I’ve been interested in cinema ever since I was very young. I can remember times past where I would sit in my bedroom with a portable DVD player watching every film I could get my hands on. I also utilized the video players we always had just lying around the house. Now, at age 22 I own over 1000 DVDs and VHS’. The group of filmmakers that follow are the ones whose films I love the most and whose work ethic most influences me when it comes to my own work. Filmmakers who did not make the top ten cut include: Ken Loach, John Cassavetes, Jim Jarmusch, Lars Von Trier, Charlie Chaplin, Paul Thomas Anderson, Takeshi Kitano, Alfred Hitchcock, Martin Scorsese, Jean-Pierre Melville, Gaspar Noe and Alain Resnais.
Stanley Kubrick (US)
Known for his versatility and perfectionism, my favourite Kubrick film is undeniably The Shining – a horror film with more depth than any other in the entire genre since (and most from before too). To deny his influence on the vast majority of filmmakers today is like denying the colour of grass.
The Shining (1980), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Dave’s intergalactic journey in 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
The perfectly-acted finale in Paths of Glory (1957)
Ingmar Bergman (Sweden)
Easily the best writer in cinematic history, and fortunately he tried his hand at other art forms too – most notably theatre. The Seventh Seal is my favourite of his films, but having made a vast number of films it is very hard to pinpoint a true favourite of his having seen and rated 10/10 more than 10 of Bergman’s films. Bergman touched on everything from family to religion and even magic in his films and never shied away from incorporating elements of himself into his screenplays.
The Seventh Seal (1957), Wild Strawberries (1957)
Ingrid Bergman and Liv Ullmann heart to heart in Autumn Sonata (1978)
The dance of death in The Seventh Seal (1957)
David Lynch (US)
That one mindfuck guy. Inland Empire, Mulholland Drive, Eraserhead… all of these films challenge our ways of thinking and attack all five of our senses – but the best part is that Lynch knows it. Since Inland Empire in 2006, Lynch has ventured off from cinema choosing to focus more on his artwork and musicianship – for cinema fans this is a travesty but for those who appreciate the man for more than his films, it is just another oddity in the life of David Lynch.
Inland Empire (2005)
His nutty appearances in his TV show Twin Peaks (1990-1991)
Henry’s final nightmare in Eraserhead (1977)
Harmony Korine (US)
America’s last truly great independent. Trash Humpers, made in 2009 and on VHS, was Korine’s last ditch effort to push the boundary of cinema and to take the piss out of everything mainstream and HD… funny though how he would then go on to make Spring Breakers a mainstream and HD movie four years later. Korine has always been a hypocrite and went against everything anyone ever thought of him and that is precisely why he is a genius.
Trash Humpers (2009)
Cackling from behind the camera in Trash Humpers (2009)
The perfect dysfunctional family in julien donkey-boy (1999)
Kim Ki-Duk (South Korea)
Without stereotyping, knowledge of the countries films will tell you that South Korean filmmakers will either make incredibly violent films or incredibly thought-provoking and dramatic films. KIM is clearly on the latter side of the lot, though sometimes his films bridge the gap between them. His most elegant work, Spring, Summer…., is an imagery full film that is as beautiful as it is challenging to the senses.
Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter… and Spring (2003)
Gut-wrenching self-reflection in Arirang (2011)
Alan Clarke (UK)
The greatest filmmaker Britain has ever seen. Providing us with such classics as To Encourage the Others, Scum, Elephant and Road – Clarke was never afraid to push the boundaries of television or film and with every new production he did precisely that. In fact, his original version of Scum was banned by the BBC and eventually led to the destruction of the institution that it portrayed.
Scum (1979), Elephant (1989)
“I’m the Daddy now!” in Scum (1979)
The brilliant use of Otis Redding in Road (1987)
Werner Herzog (Germany)
The one true God of documentary filmmaking. His fiction and documentaries alike both feature incredible cinematography and imagery rarely found in many. Both of them usually feature some of the most eccentric characters to have ever lived – most notably Gene Scott, God’s Angry Man (aside from every Klaus Kinski movie ever). My favourite film of his, The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser, is his most profound character study.
The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser (1974), Stroszek (1977)
Clashing with Klaus Kinski on the set of Fitzcarraldo (1982) documented in Burden of Dreams (1982)
Eating a shoe in Les Clark’s documentary (1982)
Andrei Tarkovsky (Soviet Union/Russia)
A man who really knew how to handle the camera. My favourite film of his, Stalker, was sadly the one that would contribute to his and many others’ demise. His eye for a beautiful shot was truly like no other aside from maybe Béla Tarr.
Stalker (1979), Ivan’s Childhood (1962)
Best moment: The telekinesis at the end of Stalker (1979)
Takashi Miike (Japan)
An all out psychopath. Having begun with straight Yakuza films, in the late ’90s/early ’00s he made some of the most excruciatingly exciting yet painful to watch horror films that feature some fantastic gore (most notably Ichi The Killer, my favourite of his). Since then he’s become a commercial filmmaker and I’ve not seen any of those efforts but I’m told he’s improved lots.
Best film: Ichi the Killer (2001)
Best moment: Breast-milk floods the kitchen in Visitor Q (2001)
Béla Tarr (Hungary)
The Hungarian master of the long-shot which inspired everyone from Von Trier to Van Sant. His almost-8-hour masterpiece Satan’s Tango is an incredible feat to sit through in one sitting (I’ve only managed one viewing of it in three separate sittings) but is an incredibly profound and rewarding one. Retiring after The Turin Horse was a crying shame and cinema has likely ended with his career.
Best film: Satan’s Tango (1994)
Best moment: János comes face to face with the whale in Werckmeister Harmonies (2001)