Tuesday, August 4, 2009

What were they thinking?

Josh Horowitz's The Mind of the Modern Moviemaker, which I recently checked out of the library, is a great read for film buffs, and one of the more accessible books I've found on the art and technique of filmmaking.

The author keeps things interesting by including Q&As with unapologetically commercial directors (like McG of Charlie's Angels fame) as well as the expected indie filmmakers (Monster's Patty Jenkins is a standout) and the occasional director who followed up a small first feature with a big-budget sophomore effort. (Best example: Karyn Kusama, who debuted with Girlfight and then made the critically panned Aeon Flux. She's coming back strong, hopefully, with this year's Diablo Cody-written horror-comedy flick, Jennifer's Body.)

Horowitz makes each filmmaker go through a final questionnaire; some answer it straightforwardly, while others mock it. (Sample question: "Who's your favorite living actor or actress?") The book's main strength is that it spotlights many different paths to cinematic success; it also reveals certain directors, like Donnie Darko's Richard Kelly, to be jerks -- talented jerks, yes, but jerks all the same. (Incidentally, Kelly's upcoming thriller The Box might redeem him after the wildly unsuccessful Southland Tales.)

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