LONDON — The mega-success of franchise pictures like “Harry Potter,” “The Lord of the Rings” and “Die Another Day” has made the role of the so-called auteur, in a word, dicey.
When awards season looms, Hollywood begins congratulating, celebrating and schmoozing its few working auteurs in order not to miss out completely on the kudos craziness that temporarily eliminates the word “franchise” from Hollywood vocabularies, replacing it with “visionary,” “groundbreaking” and “fearless.” I have an easier solution to replace all of this false sentiment: What I propose is a European “Auteur Airlift to Hollywood” (AAH!), which will solve not only the forced enthusiasm dilemma, but also Euro cinema’s major problem: Europe has brilliant auteurs coming out of its ears, but they don’t necessarily sell tickets.
Think of it: They work on tiny budgets, under difficult production circumstances, but still bring home terrific films. What if they had Hollywood stars and commercial projects? These plucky helmers could also provide the creative zip that several of Hollywood’s biggest thesps are clearly craving.
Here’s a quick list of Euro auteurs and perfect Hollywood projects for the AAH! Plan:
- Sweden’s Lukas Moodysson to direct the next Eminem pic. Moodysson’s “Lilja 4-Ever” is his third well-crafted film in a row, which is no mean feat since Ingmar Bergman declared his first film, “Fucking Amal,” “a masterpiece.” Eminem has recently voiced fears that he has “gotten too big.” Time to get the edge, M Man: Go Euro.
- Spain’s Julio Medem to direct the next Jennifer Lopez vehicle. The sultry diva has gone mainstream, with middling box office results, but the director of “Sex and Lucia” could put the fire back in her performances and B.O.
- Greece’s Olga Malea to direct the next Sandra Bullock comedy. With a hit in her homeland, the risque domestic farce “Risotto,” this could be the Grecian formula that gets Bullock to push past the safe confines of her current comedic fare.
- Sean Penn can take his pick from England’s Ken Loach, a fellow dissident, or Finland’s current reigning champ, Aki Kaurismaki. Both Loach’s “Sweet 16” and Kaurismaki’s “Man Without a Past” are examples of great filmmakers working at their peak.
- Finally, since Robert Redford, despite his support via Sundance, hasn’t worked with American indie auteurs in about three decades, maybe he’ll try the Euro waters. We’ll start him in safe hands. Airlift England’s billion-dollar screenwriter-turned-director Richard Curtis over as soon as he wraps “Love Actually” and Redford will have the best of both worlds: commercial muscle and terrific English tweeds.