Sunday, December 28, 2008
After the disappointment that was Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull I was astounded to realize that Jon Favreau did with Iron Man what I expected Spielberg to do with Indiana Jones - Favreau made a Spielberg-esque film that delighted and enraptured on every level and brought you into the characters so that you identified with them all. Iron Man reminded me of something I never realized before; Jon Favreau is a damn good director. Looking back at Elf I would venture to say that he is one of the best directors of his generation.
You may want to disagree with me saying this about Favreau but you need to stop and look at the evidence. The mark of a good director is very obvious traits that should appear very subtlety because they need to fit the film the director is composing – compare a good film to a bad film and you will see it – you may not be able to identify it but you will be able to tell there is a difference. That difference is the hand and mind of a good director. A good director will have a beautiful film where the visuals fit the world they are trying to create, every shot works to build pieces of the puzzle and more than anything a good director draws you into the story and the characters in such a way that the two are indelibly connected and you empathize with the characters and want to watch them on their plight.
Elf like Iron Man has all of this and the common trait between the two films is the man at the helm – Jon Favreau. If Elf was handled by a different director it would have been an entirely different film. Chris Columbus for example would have been static in his shots, used little to no background action except where absolutely necessary and in the end you would have walked away laughing at Ferrell and not remembering much else about the film; if someone like Tyler Perry had directed Elf the jokes would have been heavy handed, the look of the film far too exuberant and characters would have paused at the end of jokes waiting for reactions.
The point is that while a good director doesn’t want to be noticed, once you start paying attention you should be able to see the marks of a good director all over their film. Jon Favreau is a good director and because of his handling of Elf his film has been added to the Christmas must-see list of countless fans world wide.
Buddy: Did you have to borrow a reindeer to get down here?
Miles Finch: Hey, jackweed, I get more action in a week than you've had in your entire life. I've got houses in L.A., Paris and Vail. In each one, a 70 inch plasma screen. So I suggest you wipe that stupid smile off your face before I come over there and SMACK it off! You feeling strong, my friend? Call me elf one more time.
Buddy:He's an angry elf.