Cukor has always been identified as an actor’s director, more specifically, a “woman’s” director. Understandable, considering that in The Women (1939), not a single man appears onscreen, and looking at the titles in his filmography indicates how frequently his movies were women-centric. Yet, such a classification demeans Cukor’s skills as a director, one who directed three men to Oscars (Jimmy Stewart, Ronald Coleman, Rex Harrison), but only two women (Ingrid Bergman, Judy Holliday). Cukor’s homosexuality and femininity have been credited with providing him a penchant for telling women’s stories, yet most every female lead in Cukor’s films had a strong male lead to play off. With films such as A Double Life, the tale of an actor’s Othello-inspired descent into madness, Cukor proved he could dive into the male psyche with equal skill.
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A chimpanzee attacks a woman in Connecticut. An elephant is discovered starving in a yard in Indiana. A little boy plays with an African viper in Ohio. Such stories make local headlines, seemingly sensational and frivolous. But they also reveal serious misunderstandings of wild animals, with potentially serious consequences. These and other animals, especially monkeys and reptiles, are often available for purchase at exotic animals sales. Michael Webber’s The Elephant in the Living Room, available today on DVD, includes interviews with emergency room doctors, big cat owners, and public safety officers like Dayton’s Tim Harrison. A former lion owner himself, Harrison works with private owners in order to find new and safer homes for pets who have grown beyond the owner’s ability to care for them. The film follows his story as it intertwines with that of Terry Brumfield, a former big rig driver suffering from depression following debilitating injuries in a truck accident. When his African lions, Lambert and Lacey, get loose one night and chase cars on a Columbus, OH highway, Tim has to step in, but even as he convinces Terry it’s in the lions’ best interest to move from the cage in his backyard, both men are shocked to learn that Lacey is nursing two cubs. The film observes the two men as they face all manner of emotional, legal, and moral complexities.
See PopMatters’ review.
One of the most established voices in cinema, Canadian-born David Cronenberg is perhaps best known as the father of “body horror”. It’s this that will always define Cronenberg the adjective (though it has yet to be established whether this is Cronenbergian or Cronenbergesque), despite the fact that much of his work deviates wildly from the narrow constraints of what these descriptors commonly mean. Even his most mainstream films though involve troubled relationships between humans and their bodies, whether by masking sexual transgression through fantasy (M. Butterfly ), brandishing tattoos as an underworld code (Eastern Promises), or using disfigurement to signify a history of violence (A History of Violence).
Francis Coppola is a mainstay on lists like these. A member of the Hollwood elite, the 72-year-old director earned his spot during the New Hollywood movement of the 1970s. Obviously, helming The Godfather, The Conversation, The Godfather: Part II, and Apocalypse Now in the same decade would cement anyone’s legacy in film, but the man just kept going.
Though some would argue he fell off a bit in the 1980s and 90s, The Outsiders, The Cotton Club (1984). The Godfather: Part III, and The Rainmaker (1997) are enduring pictures that lesser directors would likely put at the top of their resumes. Although Bram Stoker’s Dracula was not entirely embraced by critics, the artistic bravado—including Eiko Ishioka’s stunning work on the film’s costumes—is in every frame, popping with vibrancy, just as it was with One From the Heart (1982).
Beginning with the acclaimed 1984 thriller Blood Simple, the Minnesota born and NYU educated Ethan and Joel Coen have had one of the most fiercely idiosyncratic careers in the last 25 years of American film, jointly writing, producing, directing and even (under the alias Roderick Jaynes) editing their films, even when the credits may have misleadingly suggested a division of labor. Often working in a small handful of chosen genres, the brothers’ body of work nevertheless suggests some crazed mashup of classic film styles like film noir, screwball comedy and period dramas, all shot through with the post-modern irreverence of film lovers who have absorbed far too rich an array of cinematic history to ever properly color inside the genre lines.