He the most unlikely of potential auteurs, especially when you consider that (a) he only has a trio of feature films in his oeuvre, and (b) so far, his fame is a work in progress. Still, if Terrence Malick can be considered the second coming of Kubrick for only making five films in the last 37 years (yes, you read that time frame correctly), Mark Romanek can be considered the same with only three in the last 25. Heck, even the ever elusive David Lynch has done 10 in the same approximate time frame, which begs a specific question. Is it better to be prolific and pedestrian, or selective and sanctified? Naturally, many would argue that it depends on the director. Martin Scorsese has made over 30 films in his illustrious career and few would call him ‘ordinary’. On the other hand, someone like Terry Gilliam has been given only 11 chances since starting at around the same time as Lynch, and he’s still respected…even revered.
It’s an odd argument, almost situational in its potential responses. Hollywood is overrun with journeymen, joke names like Shawn Levy, Dennis Dugan, Brett Ratner, Brian Levant, and Paul WS Anderson tapping into enough commercial zeitgeist to warrant return after return to the director’s chair. For them, it’s not a question of art, or even artifice. It’s a paycheck, a pre-assigned release date, and a table at a fancy upscale restaurant. They don’t suffer for their muse; they make the audience do that. So maybe there is something to not seeing a David Lynch film every 18 months, or hearing that, once again, Paul Thomas Anderson is making another of his Robert Altman inspired cinematic canvases. Sure, sure, it’s quality over quantity. But in the case of the limited oeuvre, it’s more than that… seemingly much more.