7 One-Hit-Wonder Movie Directors

They made a splash. And then sank...


The Times has been looking at literary one-hit wonders, writers who pumped out one great tome – or just one tome at all – and then nada.

We thought we’d apply the idea to film directors – those who burst on to the scene then appeared to fade away, those who made one good film and then pumped out pap, and those who seem to be taking the Terrence Malick approach to their work schedules…

Simon West

The film: Con Air, one of the most fun action thrillers to emerge from Jerry Bruckheimer’s big-budget, big-star fun factory. It may not have had a big brain, but it had balls and it had John Cusack and Nic Cage proving they could handle more than drama and quirk.

The follow-up: Ech… Nasty army rape thriller The General’s Daughter didn’t exactly prove to be a great choice, and while he did find box office success with the first Tomb Raider pic, no one would argue it’s a great film.

And now? Lower budget horror thriller When A Stranger Calls was another not-great-but-made-cash outing, which he followed with the little seen Purple Mountain.

He’s currently gearing up a big screen account of the life of Salvador Dali’s life and work, with Antonio Banderas down for the lead.
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Dominic Sena

The film: Kalifornia, a stylish, underrated tale of two couples on a serial killer murder tour. Only one among them (brad Pitt, showing some early examples of more solid acting chops) is a deranged, violent type himself.

The follow-up: Sena got sucked into the Bruckheimer blockbuster machine, but his output for the prolific producer – stodgy car thief remake Gone In Sixty Seconds – proved to be a low-powered box office engine.

And the less said about Swordfish, the better.

And now? He’s finally gotten himself back behind the camera for graphic novel adaptation Whiteout (which, ominously, has sat finished since 2007 and is only now getting released) and is shooting a reunion with his Gone star Nicolas Cage with Season Of The Witch.

Doesn’t he know a bad luck charm when he meets one?[page-break]


Boaz Yakin

The film: Remember The Titans is pretty much all anyone remembers him making to date. The American football drama starred Denzel Washington and was produced by one J. Bruckheimer (anyone seeing a pattern here?)

The follow-up: Clearly looking to change gears, Yakin made Brittany Murphy/Dakota Fanning comedy Uptown Girls. We wish he hadn’t.

Oh, and he wrote the script for Dirty Dancing 2. Again with the wishing that he hadn’t-ing.

And now? Wrote, produced and directed mini-budget (well, $3 million, which is considered small in Hollywood) drama Death In Love, the crowd-pleasing tale of love between a concentration camp update and a Nazi doctor.

He’s kept up the writing for hire jobs, though, adding his name to the list of scribes who contributed to Prince Of Persia game adaptation.[page-break]


Vincent Gallo

The film: Buffalo 66, a promising, if slightly ego-feeding drama that sees him as a recently released convict kidnapping a student (Christina Ricci) to pose as his girlfriend when he returns home to his parents.

Gallo wrote, directed and sang most of the songs.

The follow-up: The Brown Bunny, mostly remembered for Gallo treating us all to the sight of then real-life girlfriend Chloë Sevigny giving him oral sex.

Oh, but he took on most of the filmmaking jobs (art director, camera operator, editor, costumes, set decoration etc) himself, so that helped keep costs down, even if it didn’t help the film be any good.

And now? Gallo has thankfully stuck to the acting lark, and most recently completed work in Francis Ford Coppola’s Tetro. Let’s hope the film’s lower budget meant he wasn’t paid enough to start thinking about directing again.[page-break]


Daniel Myrick & Eduardo Sanchez

The film: The Blair Witch Project, still one of the biggest indie hits ever made, and a masterwork of hype and buzz gathering.

It’s still also an effective little chiller, whose style has been ripped off a hundred times now – truly the mark of filmmakers who made an impact.

The follow-up: The pair haven’t collaborated since (unless you count popping up in small roles in other projects together), and between then they’ve mostly pumped out low-budget and straight-to-video schlocksploitation pics which few people have seen or can remember seeing.

And now? Neither of them has a directing project lined up  and they’re currently mostly involved with producing other peoples’ films.

They’ve kept promising to come back with another great movie – or at least, a great concept – but nothing yet.[page-break]


Shane Carruth

The film: The twisty, high concept sci-fi thriller Primer, which won the 2004 Sundance dramatic prize and intrigued us all with its seemingly homemade, yet polished look.

Unfortunately, director/writer/producer/star Carruth seems to have been hit by the Sundance curse.

The follow-up: Zip. He’s said in interviews that he has ideas for other films, but so far none of them have reached a production stage.

And now? “I can’t wait,” he noted of one in October 2004. “I’m part of the way through the script now but it’s a romance.” That film – along with everything else he claims to have been working on – still only exist in his head.[page-break]
 

Tom Hanks

The film: That Thing You Do! which – irony alert! – is about a ‘60s pop band who has one great hit, gets famous and then burns out.

Okay, so strictly speaking, Hanks was very famous before he made the movie (it’s why he could get the thing before cameras), and he hasn’t burned out.

The follow-up: The sum total of actual, cinematic films directed by Mr Hanks since? Zero. That said, we’re sure people would happily let him direct again, as That Thing was, after all, lightweight but fun, but he’s turned his attention more towards acting and producing once more.

And now? The only recent directorial credits he boasts are on TV, though given that they’re episodes of From The Earth To The Moon and Band Of Brothers, you can’t really criticise.

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Comments

    • magicwings

      Mar 18th 2009, 22:10

      and why aren't the waschowski's on the list?? matrix was - and still is - one of the greatest films ever made. the next two were totally meh. v for vendetta too. and speed racer was w**k.

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    • edwardsnow

      Mar 19th 2009, 0:55

      Shane Carruth is the sad one for me, I love Primer. Can't someone please give him a kick up the a**e?

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    • Neil1972

      Mar 19th 2009, 9:56

      Two actors who made one-off forays into directing: Charles Laughton - Night of the Hunter L.Q. Jones - A Boy and His Dog Two writers who did same: Stephen King - Maximum Overdrive (oh dear) William Peter Blatty - The Ninth Configuration (decent psychological drama) & The Exorcist Part III (not the worst of the sequels)

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    • bluntmann

      Mar 23rd 2009, 17:48

      I was looking forward to a mention of Troy Duffy, prob the greatest f**k up in Holywood history

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