by Michelle Downey


As I settled into my chair recently at our local arthouse, The Cameo, primed to enjoy Elvis, I  was instead from the first second in SENSORY OVERLOAD. The flashy, fast, in-your-face style was completely overwhelming to my quiet nature. By the end of the film, however, I agreed with it as a creative construct: the last third of the film is a different style completely and the contrast beautifully produced a feeling of the meteoric rise to fame and the insanity it brought with it and then the decline into Las Vegas morbidity by the end of Elvis’ life. 

As we exited the theater, I admitted to my girlfriend that if I hadn’t been there with her I possibly might’ve walked out prematurely. Her eyes blazed as she exclaimed, “Well, I LOVED IT! Such CLASSIC Baz Luhrmann!”

This set me to pondering the celebrity status of certain directors. Much to my delight, I had recently added a vocabulary word that was so particular it brought a grin: auteur.

Au-teur, noun: a filmmaker whose personal influence and artistic control over a movie are so great that the filmmaker is regarded as the author of the movie.

Many great filmmakers over the history of cinema have entered this hall of fame. Akin to the author whose name is three times the font height of their novel’s title, the cache of the auteur draws us to the movie. During my youth, it was the epic productions of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. Later it was the creepy thrills of M. Night Shyamalan.  My circle of folks knows that I cannot abide watching violence, but still my daughter begged me to watch Inglourious Basterds despite my self-imposed ban on anything by producer Quentin Tarantino, known for his violent and edgy content. I lasted five minutes.

Who are some of your favorites?