The Top Directors Working Today: Paul Greengrass

I'm very excited to be getting around to Paul Greengrass, who is one of the freshest talents of the last ten years. His style is immediate and very easy to identify... he takes his cameras and plunges you right into the heart of whatever he's presenting. And he gets my blood racing every time.

You could argue that he's kind of a one-trick pony, but while everyone else uses shakey-cam and quick edits to create fake excitement, Greengrass builds his shots into masterful sequences of tension and suspense. He can keep you on edge for the entire length of the film; the magician that does the trick right and makes it look easy.

Extra points for bouncing between commercial and art-house fare. He's made Jason Bourne (and Matt Damon) the most exciting action hero of this generation, and his take on 9/11 and Bloody Sunday explains historical events on the most human of terms.

The first poll I posted on Filmspotting showed that he ranked a lot higher than I thought.

65% think he's a Great director and will watch whatever he makes.
25% might like him if he held the camera still.

Since my first poll on Paul Greengrass was a bit conservative, I decided to add a 2nd poll and maybe better find out How Great people think he is.

39% think he's on of the Very Best.
17% think he's Great, but wouldn't put him in the Top 10.
33% think he's solid, but only sometimes Great.
5.5% think he's Good, but don't think he'll ever be Great.
5.5% see nothing special about his directing.

Greengrass knows exactly what to show us in those action sequences. Yes, it may be jarring at first, but an attentive viewer can easily discern what is happening. Every cut shows us clearly the essential of what is occuring in that single frame. It's expertly edited.

United 93 was the best of its year and his Bourne movies are sort of the gold standard for recent large budget mainstream action movies. If he keeps up this pace he could go anywhere.

The shaky cam has gotten progressively more annoying. "Please stop shaking the camera when it's just two people having a conversation".


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