Alternate Universe Hyphenates

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Gwyneth Paltrow (left) opted to discuss the works of Stan Brakhage, whereas Gwyneth Paltrow (right) chose the films of Brett Ratner

Many of the guests on Hyphenates struggle to choose which filmmaker they'll choose. Not all, of course, but in many cases it's a photo finish between two favourites. In other cases, there's a pool of great auteurs they'd love to speak about equally, and they examine pros and cons of each before finally committing. Others have found the filmmaker they would most love to talk about has already been discussed by someone else.

To help celebrate our 50th episode, we've gone back to every single one of our guests to find out who they might have chosen if they hadn't gone with the filmmaker they did.

Most of our guests simply responded with a single name, but a few went into greater detail about their thought process:

Josh Nelson (David Cronenberg):

I’m quite fond of saying that I was born of two film fathers. Cronenberg got the nod (just) but I think Marty has forgiven me. After I crucified myself. Repeatedly. He likes that kind of thing.

Jeremy Smith (Brian De Palma):

I thought about going with Orson Welles, but my heart says Walter Hill. At his best (from HARD TIMES to JOHNNY HANDSOME – minus a dud or two), he was a master of narrative economy. He eschewed backstory and simply, sensitively dealt with his characters as they existed over the course of whatever story he wanted to tell. He favored taciturn protagonists, men with a basic moral code up against a world that’s rigged by the amoral. His movies usually conclude with small victories. There’s no saving the world; there’s just hewing to one’s code no matter the cost. Sometimes you’re gonna lose, but at least you didn’t compromise.

Christos Tsiolkas (Pier Paolo Pasolini):

I am a bit torn by the question. My first thought was Preston Sturges, because no other filmmaker has made me so joyously happy, but then on thinking more about it, I think I would have to choose Claude Chabrol. I return to his early films, Le Beau Serge and Les Cousins, again and again, I think Le Beau Serge one of the most achingly beautiful evocations of youth and longing ever committed to screen. Then Chabrol pursued a cinema fixated on his love for Hitchcock and classic Hollywood, a pursuit that made him a bit of the odd person out in the French New Wave (given that it was as if the cultural politics of Mai 68 completely bypassed him). But his being a bit of an outsider is part of what fascinates me about him. He made so many films, of such different genres but I am always fascinated by him, there is always something unexpected in his mise-en-sc̩ne, he keeps me on my toes. I recently revisited Le Boucher (The Butcher) Рquite a startling film, where you are aware of the socio-pathic violence of a serial killer but you are also aware of his human fragility. In the best sense, it feels a dangerous film. So, there you go, it would be Chabrol.

To see the complete list of Alternate Universe Hyphenates - now a permanent feature of the site! - click here.

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