Weir No Angel…But He Is One of the Best Directors

13 09 2005

Awesome title, ain’t it? Hate it? Oh don’t say that…I’ve stayed up all night to perfect it. Some respect in a plastic bag, please. Tabloid newspaper titles crack me up. I have to share a couple of examples…’Housekeeper stole Bobby’s Dinero’…or ‘Brown “Bagged”‘…after Michael Brown resigned, or ‘No Supe For You’…after some football team lost earlier this year. The list goes on…

Okay, let’s not keep ya’ll in suspense here. This post is about Peter Weir, the great Aussie di-reck-torr. Why him all of a sudden? That’s because I had a re-realization (it’s a blog, people. I can re-anything)…after watching three Weir films in a row (with long HBO breaks, and showering) that he has to be in my ‘Favorite Directors’list, the Top 10 kind. I wondered, then, why he hasn’t already yet. After tearing off a few sideburn follicles, I came to the conclusion that I have been blind to his magnificence. Yeah, that must be it.

Anyway, the films were ‘Dead Poets Society’ (my 4th or 5th viewing…wait, you’re telling me Robin Williams is not a real Captain?), ‘Fearless’, and ‘Master and Commander: Far Side of the Vearld…’ Of course, there’s the ‘Truman Show’ and ‘Green Card’ and ‘Witness’ and ‘Married…with Children’…kidding. But anyway, my point is…if you watch any of these films, especially the three I’d mentioned watching, you’ll see 3 things that gets a director the title ‘Great’ behind or after his/her name.

1. (S)He becomes invisible.

2. You let your disbeliefs hang out to dry.

3. And the big one…the story finds its ideal interpreter.

Watching ‘Dead Poets’, I realized (I realize a lot, if you’ve noticed) that each character, if played by the actors slightly differently, would have crashed the movie. A good director, after all, is like a conductor…thank you, but not talking about the Public Transportation kind. A good director makes unfolding of things look easy and effortless on screen. A good director finds a balance. Ah, balance…that’s the word. Most of all, a good director makes it look like there was no director at all. Which is why Woody Allen is up there in the Top 10.

So…this is my cue to rave about ‘Fearless’, one of the best films I’ve seen. The way photography, music, sound, and performance come together as unified story teller is a great example of a director understanding balance. The opening and closing sequence of ‘Fearless’ is just a small example of Weir’s brilliant filmmaking.
I would urge filmmakers to listen to…I repeat…listen to ‘Master and Commander’ once, and then watch the film with the sound turned off. You may want to do that with all your favorite films, but it will show you why Weir conducts great talent behind and in front of the camera with sure hands.

Note: DVDs are the best film school text books you’ll ever buy…or borrow.

Therefore, my friends, don’t feel weird about re-visiting Weir. (crickets chirping)Yeah, that’d be my cue to re-think the whole humor writing thing. You can stop sweating now, Dave Barry.



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