Six Pack of Director’s First Feature Films

By: Movie Snurb –

Since it’s January and the 1st of the year I wanted to do a Six Pack of Director’s first films. A lot of Directors’ first attempts at the big screen are ok to bad. It’s not always that their first attempt is great. So this isn’t a six pack of the best first films by directors, but rather, first attempts by directors that I either think you should check out or ones that I love. It was hard deciding on six films so I will definitely revisit this theme again.

The Babadook (Jennifer Kent)

I’ve watched a lot of horror films in my life. I spent my summers in high school renting three movies a week at Blockbuster because I was such a super cool kid. So needless to say horror movies don’t really get to me or get under my skin, but The Babadook freaked me out. Replacing jump scares for an uneasy feeling all throughout makes for a film that will stick with you. Jump scares are a momentary feeling, but a creepy movie will stick with you and make you check your closet before you go to bed. It’s a brilliant horror that is utterly terrifying, led by an amazing performance by Essie Davis who is either steadily falling into insanity or is actually being stalked by a creature. This is easily one of the best films of the 21st century.

Keegans Ales – Mother’s Milk Stout

I honestly picked this one for the name. What is more terrifying as a child then when the person you trust most begins to fear for your life? Enjoy this dark beer while you watch this film in the dark and be thankful your Mom isn’t spiraling into insanity.

Badlands (Terrence Malick)

I discovered this film after watching other later Malick films. It’s interesting to see great directors’ tendencies even in their first films. Sometimes directors find their voice along the way, but Malick is one who has always had the same tendencies. Such as his use of voiceover, usually from someone who seems either naïve or insightful into the human condition, or his use of juxtaposing ugly human violence with the beauty of nature. The cinematography of his films is so gorgeous and has only gotten better with time and bigger budgets. When you watch any Malick film you’ll find most or all of these elements within them. Badlands is about a young couple who go on the run and begin a murder spree in Texas in the 50s. If you’ve never seen a Malick film this is a great place to start, which is how a director’s first film should be.

Southern Star Brewing Co. – Blood Belt

 This is a great summer beer to drink while you watch two people troll the state of Texas looking to kill. With its blood orange flavor and its red tint it pairs perfectly with all the bloodshed in this film. Might need a couple to keep you cool while you watch this film.

Hunger (Steve McQueen)

Steve McQueen is a brilliant visual storyteller, but his films never come off as too stylized. His films are full of substance and when added to McQueen’s purposeful direction, this deservedly earned him a Best Director Oscar for 12 Years a Slave, which went on to win Best picture as well. His first feature film, Hunger, shows off his ability to tell an entire story through the camera lens rather than from the script. Hunger takes place in Maze Prison in Northern Ireland where IRA Prisoners are protesting to be recognized as political prisoners. It’s a nearly silent film with the bulk of the dialogue coming from a scene between Michael Fassbender and a Priest. McQueen has a knack for displaying images and letting the audience piece together what either happened, is happening, or is going to happen. He is so precise with what he wants you to see and not see- it’s a brilliant skill and done no better since his directorial debut.

Guinness Ltd. – Guinness Golden Ale

I wanted to pick an Irish beer, and I thought about original Guinness, but then I thought that this might be too heavy of a beer. This is a dark and unrelenting film, so I think a lighter beer would go better with Hunger so everything isn’t so heavy. So hopefully this beer will make it a little easier to digest this film.

Hard Eight (Paul Thomas Anderson)

This is not PTA’s best film, it might rank last in his filmography for me; however, I don’t think PTA has ever made a bad film. Hard Eight is definitely not a well-known film and fans of his probably didn’t start with this film. Like his other films it’s a character study on family, regrets, and creating a family from friends and not from blood. We follow Sydney, played by Phillip Baker Hall (in probably his best performance), as he takes John played by John C. Reilly under his wing and teaches him how to earn big money through the casinos in Las Vegas while playing slots. We later find out years earlier Sydney murdered John’s father and he’s always felt guilty about this. Sydney is trying to earn redemption, which is a theme in many of PTA films. It may not be his best film, but it’s still very good and worth a watch by any cinefile.

Abita Brewing Co. – Abita Bourbon Street Old Fashion Pale Ale

I wanted a nice sipping beer to partner with this film. Vegas usually makes for a great backdrop for a cool movie, and that’s the case here. After viewing this film I wanted to immediately fly to Vegas and just sit at the tables and gamble. So sip this while you hang out with John C. Reilly as he gambles.

Fruitvale Station (Ryan Coogler)

Ryan Coogler has quickly proven that he’s one of the most capable and exciting directors working right now. It didn’t take long for studios to recognize his talent and give him large funds to make big studio films, his latest being possibly the best MCU film to date- Black Panther. Like all first time directors he started with a small independent film called Fruitvale Station. It tells the true story about Oscar Grant who was murdered by Police Officers on the BART at Fruitvale Station in Oakland. Oscar is played by Michael B. Jordan who gives a brilliant performance, letting the audience get to know Oscar in his final day. Coogler’s true genius is showing Oscar in an unbiased light, not making him a martyr but a human who was murdered. His rapport with Michael B. Jordan has only gotten stronger with their next two films and I cannot wait to see what’s next. Fruitvale Station is an unflinching film and one that everyone needs to see.

Bayerische Staatsbrauerel Weihenstephan – Hefeweissbier

Another film where you’re just hanging out with the protagonist. We get to just hang out with Oscar in his last days so I wanted to pick a good hang out beer. Yes, the name is a mouthful, but it’s absolutely one of my favorite beers. It’s a great beer to drink when you have some friends over and everyone is just hanging out.

Blood Simple (Joel & Ethan Coen)

I feel like the Coen brothers are two of the most idiosyncratic directors working today, the just don’t feel like it because they’re often imitated but never replicated. The only director/writer that can pull off dark sardonic humor like the Coen brothers is Martin McDonagh, whose In Bruges deserves to be in one of the six packs in the future. Blood Simple is full of everything the Coen brothers love; dark humor, a violent, witty script, and deceptive characters. I only recently watched Blood Simple and after viewing it, it feels like a warm up for their future Oscar winning film No Country for Old Men. A brilliant Neo-Western that takes places in the heart of Texas. Another debut in this film was Frances McDormand’s. The brothers originally wanted Holly Hunter, but she suggested her roommate McDormand, which clearly worked out for everyone. If you’ve never seen a Coen brothers film I wouldn’t start with this one, but you should absolutely watch it.

Night Shift Brewing – Whirlpool

I almost picked the Blood Belt beer for this one, but thought that would be too on-the-nose. I wanted another good summer beer because it’s another film in Texas in the summer. However, a lot of this film is at night, so I went with a Night Shift Brewing summer beer with hints of citrus flavor to keep you cool while you sweat this thriller out.

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