Ten interviews with ten "name" American and European directors—including Todd Haynes, David Lynch, Bernardo Bertolucci, and Catherine Breillat—diced into a documentary as asinine and fawning as its title suggests. The first measure of Greatness is agreeing to be interviewed by director Angela Ismailos, whose qualification seems to be her faint resemblance to the late actress Melina Mercouri. Leftist leanings are another evident step, so we hear from John Sayles and Ken Loach—who lets slip one of the film's only candid moments, cautiously noting that his interview is being filmed on a set, not in his actual rolling country garden. Talking to TV vets Loach and Stephen Frears prompts the funniest of Ismailos' unmotivated cutaways to herself, as she poses with serious-face outside BBC headquarters following stock footage of Margaret Thatcher. Interviews are extended with excerpts from films, superficially tied to anything being said and sufficing to remind us of the Great Films these Great Directors oh-so-Greatly made. It's interesting to briefly see Liliana Cavani, but her career is boiled down to The Night Porter; other subjects can be found saying these same things elsewhere (especially annoying Aunt-of-the-New Wave Agnès Varda, an ardent autobiographer). Received ideas, creative-class cheerleading, and outright schmoozing bore—but the yacht party after the Cannes screening sounds awesome!
Bertolucci gets a softball grilling.
Runs at Varsity, Fri., Aug. 6–Thurs., Aug. 12. Not rated. 86 minutes.