Have you ever found money in your pocket after a long days work or realized you did have a couple slices of your wife’s cheesecake still in the fridge? If you’ve taken the moment to breathe in that hypothetical situation then you know that you’re grinning from ear to ear like I am because God knows cheesecake will always make me smile. The cheesecake I’m referring to today originates from Quebec Canada with a filmography that includes his breakout film Maelstrom and would later go on to make some of the best films the 2000’s have seen.
Having a filmography so diverse and consistent in it’s quality should warrant far more recognition than what our quiet director has been given, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t appreciated in the film circles that know his work (Enemy, Prisoners, Sicario, Blade Runner 2049) and while the latter film has yet to hit theaters this year, the anticipation doesn’t seem to be as high you’d think for a director of his caliber. We hear about the Chris Nolan’s and David Fincher’s of the world, and rightfully so, but there’s another director who has yet to make a bad film in their daring, experimental careers, and that’s Villenueve in a nutshell.
We want to quickly give Nolan the title of the modern day Stanley Kubrick and he’s earned that in more ways than one, but if you wanted the talented little brother of that title then you’d have to go to Villenueve. Known for his honed in direction that balances on the line of art-house mid-budget film-making, he’s proven that he can tell stories with beautiful precision like a five star chef. With his films touching on the mental more than the physical that most films tend to do, Villenueve goes unnoticed because his films make you feel like you need to take NZT (that’s a Limitless reference) to figure it out. Now, that may not be a great sell for a director you know little about, but if the past two films of his have proven anything it’s that you like his movies.
Sicario and Arrival have been praised for being some of the best films of their respective years and seeing Hugh Jackman in a pre-Logan role losing his f**king mind to find his daughter in Prisoners should say a lot to you as well. The man only gets the best from his actors, his films are gorgeous, their plots are strong, and he’s always critically praised. Hell, the man has been nominated for Oscars as of now, but here I am trying to tell you that he is the real deal.
His next two are a sequel and a remake of two cult classic films in the hard sci-fi genre that will only continue to stretch your minds and cinematic intelligence with the upcoming Blade Runner 2049 starring Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, and a crap ton of other people while his next project is the Watchmen of sci-fi movies where people fear that a faithful adaptation and remake of Dune feels near impossible, but if there was somebody to do it, it’s Denis. I’m writing this because I want you all to recognize one of the best directors working right now. Just because he isn’t up for contention to direct a superhero movie (yet) does not make him any less of phenomenal director and anyone that works with the great director of photography Roger Deakins (Skyfall, No Country For Old Men, Sicario) should have your respect.
If there is a Villenueve movie to start with in Villenueve’s catalog I’d have to recommend Prisoners first. It’s a human drama that has teeth grinding suspense, insanely good performances, and clear direction from the beginning all the way to the end. Think of Prisoners as Denis’ Gone Girl while Sicario is his No Country For Old Men, and Arrival is his Close Encounters of the Third Kind for the thinking man and woman, no offense to Close Encounters at all.
Categories: FILM ESSAYS