Tuesday, November 28, 2006


Earlier today, my friend Morgan asked me to name--off the top of my head--a pair of consecutive movies that showed an enormous fall from grace for a filmmaker. That is: Film A is considered an unimpeachable masterpiece and was followed by an utterly disasterous Film B. Morgan's example:
  • Schindler's List -> The Lost World: Jurassic Park 2.

I guess I have Altman on the brain (sigh) as my first thought was:
  • Short Cuts -> Prêt-à-Porter.

Tim's contribution:
  • sex, lies, and videotape -> Kafka.

Kinda fun, no? Your picks in the comment section. (And I'm opening it up to... whatever. It doesn't have to be a director; musicians, authors, actors, etc. are all fair game.)


At 8:47 AM, Blogger John Barleycorn said...

Bob Dylan:
Nashville Skyline: 1969
Self Portrait: 1970

At 9:48 AM, Blogger Ben said...

Such a good call. I was too lazy to look up Dylan's discography, but I knew there had to be something cataclysmic.

At 11:23 AM, Anonymous Filmbrain said...

Schindler's List a masterpiece?

At 11:34 AM, Anonymous Filmbrain said...

How about:

Star Wars: Episode IV --> Star Wars: Episode I

At 11:46 AM, Blogger Ben said...

FB: I know. Schindler's is a tough call-- it's more a perceived masterpiece, but enough people love it and think so highly of it... blah blah blah. That's how I was thinking of the Lucas drop off too. But I think it works because enough people consider the first Star Wars a masterpiece.

At 11:47 AM, Blogger Ben said...

This is a blind stab as I've never seen the second but...
Altman, round two:
Nashville -> Buffalo Bill and the Indians.

At 11:50 AM, Blogger Ben said...

Oh and:
Ang Lee:
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon -> The Hulk. (Again, I don't consider CTHD a masterpiece, but I think I might be in the minority on that.)

And howzabout:
Brian Helgeland (screenwriter):
L.A. Confidential -> The Postman.

At 11:57 AM, Blogger Ben said...

How about some mid-'90s indie dudes:

Danny Boyle:
Trainspotting -> A Life Less Ordinary.

Bryan Singer:
The Usual Suspects -> Apt Pupil.

At 2:53 PM, Blogger Tim said...

You get The Secret History from Donna Tartt and then you wait a decade for The Little Friend. Yeah, not so much.

At 4:10 PM, Anonymous Nayiri said...

Tim, you are so right. Sooooo right.
Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, So Little Time --> Getting There
Monica Bellucci, Irréversible --> Tears of the Sun
Jeffrey Eugenides, The Virgin Suicides --> Middlesex
Kirsten Dunst, Fifteen and Pregnant --> everything else

At 4:53 PM, Blogger Ben said...

How fucking dare you say that shit about Mr. Euginedes! (But welcome to the conversation, Nayiri. How are things?) Sigh. I can't wait for Josh to see that comment and then you two can gang up on me a tell me how effing boring Middlesex is, but I will hear none of it. NONE OF IT.

At 7:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Guillermo del Toro:
The Devil's Backbone -> Blade II

At 7:24 AM, Anonymous grahams said...

Masterpiece is a stretch, but:

Gus Van Sant: Good Will Hunting -> Psycho (or, actually, now that I think about it, everything after GWH was horrible)

At 7:28 AM, Anonymous hhh said...

David Lynch:

The Elephant Man >> Dune

At 7:29 AM, Anonymous Trent said...


Pinkerton -> The Green Album

Talk about following genius with garbage...

At 7:41 AM, Anonymous Andy Croll said...

(What's The Story) Morning Glory -> Be Here Now

As evidenced by Noel Gallagher's choice of the tracks on their greatest hits not including any tracks from the latter!

At 7:51 AM, Anonymous Mark said...

The Green Album is Awesome therefore making you horribly wrong. The real Weezer crime is The Green Album -> Maladroit.

At 7:53 AM, Anonymous Dario said...

Guy Ritchie: Snatch --> Swept Away (Snatch was not a masterpiece but compared to Swept Away it was Citizen Kane-like)

Darren Aronofsky: Pi --> Requiem for a Dream (I dunno if Pi is that great but the second is so awful)

Todd Solondz: Happiness --> Stroytelling
Steven Spielberg: Saving Private Ryan --> AI

Bob Dylan: Slow Train coming --> Saved
Black Sabbath: Sabotage --> Technical Ecstasy (the first not a masterpiece but their last great album)

At 7:55 AM, Anonymous Dario said...

I was going to include the same comparison Andy Croll did but i wasn't sure to consider Morning Glory a masterpiece or Be Here Now a terrible album.

At 8:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Planet of the Apes > Beneath the Planet of the Apes

At 8:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about:

Leon the Professional -> The Fifth Element

At 8:48 AM, Blogger risible said...

I haven't seen Leon the Professional, but I just re-watched Fifth Element. As long as you understand that it's a comedy, I think it is great fun. Same with the Matrix movies. Remember when Morpheus holds up the battery?

At 8:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Although they weren't their follow-up movies, it's interesting how Angelina Jolie, Halle Berry, and Charlize Theron all went from Oscar winners to starring in horribly awful cartoon/comic/videogame movies.

