They Made That?? Directors' Strangest Movie Choices
We tend to associate certain directors with specific styles or genres, but sometimes they'll surprise us with something completely different: case in point, Spike Lee's remake of the South Korean revenge flick Oldboy. This can end up being either a triumphant declaration of unexpected talent -- or a total mess. Either way, unlikely director-film pairings like these add a fun bonus level of anticipation.
By Evan Saathoff
Spike Lee: Oldboy
Spike Lee dipped his toes into the world of crowd-pleasing mainstream entertainment with Inside Man, but no one expected him to be the guy to remake Park Chan-wook's seminal revenge film Oldboy. It's not at all in line with Lee's usual fare, while also feeling like an iffy mainstream product. And yet, we're hearing good things. The strange combination could be exactly what's needed to create something interesting.
Wes Craven: Music of the Heart
While it's unfair to pigeonhole legendary masters of the horror genre, it might be a bit much for one of them to leap from their sandbox with the heartwarming story of a music teacher's struggle to teach violin to urban teenagers. Wes Craven tried it anyway. And no one saw the results.
Kenneth Branagh: Thor
In a way, it makes sense to combine the regal god Thor and a guy known primarily for his Shakespeare adaptations. On the other hand, putting Kenneth Branagh in charge of a major comic book movie was an act of gracious faith. In the end, everything mostly worked out. Thor looks small and relies too heavily on dutch angles, but the performances easily charm enough to overcome minor quibbles.
Ang Lee: Hulk
We may break from the critics here, but this is all about weird choices, no? It turns out that highly respected directors known for dramas focused on emotional repression are exactly who you should put in charge of your Hulk movie. Ang Lee's Hulk didn't make much money and remains devisive to this day, but the film wears its pulpy origins proudly while taking big swings for the pop-psychology fences in a way few anticipated.
Robert Altman: Popeye
Robert Altman directed some of the greatest films of the '70s, like Nashville, M*A*S*H, and The Long Goodbye. Some of his films at this time were funny, but that doesn't explain why he would make a live-action musical about a cartoon character who gets super strong after eating spinach. In this case, the weird match paid off. Popeye is a great, weird film, and new fans discover it every day.
David Lynch: Dune
Dune was only David Lynch's third movie. Its abnormality among his larger filmography wouldn't be clear until he really started doing his own thing, which happened immediately after Dune and has yet to cease, almost as if he found the experience of making a huge science fiction epic distasteful.
Walter HIll: Brewster's Millions
So Richard Pryor and John Candy are to star in a Brewster's Millions remake, a wacky comedy in which Pryor's character must spend $30 million in 30 days lest he forgo a huge $300 million inheritance. Who should direct but the guy who made such macho action masterpieces as Hard Times, The Warriors, and 48 Hrs? It didn't make much sense then, and it still doesn't.
David Gordon Green: Pineapple Express
After the nuanced drama of George Washington, All the Real Girls, and the Night of the Hunter riff, Undertow, it was a surprise to find Green's name attached to Seth Rogen and James Franco's pot comedy/action thriller, Pineapple Express. Of course, his string of similar comedies to follow helped smooth out this new addition to his repertoire. Plus, Pineapple Express is awesome.
Christopher Nolan: Batman Begins
These days, Christopher Nolan's three-film foray into the world of Gotham City is probably all people know about him. But back in 2005, it seemed surprising that the director of Memento would get into the comic book movie game. And even though Nolan's Bat-trilogy has been wildly successful, the director's discomfort with silly material is obvious.
Sam Raimi: A Simple Plan
It's not that anyone doubted Sam Raimi, director of such joyfully silly films as Evil Dead 2 and Darkman, could make a straight and effective drama, in fact directing Billy Bob Thornton to a Supporting Actor Oscar nomination. It's more surprising that he'd even want to in the first place.