Greatest Directors

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  1. Orson Welles
  2. Andrei Tarkovsky
  3. Ingmar Bergman
  4. Alfred Hitchcock
  5. Fritz Lang
  6. David Lynch
  7. Theo Angelopoulos
  8. Akira Kurosawa
  9. Luis Bunuel
  10. Stanley Kubrick
  11. Sam Peckinpah
  12. Federico Fellini
  13. Charlie Chaplin
  14. Martin Scorsese
  15. Lars Von Trier
  16. Francis Ford Coppola
  17. Roman Polanski
  18. Robert Aldrich
  19. Terry Gilliam
  20. Sergei Eisenstein
  21. F.W. Murnau
  22. Carl Theodore Dreyer
  23. Peter Greenaway
  24. Billy Wilder
  25. Howard Hawks

Stan Brakhage?

I haven't watched him much so I don't know. What I've seen (portions of Dog Star Man) was so-so.

Oh, well, that's your opinion if it didn't blow your mind like it blew mine.

Haha, have you seen Mothlight (I think that's the name)? It's absolutely crazy.

No, what I've seen is portions of Dog Star Man

Mothlight is very good, greatly experimental. it's very short

Yup. I love it.

John Cassavetes needs to be here somewhere.

That's a possibility. I don't know if I'd place him above any of these but he's in the discussion. He's an especially great director of actors. Personally, I don't generally find his direction of cinematography or editing especially powerful (outside of the hyper-realism of the scenes, which can be invigorating; he is among the best at capturing the spontaneity of life/relationships/emotional breakdowns). I generally prefer directors that put a bit more artistry and depth of theme/emotion into their shots/sequences, meaning in the visuals and/or the editing/shot-to-shot composition, that adds and illuminates upon the expressions from the actors, or expounds the themes of the film, etc.

He's so brilliant at what he does that he doesn't need any more tricks. Point out a single aspect of A Woman Under the Influence that could be made better.

I'm not talking about mere "tricks", I'm talking about actual in-depth illumination of concept and emotion. I'm talking about how art, any art, gains depth (you won't find a single masterpiece of emotional/conceptual depth where this isn't the case).

I love Woman Under the Influence and it doesn't need to be changed. It's a masterpiece compared to most films, but if we're talking about what would make it an 8, 8.5 or 9 on my scale: it could be much more efficiently edited and could be more emotional if more extraordinary themes/concepts were added and dealt with in amazing ways (see Zulawski's Possession, not that it would necessarily need to deal with the supernatural, but just an example of taking marital strife to a whole new level ... Or Von Trier's Breaking the Waves ... Bergman's Cries and Whispers). Though the performances are amazing in Woman Under the Influence, there's little relayed beyond them. It could be a more thoroughly immersive cinematic experience if, say, its cinematography illuminated upon the characters' states of mind or if the director employed an editing style that threw the viewer down the same rabbit hole Rowlands character was in (see Bergman's Persona for all of the above).

If you want to see another great film that utilizes a similar style as Cassavetes did, check out Bela Tarr's Prefab People. Even less glamorous, it's probably on the same level, maybe even better.

I doubt A Woman Under The Influence could have been a more emotional experience if Cassavetes' aesthetics were to be more stylized. The power of the performances is actually enhanced by the reality and banality of the background, not lessened by it. Cassavetes' manages to find great dramatic tension and pathos among the triviality of everyday life without resorting to classical formal constructions, forcing the sober camera to follow his wild, erratic characters. Any more interfering artifice would kill the unique experience the film delivers.

I both agree and disagree with you. I agree in the sense that the director would basically have to make a completely different film and that Woman Under the Influence is completely fine the way it is. Its among the most extraordinary examples of acting display of emotional breakdown in film, and I rate it as such. I also think his style inherently has emotional/conceptual limitations that prevents him from reaching the highest levels of filmic expression such as those on the upper portions of my list (Persona for instance, which is a much more profound, overwhelming experience).