At 8:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Although they weren't their follow-up movies, it's interesting how Angelina Jolie, Halle Berry, and Charlize Theron all went from Oscar winners to starring in horribly awful cartoon/comic/videogame movies.

At 8:59 AM, Blogger josh said...

"Brian Helgeland (screenwriter):
L.A. Confidential -> The Postman."

i think it's a bit rough to do screenwriters, for a few reasons.

1. you don't know WHEN they wrote the movie. he very well could have written the Postman 5 years before LA Confidential.

2. you don't know how much of it they wrote - studios generally bring on several uncredited writers, or bring on a name writer like Helgeland and even though they only write like 10 pages of fixes, keep tehir name.

3. writers have little control over the final film. a great script can people a terrible movie very easily.

At 9:10 AM, Anonymous August said...

I'm going to have to disagree with "A Life Less Ordinary" and "The Fifth Element", and even "Requiem for a Dream". All of them are films with different things to say (the two comedies in particular) and need to be looked at differently from their predecessors.


Jean-Pierre Jeunet

City of Lost Children > Alien Ressurection

At 9:44 AM, Anonymous Jonathan Dobres said...

I think it's a stretch to call Requiem for a Dream a bomb, much less call Pi more or less of a bomb in comparison.

My picks?

The Matrix --> The Sequels

Lord of the Rings --> King Kong

Has anyone tried this with books?

At 9:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Francis Ford Coppola

Ths Cotton Club -- Peggy Sue Got Married


At 9:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Francis Ford Coppola

Ths Cotton Club --> Peggy Sue Got Married


At 9:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bill Murray

Ghostbusters --> The Razor's Edge


At 10:07 AM, Anonymous undulattice said...


Requiem for a Dream is far from a bomb.
I think it's a great film.
Gonna be interesting what happens with 'The Fountain'.....

At 10:40 AM, Blogger Ben said...

Whoa. It's nice to walk away from your blog and come back and find that Kottke has provided a link to it, opening the challenge up considerably.

The Weezer drop-off is such a good call. (Although I'm an unabashed fan of the The Green Album's poppiness, so I side with Mark... Maladroit is just terrible.)

Jonathan: to answer your question-- there's been one book submission thus far. Near the top--comment 10 or so--Tim threw out the dead-on Donna Tartt's The Secret History-->Little Friend.

At 11:14 AM, Anonymous Nayiri said...

Benny, way to disregard my Eugenides comment because you disagree. Jerk.
Christian Bale, Je t'aime, but American Psycho --> Shaft?!
Kevin Canty, Into the Great Wide Open --> Nine Below Zero
Chris Bachalo, pre1997 --> post1997
Spike Jonze, not taking commercials, videos and skateboard shoots into consideration, Being John Malkovich --> Adaptation.

At 11:15 AM, Anonymous bensch said...

How about the 90's musicians that went off the radar after creating their masterpieces:

Kevin Shields (My Bloody Valentine) - Loveless (1991)

Jeff Mangum (Neutral Milk Hotel) - In the Aeroplane Over the Sea (1998)

At 11:17 AM, Anonymous Constantin said...

Well, totally disagree with putting Aronofsky up for discussion. Here's mine (book-wise):

Jonathan Safran Foer:
"Everything's illuminated" -> "Extremely Loud & Incredibly close"

and Kubrick:
"Clockwork Orange" -> "Barry Lyndon"

And, yes. You can coun't me in for calling Schindler's List a masterpiece, bad research and all.

Greetings from Berlin!
Constantin @ Luftbruecke

At 11:21 AM, Blogger Mickslam said...


Not only that, these examples are true masterpieces.

Many people rate them as their favorites, or best albums ever.

Two of my faves for sure. I've listened to both at least 100 times.

At 11:24 AM, Anonymous Joshua Ellis said...

Lou Reed:

Magic And Loss --> Set The Twilight Reeling

and also

Berlin --> Sally Can't Dance (I know he did Rock 'n' Roll Animal in-between, but that's a live album, so it doesn't count.)

(Actually, Lou Reed's entire musical career is this, over and over.)

And if you're a total music snob:

Bruce Springsteen:
Nebraska --> Born In The USA

And the most obvious musical one in the past twenty years:

The Stone Roses:

The Stone Roses --> Second Coming

At 11:29 AM, Blogger Tim said...

Marty, Marty, Marty.

Taxi Driver -- New York, New York

At 11:31 AM, Blogger Tim said...

And why not stir shit up...

David Cronenberg

Spider -- A History of Violence

At 11:35 AM, Blogger Tim said...

And I know they're not classics, but Barry Levinson did make Everlasting Piece after Liberty Heights and also followed Wag the Dog with Sphere.

At 11:41 AM, Anonymous August said...

Oh, man, Adaptation was brilliant. And I'm gonna have to go ahead and disagree with anything by Cronenberg being a masterpiece.

With books, hrm. Let's see, off the top of my head...

Dave Eggers:

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius > You Shall Know Our Velocity

Umberto Eco:

Foucault's Pendulum > The Island of the Day Before

It can be harder with books, because authorial careers tend to go in more of a bell-curve.

