Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Misdirection: When Hollywood Directors Take Credit For Movies They Didn’t Direct

Hollywood is a self-congratulatory industry. It devotes millions in time and money to constantly patting itself on the back. But it's even more unbelievable to be self-congratulatory about a project you had virtually nothing to do with. Increasingly, famous Hollywood directors are "presenting" movies. They neither directed nor produced these movies, but for the sake of clout, marketing, and getting more people in the theatre, 'presenters' seem to be needed. Too bad if the real director did all the work and now their name is eclipsed by Spielberg, Scorsese or Tarantino. Here is a list of the biggest names in Hollywood's “misdirection.”

1. Steven Spielberg

You'd think the (arguably) most successful director of all time would have his plate full. Apparently not. The films Spielberg has leant his name to are impressive: An American Tail, Tiny Toon Adventures, or Animaniacs to begin. While Spielberg acts more as an executive producer, rather than the common presenter, it must suck to direct the classic The Goonies or The Gremlins, and no one remembers your name. Richard Donner and Joe Dante anyone?

2. Quentin Tarantino

Tarantino is talented, famous and revered by audiences. He's one of the few directors (often) more famous than the actors in his films. Yet, he is not shy to "present" films he had absolutely nothing to do with. Usually Tarantino attaches his name to Asian action films he loves. Tarantino "presented" Hero directed by Zhang Yimou and The Protector directed by Prachya Pinkaew. The best job he did of presenting was Iron Monkey, a film from Hong Kong director Yuen Woo-Ping. This movie was released in 1993. Tarantino presented this film in its US release in 2001. Nothing like an 8-year-gap to really hone your presenting skills. Tarantino spread his love to some Americans, as well. He was the executive producer, for example, on Eli Roth's Hostel.

3. Francis Ford Coppola

Creating The Godfather franchise and Apocalypse Now wasn't enough for Coppola - he had to start presenting movies himself. Even though 1987's Barfly was directed by Barbet Schroeder, written by Charles Bukowski and starred Mickey Rourke and Faye Dunaway, it apparently needed Coppola's presenting skills to really get some name recognition. Although Coppola's executive producer credit didn't do much to help Chatrichalerm Yukol's The Legend of Suriyothai, an epic Thai historical drama. Not that anyone saw it. Then again, Coppola's last film as director was Youth Without Youth. Nope, no one saw that one either.

4. Martin Scorsese

Scorsese's name is synonymous with gritty, crime films so when he presented 2008's Italian modern mob drama Gomorrah at least that made some sense. But who thinks Shakespeare when they hear the name Scorsese? Love's Labour's Lost directed by renowed Shakespearean actor/director Kenneth Branaugh and produced by Miramax was presented to US audiences by Martin Scorsese? Maybe any attempt at Shakespeare starring Alicia Silverstone should take any help it can get.

5. Michael Bay

While Bay's summer has been consumed with the massive success of Transformers 2 not to mention the idiotic ramblings of its hottie lead Megan Fox, Michael Bay had time to lend his name to Horsemen, a Seven-ish ripoff starring Dennis Quaid. Horsemen is directed by Jonus Akerlund and also stars Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon star Ziyi Zhang. Maybe if Akerlund is lucky, Zhang will be as nutty as Fox and get his name out there since he actually did all the work for the film. Bay must want to do to horror/thriller films what he did to action films, which was make them big and sucky, because he recently produced The Unborn, starring Meagan Goode who bears an uncanny resemblance to Megan Fox. The Unborn was written and directed by David S. Goyer, but who cares. Michael Bay needs his name on everything in 2009.

6. Ron Howard

It's easy to understand every man's secret desire to be an astronaut, especially if you made Apollo 13 and got to use all of NASA's official stuff. Apparently the 16 executive producers of In The Shadow of the Moon were not enough, neither was the participation of real astronauts, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. They needed Ron Howard to "present" this film.

7. Spike Jonze

Ever since Spike Jonze brought audiences the very original, quirky Being John Malkovich his name brings a certain coolness to projects. However, it's questionable that his name helped Tarsem Singh's visually stunning The Fall, although the poster looked really cool.

8. Robert Zemeckis

Zemeckis, best known for directing all the Back to the Future films, not to mention the little indie film Forrest Gump, also presented the world to a little known New Zealand director, Peter Jackson. Zemeckis must feel pretty good about himself, or maybe he just taught Jackson a lesson about filming trilogies all at one time. Zemeckis first 'presented' Jackson's film The Frighteners starring Michael J. Fox. See, it's all coming full circle now.

9. Spike Lee

When Spike Lee isn't picking fights with Clint Eastwood or watching the NY Knicks, he's usually directing or producing films. But even Lee is not afraid to get in the presenter game. He leant his name to Kevin Willmott's C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America a British 'documentary' that takes a satirical and scary view if the South had won the Civil War. There isn’t an embeddable version of it, but you can view the trailer to CSA here.

10. Joe Roth

While Joe Roth's early successes came producing movies such as Young Guns, Bachelor Party, and Major League, somehow the studio releasing The Exorcist III, totally NOT in the same genre mind you, needed Joe Roth as presenter. He was also an executive producer on The Exorcist III, which seems normal, but presenter? Who even knows Joe Roth? Well, he did direct Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise.

11. Jonathan Demme

Jonathan Demme, who won an Academy Award for directing The Silence of the Lambs and most recently directed Rachel Getting Married, for some reason needed to present 1997's Ulee's Gold directed by Victor Nunez. It didn't seem to matter that the lead actor, Peter Fonda, was one of the most highly regarded actors of his generation or that the film featured a young but still sexy Jessica Biel. No, the studio called for the virtually nameless Jonathan Demme to step up to bat, and step up the bat he did.

Original here

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