Old vs. New Films by Directors Who Have Seen the World Change

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There are those master filmmakers whose careers, fortunately for us, have spanned decades. What happened between Woody Allen’s 1979 Manhattan and Woody Allen’s Manhattan of the 2000’s? How far had Stanley Kubrick been able to push it since Lolita? How has unpredictable aging of the director’s beloved stars changed the way they treat their pet themes? What happened since… dum dum dummm… the Internet? Here are our favorite old-timers who have seen the world change and — willingly and unwillingly — have shown it through their films.

Woody Allen

Dubbed the quintessential New Yorker, Woody Allen has shaped the city’s mythology for the rest of the country in many ways. How have thirty years changed Woody’s NYC? Well, that Gershwin-serenaded sheen and literary magic of Manhattan has rubbed off and his optimism has been diluted with seasoned cynicism and a dislike for transplants and tourists. Typical olde New Yorker neuroses. Whatever. Grumble grumble. Looks like the apartment sizes are still exaggerated to allow a film crew to fit onto the set of Whatever Works. That rotting Chinatown warehouse hole where Larry David’s character is supposedly slumming would probably be be rented as a quirky, pricey artist loft with vintage woodwork. Grumble grumble.

Manhattan (1979)

Whatever Works (2009)

Stanley Kubrick

In a Newsweek interview, Stanley Kubrick said he “probably wouldn’t have made the film” if he knew how heavily Lolita‘s eroticism would be censored. Almost forty years later, the censors strike again, grafting crinkly CGI figures into Eyes Wide Shut to obstruct a simulated orgy. D’oh! At least Kubrick got to take advantage of some changing mores with a young Leelee Sobieski vamping out so explicitly as a teenage temptress.

Lolita (1962)

Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

Martin Scorsese

Taxi Driver (1976)

With the action of undercover gangster vs. undercover cop drama in The Departed so heavily relying on text messaging, it makes us wonder: Would Taxidriver’s Travis Bickle have been pushed to such opulent displays of violent heroism if he could simply stalk Betsy on Facebook? Conversely, could mob boss Frank Costello have conducted that covert meeting in a porno theater back in the days when said porno theaters weren’t emptied out by the invention of internet erotica?

The Departed (2006)

Larry Clark

Harmony Korine was a 19-year-old skate kid being a little bad-ass around Washington Square Park when Larry Clark approached him to write the screenplay for ’90s cult classic Kids, thereby tapping into the artery of a then-current NYC youth subculture and the cringe-worthy genital misadventures, explicit monologues, and drug preferences of very young teens. It was decidedly more awkward when Clark transported a similar story line to the West Coast for Wassup Rockers, because that’s where the skate kids are at now, presumably. Clark cast locals to exaggerate themselves according to the sixty-year-old’s own screenplay. It was somehow creepier.

Kids (1995)

Wassup Rockers (2005)

Christopher Nolan

Is it too much to assume that, while visually fantastical, Nolan’s concept of Inception isn’t extremely unbelievable in 2010? Architectured dreams are… the near future? Damn. Meanwhile, the Polaroids Memento‘s Leonard uses to cope with his anterograde amnesia are extinct.

Memento (2000)

Inception (2010)

Jean-Luc Godard

Godard’s New Wave oldie pitted a cheating married couple against each other in a murderous plot… which was naturally unglued and replaced with a complex metaphor of the struggle between the French society’s working class and the Bourgeoisie in form of a horrible car crash that we’re not allowed to look away from for eight minutes in Week End. His most recent and “final” work Film Socialisme continues to condemn Capitalism, now trapping several incessantly monologue-ing people — each representing a different country — on one boat. Get it? Everybody? One boat? Also, Patti Smith is there. Just like his previous innovative cinematic tricks, the “Navajo English” subtitles got him unjust flack.

Week End (1967)

Film Socialisme (2010)

David Fincher

Back then, David Fincher materialized Chuck Palahniuk’s zeitgeist hero/alter-ego as he waged righteous guerrilla warfare against corporations and curing conformity, one terrified gent with the barrel of a gun in his mouth at a time. Fast forward, he’s dramatizing the founder of one of the most powerful corporations in the world in The Social Network, trying to discourage you from updating that Facebook status. Did it work? Oh, and when Fight Club came out, did you think Trent Reznor would become a lucrative film soundtrack composer and Justin Timberlake would grow into a successful comedic actor? Maybe?

Fight Club (1999)

The Social Network (2010)

Francis Ford Coppola

Does anyone who has actually seen The Godfather: Part III remember what happened or are they mixing it up with an old Law and Order repeat? Oh, Coppola. We have faith that there must have been something that got in the way of transporting this Godfather dynasty mafia epic into the ’90s, other than the less-than-stellar, strangely modernized, echo quality of the sequel. Let’s just blame Law and Order.

The Godfather (1972)

The Godfather: Part III (1990)