Sunday, December 8, 2013

Behind the Camera

To be honest with you guys, I'm no expert in picking up on the "behind the scenes" differences from one movie to the next. I don't know how to properly judge how well a movie was directed, how well edited a movie was, or whether the script was lacking in certain qualities. Sure, over time, I have picked up on many tendencies, but I am not "trained" to be able to pick a film apart in that way. I just tell you guys what I liked and didn't like about each film that I see, and that's why I consider myself average. Nothing I write is intended to be over your head, because I consider myself to be at your level. With all that being said, there are still a few film/TV-makers that I tend to enjoy, for one reason or another. Is it because of the tonal, stylistic, other-big-word nature of their work? Or maybe they tap the camera and add a little darkness?... Heck if I know! For all I know, they lucked up and tricked me into liking their work! Regardless, I like the stuff that they make, and, really, that's all that I care about.

That was a very long introduction, but it was intended to help you understand that this list may come off as a bit shallow... because it kind of is! I have listed for you a few folks that make movies and television that I absolutely love. They may direct or write or produce, but all I know is that I see there name, and I immediately want to watch. I just like them, and it really is that simple! In my eyes, these are the guys who can do no wrong behind the camera...


The Coen Brothers
As I look back on my life and ask myself "Tanner, what movie have you quoted more than any other?" I would definitely say that award would be handed to O Brother Where Art Thou. Maybe I can blame that on my being from Mississippi. I mean, I think every person in the state has seen the film. Maybe I can blame it on the fact that it is my favorite comedy of all time. I mean, who wouldn't quote their favorite comedy of all time. Regardless, I quote it, and it has basically become a consistent part of my vocabulary. Add to that their other great, country, old timey films, like True Grit and No Country for Old Men, and you have yourself quite the repertoire. And, Inside Llewyn Davis is sure to add itself to that list this month (or at least hopefully it will). I don't know why, but the Coen brothers have me hooked...


J. J. Abrams
On May 21, 2010, I, Tanner Jones, graduated high school, and I was quite proud of myself, completing 13 years worth of hard work and whatnot. However, regardless of what happened on that Friday night, all I cared about was what would come just two days later... the series finale of LOST. If you know me well or if you've ever read my blog, you probably know that I love LOST! Looking back, I probably should have soaked in graduation a bit more, but oh well! Now, after having watched the series through three whole times, I am absolutely confident that LOST is my absolute favorite TV drama of all time, and a good portion of LOST's greatness can be attributed to the great J.J. Abrams. As the co-creator and showrunner (for about four episodes), maybe Abrams wasn't as influential to LOST as Carlton Cuse or Damon Lindelof, but, without him, the show never makes it to TV. As if creating my favorite TV show wasn't enough, J.J. has gone on to bring us two fantastic Star Trek films and the underappreciated Super 8 to the big screen. Throw in all of his other successful TV shows, and there is no denying that he has one of the greatest sci-fi/fantasy minds ever. As a big Star Wars fan, I really can't wait to see where J.J. takes the franchise, and I really hope he keeps up his traditional, extreme secrecy as we get closer and closer to 2015.


Aaron Sorkin
While LOST will probably always be my favorite TV drama, my first ever TV drama love is none other than... The West Wing. Now, to be honest, I don't really understand how I had a clue what was going on with the show. I was 9 years old when the show started! 9 years old! There's no way that I could have completely understood the politics surrounding The White House, but, nevertheless, I watched the show every Wednesday night with my parents, loving every second of it. Without Aaron Sorkin, The West Wing would not have been made, and I would not have those fond TV-watching memories with my parents. Then, after years of Sorkin-silence, The Social Network came to theaters, written by none other than my main man. While watching The Social Network in the theater, I thought it was a pretty good movie. Luckily for me, Best Buy had the film for $12 on the Tuesday it was released on DVD, and I can't pass up that kind of deal. Now, after having watched the film about 100 times, it is probably my favorite movie ever. Of course, many of you will denounce me because my favorite movie isn't some 50 year old, black and white film, although each person should be entitled to his or her own opinion. I just love the movie! Add such great movies as A Few Good Man and Moneyball, and you have quite the resume. Recently, his presence has continued to engulf my life in the form of The Newsroom, which has quickly become one of my favorite dramas on television (regardless of what some critics may say about it). It had been a long time since the Emmy's made me as excited as they did when Jeff Daniels won best actor for his leading role on the show. When he was giving his speech and made the comment about Aaron Sorkin making entertainment that mattered, I just wanted to jump and shout for joy! Sorkin has truly influenced my TV-watching life, and I certainly hope that he continues to do so, as his career moves along.
Christopher Nolan
In the case of Christopher Nolan, I thought I might be a bit star-struck or something. Not only is The Dark Knight the greatest superhero movie ever, but also Batman is my favorite superhero of all time. I mean, you could probably put anyone behind the camera, and I would still like Batman. However, as I continued to think (and as Ben Affleck's presence draws near), there is no doubt that, without the Nolan brothers, The Dark Knight isn't the greatest superhero film of all time. On top of that, Inception and The Prestige are two more of my favorite films of all time, and I respect anyone who can come up with those mind-blowing storylines. In fact, we are now less than one year away from Nolan's next film, Interstellar, and I am already super duper giddy. Of the four names in this short list, Nolan is probably the one who I'm least able to determine what I like about his films. I mean, the Coen brothers are good at quirky, goofy drama and comedy, J.J. Abrams can do sci-fi unlike anyone else in the 21st century, and Aaron Sorkin can create dialogue that could make anything sound important and over your head. What does Nolan do?... I dunno. All I know is that I love everything he touches, and I hope that streak continues with Interstellar!

I don't really know how to close this post. So, in the spirit of the Coen brothers and their inability to come up with a good ending to a film... Bye!


  1. This is a pretty solid list of names here, Tanner, each with very distinct styles that are easy to pick out at that. I think with Nolan, though, his thing is really grounding his ideas in reality. Even when dealing with high-concept projects like Inception, he uses a very cold, clinical style to explain and draw out the various aspects of his world in such a way that it sounds like something that'd easily exist in our own world. In that sense, he's taken the sci-fi genre and made it feel more real than most would even attempt to do so. That's his signature approach, which also helped a great deal when initially tackling those Batman flicks of his.

    Also, don't feel any shame about The Social Network being your favorite flick. It's a great movie, and is definitely one that only gets better and better after every viewing. :)

    1. Thanks, man! Good analysis of Nolan for sure