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Archive for February 5th, 2011

By Bob Clark

I have a personal theory when it comes to cinema, that a director’s most important effort over the course of their early career usually tends to be their third. Great debuts are important, no doubt, but by no means definitive. Sophomore slumps are excusable, and in some cases maybe even to be expected. But if a director can clear past both those humps and climb the learning curve of filmmaking to successfully deliver a knockout on their third time, then the charm is most certainly with them. Many of my own personal favorite films tend to be a director’s third (Star Wars, Blade Runner, Jaws, Heaven’s Gate), and even in the cases of directors who don’t necessarily deliver something absolutely perfect, the results tend to be somewhat telling. David Lynch’s Dune is by no means definitive of his talents, but it put him together with Kyle MacLachlan for the first time, paving the way for future greatness with Blue Velvet and Twin Peaks, and gave the director a chance to flex his creative muscles at a bizarrely blockbuster scale. Very often a third film can be something of a headscratcher, that moment a director attempts to push themselves out of their creative comfort zone if for no other reason than to discover what their true limits are, and there’s probably no better example of a filmmaker lost in an alien artistic landscape so completely divorced from their element than Michael Mann and his 1983 disaster The Keep.

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