I am “What If” girl. I harass my coworkers with hypothetical questions all the time, and they have finally persuaded me to stop bothering them with this nonsense and “Go Ask Someone Else”. And thus, “What If” Girl is thrust upon the internet.
So here is the question I pose to you: If you could put yourself in any director’s “world”– your entire life exists in one director’s oeuvre, which would it be? Two caveats: 1) You don’t suddenly get any powers or talents that you don’t already have. So if you choose Tarantino, you aren’t suddenly a Nunchuk expert. And if you choose Harry Potter’s directors (I don’t remember any besides Alfonso Cuaron, who’s a bad choice for other reasons), you, my dear nerd, are an ignorant Muggle. 2) The director isn’t directing your life, so you aren’t necessarily the hero/heroine or villain. You are just there. As the Battle of Middle Earth wages on around you.
Here’s a quick list of mine, from Best to Worst:
1) Woody Allen: Hear me out, because I know this seems like a dull/neurotic New York-y choice. It is one of the safest choices, which needs to count for a lot. Nothing horrible happens to extras at all– no Godzillas, no Chituri army, no escaped lunatic murdering hot teens. It’s also light, erudite, and vaguely romantical without being cloying or histrionic. And funny. Everyone is funny. Even annoying people who talk pretentiously in line for the movies are funny. But mostly, my reasons are shallow. Woody Allen’s Europe is perfect. His Paris is magical, his Rome is adorably hapless, and his Barcelona is passionate. I want to travel with Woody Allen in real life, because his vacations must be wonderful. Not to mention how fantastic his New York is. More importantly, the most beautiful women you can imagine end up with nebbishy, tiny weirdos, so there must be a plethora of moderate to very attractive men not dating incredibly beautiful women. And the CLOTHES. Everyone wears fantastic and glamorous casual clothes. I want to look carelessly fabulous in loose button downs and cargo pants all the time. Real life fabulous clothes are so binding.
2) Wes Anderson/Baz Luhrmann: I adore whimsy. Especially winsome whimsy. Wes Anderson’s world may be a little depressing and controlled, but kind of charmingly so. And of course, so very stylish. I think my blogging cohort Janet Snakehole is tailor made for this world. And good old Baz. Luhrmann’s world is insane: wildly colorful and frenetic, melodramatic and full of fervor. But how exciting that would be, especially if you weren’t the doomed lover about to die of consumption. Plus, I’ve always wanted my life to be more musical. If you believe in Art, Beauty, True Love etc, you win a kind of automatic respect in both worlds. That’s not remotely difficult.
3) William Wyler: I need one black & white option in here for curiosity’s sake and William Wyler directed 2 of my favorite movies: Roman Holiday and How to Steal a Million. Both are just so pleasant– there’s not a better way to describe it. There’s a simple joy to both, which is perfect for the day to day. And then, every once in a while, Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn drive past you on a madcap day of adventure in Rome. In my perfect real world, life would be romantic, but still humorous and grounded– it’s the reason why I love Woody Allen and William Wyler movies. Wyler also directed Funny Girl, and I really want to be around when Babs is power ballading all over early 20th century New York.
4) Ang Lee: I think Ang Lee’s world is the most beautiful. Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon remains one of the most stunning movies I’ve ever seen. It’s so achingly romantic. His movies make me heartsick. But SAD. It’s all tortured love and loneliness. The tone is both very Chinese and English (my ethnic background) i.e. full of repressed emotions, my specialty. In Ang Lee’s world, I would live pining after someone who secretly pines for me for years and years, never getting together because we’re both too restrained to say anything. I’m pretty sure that will happen anyway, but with Ang Lee directing, I’ll be better lit.
5) Steven Soderbergh: I hate and love Soderbergh in equal measure. I think part of the reason is that his movies (Oceans 11 series aside) have this realism that is simultaneously horrid and entertaining. It’s always some disparaging comment on the world we live in, but filled with much more attractive people. We can all do better, as much as I would love to go to the Magic Mike strip club (I’m 50% kidding about that desire).
6) Tim Burton: I would be so miserable in Tim Burton’s forcefully eccentric world– all Hot Topic style goth and Johnny Depp overacting everywhere you turn. Once upon a time, I really loved both Tim Burton and Johnny Depp, but that time was pre-Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. And I hate claymation that isn’t Rankin-Bass Christmas cartoons. On the other hand, it’s safe and sometimes the caprice is lovely– Big Fish world is fantastical, and Edward Scissorhands world has lots of charm, so I can’t put it too far down the list.
7) Coen Brothers/Quentin Tarantino: You Would Die. I know it would be fantastic. Hilarious. Quirky. Exciting, great music, there’s a lot of good here. But really, all action-type movies are bad choices because of the amount of collateral damage. With the Coens or Tarantino, your death is just more unique and entertaining. Like possibly by samurai sword. Or being shoved in a woodchipper.
8) Martin Scorsese: Listen, I love Scorsese movies. Still I cannot ignore that women are treated like shit. As a man, You Would Die. If you don’t die, your life still isn’t great– you are probably kind of poor/surrounded by violence. As a woman, you will be beaten, cheated on, or just generally crapped on by your horrible husband. And if your significant other is not horrible, he’ll probably be killed in the end.
9) David Lynch/Stanley Kubrick: OOF. I saw Blue Velvet way too young, and it scarred me for life. I can’t watch any Lynch without feeling deeply disturbed. Also, surreally sexual depraved and violent is not really my jam. And Kubrick! I worry about Kubrick. I think there was something horribly psychologically wrong with him. His films’ tones are so clinical. Dehumanizing.
10) Lars Von Trier: I have tried and tried to watch Lars von Trier, but his films are what I like to call “Cut Yourself Movies”. The tone of them feel so hopeless. So off-putting, so very Brechtian. It probably means they are brilliant, but I hate Bertolt Brecht. And a lot of von Trier’s films are essentially high-class creeper porn. The most innocuous one I’ve seen is The Five Obstructions, which I had to watch for a film class and was so confusing I considered dropping the course so I didn’t have to finish it. He combines the most unpleasant aspects of Lynch and Kubrick. Yeah, it’s surreal and full of sexual deviancy, BUT it’s also detached and inhuman. Huzzah. Oh Melancholia, you will probably live untouched in my Netflix queue until the end of time.
I know I’ve left out a ton of other directors (just for brevity’s sake, trust me), so please leave any thoughts/opinions/rankings of your own in the comments. Hint: Think of a world you can maneuver well as a normal person.
PS– I forgot to address this, because this seems like an obviously good choice. Romantic Comedies suck for the person not in the main couple. Good, honest, decent people get left at the altar, sidekicks are slutty/unattractive/dumb, and pretty much everyone’s only purpose is to help the main characters get together. It’s like living in Ferris Bueller’s world– yeah it’s awesome if you ARE Ferris Bueller, but if you are not, you don’t even really have an identity.