Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Dualing Directors

So. I’ve been out of the blogosphere for a while. Its time I just said eff it and just throw something out there.

I’ve been thinking a lot about movies (imagine that). Sadly, I never got a chance to see No Country For Old Men, but alas, I’m going to talk about the Coen Brothers anyway.

I don’t think I like the Directors Guild of America (DGA) very much. Way back in 2005, Robert Rodriguez left the DGA to direct Sin City with Frank Miller. Rightfully so, the movie literally looks like it used the comic as a storyboard. From the wiki entry on the DGA:

The rule that a film can only have one single director, adopted to avoid producers and actors lobbying for a director's credit, is strongly defended by the DGA and is only waived for recognized directorial teams (as determined by the DGA)

Rather than acquiesce to their odd rule, he simply quit, something he did previously in 1996 to direct his part of the movie Four Rooms. In doing so, he was unable to direct a movie from Paramount, as they only hire DGA members. Personally I think the biggest tragedy is that he will never be able to direct another Spy Kids movie (Spy Kids 4-D: Back in Time!)

No, seriously, it would have been brilliant.

I think Rodruguez made the right decision. Acknowledging credit for Miller’s work on the film by sharing the Director credit is the best possible honor he could give Miller. This was not a ‘producer lobbying for a director credit’ as feared by the DGA, it was an excellent marriage of vision. What’s more important, vision, or being in a fancy club? Albeit, a club that makes you tons of money...

Which brings me to the Coen Brothers. From the DGA website’s article “Craft Singularity”:

There were exceptions built into the single-director clause of the 1978 agreement...for a "bona fide team."

Never in the history of the Academy Award for Best Director has there been a “bona fide team” that has earned the distinction like the Coen Brothers did this year. Isn’t that something?

What constitutes such a team? Again from the DGA site, they list the Farrelly Brothers (masters of their slapstick craft. Ugh), the Coen Brothers and the Wachowski Brothers. Does being from the same womb ensure singularity of craft? Is that really the entire basis for this definition of team?

From Slate.com’s “Why Not Quit the Director’s Guild?”:

Rodriguez was unable to get a waiver for Frank Miller, who had never directed a movie before, so he quit the guild.

The Academy at one time had some balls, back in 1969 they awarded Midnight Cowboy with a Best Picture Oscar, the only X rated film to win this award. I doubt that the Oscar would have been given to the Coen Brothers had they not received a waiver for being such a “bona fide team,” but I still find it highly significant. Until this film, the Coen Brothers films have been credited as “Directed by Joel Coen” and “Produced by Ethan Coen.” Did it take them 15 years of making movies and attributing them this way for the DGA to finally get over themselves and award them a waiver? Nothing has changed in their directorial style, they have always worked together in writing, producing, editing, AND directing.

I find it interesting that this has generated almost no interest in the issue. Maybe I read too much into things, but I certainly find it interesting that not a single directorial team has been awarded Best Director since the inception of giving away gold statues until just this year. Never mind the fact that the Academy did it for a sanctioned team, I think this means there could be hope that the Academy isn’t the geriatric gaggle of gabbling bastards that I see them as.

On an interesting side note, I turned this post from a lose collection of notes into a real post whilst on the can. Just thought the 3 people who read this would appreciate that little factoid. Fact: The best thinking of anyone, anywhere, ever, is done on the can.