The Playlist

The Films Of Nicolas Cage: A Retrospective

  • By The Playlist Staff
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  • April 10, 2014 2:00 PM
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  • 27 Comments
Joe, Nicolas Cage
Yes, the career of Nicolas Cage has taken what one can argue is a serious nosedive in recent years. His frightening hairline has become the butt of endless jokes, his personal life is always a mess (he named his son Kal-El after Superman and he's on his third wife), and his take-a-paycheck career choices of late (seemingly endless riffs on "Taken" that barely get theatrical releases, things like "Seeking Justice," "Stolen," "Trespass," and on the way, a reboot of the bonkers Biblical apocalypse flick "Left Behind") have made him an even bigger laughing stock (maybe the tax problems and reported ridiculous spending habits explain these terrible tendencies).

Retrospective: The Films Of Michael Mann

  • By The Playlist Staff
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  • January 14, 2014 1:12 PM
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  • 20 Comments
The Films of Michael Mann
In 33 years of filmmaking, director Michael Mann has only made 10 theatrically-released feature-length films. Averaging one every three years (with two long gaps of about six years—we're reaching the end of the second now), his un-prolific nature is perhaps due to meticulous and exhausting research processes and character explorations which often lead to completed screenplays ... only for him to abandon them when he finds something amiss. “I only do films I truly believe in,” Michael Mann said in a 1990s interview expressing frustration with his somewhat unproductive pace and yet simultaneously articulating the vital quality that makes him the filmmaker we know today. It's the sort of thing many directors might say, but Mann, more than many others, has the courage of his convictions and the resulting short but blazing filmography to back up his sincerity.

Retrospective: The Films Of Martin Scorsese

  • By The Playlist Staff
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  • December 17, 2013 2:05 PM
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  • 32 Comments
Retrospective: Martin Scorsese
As a director Martin Scorsese ranks at the forefront of the all-time top tier of American filmmakers, but even as a presence in the film world in general he is pre-eminent. It is merely the just desserts of a life which, more than any we can think of, has been entirely dedicated, saturated and invigorated by cinema. For any of us who spend any portion of our days thinking about movies, Scorsese is, as much as we have one, a patron saint, perhaps the figure to whom the less Godly among us might whisper our evening prayers. Yet Scorsese also belies the directorial cliché of egotism, a Welles or a De Mille striding around with a bullhorn booming out orders to scuttling minions, because he has always been dinstictively softly if rapidly spoken, and thoughtful, especially when talking about cinema. Just to hear him talk about cinema is one of the great joys of the man. He is erudite, passionate and opinionated, with a film knowledge so vast that it’s hard to imagine where he ever found the time to make a single movie himself.

Retrospective: The Films of Brian De Palma

  • By The Playlist Staff
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  • August 28, 2013 1:52 PM
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  • 9 Comments
retrospective: Brian De Palma
Few film directors are as polarizing as Brian De Palma, whose new film, the already argued-over "Passion," opens this week (read our review from Venice here). Hailed by some as an American visionary and a modern master of suspense, capable of gorgeously realized visual feats, De Palma is derided by others as a overtly referential hack who has based almost his entire career on a single trick: ripping off Alfred Hitchcock. But as "Un-American Psycho: Brian De Palma and the Political Invisible," the new scholarly text on the director by Chris Dumas, points out, this divisiveness is at least partially his own doing. De Palma is a director who once claimed that he wanted to be "the American Godard" and talked openly about "the revolution" on national television (fun fact: he was once shot by a cop), yet went on to create fizzy popcorn entertainments that were occasionally boycotted for their perceived misogyny (at least two of his movies spawned honest-to-god, organized revolts).

