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Filmism.net Dispatch October 21, 2014

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I've often wondered about the point at which a filmmaker becomes an adjective. You know, a Spielbergian film means it's from the point of view of a child, free of cynicism and wide-eyed in wonder, only with divorced parents. A Hitchcockian movie gradually peels back layers of mystery to reveal a story that's ultimately about the twisted nature of the human psyche.

Even though plenty of authors become known not just for a certain genre but a creative approach within a genre, we never really saw the same sort of thing in literature. You never hear Clancyesque used to describe a globe-hopping thriller full of the machinations of politics and weaponry, or Christie-ian when talking about a twee story full of upper crust English aristocrats who take tea and kill each other.

We have such a practice in the movie world, with Kubrickian and Altmanesque almost as widely used as the examples above. If we're talking about (to put it unkindly) one movie having the same aesthetic and point of view as the last, the same could be said of Woody Allen (Allenesque, for dramedies about neurotic New Yorkers), Nicholas Sparks (Sparksian, for romantic dramas full of dappled sunlight and heartstring-pulling archetypes) or Judd Apatow (Apatovian, for manchild heroes finding their heart) or Lynchain (mindbending psycho-sexual dramas about the artistic life), though you don't hear those terms used nearly as much.

It also shouldn't be forgotten that the adjective of their name doesn't apply to every film a director makes. Spielberg hasn't made a Spielbergian movie since War of The Worlds. The most Spielbergian film of recent memory was JJ Abrams' Super 8.

Which leads me to the next question. At what point do we as the film-going community decide that a director earns the kudos to have their name made into a stylistic description? Is there a Hollywood Adjective Adjudication Board, a committee in a nondescript office building on Fairfax Ave that receives and assesses applications and distributes a press release among the film press approving the use of 'Scott-ish' (applicable to either Ridley or Tony)?

Maybe I'm reading too much into it.

Anyway, new on my radar recently was The Judge, and it was kind of bad news how it didn't perform so well anywhere in the world. It was a very solid – if not fantastic – family drama the likes of which we used to see a lot in the 1970s, and if it had gone well it would have been a strong message to the powers that be that hardworking films for adults with a few laughs, a few tears and no explosions or robots can perform.

But when not even the highest paid movie star in the world headlining the cast can make the movie profitable, what are we to make of it? Is the age of the movie star truly over as some people have suggested, films now all about the brand name book, comic, theme park ride or toy line? At least I got to talk to Robert Downey Jr about it.

Also on screens now, the frenetic, bruising, angry and beautiful Whiplash is the move of the year so far. Other than that I was disappointed by The Conjuring follow up Annabelle, Luc Besson's Lucy and the hotly anticipated new Jake Gyllenhaal movie, Nightcrawler.

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