This is a dump bin of sorts but I can’t start creating categories for countries with just one director. I’ll do write-ups on Polanski and Wajda in the not too distant future. Don’t hold your breath on Herzog and Wenders, though. My threshold of pain is pretty low, these days.
Thriving on a riff!
Notes on the European directors who didn’t make the Masters/Majors cut and whatnot.
Roman Polanski has certainly made enough terrific films to be considered a top echelon filmmaker but he’s made more than his share of turkeys, too. His transient, outlaw lifestyle has made it difficult to lay down roots and no doubt contributed to taking on lesser projects just to keep his head above ground. I’ve always thought he was more at home making artsy-horror flicks like Knife in the Water, Repulsion or The Tenant than tasteful, stylish fare like Chinatown or The Pianist.
I haven’t seen anywhere near enough Wajda films to make blanket statements but I will venture to guess he peaked early with Kanal and Ashes and Diamonds. He was at heart a romantic filmmaker who got swept away by the politics of a generation.
I’m not a huge fan of Werner Herzog but I can’t bring myself to dismiss him, either. His contemplative style suited documentary filmmaking and his early works in the field (La Soufriere, Heart of Glass, The Great Ecstasy of Sculptor Steiner, etc.) are droll and compelling in a Germanic sort of way.