Total Recall: Anthology Movies

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

Anthologies

With 11 directors, 15 writers, and a cast of dozens, this weekend's Movie 43 is the biggest picture of 2013 -- at least in terms of cast and crew. But all those people didn't get together to make any old film: Movie 43 is part of the rich Hollywood tradition of anthologies -- movies in which sometimes-disparate collections of filmmakers come together to create a larger statement. We decided to dedicate this week's list to those efforts, and while limiting our choices to movies with multiple directors forced us to make some painful cuts (sorry, Creepshow fans), we still ended up with a pretty broad overview of a genre that's probably never gotten enough love from mainstream audiences. It's time for Total Recall!

Amazon Women on the Moon

64%

The Directors: Joe Dante, Carl Gottlieb, Peter Horton, and John Landis

The Big Idea: Perhaps because the format lends itself to larger casts and crews, anthology films tend to explore big ideas and weighty themes -- but they can also work pretty well as comedy collections, as evidenced by 1987's pleasantly scattershot late-night cable staple Amazon Women on the Moon. Offering a manic 1980s update to earlier goofball shorts compendiums like The Boob Tube and Kentucky Fried Movie (whose director, John Landis, helmed a segment here), Amazon Women is probably silly more than anything else, but on the whole, it generates a surprising amount of laughs. Janet Maslin of the New York Times was suitably entertained, calling it "An anarchic, often hilarious adventure in dial-spinning, a collection of brief skits and wacko parodies that are sometimes quite clever, though they're just as often happily sophomoric, too."

Mode: HLS Link

Boccaccio '70

75%

The Directors: Vittorio De Sica, Luchino Visconti, Federico Fellini, and Mario Monicelli

The Big Idea: Weighing in at a hefty 208 minutes, the complete Boccaccio '70 is more of a cinematic endurance test than most anthology films, at least in terms of sheer length -- but for devotees of the titular 14th-century essayist, its four segments offered valuable insights into timeless truths regarding morality and love. "It has glamour, sophistication, color, wit and sensuality (not necessarily in that order), all of which blend very well in the enveloping air of a facility that is to be devoted to the showing of sophisticated films," asserted an approving Bosley Crowther for the New York Times.

Eros

34%

The Directors: Wong Kar-wai, Steven Soderbergh, and Michelangelo Antonioni

The Big Idea: Love, goes the saying, makes the world go 'round -- but lust and sex are some pretty powerful locomotive forces on their own, and all three of them get their share of the spotlight in this 2004 Italian drama. In spite of its universal themes, talented crew of directors, and a cast that included Robert Downey Jr. and Gong Li, Eros played on relatively few screens during its brief North American run -- and it was greeted with widespread critical disdain, with the New York Observer's Rex Reed calling it "a triptych only a film festival could love." Still, it was worth a look for critics like Jan Stuart of Newsday, who summed it up by writing, "Wong's is the sexiest, Soderbergh's the funniest, Antonioni's the most Italian."

Mode: HLS Link

Four Rooms

14%

The Directors: Allison Anders, Alexandre Rockwell, Robert Rodriguez, and Quentin Tarantino

The Big Idea: Like the long-running ABC drama Hotel with an indie sensibility, Four Rooms plunged viewers into the wacky goings-on at a posh Los Angeles hotel on New Year's Eve. With its rich premise and a splendidly eclectic cast that included Antonio Banderas, Jennifer Beals, Madonna, Marisa Tomei, and Ione Skye -- plus Tim Roth as the hapless bellhop whose absurd travails framed the four segments -- Rooms should have been a winner; alas, it was more of a critical punching bag for writers like Edward Guthmann of the San Francisco Chronicle, who called it "a batch of shrill, self-indulgent sketches that turn so wretched in spots you start to wonder if the filmmakers wanted them to be bad."

