Top 10 Director/Actor Duos

20 03 2010

Since Alice in Wonderland and Shutter Island were both released recently, it seemed like an appropriate time to put this list together.  Let me know what I missed in the comments section!

1) Werner Herzog & Kluas Kinski

Fitzcarraldo and Aguirre: The Wrath of God are two of my personal all-time favorites, and their Nosferatu remake is one of my favorite horror films.  Their two other projects, Woyzeck and Cobra Verde, are also great.  Their collaborations are all the more interesting considering how animosity-filled they were.  The two claimed to completely hate one another yet were also “best friends.”  Herzog actually pointed a loaded gun at Kinski once, and even considered taking a local tribe up on their offer to murder the crazy actor.  Kinski would often go on screaming rampages on set and even fired a gun in the direction of Herzog’s tent  in the middle of the night,  shooting the finger off an extra (See Herzog’s documentary My Best Friend for more details).  But despite how incompatible they may seem, the pair managed to create 5 amazing and innovative films that makes them, in my mind, the greatest director/actor duo.

2) Martin Scorsese & Robert DeNiro

Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, New York New York, Raging Bull, The King of Comedy, Goodfellas, Cape Fear, and Casino.  That list of films pretty much speaks for itself, as most of them are classics.  Taxi Driver will probably go down as the greatest film portrait of insanity, while Raging Bull will probably be remembered as one of the greatest “sports” films ever. 

3) Akira Kurosawa & Toshiro Mifune

– These two collaborated on a whopping 16 films together over a 17 year stretch.  Their most notable films are all masterpieces: Rashomon, Seven Samurai, Yojimbo, and the Shakespeare adaptation Throne of Blood

4) Alfred Hitchcock & Jimmy Stewart

– Hitchcock went back and forth between Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart.  Grant starred in a few greats like North By Northwest and Notorious, but Stewart starred in Rear Window, Rope (the original Russian Ark), and an all-time favorite: Vertigo.

5) Martin Scorsese & Leonardo DiCaprio

– They’re 4 for 4 so far.  Gangs of New York, The Aviator, and The Departed have all ended up on many best of the decade lists, and 2010’s Shutter Island was pretty damn good too.

6) Woody Allen & Diane Keaton

– Woody Allen’s had a few lasting relationships with great actresses, but his collaborations with Diane Keaton were by far the best.  They worked together on Play it Again Sam, Sleeper, Love and Death, Interiors, Radio Days, Manhattan Murder Mystery, and arguably Woody’s two best films: Annie Hall and Manhattan.

7) Wong Kar-Wai & Tony Leung

2046, In the Mood for Love, and Chungking Express are all incredible films.  The two also made Ashes of Time together, which was recently re-released.

8 ) Frederico Fellini & Giuletta Masina

– Fellini and his wife Giuletta Masina made some of the most charming and whimsical films together, such as La Strada, Nights of Cabiria, and Juliet of the Spirits.

9) George Roy Hill & Paul Newman

– Their 3 collaborations together are all classics: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Sting, and of course, Slap Shot. 

10) Tim Burton & Johnny Depp

– Though much of their recent work has been tiresome and actually pretty annoying, there’s no way to ignore their wonderful early collaborations such as Ed Wood, Edward Scissorhands, and Sleepy Hollow.





The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans

9 12 2009

“I only do prescription drugs… except for the heroin.”

I have a love/hate relationship with Nicolas Cage.  Obviously he’s been in more than his fair share of terrible films over the last 15 years or so, but then again he’s also given great performances in films like David Lynch’s Wild at Heart, the Coens’ Raising Arizona, Jonze’s Adaptation, and of course he won the Oscar for Leaving Las Vegas in ’95.  I also have a soft spot for Cage’s Holy Trifecta of 90’s action:  The Rock, Con Air, and Face/Off.  Director Werner Herzog, on the other hand, has been consistently amazing over a long career, with Aguirre: The Wrath of God (’72) and Fitzcarraldo (’82) being two of my all time faves.

Bad Lieutenant, which really isn’t a remake of the ’92 film of the same name at all, is a perfect marriage of the accessibility of Cage’s films and the general weirdness of Herzog’s.  It’s easily Herzog’s most narrative and linear film in a long time (Rescue Dawn might be one exception), but it’s also got plenty of “WTF” moments spread throughout.  As worried as I was about one of my favorite directors working with Nicolas Cage on what was thought to be a remake, this one turned out to be gold.  It’s just a hilariously over-the-top good time.  A must-see if you’re into black humor.

RATING:  8.5/10