by James Killough
Shortly after his disastrous foray into animation with Arthur and the Invisibles in 2006, semi-auteur Luc Besson announced he was retiring from directing. Steven Soderbergh did the same thing last year. Both have been directing since they were in their mid-twenties, and the process has clearly long since lost its appeal. As Marcello Mastroianni, playing an uninspired director in Federico Fellini’s autobiographical 8 ½, says in a panic to his lading lady Claudia Cardinale, “Ma non c’ho niente più da dire!” But I have nothing left to say!
Or, as Michael Bay’s putative natural father John Frankenheimer—who was so furious that Bay claimed to be his son that he tried to disprove it, but failed—said in an NPR interview shortly before he died, “Directing is for younger men.” What Frankenheimer, who directed the seminal thriller French Connection, was referring to was the sort of hyper-kinetic action adventure films he helped pioneer with Connection, and which his natural son took to an extreme that I am not alone in considering unwatchable, despite the fact my dog Henry co-starred in Bay’s graduating student film at Wesleyan University.