What did you think of Maggie's Plan? It was a big shift, when you consider Rebecca Miller previous films, and I'm still a bit perplexed about it. Do you know about other female film-makers who at some point took a unusual/unexpected turn in the kind of films they did?
I didn’t really like Maggie’s Plan. I actually don’t really like Rebecca Miller’s work very much but I did have my hopes up or that one because it was so different from her previous work. In the end it didn’t quite gel for me because even though I could see where she was going it never quite got absurd enough for me and the humour didn’t quite land.
Your second question is super fun! I can think of a lot of filmmakers that took really twisty turns with their careers. Patty Jenkins first movie was a serious indie biopic about a serial killer (Monster) her second was a big budget superhero movie (Wonder Woman).
I haven’t seen it yet obviously, but Mustang director Deniz Gamze Ergüven’s next film seems completely different from her first. Her first was about a group of sisters in Turkey being increasingly oppressed by their family and her second is a period piece set during the 1990 L.A. riots.
Kathryn Bigelow’s entire career has basically been her jumping from one genre to the next. She did a biker film (Loveless), a vampire Western (Near Dark), a cop thriller (Blue Steel), a surfer/heist movie (Point Break) a scifi murder mystery (Strange Days), a war movie (The Hurt Locker) etc.
Ida Lupino made a whole bunch of B-movie film noirs and then her last film was about best friends at a catholic boarding school (The Trouble With Angels).
Amma Asante went from making a gritty contemporary film on racism (A Way of Life) to making historical romances (Belle, Where Hands Touch, A United Kingdom).
Niki Caro and Mira Nair are two more examples of directors who have jumped around genres, styles and projects so much I can’t even encapsulate the work they do. They’ve worked on everything from really personal indies, book adaptations and big budget studio films.
And then there are also directors like Coppola or Claire Denis who actually jump around genres a LOT but because they adapt the genre to fit their style the shifts don’t feel so great. If you look at Coppola Somewhere and Lost in Translation can sort of be grouped together, but there is a huge difference between The Bling Ring, A Very Murray Christmas, The Beguiled, The Virgin Suicides and Marie Antoinette.
And as someone who has worked my way through all of Claire Denis’ feature films she dabbles in genres way more than she is given credit for, but because her films have such a distinct feel they are kind of grouped together and those differences aren’t really discussed.
I do love directors who consistently put out similar work like Nicole Holofcener, Kelly Reichardt, Miranda July or Andrea Arnold, but I am also a fan of directors who jump around and shift genres a lot.