Retrospective: The Directorial Career Of Paul Schrader

  • By The Playlist Staff
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  • August 5, 2013 12:06 PM
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  • 11 Comments
With the screenplays for Sydney Pollack’s “The Yakuza” (1975), Brian De Palma’s “Obsession” (1976), John Flynn’s “Rolling Thunder,” Martin Scorsese’s “Taxi Driver” (1976) and “Raging Bull” (1980) under his belt, Paul Schrader's legacy as a seminal figure in 1970s American screenwriting was unassailably assured. Yet not only did he go on to write "The Mosquito Coast" and Scorsese's "The Last Temptation Of Christ," he has also enjoyed a long, diverse career as a director, with his most recent foray being released last week: the controversial, chatter-worthy "The Canyons" (you can read our review here).

The Films Of Roland Emmerich: From Worst To Best

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • June 26, 2013 12:02 PM
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  • 19 Comments
The Films Of Roland Emmerich
When it comes to bringing popcorn ready, big screen spectacle to the multiplex, there are few filmmakers (except for maybe Michael Bay) who do it with as much flair as Roland Emmerich. The German-born director has been making theater speakers rumble ever since "Universal Soldier," but he really made his mark in the '90s thanks to the White House exploding "Independence Day" (which has a sequel coming in 2015) and the monster movie "Godzilla." And since then, films like "The Day After Tomorrow" and "2012" have come to define the trademarks most audiences know him for -- high concept FX vehicles in which the world is at peril, but rescued by an everyman who saves the day.

The Films Of Powell & Pressburger: A Retrospective

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • March 19, 2013 4:49 PM
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  • 12 Comments
For much of their lifetimes, Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger never got the due they deserved. Powell was as English as you could get, who'd worked his way up through the film industry, before coming to the attention of British film magnate Alexander Korda. Pressburger, meanwhile, was Hungarian Jewish by birth, who'd come to Germany in the 1920s to work as a screenwriter, moving to Paris, and then England when the Nazis came to power, and again was working for Korda. When the two met in 1939, there was an instant kinship. They shared a similarly uncompormising and original take on filmmaking, and were soon working hand in hand, sharing credit as writers, directors and producers under the banner of their The Archers production company.

Retrospective: The Films Of Steven Soderbergh

  • By The Playlist Staff
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  • February 5, 2013 1:03 PM
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  • 8 Comments
If there are two things that mark out the career of director Steven Soderbergh, they arguably could be described as a willingness to fail and a constant routine of creative calisthenics. A process-rather-than-results person, he has, over the last 24 years, been one of the most daring, unpredictable and restless filmmakers around. His output has run the gamut of everything from indie relationship drama to star-packed heist movies, from experimental, micro-budget thrillers to philosophical sci-fi, and from melancholy coming-of-age to kick-ass action.

The Films Of Spike Lee: A Retrospective

  • By The Playlist Staff
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  • August 10, 2012 4:05 PM
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  • 32 Comments
If this weekend feels special for movie fans, it's not because of the trio of big-name blockbusters hitting theaters, it's because it sees a new dramatic feature -- the first in four years -- from Spike Lee, one of the most talented, idiosyncratic, maddening and controversial American filmmakers of the last thirty years. It's a rarity for a director to be instantly, iconically recognizable, but Lee's one of the exceptions, gaining visibility through starring roles in his early films, a famous appearance in a Nike ad alongside Michael Jordan, and plenty of moments when he's spoken his mind and caused an uproar.

The Films Of Christopher Nolan: A Retrospective

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • July 19, 2012 2:04 PM
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  • 25 Comments
We can all agree at this point that a certain sub-set of Christopher Nolan's fans are out of hand, what with the death threats to critics and all. But even if we were one of those who didn't like "The Dark Knight Rises," or indeed the rest of Nolan's output, we suspect that we'd still be glad he existed. While some might find his movies humorless (though we'd disagree), or chilly (though we'd disagree), or overly rigid (we'd... mostly disagree), but no one else is making films like Christopher Nolan, taking nine figures of Warner Bros.' money, pairing it with big ideas and concepts, and making resoundingly entertaining and thought-provoking blockbusters.

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