New York Stories

73%

The Directors: Woody Allen, Francis Ford Coppola, and Martin Scorsese

The Big Idea: A trilogy of short films about New York City, all made by three of the most talented -- and NYC-indebted -- directors in modern film, New York Stories should have been a slam dunk. The reality turned out to be a little more complicated, with critics sort of shrugging their shoulders at the film and audiences neglecting to turn out in sufficient numbers for it to earn back its $10 million budget, but all in all, Stories is one of the more critically well-regarded anthologies of the 1980s -- which is really as it should be, given the talents at work behind the cameras, not to mention appearances from Nick Nolte, Rosanna Arquette, Mia Farrow, Steve Buscemi, and many others. It is, as Joe Brown wrote for the Washington Post, "A novel and fascinating foray into highly stylized, highly personal filmmaking."

Paris, je t'aime

86%

The Directors: Olivier Assayas, Frédéric Auburtin, Emmanuel Benbihy, Gurinder Chadha, Sylvain Chomet, Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, Isabel Coixet, Wes Craven, Alfonso Cuarón, Gérard Depardieu, Christopher Doyle, Richard LaGravenese, Vincenzo Natali, Alexander Payne, Bruno Podalydès, Walter Salles, Oliver Schmitz, Nobuhiro Suwa, Daniela Thomas, Tom Tykwer, Gus Van Sant

The Big Idea: As you've probably already inferred from its title, Paris, je t'aime is all about the City of Light -- and whatever you think about the movie itself, let's say this much for it: With 18 segments and more than 20 directors wrapped into its two-hour running time, this is one anthology that takes the "short films" part of "collection of short films" seriously. With so many disparate talents jostling for attention, Paris probably should have been a disjointed mess, but according to most critics, it was quite the opposite -- as Owen Gleiberman put it for Entertainment Weekly, "Anthology films usually work better in theory than execution, but this feature parade of shorts is a blithe, worldly, and enchanting exception."

Mode: HLS Link

7 Days in Havana

43%

The Directors: Benicio del Toro, Pablo Trapero, Julio Médem, Elia Suleiman, Gaspar Noé, Juan Carlos Tabío, and Laurent Cantet

The Big Idea: It's pretty much what the title says: Seven short films, each revolving around one day in the Cuban capital. Given that the project bought itself a little narrative cohesion thanks to a screenplay written by one author -- Cuban novelist Leonardo Padura Fuentes -- a surprising number of critics felt that 7 Days in Havana was too dull and clichéd to justify such a long cinematic trip. As Tara Brady queried in her review for the Irish Times, "It's enough to justify the admission price, but only just. 7 Days? Is there a weekend package we might avail of?"

Comments

Michael Braden

Michael Braden

Why did it show saw 3d?

Jan 23 - 04:38 PM

rt-ryan

Ryan Fujitani

Because Visions of Eight is practically the same movie as Saw 3D. Oh wait... Actually, no, okay, that was a mistake. We fixed it. Thanks.

Jan 23 - 04:45 PM

Monica K.

Monica Knight

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Jan 28 - 10:47 AM

rt-ryan

Ryan Fujitani

Because Visions of Eight is practically the same movie as Saw 3D. Oh wait... Actually, no, okay, that was a mistake. We fixed it. Thanks.

Jan 23 - 04:45 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

I love the genre. I will defend "Four Rooms" with every misbehaving breath, and "New York Stories" has one of Scorsese's brightest jewels in 'Life Lessons' and one of Woody Allen's funniest in 'Oedipus Wrecks' (less said about Coppola's the better). I'm still looking forward to the new "Havana" and THANK YOU for not including the awful NY version of "Paris Je T'aime". Except for Natalie Portman's entry, it was such a collection of stupidity.

