Ed Burns: There’s intentional boredom, cultivated by long-take masters like Michenagelo Antonioni, Andrei Tarkovsky and, of course, Andy Warhol. But that’s more like hypnosis, or a sensory experiment. Then there’s the boredom of directors who crank out blandly predictable, stilted work again and again, unconcerned with anything beyond their limited worldview. Incidentally, Ed Burns has just written and directed his 10th feature.
Stephen Daldry: The Academy has nominated this stage director for every feature he’s directed, which should say it all. Anyone who can make desiccated, middle-brow films about a working-class dude ballerina (Billy Elliot), Virginia Woolf (The Hours) and a Nazi sexpot played by a naked Kate Winslet (The Reader) deserves some kind of recognition—maybe not the good kind.
Stanley Kramer: Around Oscar season, studios atone for the previous year with “issue films,” self-important treacle exploring social problems in the most artless, unchallenging way possible. Though he wasn’t the first, Stanley Kramer remains the father of this practice. The Defiant Ones, On the Beach, Inherit the Wind, Judgment at Nuremberg, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner—these preachy pablums made the world safe for Richard Attenborough, Alan Parker and Robert Redford (the director).
James Mangold: There’s a reason his first film was called Heavy. A plodding, humorless, unimaginative scourge, Mangold directs as if weighed down by his own importance. His serious work (Cop Land; Girl, Interrupted) is hollow, and what should be peppy (Walk the Line, Knight and Day) is thumb-twiddling. 3:10 to Yuma is decent, but there’s no reason a remake of a 95-minute nail-biter needed to be over two hours.
Edward Zwick: Kramer’s most tiresome apprentice. Be it history (Glory, The Last Samurai), lurid boddice-rippers (Legends of the Fall), issues (The Siege, Blood Diamond) or ass-kicking Jews (Defiance), Zwick has the ability to drain all spontaneity out of cinema, directing as if grabbing the audience by the collar, insecure that their attention may waver or, worse, that the content he’s working with is trite.
Lasse Hollstrom: My Life as a Dog. What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? The Cider House Rules. Chocolat. The Shipping News. Dear John. That’s at least a dozen hours of sound sleep.
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