Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Art of Talking Trash: Directors vs. Directors

A few days ago, I came across Flavorwire’s list of  “The 30 Harshest Filmmaker-on-Filmmaker Insults In History” and after I composed myself from a spout of bellowing laughter, my first thought was, okay… how many of these are taken out of context?  But to even get to that point, we must first accept that all of these quotes are accurate, a difficult feat considering the exclusion of citations.  So, for our purposes, let’s assume the following directors indeed said what they are quoted as saying here. 

What’s so amusing about this list is that a.) a lot of what these directors say is true, and b.) the slams certain directors dish out are so completely off base that they actually make the slammer look goddamn ridiculous.

My blue thoughts follow the quotes.  The original Flavorwire article is linked at the end of this post.

Francois Truffaut on Michelangelo Antonioni:
“Antonioni is the only important director I have nothing good to say about. He bores me; he’s so solemn and humorless.”

Ingmar Bergman on Michelangelo Antonioni:
“Fellini, Kurosawa, and Bunuel move in the same field as Tarkovsky. Antonioni was on his way, but expired, suffocated by his own tediousness.”

At least Bergman was (sort of) kind about this thoughts on Antonioni. Truffaut... I mean, damn.

Ingmar Berman on Orson Welles:
“For me he’s just a hoax. It’s empty. It’s not interesting. It’s dead. Citizen Kane, which I have a copy of — is all the critics’ darling, always at the top of every poll taken, but I think it’s a total bore. Above all, the performances are worthless. The amount of respect that movie’s got is absolutely unbelievable.”

Harsh.  While I don’t agree with Bergman (who, for the record, is my favorite filmmaker), I must admit that out of all of Welles’ films, I’ve only thorough loved two: Citizen Kane and Touch of Evil. But still, were talking pure gold here.

Ingmar Bergman on Jean-Luc Godard:
“I’ve never gotten anything out of his movies. They have felt constructed, faux intellectual, and completely dead. Cinematographically uninteresting and infinitely boring. Godard is a fucking bore. He’s made his films for the critics. One of the movies, Masculin, Féminin, was shot here in Sweden. It was mind-numbingly boring.”

Orson Welles on Jean-Luc Godard:
“His gifts as a director are enormous. I just can’t take him very seriously as a thinker — and that’s where we seem to differ, because he does. His message is what he cares about these days, and, like most movie messages, it could be written on the head of a pin.”

Werner Herzog on Jean-Luc Godard:
“Someone like Jean-Luc Godard is for me intellectual counterfeit money when compared to a good kung-fu film.”

I got seriously into Godard last year, and post-Week End, I suppose I can see where Bergman, Welles and Herzog are coming from.  1960-1967, however, is untouchable.

Jean-Luc Godard on Quentin Tarantino:
“Tarantino named his production company after one of my films. He’d have done better to give me some money.”

Or maybe you should just say “Thanks”...?  Tarantino’s films did, after all, turn a whole new generation onto Godard’s films.

Harmony Korine on Quentin Tarantino:
“Quentin Tarantino seems to be too concerned with other films. I mean, about appropriating other movies, like in a blender. I think it’s, like, really funny at the time I’m seeing it, but then, I don’t know, there’s a void there. Some of the references are flat, just pop culture.”

I’m curious to hear what people think about this one. Korine’s thoughts are definitely fair, but I still think QT does wonders with his cinematic theft. You?

Nick Broomfield on Quentin Tarantino:
“It’s like watching a schoolboy’s fantasy of violence and sex, which normally Quentin Tarantino would be wanking alone to in his bedroom while this mother is making his baked beans downstairs. Only this time he’s got Harvey Weinstein behind him and it’s on at a million screens.”

Okay so that baked beans line is pretty hilarious.

Spike Lee on Quentin Tarantino (and the “n-word” in his scripts):
“I’m not against the word, and I use it, but not excessively. And some people speak that way. But, Quentin is infatuated with that word. What does he want to be made — an honorary black man?”

Lee’s claims here continue to be hotly debated. Me personally, I hate the word. But I don’t think QT is infatuated with the word, but rather the culture from where the word is freely tossed around. Im not justifying anything, I’m just attempting to examine the warped mind of Quentin Tarantino. 

Spike Lee on Tyler Perry:
“We got a black president, and we going back to Mantan Moreland and Sleep ‘n’ Eat?”

Yeah, I’m with Lee on this.

Tyler Perry on Spike Lee
“Spike can go straight to hell! You can print that… Spike needs to shut the hell up!”

You need to wake up, my friend.

Clint Eastwood on Spike Lee:
“A guy like him should shut his face.”