Some others for the curious:

RoGoPaG - Godard/Gregoretti/Pasolini/Rossollini
Three Extremes - Fruit Chan/Park Chan-wook/Takashi Miike
Two Evil Eyes - Romero/Argento (for the Argento alone)
Memories (anime) - Morimoto/Okamura/Otomo
Aria - Altman/Beresford/Godard/Jarman/Temple/Roeg/Russell + others

Jan 23 - 05:02 PM

billtheburger

bill theburger

Come on Janson, Four Rooms is pretty mediocre apart from the Rodriguez mini tale andthe final segment is a little amusing. But the other parts ruin it too much for me to ever wish to resit it all.

Jan 24 - 12:09 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Sympathy for the Misbehavers, Bill. Rodriguez's room alone is a comedy classic that must be seen. The rest is OK, but what makes it watchable is Tim Roth's hilariously physical performance. Not for all tastes, maybe, but I got my rocks with it.

Jan 24 - 12:19 PM

Tyra Adlam

Tyra Adlam

So glad you and another reader picked up on the fact Three Extremes was sadly missing.

Jan 26 - 04:23 PM

Dave J

Dave J

I was going to mention the 2004 film "Three...Extremes" but apparently someone has already beat me to it. There are some others though that should also be on this list:

-1962 "How The West Was Won" scoring 100% on the meter with 4 directors by the names of John Ford, Henry Hathaway, George Marshall, Richard Thorpe!

-The 1984 flop "The Dungeonmaster" with 7 directors, Dave Allen, Charles Band, John Carl Buechler Steven Ford, Peter Manoogian, Ted Nicolaou, Rosemarie Turko!

-According to imdb.com (1967) Casino Royale scoring 27% had 6 directors who are Val Guest, Ken Hughes, John Huston, Joseph McGrath, Robert Parrish, and Richard Talmadge!

And not to mention directors Jim Abrahams, David Zucker and Jerry Zucker of "Airplane" scoring 98% and "Top Secret!" movies with 78% respectively!

Jan 23 - 06:05 PM

King  S.

King Simba

It's not enough to have multiple directors to make the list, it has to be a collection of short films, which is why films like Airplane and Casino Royale don't count.

Jan 23 - 11:10 PM

Dave J

Dave J

"we look at some memorable movies with multiple directors."
Perhaps but I was only responding to what it says above but look at one of RT's picks "Four Rooms"- did that movie have a collection of short films?

Jan 24 - 12:21 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

It's the definition of "anthology", Dave, and yes, each of the four rooms were separate stories.

Jan 24 - 12:29 PM

Dave J

Dave J

I guess I missed the "anthology" part!

Jan 24 - 01:07 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

(biting tongue)

Jan 24 - 01:45 PM

Dave J

Dave J

Eh! At least I saw all my picks!

Jan 25 - 01:36 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

You fucking with me? Which of my picks do you presume I haven't seen, smart guy?

Jan 25 - 01:51 PM

Dave J

Dave J

That's funnny, where did I made claims that you didn't see any of your picks- or are just being paranoid again? Because all you had to say is that you saw all of yours too- if that is the case!

Jan 25 - 03:11 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Is it "funnny"? All your "at least" and "if"s. What a knob.

Jan 25 - 03:47 PM

Dave J

Dave J

To have a civilized conversation is not one of your strongest points - is it? And to take my comment in offense to the most extremes(even though I personally don't know who you are nor know what you like) does define your personality because I don't recall calling you any duragatory names!

And by calling me a knob either makes you feel better about youself or makes you feel like a big man - which is it?

Jan 25 - 04:07 PM

Dave J

Dave J

"You fucking with me"

You know you sound like a grouchy old man when say sh-t like this because most civilized and normal people don't talk like this! You know there's medication you can take for this extreme anger!

Jan 25 - 04:11 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

I should have assumed your post was pointless drool. The only way to interprete it in any context is that you were suggesting I hadn't watched my picks. "At least". Compared to what? I'm sorry for assuming you had an intended point.

Jan 25 - 04:13 PM

Dave J

Dave J

Now you want to disect my comment now- okay! "At least" could also imply about anyone as well since "you"are not the only reader on here! And besides that- all you had to say was I seen all of my picks too" but no - you take it as a personal attack! I mean even if it's real life and we're looking at each other face to face - is this how you really talk like? Because the only people I know who talk like this are autistic people!

