Firstly read the article by Helena Fitzgerald. It is great and very funny. Interestingly lit bros are also often pseudo-intellectual about films. It makes for a delightful combination. So here are my film-makers I can pass on having been told about them at length by men who don’t seem to have mastered the art of asking a question:
1. Stanley Kubrick
I was first told I had to watch Kubrick films by my Ethan Hawke-channelling boyfriend when I was 16. I understand that the long shots are stunning, I know the sequences are life-changing. I also know I fell asleep watching 2001: A Space Odyssey and we watched Austin Powers instead, it is a much better make-out movie, particularly as it is less important that I watch every scene with the utmost of devotion which distracts somewhat from the making-out.
2. Woody Allen
You know that separating the art from the artist thing? Well, every Christmas I listen to Phil Spector’s a Christmas Gift for You because it is incredible, even though he was pretty horrendous. So this is not about Woody Allen as a person (except if we discuss Manhattan because ick) but this is about the fact that he puts out a film a year and the quality is not all that high. So you can tell me at length about the hidden meaning in Match Point but I still think it is less good than Wimbledon – and I hate Wimbledon.
3. Wes Anderson
I’m a Wes Anderson fan, and I follow the Instagram account Accidentally Wes Anderson but I don’t want to hear about Wes Anderson, or how he gets you. Or how you understand him on a deeper level than me. So just no.
4. Roman Polanski
Okay – some more – his films are turgid and he is a known rapist. Do not tell me I have to watch his films and separate the art from the artist, I do that plenty (see Woody Allen above). He anally raped a child, if I don’t want to watch his films because of that I won’t.
5. Christopher Nolan
Christopher Nolan films are dark – I don’t know what he is doing with the lighting but it seems he really wants to be clear his films are dark so makes all the colours dark and sludgy too. Meh.
6. Paul Thomas Anderson
In a perfect marriage of lit-bro and whatever their filmic equivalent is, Paul Thomas Anderson directed a film based on a Thomas Pynchon novel. Not much happens, it looks really good and is about as close to getting high as I can get since I’ve been on anti-depressants and anti-psychotics. I enjoyed it but enjoyed less being told at length about how people did not get it, how they seem to have an insatiable desire for neat endings and linear story-telling. Apparently, if you don’t get Paul Thomas Anderson films you are morally bankrupt. Or just prefer your films not to be three hours long. One or the other.
7. Ingmar Bergman
It can be instructive to watch the films that went on to change the nature of film-making but as they marked a watershed in filmmaking it can be hard to tell from a modern perspective what happened. I know plenty of people who are flummoxed about what is so novel about Citizen Kane for this very reason and they probably feel the same about Fanny and Alexander. This means that the hot debate about whether it is a work of genius or one last folly is kind of dated and pointless. No one loves a pointless debate more than me (rolls eyes forever) but I don’t want to be forced to take a part in a debate I could not care less about.
8. David Lynch
I have now watched every David Lynch film bar Eraserhead. If I tell a date that, they tell me I have to see Eraserhead. Fun fact: no one has to see any film they don’t want to unless somehow they have entered some kind of film watching contract, or the film in question is a Clear Blue advert on YouTube that you have to watch in full to see the video you actually want.
9. Werner Herzog
I had a Werner Herzog poster on my wall when I lived with my ex-husband. I feel this should suffice.
10. Any film with Ethan Hawke
I don’t know what Ethan Hawke is like as a man, but he plays some absolute arseholes on screen. Ones who would almost certainly tell me I have not lived until I have seen Nic Cage channelling Elvis in Wild At Heart (which I incidentally adore but that is not the point). His characters in the Before series and Boyhood are ones who would tell me I am “not like other girls” as a compliment as they secretly hate all women. If a man tells you he relates to these characters I would strongly suggest you run. Fast.
There are many, many more directors I could have added but they tend to vary over time and fashion; Yorgos Lanthimos, Harmony Korine, Orson Welles, Lars von Trier and Thomas Winterberg all spring to mind, but they tend to be united by being white men who have “something powerful to say about the nature of masculinity”.