When Filmmakers AttackEverybody knows that actors and writers are constantly abusing each other. Afterall, gossip and insults are always flying in Hollywood. What many dont know,however, is that like actors and musicians, filmmakers also carry around giganticegos and dont mind showing it. Directors usually have a good deal to say abouttheir peers, and their insults can be every bit as entertaining as the movies theymake.Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs), is no stranger to being underfire. The content in Tarantinos movies is known to flirt with the line, and at leastthree of the film directors peers have thrown insults his way.French director Jean-Luc Godard (All the Boys Are Called Patrick, In Praise ofLove) openly criticized Tarantino for naming his production company, A BandApart, after one of his own films. "Tarantino named his production company afterone of my films," Godard said. "Hed have done better to give me some money."Harmony Korine wrote the screenplay for Kids, a critically-acclaimed film releasedin July 1995. He also had a few negative things to say about Tarantinos films."Quentin Tarantino seems to be too concerned with other films. I mean, aboutappropriating other movies, like in a blender. I think its, like, really funny at thetime Im seeing it, but then, I dont know. Theres a void there. Some of thereferences are flat, just pop culture," Korine said.Nick Broomfield (Biggie & Tupac, Ghosts) stated that watching Tarantinos filmswas "like watching a schoolboys fantasy of violence and sex, which normallyQuentin Tarantino would be wanking alone to in his bedroom while this mother ismaking his baked beans downstairs," he said. "Only this time, hes got HarveyWeinstein behind him and its on a million screens."Accomplished African American director Spike Lee (Inside Man, Malcolm X) gotvocal about Tarantinos excessive use of the N-word in many of his films. Yes, thatN-word. Considering the circumstances, Lee wasnt as angry as one might expect."Im not against the word," he said, "and I use it, but not excessively." Spike Leealso asked, rhetorically, if Tarantino was trying to be made an "honorary blackman." What Spike Lee didnt say, however, was that although he may use the word,he doesnt do so in the same context as Tarantino, whose movies have seriousracial implications.
This criticism isnt without validity: Tarantinos films frequently portray characterswho are outwardly racist against African Americans. In many instances, the N-word is used by many of Tarantinos characters as a general reference to anythingstupid, unorganized or undesirable. The director defended his use of the word bysaying that it was not his responsibility to take the power out of the word.Tarantino also said that the N-word was true to many of his characters, and heclaimed that not using it would have been a lie. Samuel L. Jackson, a popularAfrican American actor, stood up for Tarantino, alleging that Tarantino had "liveda black lifestyle for a while."Of course, Tarantino is not the only person that Spike Lee has grappled with. "Wegot a black president, and we going back to Mantan Moreland and Sleep n Eat?"Lee said of Tyler Perry, another successful African American director whosecredits include Meet the Browns (2008) and Madea Goes to Jail (2009). Perry hada somewhat unfriendly reply for Lee:"Spike can go straight to hell," Perry said. "You can print that. Spike needs to shutthe hell up."Spike Lee also lashed out at film legend Clint Eastwood, openly criticizing him fornot including African Americans in scripts like Letters From Iwo Jima and Flagsof Our Fathers. Spike Lee called himself a "student of history," and mentioned themillion or so African Americans who contributed to the Ally victory in World WarII. Eastwood suggested that Spike Lee knew nothing about American history. Henoted that the U.S. military was segregated during World War II and pointed outthat the only African American battalion on Iwo Jima was a small munitionssupply unit on the beach. "The story was about the men who raised the flag,"Eastwood said, "and we cant make them black if they werent there."There were some who speculated that by attacking Eastwood, Lee was simplytrying to promote his own movie, Miracle at St. Anna, which was about AfricanAmerican soldiers in World War II. This doesnt come as much of a surprise toanyone, since many people have expressed the belief that Spike Lee is raciallymotivated. "A guy like him should shut his face," Eastwood said.Ingmar Bergman, a famous Swedish director, was born in July 1918 and worked asa filmmaker from 1944-2005. He died on July 30, 2007. During his career,Bergman insulted an assortment of other famous directors. Eventually, Bergmansuffered an arrest for income tax evasion, the shame of which led him to a nervousbreakdown.
"Ive never gotten anything out of his movies," Bergman said of Jean-Luc Godard."Theyve felt constructed, faux intellectual and completely dead. [Godards workis] cinematographically uninteresting and infinitely boring. Godard is a fu**ingbore! Hes made his films for the critics. One of the movies, Masculin, Feminin,was shot here in Sweden. It was mind-numbingly boring."Michelangelo Antonioni (Eclipse, Red Desert) also received an insult fromBergman. "Fellini, Kurosawa and Bunuel move in the same field as Tarkovsky," hesaid. "Antonioni was on his way but expired, suffocated by his own tediousness."Bergman also criticized Orson Welles and his hit film, Citizen Kane. "For me, hesjust a hoax," Bergman said. "Its empty, uninteresting and dead. Citizen Kane,which I have a copy of, is all the critics darling. [It is] always at the top of everypoll taken, but I think its a total bore. Above all, the performances were worthless.The amount of respect that movie got is absolutely unbelievable."Of course, no filmmaker is innocent, and Orson Welles is no exception. Wellesharshly insulted Jean-Luc Godards intelligence. "His gifts as a director areenormous," Welles said. "I just cant take him seriously as a thinker, and thatswhere we seem to differ, because he does. His message is what he cares aboutthese days, and, like most movie messages, it could be written on the head of apin."French filmmaker Francois Truffaut (Fahrenheit 451, The Woman Next Door) alsotook a shot at Michelangelo Antonioni. "Antonioni is the only important director Ihave nothing good to say about. He bores me; hes so solemn and humorless."Although there are plenty of mouthy filmmakers out there, some are mouthier thanothers. Jacques Rivette (Gang of Four, The Nun) is surely one of the worst. He hasopenly mocked directors Stanley Kubrick, James Cameron and Steven Spielberg:"Kubrick is a machine, a mutant, a martian," Rivette said. "He has no humanfeeling whatsoever, but its great when the machine films other machines, as in2001."Jacques Rivette even managed to insult two well-known directors, James Cameronand Steven Spielberg, in a single strike. "James Cameron isnt evil," he said. "Hesnot an asshole like Spielberg. He wants to be the new De Mille. Unfortunately, hecant direct his way out of a paper bag."