Totally out of context.  Eastwood only offered this up after Spike Lee publicly bashed the Flags of our Fathers director for not using more black actors in his Iwo Jima epic.

Jacques Rivette on Stanley Kubrick:
“Kubrick is a machine, a mutant, a Martian. He has no human feeling whatsoever. But it’s great when the machine films other machines, as in 2001.”

 Jacques Rivette on James Cameron (and Steven Spielberg):
“Cameron isn’t evil, he’s not an asshole like Spielberg. He wants to be the new De Mille. Unfortunately, he can’t direct his way out of a paper bag. “

I have yet to see one Jacques Rivette film, so I can't comment too much except to say that I... have yet to see one Jacques Rivette film.

Jean-Luc Godard on Steven Spielberg:
“I don’t know him personally. I don’t think his films are very good.”

If you read my Director’s Profile on Spielberg, you know that I don’t feel as though everything Spielberg touches automatically turns to gold.

Tim Burton on Kevin Smith (after Smith jokingly accused Burton of stealing the ending of Planet of the Apes from a Smith comic book):
“Anyone who knows me knows I would never read a comic book. And I would especially never read anything created by Kevin Smith.”

Kevin Smith on Tim Burton (in response to “I would never read a comic book”):
“Which, to me, explains fucking Batman.”

Boys, boys, boys, stop fighting and each of you go make a good film. Its been a tad too long.

Kevin Smith on Paul Thomas Anderson (specifically, Magnolia):
“I’ll never watch it again, but I will keep it. I’ll keep it right on my desk, as a constant reminder that a bloated sense of self-importance is the most unattractive quality in a person or their work.”

By far the most egregious offense on this list.  Two hit wonder Kevin Smith, bashing the most talented director of their generation?  Really? Which mini marathon would you rather have: Jersey Girl, Zack and Miri Make a Porno and Cop Out or Boogie Nights, Magnolia and There Will Be Blood?

David Gordon Green on Kevin Smith:
“He kind of created a Special Olympics for film. They just kind of lowered the standard. I’m sure their parents are proud; it’s just nothing I care to buy a ticket for.”


Vincent Gallo on Spike Jonze:
“He’s the biggest fraud out there. If you bring him to a party he’s the least interesting person at the party, he’s the person who doesn’t know anything. He’s the person who doesn’t say anything funny, interesting, intelligent… He’s a pig piece of shit.”

Vincent Gallo on Martin Scorsese:
“I wouldn’t work for Martin Scorsese for $10 million. He hasn’t made a good film in 25 years. I would never work with an egomaniac has-been.”

Vincent Gallo on Sofia (and Francis Ford) Coppola:
“Sofia Coppola likes any guy who has what she wants. If she wants to be a photographer she’ll fuck a photographer. If she wants to be a filmmaker, she’ll fuck a filmmaker. She’s a parasite just like her fat, pig father was.”

Vincent Gallo on Abel Ferrara:
“Abel Ferrara was on so much crack when I did The Funeral, he was never on set. He was in my room trying to pick-pocket me.”

So can we all agree that Vincent Gallo is just a tab bit insane?  Although his Ferrara comment may or may not explain quite a lot.

Werner Herzog on Abel Ferrara:
“I have no idea who Abel Ferrara is. But let him fight the windmills… I’ve never seen a film by him. I have no idea who he is. Is he Italian? Is he French? Who is he?”

Again, completely out of context.  Herzog, who probably, legitimately had no idea who Abel Ferrara was, only made this comment after Ferrara bashed Herzog’s “reimagining” of Bad Lieutenant, saying he wished the German director woulddie in Hell.” 

David Cronenberg on M. Night Shymalan:
“I HATE that guy! Next question.”

Yes, next, please.

Uwe Boll on Michael Bay:
“I’m not a fucking retard like Michael Bay.”

Well, I mean, you kind of are.


  1. too much funny in one sides they hurt.

    vincent gallo just doesn't think before he speaks does he? and i can't believe michael bay is so badly thought of that uwe boll even thinks his movies suck. thats a priceless quote to end with.

  2. At least Bay has done two worthwhile movies: The Rock is a solid action flick and I will always be indebted to the vulgar joy that Bad Boys brought to my childhood.

  3. I loathe Kevin Smith. That comment about PTA makes me mad. As for Bay, I actually dont mind The Rock, but the rest...kill me now! This is an awesome post!

  4. Thanks man. Clerks was fantastic in what it did for independent film. And I can just as easily forget the rest of Smith's filmography.

    And, seriously, how in the name of Zeus' butthole can someone not like The Rock?

