Last month's Peckinpah tribute was the biggest project I've undertaken on The Agitation of the Mind, but incredibly rewarding. It's the second retrospective I've undertaken, following an on-off consideration of Andrei Tarkovsky's filmography which spanned August - November 2009.
Now my thoughts are turning to another retrospective, maybe mid-year. But who? Running through a list of some of my favourite directors - Werner Herzog, Powell & Pressburger, the Coen brothers, Pedro Almodovar, Martin Scorsese, Michael Mann, Dario Argento, Luis Bunuel, Don Siegel, Raoul Walsh, Quentin Tarantino, John Carpenter, Hayao Miyazaki, Krzysztof Kieslowski, Luchino Visconti, Francis Ford Coppola, David Lynch, Sergio Leone, Stanley Kubrick, Steven Soderbergh, Takeshi Kitano and probably about two dozen others whom I'll kick myself for omitting five minutes after I post this - I realised that I've already written about at least one of their films, if not a whole bunch of them. The point of a retrospective is a chronological journey through an entire filmography.
I nixed some directors for either having such an extensive filmography (Woody Allen, Sidney Lumet) that between my LoveFilm account and my limited budget for DVD acquisitions it would take me the whole of this year to work my way through them, or such a variable output in terms of quality control that the pleasure of acquainting or reacquainting myself with a couple of outright great movies doesn't quite compensate for journeyman work proliferating elsewhere on the CV.
There were only really three directors of whom I have any degree of knowledge that fit the bill: fabulists Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Tim Burton, and occasional realist/occasional poetic-realist Neil Jordan. A couple of not-so-great entries on Jordan's filmography, but on the whole a filmmaker whose career it would be interesting to take a good, in-depth look at.
Then it occurred to me to throw the remit open to directors whose ouevre I'm not overly familiar with, but have seen enough of to convince me that there will be some degree of consistency. Alex de la Iglesia, whose 'Day of the Beast' and 'Perdita Durango' I remember loving when I first saw them at Nottingham's Broadway Cinema, and who recently contributed 'The Baby's Room' to a series of six tales of the supernatural made for Spanish TV and boasting superior production values, was an immediate choice. Chan-wook Park wasn't far behind - the 'Vengeance' trilogy and 'I'm a Cyborg But That's OK' are all superb. I've only seen two movies by F. Gary Gray - 'Set it Off' and 'Be Cool' - but both of them contained enough, well, cool to convince me that even if it means sitting through the critically mauled 'Law Abiding Citizen', Gray's a director worth watching.
I've seen nothing of Mira Nair's work beyond 'Monsoon Wedding', but damn if that film isn't good enough to make me want to correct this. True, 'Amelia' looks like flagrant Oscar-bait but who cares? A Mira Nair retrospective guarantees at least one modern classic as well as a good excuse to watch 'Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love' without my wife considering me a fully-paid-up member of the dirty raincoat brigade.
So, merrily appropriating an interactive/ask-the-audience approach used by Tim at Antagony & Ecstasy last year, the shortlist of Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Tim Burton, Neil Jordan, Alex de la Iglesia, Chan-wook Park, F. Gary Gray and Mira Nair is now the subject of the sidebar poll to the left. I'm leaving it open for three months, after which I'll clear my LoveFilm queue, prioritise the winner's filmography and whoever you the public decide upon will get the retrospective treatment beginning mid-2010.
In the meantime, I've let things slip on the Personal Faves front so I'll be working my way through the remainder of that list over the next few months. I've neglected the Hellraisers series - a celebration of the films of Richard Burton, Richard Harris, Peter O'Toole and Oliver Reed, inspired by Robert Sellers' splendidly scurrilous book of the same name - so amends will be made there, as well. Shots on the Blog, my summertime celebration of crime cinema which replaces the sadly now defunct festival that Broadway used to run, will return in July. Finally, in honour of my one and only - but, boy, do I mean it - New Year Resolution (get a new job and get the hell out of the place I'm currently working), I'll be launching a new series: Work Sucks, an overview of films which tell the truth about how utterly crap earning a living can be.
So: plenty of movies to get stuck into. Just give me a few days to recuperate from the Hogmanay hangover and the 30,000 words I expended during the Peckinpah tribute and it'll be full steam ahead on The Agitation of the Mind.