An artist’s highest aspiration is to pierce a panhuman foundation of ideas, defining on that very breakthrough an original locus of distinctive perceptions. Indeed, art has been carrying out this task since its inception.
Exposing the darkest and best self-concealed aspects of societies, various legendary artists have shocked through their work. But what has been more effective, historically speaking, than the shocking events and discoveries that dared to spread a vibration on the quiet surface of a flat cosmic ocean?
Virginia Woolf believed that there is no thought which shouldn’t be expressed, and so does support the work of the 10 film directors discussed here. Their progressive views, their unconventional attitude toward taboo topics, and their blunt expressive means have rendered a divisive character to their filmography. All of them are bold, original, and unsettling in a way or another. As for us, there is no choice: we either love or hate each one of them.
10. Harmony Korine
Harmony Korine definitely isn’t the favorite child of film critics. His pessimist interest on ordinary and neglected social sub-groups has been considered offensive, visually appalling, and senselessly reactionary. Even, his non-linear narrative styles seem to fail in creating a free-wheeling effect to the eyes of professional reviewers.
From the other side, there’s an audience that recognizes a prevalent spoiled aspect of a tangible world in Korine’s dystopian reverie. From the vain quest for salvation that emerges in the cinders of “Gummo,” to the piteous struggle for indulgence that we saw in his recent “Spring Breakers,” a considerable part of cinephile communities appreciates Korine’s electric strikes into humanity’s sleaze and feckless ingredients.
As always in modern art, and especially when it comes to sensitive and divisive topics, the reactions toward Korine’s provocative work have been extremely diverse. Whether you’re an admirer or a hater, one fact is objective about Korine: His filmography has exhibited a deep understanding of human nature and an honest existential angst, as he fuses his haywire artistic oddities with a dismal idealistic consideration.
9. Takashi Miike
One of the most prolific and discussed Japanese directors of the era, Takashi Miike has directed more than one hundred films, television productions, and videos. His work is highly varied, with respect to thematic approach, tone, and type of production. Nevertheless, his uncompromising horror films comprise the part of his filmography that established him as an original artist of extreme Japanese cinema.
Showcasing extravagant violence, the most perverted pictures of Miike are the ones that offered him a worldwide fame. His 1999 nightmare of “Ôdishon” entails one of the most disturbing scenes of all-time, being his first title which gained universal glory.
Two years later, the twisted serial killer of “Ichi the Killer” stars an everlasting blood-stained ordeal for a viewer’s eyes and mind. Until now, Miike masters the thriller/horror genre, creating a rising amount of films that, in their ultra-violent imagery and intelligent rationale, disturb and bedazzle.
Miike’s ultra-violent tales move on a rough and challenging path, visual and contextually speaking. Entering his gory cinematic sphere, where inherent brutality is engaged to bizarre expositions, you’ll possibly love the deeply developed characters and well-crafted plots, or you’ll hate the relentless haste and twisted atmosphere of his fictional yet comprehensive environments.
8. David Cronenberg
In his Kafkaesque universe, cryptic thoughts and unutterable fears dress in flesh and bones, reshaping their elusive ugliness into the world of vision and touch. And all of a sudden, David Cronenberg’s “body horror” cinema occurs. In opposition to its very precise and simplified naming by film critics, the distinctive artwork of the Canadian director projects the horrors of a mind, instead of those that would describe the twisted shape of a man’s figure.
It’s not easy to understand Cronenberg’s deformed idols of the humane. It’s not easy to drift in his mental mazes. On the monsters of his dreary fantasy, he has mirrored it all: our instincts, our denial, our fearful aspirations, and our strongest urges. He’s reached our hardest core and touched out deepest layer. His achievement is hard to be described, while his mentality is hard to be comprehended.
A receiver could stay back and stare at the repulsive shades of Cronenberg’s reflections, whereas a braver one could search for those steely corners that host the dark light of his thoughts. Yet, I don’t know which one of these cases is the most unsettling. Various film critics and viewers deny facing his grotesque creatures, perhaps in the fear of the truths which they hide. I guess this is still a kind of victory.
7. Larry Clark
Larry Clark’s debut feature “Kids” was written by Harmony Korine, a 19-year-old boy at the time, who originated from the kind of neighborhoods that are exposed in the picture. The disturbing human conditions evolving in this genuine cinematic endeavor resurfaced from the creator’s humanitarian anxiety. Ever since, it seems like the entirety of his work lingers on this very same topic, running to the limits of an obsessive exaggeration.
Absolutely divisive, especially inside film critics’ circles, Clark’s both detached and familiar microcosm of disoriented and decadent adolescents is partially projected on a surface of companionate texture, while it partially may exhibit a self-indulgent, invasive persistence.
Always developed around a form of sadomasochist underdeveloped sexuality and a dispersed youthful anger, the repeating stories of the American director could appear as ethical revelations, or as voyeuristic glances through a shady keyhole.
Perhaps Clark’s characters seem to be unrealistically dysfunctional, using their basic instincts for the sake of a self-torturing necessity and attacking to the world in an uncontrollable craze. However, such characters exist in the remnants of our modern environments. They aren’t pleasant, as they aren’t created so as to serve entertaining purposes. This is what Clark seeks to point out.
6. Lars von Trier
“A film should be like a rock in the shoe,” Lars von Trier claims. Indeed, his films are accompanied by a constant feeling of annoyance. Essentially dealing with female sexuality, he has observed the object of a woman’s urge exhaustively, always insisting on its rough and complex manifestations. The result is always a sorrow to experience.
Since the introduction of Dogme 95 until his recent commercial successes, Trier’s filmography has remarkably evolved, as regards technical and expositional parameters. The unedited portrayals and realistic narratives of his early work progressively gave their place to highly stylized and visually stunning pieces, as “Dogville” and “Melancholia.” In relation to the thematic orientation and tone, though, since his 1996 pitch-black drama of “Breaking the Waves,” Trier settled at a both prevailing and latent thematic layer.
The films that established Trier as a controversial artist are the ones focused on female sexuality as a means of mental and emotional expression. His heroines, crafted from a realistic yet extravagant material, use their carnal functions so as to punish, revenge, heal, and abnegate their own selves.
Traumatized and sentimentally paralyzed, Trier’s women sometimes succeed in standing for a real human quality, and sometimes, they appear as irritating malformed idols that survive in Trier’s emotive imagination.