At 12:14 PM, Blogger Bill said...

Frampton Comes Alive!/I'm In You

At 12:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Second Coming is underrated.

At 1:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

jason kottke --> is a fuckwit

At 4:07 PM, Blogger dritchie said...

The Coen Bros.

Fargo, Big Lebowski, O Brother --> Intolerable Cruelty, The Ladykillers

At 4:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't you dare call Adaptation a disaster follow-up. That movie is brilliant. Oscar nods for actor and screenplay, right?

Hands off Barry Lyndon as well. That movie is beautiful.

Wasn't History of Violence nominated for an Oscar? At least William Hurt was. Tough to call that a disaster.

How about Clerks and then Mallrats?

At 4:40 PM, Blogger Lou said...

Neutral Milk Hotel doesn't work, because they didn't fall off the radar. Mangum had enough and just stopped. If they put out an album today, it would sell like hotcakes. Or hot somethings.

At 4:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about:

Family Guy --> American Dad

At 5:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Curtis Sittenfeld: Prep--->Man of My Dreams

And, yes, Prep is a masterpeice. Don't knock it just because it's marketed to teen girls.

At 5:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lukas Moodysson

Lilya 4-Ever --> A Hole in my heart

At 6:49 PM, Blogger KarinGal said...

Frank McCourt's Angela's Ashes = heartbreakingly beautiful.

Frank McCourt's 'Tis = shite.

At 9:03 PM, Anonymous nayiri said...

Oh my god, Prep is no masterpiece, nor is it anything remotely close. It's trite and entirely cringeworthy. I'm not knocking it because it's marketed to adolescent girls; I'm knocking it because it sucks.
Re: Adaptation, it's self-indulgent. And don't even think about pulling any "it's a post-modern, tongue-in-cheek glimpse of modern so-called literature and its corresponding culture" crap. I'm not buying it.
But oh, how I miss Mangum & Co.

At 11:54 PM, Blogger Joshua said...

Fuck you! "Apt Pupil" is about fifty times as amazing as "The Faggy Suspects!"

I haven't read all these so I don't give a shit if I repeat someone else's idea:

Chirstopher Nolan

At 11:58 PM, Blogger Joshua said...

I also agree with Nayiri about Eugenides. Actually, I haven't read "The Virgin Suicides" so for all I know it's even worse than "Middlesex." Sorry if I don't think bearded Greek ladies are hilarious.

At 3:49 AM, Anonymous G said...

Thomas Pynchon:

Gravity's Rainbow --> Vineland

I love me some Thomas Pynchon (read Rainbow three times), but after 17 years, I think we were all hoping for something more spectacular.

At 3:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about the USA....

Bill Clinton > G W Bush

At 3:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about the USA....

Bill Clinton > G W Bush

At 6:22 AM, Anonymous Niklas said...

Morrissey: "Vauxhall & I" --> "The World Of Morrissey"

OK, so a studio album to a compilation, but it's still a horrid move.

Paul Schrader, the script-writer: "Raging Bull" ---> "Cat People"

Halle Berry: from making "X2" (do note I don't even like that movie", to making "Gothica" (which is so bad it almost defies belief) and then "Catwoman", which she actually picked up a Razzie for, calling it a "piece of shit film"

Al Pacino: "Donnie Brasco" ---> "The Devil's Advocate"

Nathalie Portman: "Mars Attacks!" ---> "Star Wars: Episode I"

At 8:06 AM, Blogger n0wak said...

"Fear and Loating in Las Vegas" -> "Brothers Grimm" / "Tideland"

At 9:34 AM, Blogger Ben said...

Josh: I actually don't think Apt Pupil is that bad. It's a perception thing.

At 9:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

J. Gyllenhaal:
Donnie Darko -> Bubble Boy

H. Ledger
Brokeback Mountain -> Cassanova

S. Connery

Entrapment & Finding Forrester -> League of Extrordinary Gentlemen -also- The Hunt for Red October -> Highlander II

At 11:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Damn! '"it's a post-modern, tongue-in-cheek glimpse of modern so-called literature and its corresponding culture" crap' is my film argument ace-in-the-hole! I feel so pigeon-holed!

At 5:06 PM, Blogger Becky said...

Peter Bogdanovich:

The Last Picture Show (1971) , What's Up, Doc? (1972) , Paper Moon (1973), then...

Daisy Miller (1974)

At 9:54 PM, Blogger Ben said...

Bogdy's a good call.

Now, I don't feel this way, but I promise you, there will be blood re:

Mulholland Dr. -> Inland Empire.

At 7:27 AM, Blogger Barry Ritholtz said...

Ridley Scott, director:

Blade Runner --> Legend

Now thats a comedown

At 1:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whoever included Barry Lyndon is clueless.

At 7:54 AM, Blogger beajerry said...

Original post --> Most of the comments.

At 9:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Leon the Professional -> The Fifth Element

Are you mad? Both of those are amazing movies.

At 9:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A lot of these are awfully dependant on your personal opinion. How about some that are undeniable atrocities?

At 4:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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