First they came for Godard. Then they came for Billy Wilder. And now, friends, because we’ve stood idly by and watched Hollywood remake the films of so many great 2oth-century auteurs, they’ve come for our childhoods: Jim Henson’s creepy-kid classic The Dark Crystal is slated to get a sequel, courtesy of the late Muppet master’s production company. And it’s going to be in 3D. Brace yourselves.
Now, as we live in fear that Labyrinth is next, we’re hoping to set Hollywood straight by listing 10 iconic directors whose films should never be remade, sequeled, prequeled, or otherwise messed with.
Woody Allen Why: Whether you love him or think he’s an overrated perv, his neurotic, hyper-literary, death-obsessed sense of humor can’t be imitated. And let’s face it: There’s no saving some of his recent films. (Hi, Whatever Works!)
Stanley Kubrick Why: Kubrick was notoriously meticulous, and his films took years of hard, perfectionist work to make. 2001: A Space Odyssey doesn’t happen overnight, and Hollywood would never have the patience or intelligence to properly update this luminary’s work.
Agnès Varda Why: There is just something inimitable about this French New Wave legend — and, watching her film memoir, The Beaches of Agnes, last year, we realized exactly what it is: her insatiable lust for life. No one tells a human story quite like Varda.
John Waters Why: Unfortunately, the sanctity of the Pope of Trash’s work has already been violated, in the form of a post-Broadway Hairspray remake. When your original version stars Divine and Ricki Lake, with a supporting cast that includes Debbie Harry, Sonny Bono, and Rick Ocasek, there’s just no improving upon it. No one walks the line between art and camp like Waters.
Catherine Breillat Why: Though her genre choices vary widely, from The Last Mistress’ historical costume drama to Fat Girl‘s hyperrealism to her most recent film, an adaptation of the classic children’s story Bluebeard, the French director’s themes are remarkably consistent. Her complex stories delve into dark sexuality and the complicated, often antagonistic, relationships between sisters. No one without similar obsessions would be half as successful with her material.
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David Lynch Why: You just know a David Lynch movie when you see one. The demented film-noir visuals, the cracked nostalgia, the lush cinematography. His style is totally singular and impossible to recreate. Plus, Lynch may be the only one who really understands what his movies are actually about.
Terrence Malick Why: Malick hasn’t made that many films (in fact, he took about two decades off from the industry, from the late ’70s through the late ’90s), but just about all of his movies are masterpieces. We can’t imagine any other director imbuing movies like The Thin Red Line and Badlands with such singular starkness.
Pedro Almodovar Why: Like Federico Fellini, whose memory last year’s awful Nine stomped on, Almodovar is a master of color and glamor. We also marvel at his understanding and celebration of female characters. The joie de vivre he brings to his films is unparalleled. And that’s why we’re convinced that, say, an English-language version of All About My Mother, would be a horribly misguided project.
Quentin Tarantino Why: A consummate film geek, Tarantino has always made movies about movies. They’re full of obscure genre references and actors rescued from rerun hell — and they often manage to change the meaning of the songs on their soundtracks forever. (Pulp Fiction‘s “Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon, anyone?) Anyone attempting to remake movies so drenched in influences would surely find themselves in meta-hell.
Kelly Reichardt Why: She only has a few movies under her belt, but this Old Joy and Wendy and Lucy director is poised to become the filmmaker laureate of young America. In anyone else’s hands, the troubles of aimless 20-something hipsters might seem fluffy or self-indulgent. But Reichardt keeps her distance, painting portraits that viewers of all ages can relate to.