Joel and Ethan Coen might be the two finest filmmakers working in America today. There are few directors who have captured more entertaining, accurate, or varied instances of the American experience.
Nearly all of their films center around some sort of crime or illicit behavior. Sometimes the protagonist is the perpetrator. Other times he is a victim or an unwitting bystander sucked into the chaos. Almost always though, the protagonist is a fool.
Wes Anderson's eighth feature-length film, The Grand Budapest Hotel, is set to premiere early next year. A writer and director of comedies since the mid-nineties, Anderson has traveled from the open roads of Texas to the top of the Himalayas and back. I personally cannot wait to see where he takes us next.
For someone who loves independent movies, it sure took me a heck of a long time to watch anything directed by John Cassavetes.
Maybe that is because I had heard how emotionally intense his films were, tapping into a vein of real life and forgoing any sense of escapism that most movies offer. Despite that hesitation, I am deeply satisfied that I took the time to watch four great films by this stalwart of early independent film, who took many menial acting jobs so he could make something great.
Shadows, Cassevetes' first film, is a defiant statement against mainstream culture, both in terms of cinema and society. It follows three African American siblings living in New York City, two of whom are trying to pass as white. The film was shot without a script, and its black and white, 16-millimeter film stock lacks the gloss of Hollywood pictures of the same year (North by Northwest or Ben-Hur for example). With its jazz score by Charles Mingus and its focus on urban youth in 1950's, Shadows is a must see for any fans of Beat writers or early independent film.