Jan 25 - 04:33 PM

Adam Foidart

Adam Foidart

Good Call with Three... Extremes (and possibly the sequel, which I have not seen yet) but King Simba is right about the other titles.

Jan 24 - 12:13 PM

Anthony Stokes

Anthony Stokes

No Creepshow? Or is that just a movie with different stories? Also American Horror Story Deserves a mention

Jan 23 - 08:11 PM

infernaldude

Infernal Dude

Tales from the Darkside comes to mind as well. I love the one with Buster Poindexter and the cat. Oh! And Cats Eye! Love the one with the troll!

Jan 23 - 11:53 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

All three of these films are by one director, and this is for anthology films by multiple directors.

Jan 24 - 12:22 PM

Anthony Stokes

Anthony Stokes

Yeah I acknowledged that i thought creepshow might've been just an anthology movie instead of multiple directors

Jan 25 - 12:37 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Great film regardless.

Jan 25 - 12:57 PM

Anthony Stokes

Anthony Stokes

fucking amazing film, have you seen AMerican Horror Story? Just as good

Jan 25 - 07:33 PM

Brad and Netflix

Bradly Martin

I saw VHS recently. That ranged from pretty creepy to Pffft lame! Anthologies are Fun.

Jan 23 - 09:03 PM

Dick Travis

Mick Travis

The one story of V/H/S that was totally out of place and just plain incomprehensible was the 4th one recorded from Skype. Why the hell would someone put that on a video tape? I like V/H/S for the most part, but I was hoping for more of a 70s/80s look and feel to the tapes themselves, as they just felt too modern. Still, I give the filmmakers credit for combining the found-footage and anthology genres so cleverly.

Jan 25 - 12:31 AM

Graham Ginty

Graham Ginty

The director of the Skype segment said that his theory was that people who dealt in trading these types of tapes (eg the man who owned the house) would want to keep things away from the digital world as much as possible as it increased the chance of the trade being traceable online. Kinda works I guess but seems more like an after thought.

Jan 27 - 07:07 AM

Narcisse Lefebvre

Narcisse Lefebvre

The Fourth Dimension by Korine/Fedorchenko/Kwiecinski and Autoerotic by Swanberg/Wingard are two recent notable anthologies.

Jan 23 - 10:33 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

That last shot in "Autoerotic" is a scream.

Jan 24 - 12:23 PM

King  S.

King Simba

It's not enough to have multiple directors to make the list, it has to be a collection of short films, which is why films like Airplane and Casino Royale don't count.

Jan 23 - 11:10 PM

Dave J

Dave J

"we look at some memorable movies with multiple directors."
Perhaps but I was only responding to what it says above but look at one of RT's picks "Four Rooms"- did that movie have a collection of short films?

Jan 24 - 12:21 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

It's the definition of "anthology", Dave, and yes, each of the four rooms were separate stories.

Jan 24 - 12:29 PM

Dave J

Dave J

I guess I missed the "anthology" part!

Jan 24 - 01:07 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

(biting tongue)

Jan 24 - 01:45 PM

Dave J

Dave J

Eh! At least I saw all my picks!

Jan 25 - 01:36 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

You fucking with me? Which of my picks do you presume I haven't seen, smart guy?

Jan 25 - 01:51 PM

Dave J

Dave J

That's funnny, where did I made claims that you didn't see any of your picks- or are just being paranoid again? Because all you had to say is that you saw all of yours too- if that is the case!

Jan 25 - 03:11 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Is it "funnny"? All your "at least" and "if"s. What a knob.

Jan 25 - 03:47 PM

Dave J

Dave J

To have a civilized conversation is not one of your strongest points - is it? And to take my comment in offense to the most extremes(even though I personally don't know who you are nor know what you like) does define your personality because I don't recall calling you any duragatory names!