Vincent Gallo, who wrote and directed Buffalo 66 (1998), The Brown Bunny(2003) and Promises Written in Water (2010), ruthlessly insulted both Spike Jonze,the director of Being John Malkovich (1999), Adaptation (2002) and Where theWild Things Are (2009), and Martin Scorsese, who is best known for his hitgangster films like Goodfellas (1990), Casino (1995) and The Departed (2006).Gallo also cruelly insulted Sofia and Francis Ford Coppola."Hes the biggest fraud out there," Gallo said of Spike Jonze. "If you bring him to aparty, hes the least interesting person at the party. Hes the person who doesntknow anything; hes the person who doesnt say anything funny, interesting [or]intelligent. Hes a pig piece of shit."Gallos comments about Scorsese were not any better: "I wouldnt work forScorsese for $10 million. He hasnt made a good film in 25 years. I would neverwork for an ego-maniac has-been," he said. Apparently, Gallo doesnt judge thequality of films or their makers by the awards or recognition they receive; in 2007,Scorsese received the Academy Award for Best Director, and his film,TheDeparted, won the award for Best Picture.Unlike most directors criticisms, which mostly pertain to the work of their peers,Gallos remarks about Sofia and Francis Ford Coppola were shocking: "SofiaCoppola likes any guy who has what she wants. If she wants to be a photographer,shell f**k a photographer. If she wants to be a filmmaker, shell f**k afilmmaker," he said. "Shes a parasite just like her fat, pig father was."Werner Herzog (Ballad of the Little Soldier, Invincible) lashed out at both Jean-Luc Godard and Abel Ferrara (Ms. 45, King of New York):"Someone like Jean-Luc Godard is, for me, intellectual counterfeit money whencompared to a good Kung-Fu film," Herzog said. Of Abel Ferrara, he said, "I haveno idea who Abel Ferrara is, but let him fight the windmills. Ive never seen a filmby him. I have no idea who he is. Is he Italian? Is he French? Who is he?"Gallo actually accused Abel Ferrara of doing crack and attempting to steal fromhim! "Abel Ferrara was on so much crack when I did The Funeral [that] he wasnever on set. He was in my room trying to pick-pocket me."Steven Spielberg took low blows from both Jean-Luc Godard and Alex Cox (ThreeBusinessmen, Sleep is for Sissies). When asked about Spielberg, Godard replied, "Idont know him personally. I dont think his films are very good." Cox said that
Steven Spielberg was a confectioner, not a filmmaker.David Gordon Green (All the Real Girls, George Washington) belittled the work ofKevin Smith (Clerks, Dogma). "He kind of created a Special Olympics for film,"Green said. "They just kind of lowered the standard. Im sure their parents areproud; its just nothing I care to buy a ticket for."Kevin Smith and Tim Burton (Batman, Sleepy Hollow) also had a heated exchangeof words, which sparked when Smith jokingly accused Burton of ripping off theending of Planet of the Apes from one of Smiths comic books. "Anyone whoknows me knows that I would never read a comic book, and I would especiallynever read anything created by Kevin Smith," Burton said."Which, to me," Smith fired back at Burton, "explains fu**ing Batman." Smithalso made some harsh comments about Paul Thomas Andersons movie, Magnolia:"Ill never watch it again, but I will keep it," he said. "Ill keep it right on my deskas a constant reminder that a bloated sense of self-importance is the mostunattractive quality in a person or their work."M. Night Shymalan (Unbreakable, The Sixth Sense) took a tongue lashing fromDavid Cronenberg (The Fly, Eastern Promises). Of Shymalan, Cronenberg said, "Ihate that guy! Next question."In reference to Sir Richard Attenborough (A Bridge Too Far, In Love and War),Ken Russell (Dantes Inferno, Prisoner of Honor) said, "Sir Richard Im-going-to-attack-the-establishment-50-years-after-its-dead Attenborough is guilty ofcaricature, a sense of righteous self-satisfaction and repetition, which allundermine the impact of the film."Michael Bay (Armageddon, Bad Boys) found himself under fire by Uwe Boll(Alone in the Dark, Rampage). "Im not a fu**ing retard like Michael Bay," Bollsaid.Insults in Hollywood, like insults anywhere else, range in both seriousness andseverity. Sometimes, they are simply muttered by a director in retaliation for aprior criticism. Other times, however, the insults are just plain nasty, and theymake fans aware of some of the many rivalries in the film business. These insultsalso shed more than a little light on the egotistical attitudes of filmmakers ingeneral. Behind all the insults, one thing remains clear: When you get people this
arrogant and conceited too close to each other, and sometimes even when youdont, the results will always be entertaining.