Total Recall: Anthology Movies

With Movie 43 hitting theaters, we look at some memorable movies with multiple directors.

by Jeff Giles | Thursday, Jan. 24 2013

Six in Paris

85%

The Directors: Claude Chabrol, Jean Douchet, Jean-Luc Godard, Jean-Daniel Pollet, Eric Rohmer, and Jean Rouch

The Big Idea: As you can probably guess from its title, Six in Paris united six Gallic filmmakers for an omnibus trip through the French New Wave, combining to offer one of the stronger anthologies of the early-to-mid 1960s. At the time, some critics dismissed it as little more than a mildly diverting trifle, but Paris has held up over time -- as evidenced by the words of the Minneapolis Star Tribune's Kathie Smith, who later mused, "What most ensemble films lack in cohesiveness, Six in Paris finds in historical context. Forty years later, it is an essential testament of the French New Wave's energy, ingenuity and aesthetic."

Spirits of the Dead

89%

The Directors: Federico Fellini, Louis Malle, and Roger Vadim

The Big Idea: A horror anthology with a remarkable pedigree, Spirits of the Dead presented film fans with three segments, all inspired by Edgar Allan Poe stories. Anchored by an impressive cast that included Jane and Peter Fonda, Terence Stamp, and Brigitte Bardot, Dead transcended its genre trappings to earn enthusiastic reviews -- and it still continues to resonate with currently active scribes such as Nathan Rabin of the A.V. Club, who argued that "It offers pleasures above and beyond its status as a relic of a groovier and exponentially more swinging era."

Tokyo!

74%

The Directors: Michel Gondry, Leos Carax, and Bong Joon-ho

The Big Idea: Quite a few anthology films are based around cities, but rather than offering viewers an insider's perspective into the titular city, 2008's Tokyo! took the opposite approach, enlisting three non-Japanese directors to use Tokyo as the background for a wildly diverse trio of segments. (Example: Gondry's short film adapted a comic, while Carax's concerned an onerous sewer-dwelling creature). "Grasping a unifying theme from the three distinct tales is one of the pleasures of watching the movie," mused Steve Ramos of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "Loneliness gets my vote, but Tokyo! is adventurous enough to spark many different theories."

Triangle

50%

The Directors: Tsui Hark, Ringo Lam, and Johnnie To

The Big Idea: A sort of Chinese action flick version of the grade-school game Telephone, Triangle used three directors, all working independently with separate crews and screenwriters, to tell the overarching tale of three friends (Louis Koo, Simon Yam, and Sun Honglei) who come into possession of a treasure map -- and who subsequently discover that finding said treasure may not be everything it's cracked up to be. Although a sizable number of critics found the result every bit as disjointed as you might expect, given the process that produced it, Triangle is notable for being the now-retired Lam's final film -- and, in the words of Little White Lies' Anton Bitel, for being "a convoluted crime caper with strong ethical underpinnings to support its many moods and styles."

Twilight Zone: The Movie

65%

The Directors: John Landis, Steven Spielberg, Joe Dante and George Miller

The Big Idea: The Twilight Zone had been off the air for nearly 20 years when its cinematic counterpart arrived in theaters in 1983, but its basic proposition -- offering a series of unrelated, grimly disquieting short stories to viewers looking for a few things that went bump in the night -- remained just as brilliantly effective. And given that Warner Bros. lined up a stable of suitably talented directors to usher filmgoers into its theatrical Zone, it should have been a huge hit -- but while it more than recouped its $10 million budget, critics and audiences were relatively lukewarm to the movie, which also suffered from being overshadowed by a real-life on-set tragedy that killed actor Vic Morrow. For Keith Breese of Filmcritic, however, the overall effect was "a roller-coaster homage to adolescence."

V/H/S

55%

The Directors: Adam Wingard, David Bruckner, Ti West, Glenn McQuaid, Joe Swanberg, and Radio Silence (Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett, Justin Martinez and Chad Villella)

The Big Idea: Giving a smart-in-theory twist to the burgeoning crowd of found-footage horror flicks, V/H/S used a framing device (a group of criminals break into a house to steal a VHS tape for a client) to unite a series of lo-fi-looking shorts into a 116-minute whole. Unsurprisingly, critical mileage varied wildly, with some scribes hailing it as brilliantly scary and others dismissing it as two hours of footage that was visually as well as narratively shaky. "The mostly played-out found footage aesthetic has its limitations, and V/H/S doesn't escape all of them," admitted Ian Buckwalter for the Atlantic. "But the collected directors do manage to make many of those limitations into the films' strengths."

Visions of Eight

40%

The Directors: Milos Forman, Claude Lelouch, Yuri Ozerov, Mai Zetterling, Kon Ichikawa, John Schlesinger, Arthur Penn, and Michael Pfleghar

The Big Idea: Admirable in theory if perhaps not entirely in execution, Visions of Eight united eight of the most noteworthy directors of the early 1970s to offer their unique takes on the 1972 Summer Olympics. Intentionally incomprehensive and willfully scattered, Visions resisted the familiar narrative frameworks of traditional sports films, and paid for it with largely dismissive reviews that accused the film of -- in Variety's words -- "[forgetting] the idea of sport and competition itself, to indulge in ideas." It found an appreciative audience in Roger Ebert, however; as he wrote approvingly, "What nobody could have anticipated, perhaps, is how similar many of those visions would be."

Take a look through the rest of our Total Recall archives. And don't forget to check out the reviews for Movie 43.

Finally, here's the trailer for Tales from the Crypt, one of the creepiest anthology movies ever:

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