (Lars von Trier proved me wrong).
4. Kathryn Bigelow – 90s Action to Oscar Winning War Films
I have to admit this now: I came into Point Break really late in my life. It’s hard to admit that, but I only first saw it a few years ago and I immediately fell in love with it. It was only made sweeter by being so impressed by Bigelow’s Hurt Locker before being Swayzed. Seeing her name on the beginning credits baffled me, but not as much as looking up her career on IMDb later on.
Along with Point Break, she also did Strange Days, somehow transitioned into K-19, and somehow snuck up on everyone with her move into Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty. I have no idea what’s next for her, but personally I’d like to see her take over the helm for that horrible Point Break sequel coming up – just for the hell of it.
3. Richard Donner – The Omen to Superman/The Goonies to Lethal Weapon
It’s hard to pick from those. Not to mention that he also made Maverick, The Toy, and Scrooged. It’s like he picks his projects with a cash grab machine filled with really awesome screenplays inside. The Omen being his first major film from a career of television, which prompted somebody to think that would translate over to a Superman film. It totally did.
What’s even stranger than that: they first offered it to Steven Spielberg after seeing Jaws, because to these producers: bloody horror = Superman. Hey, speaking of which…
2. Steven Spielberg – Pretty Much His Entire Career
Spielberg has been with us for so many films that we probably take for granted how wacky diverse he is about the movies he makes. He literally went from Jurassic Park to freaking Schindler’s List. That’s dinosaur cloning to the Holocaust. Later he went from The Lost World to Amistad, and before that Temple Of Doom to The Color Purple. Because whatever. Adventure, tragedy, adventure, tragedy, aliens, horse, Abraham Lincoln.
1. Peter Jackson – The Frighteners to The Lord Of The Rings
Look, I’ve already said before that I love Peter Jackson’s early career. Still, if I were a major studio producer looking to make a multi-million dollar adaptation of one of the most iconic fantasy books, the last person I would look to is the dude making movies where Muppets do heroin and people vomit green into bowls – especially if the guy doing the vomiting is the guy I’m looking to hire.
I’m not angry, just confused. Sure, he made Heavenly Creatures as well – but then went on to make The Frighteners, an awesome film that still bombed. And the weirdest part? When he was getting the rights to Lord Of The Rings he was also being offered King Kong by Universal. They were actually in a dispute over which film he would do first.
He’s an incredibly talented and hard working director, but I can’t help but want to break into his house and look for his magic lamp just to be sure.