Top 5 Director Debuts

(THAT AREN’T CITIZEN KANE)
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I spent a lot of time attempting to actually rank these and it damn near put me into a manic state like Charlie when he was working in the mail room in It’s Always Sunny. So, here they are in no particular order:

‘RESERVOIR DOGS’ (1992)

QUENTIN TARANTINO
Quentin Tarantino marked his debut with a resounding bang with ‘Reservoir Dogs’. What would have likely been a typical heist film from most other directors, Tarantino stylistically spun this story to be revealed in complete originality, which would later gain Tarantino worldwide recognition with other films like Pulp Fiction. Reservoir Dogs is everything about Tarantino we’ve come to love from him, but packaged together in a sweet, little 90 minute film. Tarantino himself opens up the film with the famous Madonna conversation, where he dissects the subtext and real story of Madonna’s ‘Like a Virgin’ while all the guys sit around a table at a diner reacting to him. It’s creative little things like this that Quentin uses to introduce characters and personality types without the usual, boring introductions of each person. It’s things like this that really rile me up every time I see a film of Tarantino’s, and Reservoir Dogs is no exception. This feels like a film made by someone who just truly loves movies. To me, that’s the most authentic characteristic any director could have.

Quentin Tarantino marked his debut with a resounding bang with ‘Reservoir Dogs’. What would have likely been a typical heist film from most other directors, Tarantino stylistically spun this story to be revealed in complete originality, which would later gain Tarantino worldwide recognition with other films like Pulp Fiction. Reservoir Dogs is everything about Tarantino we’ve come to love from him, but packaged together in a sweet, little 90 minute film. Tarantino himself opens up the film with the famous Madonna conversation, where he dissects the subtext and real story of Madonna’s ‘Like a Virgin’ while all the guys sit around a table at a diner reacting to him. It’s creative little things like this that Quentin uses to introduce characters and personality types without the usual, boring introductions of each person. It’s things like this that really rile me up every time I see a film of Tarantino’s, and Reservoir Dogs is no exception. This feels like a film made by someone who just truly loves movies. To me, that’s the most authentic characteristic any director could have.

‘Following’ (1998)

CHRISTOPHER NOLAN
Christopher Nolan’s debut is very much like Tarantino’s ‘Reservoir Dogs’ in the sense that they’re both short and to the point packages put together by auteur’s who flash their characteristics from the jump. ‘Following’ has many of the Nolan characteristics that play out in a way that some veteran directors could only dream of. Nolan introduces his chops as a non linear storyteller and uses it beyond style, to introduce suspense. This is a film that’s led by it’s constant twists and stylistically it’s very reminiscent to films in the French New Wave, with it’s handheld, documentary style camerawork. The storyline weaves it’s away around from end to beginning and back again almost as if it was a practice run for Nolan’s next film ‘Memento.’ ‘Following’ is a masterful exercise in filmmaking by what would become one of the 21st Century’s most prolific directors.

Christopher Nolan’s debut is very much like Tarantino’s ‘Reservoir Dogs’ in the sense that they’re both short and to the point packages put together by auteur’s who flash their characteristics from the jump. ‘Following’ has many of the Nolan characteristics that play out in a way that some veteran directors could only dream of. Nolan introduces his chops as a non linear storyteller and uses it beyond style, to introduce suspense. This is a film that’s led by it’s constant twists and stylistically it’s very reminiscent to films in the French New Wave, with it’s handheld, documentary style camerawork. The storyline weaves it’s away around from end to beginning and back again almost as if it was a practice run for Nolan’s next film ‘Memento.’ ‘Following’ is a masterful exercise in filmmaking by what would become one of the 21st Century’s most prolific directors.

‘ERASERHEAD’ (1977)

DAVID LYNCH
David Lynch’s midnight movie classic ‘Eraserhead’ can definitely go down as one of the most intriguing debuts from any filmmaker ever. A surreal look into the fear and absurdities of parenthood, ‘Eraserhead’ is like venturing through a dark, Freudian dream inside the mind of Dali on DMT. Eraserhead gained the attention of Mel Brooks and Stanley Kubrick right away. Kubrick actually claimed that ‘Eraserhead’ was his favorite film and he showed it to the cast and crew of The Shining before filming started. ‘Eraserhead’ introduced a ton of the familiar Lynchian qualities that would later become popularized in ‘Twin Peaks.’ So, if you’re a fan of Twin Peaks, but haven’t seen ‘Eraserhead,’ I definitely recommend checking it out to get a real authentic look at some of the origins that highlight Twin Peaks’ quirkiness. Like The 400 Blows was for Truffaut, this film can be seen as somewhat auto-biographical for Lynch who was expecting his first child at the beginning of the making of Eraserhead. Only, instead of taking place in reality, this is the auto-biography of David’s brain at the time.