  5. And I dig on parts of Chasing Amy, but that's about it.

    1. This was a graet post and if you get to read this i know its 2012 and kinda afte rthe fact but two of your takes i agree with very much 1) Bergamn was great,but he really doesnt have anything on Kane or Welles and 2) i think actually K.Smith is a good guy but he was totally out of order to criticise PTA hes just a master of our times.

    2. Hey there, thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. Don't worry about being "after the fact". Better late than never!

      Bergman is my favorite director of all time, but yeah, I don't think it's necessarily fair for him to bash Welles and Kane, but oh well.

      Definitely do not agree on Smith bashing PTA. That's just silly.

  6. So fucking funny. This article was actually how I found your blog. I actually like Kevin's Smiths first 3 films and kind of Clerks 2 (why am I defending a director who insulted my favorite film?) The most accurate insult on this list may also be the most ironic. (I even liked The Sitter and love Eastbound and Down but he kind of dumbed down after his older films. I don't understand why so many great directors hate each others films. Vincent Gallo may be one of the funniest men on the planet just because I have no idea whether or not he's serious. See Plus he worked with both Coppola and Scorsese so I kind of question those comments legitimacy.

    1. Gallo is a total nut. So entertaining in interviews, but just straight batty.

      I'm honestly kind of stupefied that so many of these directors spit venom at one another. Some of it (especially the newer stuff) could very easily be taken out of context, but all in all, this is some pretty harsh shit.

      That's so cool that this is the article that led you to my blog! Good stuff, but wow, harshness all around.

  7. Jesus Vincent Gallo! Take it down a notch...

    Hilarious post, I gotta say for a frequent trash talker Herzog is very level in his levying of criticism. Kevin Smith however...

    Fuck Kevin Smith. Fuck his self-satisfied, slob chic, no name, nobody filmmaking devoid of any distinctive vision what so ever, his meandering scripts that are all about the same, dry, unrealized slacker(s) doing the same dry unrealized slacker things save for Cop Out. Criticism is one thing but to trash talk PTA, one of the finest filmmakers of our generation? You made Mallrats, go fuck yourself.

    Also fuck the Chelsea boys, the Korean Grocers, and Naturelle Rivera. :)

    1. Fuck this whole city and everyone in it.


      Yeah, our sentiments about Kevin Smith are pretty much exactly the same. Yuck.

  8. I'm afraid I'm going to have to side with Bergman, Welles, and Herzog on this one. I've been subjected to a few of Godard's films for three classes in a row, and each one has only given me grounds to despise his work even more.

    I will agree that Spielberg's work is very hit and miss. The guy is a talented director and has made some really good movies (Saving Private Ryan, Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Adventures of Tintin) but at the same time while I can't think of any films of his I hated he occasionally makes one that isn't as good (E.T., War of the Worlds).

    1. Oh I'm curious, which Godard films have you seen? Like I said, his post-'67 work is nearly all miss for me.

      But E.T., man, I think that film is a masterpiece. I absolutely love everything about it.

    2. I don't hate E.T., I just felt it had a lot of problems and it wasn't Spielberg's strongest film.

      As for which Godard films I've watched. So far I've had to watch Breathless (probably the most tolerable I've seen of his so far), Alphaville (quite possibly the most pathetic vision of the future ever put on film plus a plot that makes no sense, characters that aren't interesting, and a main protagonist with a stupid name), and finally Tout Va Bien (which translates roughly as "All's Well"... no... when you're watching that film, it is not).

    3. Breathless is very extreme - as Godard as Godard gets. Alphaville isn't for me either, and I haven't seen Tout Va Bien. Vivre sa vie is masterful. And my other favorites are A Woman Is a Woman and Contempt. Maybe you'd like those.

    4. I had to watch Tout Va Bien as an example of the "radical film". Supposedly there's some sort of political message but what that is I have no idea. The plot makes even less sense than Alphaville and it has a whole bunch of scenes that just keep going and going far longer than they need to.

    5. The overly extended scene is definitely Godard's thing. Although it doesn't nearly work for him as much as I think he wishes it did.

    6. Trust me, you do not know the meaning of an overly extended scene until you have sat through the grocery store sequence in Tout Va Bien. This was a scene that went on for so long I was practically begging the film to cut to something else, I didn't care what just as long as the scene ended.

  9. Jesus! Kevin Smith... I mean this hurts. And really hard. How? With PTA I'm like this: if you hate his film I have nothing against. He makes films in a way that I (putting emphasis on I) but others would hate. And that can apply to Kevin Smith too. I kind of go back and forth with Tusk if it's actually bad or if it's a great film. I think it's kind of on the same note with Antichrist where it was disturbing on purpose. It had a reaction from me and maybe that's what Kevin Smith wanted.