And by calling me a knob either makes you feel better about youself or makes you feel like a big man - which is it?

Jan 25 - 04:07 PM

Dave J

Dave J

"You fucking with me"

You know you sound like a grouchy old man when say sh-t like this because most civilized and normal people don't talk like this! You know there's medication you can take for this extreme anger!

Jan 25 - 04:11 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

I should have assumed your post was pointless drool. The only way to interprete it in any context is that you were suggesting I hadn't watched my picks. "At least". Compared to what? I'm sorry for assuming you had an intended point.

Jan 25 - 04:13 PM

Dave J

Dave J

Now you want to disect my comment now- okay! "At least" could also imply about anyone as well since "you"are not the only reader on here! And besides that- all you had to say was I seen all of my picks too" but no - you take it as a personal attack! I mean even if it's real life and we're looking at each other face to face - is this how you really talk like? Because the only people I know who talk like this are autistic people!

Jan 25 - 04:33 PM

infernaldude

Infernal Dude

Tales from the Darkside comes to mind as well. I love the one with Buster Poindexter and the cat. Oh! And Cats Eye! Love the one with the troll!

Jan 23 - 11:53 PM

infernaldude

Infernal Dude

Animatrix. Couldn't keep my eyes off the screen.

Jan 23 - 11:54 PM

billtheburger

bill theburger

Come on Janson, Four Rooms is pretty mediocre apart from the Rodriguez mini tale andthe final segment is a little amusing. But the other parts ruin it too much for me to ever wish to resit it all.

Jan 24 - 12:09 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Sympathy for the Misbehavers, Bill. Rodriguez's room alone is a comedy classic that must be seen. The rest is OK, but what makes it watchable is Tim Roth's hilariously physical performance. Not for all tastes, maybe, but I got my rocks with it.

Jan 24 - 12:19 PM

Mathew Westcott-Dixon

Mathew Westcott-Dixon

No Cloud Atlas? Am I seriously the only one who agrees with Roger Ebert on that film?

Jan 24 - 05:11 AM

Greg Dinskisk

Greg Dinskisk

That's not considered an anthology movie, because the segments blend together in a way that make it one story.

And no, you're not the only one. I love that movie, my second favorite film of 2012.

Jan 28 - 09:04 AM

Scott Ecker

Scott Ecker

Where are Disney's package features? Fantasia 2000, Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, etc. I mean Fantasia is easily better than anything on this list.

Jan 24 - 05:26 AM

Dieter Rogiers

Dieter Rogiers

One glaring omission on the list: Dead of Night (1945)--> 96 percent fresh! The movie features one of the best and most influential horror segments ever: a creepy 20-minute short about a ventrilloquist and his dummy, directed by albert Cavalcanti.

Jan 24 - 08:10 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Ooof. Good point. Cavalcanti/Crichton/Deardon/Hamer

Jan 24 - 12:25 PM

Dick Travis

Mick Travis

Awesome choice; the only reason it doesn't have 100% is because of a 2003 review that doesn't exist anymore. Man, I wish RT would get rid of those fuckers!

Jan 25 - 12:35 AM

Dave J

Dave J

"Dead Of Night" is an awesome choice- that and "How The West Was Won"!

Jan 25 - 01:40 PM

Marc Veerkamp

Marc Veerkamp

Yeah, Dead of night is the most solid anthology movie I can remember.

Jan 27 - 01:59 AM

Jere Hunter

Jere Hunter

Sin City isnt on there, with guest Directors and such, or are we only using the Directors Guild movies here

Jan 24 - 11:52 AM

This comment has been removed.

Jason McGuire

Jason McGuire

sure it is

Jan 25 - 01:01 AM

Adam Foidart

Adam Foidart

Good Call with Three... Extremes (and possibly the sequel, which I have not seen yet) but King Simba is right about the other titles.

Jan 24 - 12:13 PM

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