David Lynch’s midnight movie classic ‘Eraserhead’ can definitely go down as one of the most intriguing debuts from any filmmaker ever. A surreal look into the fear and absurdities of parenthood, ‘Eraserhead’ is like venturing through a dark, Freudian dream inside the mind of Dali on DMT. Eraserhead gained the attention of Mel Brooks and Stanley Kubrick right away. Kubrick actually claimed that ‘Eraserhead’ was his favorite film and he showed it to the cast and crew of The Shining before filming started. ‘Eraserhead’ introduced a ton of the familiar Lynchian qualities that would later become popularized in ‘Twin Peaks.’ So, if you’re a fan of Twin Peaks, but haven’t seen ‘Eraserhead,’ I definitely recommend checking it out to get a real authentic look at some of the origins that highlight Twin Peaks’ quirkiness. Like The 400 Blows was for Truffaut, this film can be seen as somewhat auto-biographical for Lynch who was expecting his first child at the beginning of the making of Eraserhead. Only, instead of taking place in reality, this is the auto-biography of David’s brain at the time.

‘EASY RIDER’ (1969)

DENNIS HOPPER
Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda’s hippie counterculture classic is not only one of the most popular movies of the era, but also helped jumpstart the new wave of Hollywood filmmaking. Dennis Hopper, who wasn’t the easiest person to work with, was above all things, passionate. Him and Peter Fonda wanted to make their own picture that defied the norms of what was making Hollywood films so boring at the time, much like the directors of the French New Wave. The French New Wave was a big influence for Easy Rider, it was all Dennis Hopper was influenced by. The use of jump-cuts, stylistic editing, and lack of narrative are all techniques that French New Wave directors like Truffaut and Godard helped popularize. Easy Rider took the country by storm and was a critical and box office hit. Soon, all studios and directors were taking the same approach and shifted a lot of Hollywood’s power from the producers to the directors.

Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda’s hippie counterculture classic is not only one of the most popular movies of the era, but also helped jumpstart the new wave of Hollywood filmmaking. Dennis Hopper, who wasn’t the easiest person to work with, was above all things, passionate. Him and Peter Fonda wanted to make their own picture that defied the norms of what was making Hollywood films so boring at the time, much like the directors of the French New Wave. The French New Wave was a big influence for Easy Rider, it was all Dennis Hopper was influenced by. The use of jump-cuts, stylistic editing, and lack of narrative are all techniques that French New Wave directors like Truffaut and Godard helped popularize. Easy Rider took the country by storm and was a critical and box office hit. Soon, all studios and directors were taking the same approach and shifted a lot of Hollywood’s power from the producers to the directors.


‘THE 400 BLOWS’ (1959)

FRANÇOIS TRUFFAUT
The 400 Blows is arguably one of the most important films in one of the most important waves in cinema history. ‘The 400 Blows’ along with Godard’s ‘Breathless’, jumpstarted the French New Wave, which was a direct rebellion against the stale, traditional system of filmmaking in France at the time. It was led by a group of film critics who took everything that wasn’t working in films at the time and broke those rules. Francois Truffaut’s debut ‘The 400 Blows’ is a semi-autobiographical film based on Truffaut’s own life and experiences growing up in Paris, which for a debut is especially  brave. Beyond it being an exercise in style, ‘The 400 Blows’ is emotionally deep and authentic, as opposed to Godard’s ‘Breathless’ which is pretty much just 100% style. Truffaut introduced a lot of revolutionary techniques like long documentary-style takes, jump-cuts, and the famous ending freeze frame shot on Antoine, which would be copied an endless amount of times since. Who would have thought a French film critic would create a picture that would be emulated and used as influence for all future generations of cinema to come.

The 400 Blows is arguably one of the most important films in one of the most important waves in cinema history. ‘The 400 Blows’ along with Godard’s ‘Breathless’, jumpstarted the French New Wave, which was a direct rebellion against the stale, traditional system of filmmaking in France at the time. It was led by a group of film critics who took everything that wasn’t working in films at the time and broke those rules. Francois Truffaut’s debut ‘The 400 Blows’ is a semi-autobiographical film based on Truffaut’s own life and experiences growing up in Paris, which for a debut is especially brave. Beyond it being an exercise in style, ‘The 400 Blows’ is emotionally deep and authentic, as opposed to Godard’s ‘Breathless’ which is pretty much just 100% style. Truffaut introduced a lot of revolutionary techniques like long documentary-style takes, jump-cuts, and the famous ending freeze frame shot on Antoine, which would be copied an endless amount of times since. Who would have thought a French film critic would create a picture that would be emulated and used as influence for all future generations of cinema to come.