    1. Yeah those are some damn harsh words about Magnolia. Especially considering who they're coming from.

  10. First off, it's really amusing to see all these directors I admire actually don't care much for their peers' work, but that's fine.

    - That's ok, Bergman - you can hate on the majority of my favorite directors (Welles, Godard, Antonioni), you're still my number one. But it hurts (especially since Welles is perhaps my number two).

    - Herzog's quote about Godard is undoubtably a Herzog thing to say.

    - I think it gives Tarantino more credit than due to say he turned a new generation onto Godard's pictures. Godard and the French New Wave was never going anywhere any time soon and the more casual admirers of Tarantino's films were never going to be interested in Godard's stuff.

    - However, I'm very much not a fan of Korine's work and I think his observations about Tarantino being solely flat pop culture references is full of shit. Tarantino's sure got pocketfuls of them, but he carries more than that and it's why he's still kicking - even if none of his films have been as good as Pulp Fiction.

    - Earlier in time, I would have disagreed with Spike on Tarantino (Spike has no problem with his idols Scorsese and Coppola also incorporating blatant racism in their characters), but the more interviews I watch of QT the more I am certain that Spike was prophetic with pointing out how Tarantino wants to be an honorary black man.

    - Rivette's films are fantastic (like Out 1 and Celine and Julie Go Boating), but I don't agree with a word he says about Cameron or Kubrick (Spielberg may very well be an asshole - I wouldn't know... but he's a damn fine filmmaker). Kubrick, especially, I do not understand why there is constantly a complaint that his films are too cold or emotionless. I actually find a lot of human expression in pictures like Barry Lyndon or The Killing or even 2001: A Space Odyssey. C'mon!

    - I'd say Smith didn't throw the first punch with Tim Burton and deserved to give that sweet retort he walked into. That said, Burton is also one of my favorite filmmakers (of course, anything he made since 1999 is kinda not good, but during the 90s... brilliance!). Smith is... meh.

    - As for the PTA one, it seems I'm going to be tarred and feathered for this, but I agree with Smith on Magnolia as well. I find it extremely self-indulgent, bloated, and kind of disappointing as a film. I think there are good things about it (John C. Reilly storyline, Tom Cruise, the Gator storyline) but I think the bad is equal to the good (Aimee Mann soundtrack - WTF with the middle of the film's singalong, William H. Macy's storyline kind of makes me certain PTA had never talked to a gay person in his life, the ending). I haven't really been impressed with PTA until his last three pictures - There Will Be Blood, The Master, and Inherent Vice. Everything before 2007 is just... a mess (except for Hard-Eight, which I also liked).

    That said he's still a better director than Kevin Smith by 100 miles. And if I were to pick one of those triple features, I'd go with watching There Will Be Blood and then eschewing Magnolia and Boogie Nights to watch Short Cuts and Nashville instead (since y'know Altman was what PTA aimed for).

    - There are many backyard wrestlings fantasies I concoct in my head. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad vs. Benjamin Netanyahu. Alan Moore vs. Frank Miller. And I think one of the more interesting ones I've made up is Vincent Gallo vs. Abel Ferrera.

    - I'll give Uwe Boll this - he hasn't made a single damn good picture and two of them would be certainly on my list of the worst movies I've ever seen. But not as high on that list as Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. That was just... what the hell, Bay? You use to be somewhat understandable, but that... what?

    1. Love that Bergman is your number 1 as well! But yeah, that hurts. And I love that Herzog quote. Would LOVE to see Vincent Gallo vs. Abel Ferrera. I think Ferrera would destroy him.

  11. What about a post about your favorite directors influence? I find this post entertaining, but it would be a lot more interesting to see what do you think about your favorite directors influences and favorite films.

    1. That would be a fun post. Sounds hard to nail down though.

  12. i noticed bergman thrashed a lot of directors and yet nobody says bad about bergman. a true master (wild strawberries is such a great film)

    1. Yep, no doubt. I mean, I don't necessarily agree with everything he said about other directors, but there's no touching Bergman.

  13. Have you seen a Jacques Rivette film yet, btw? I mean I'm not the biggest fan of Spielberg or Kubrick but reading these after sitting through three of his utterly unbearable pieces of shit made me ANGRY. What a tosser.

    Bergman said something really apt about Antonioni's aestheticism and how he would paint a whole street to get the right shot, but had no idea about the linked progression of images.

    1. Haha nope, still haven't seen a Rivette film. Not missing much, huh?