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Whedonesque - a community weblog about Joss Whedon
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July 02 2012

Joss Whedon: an underrated auteur. Joss is listed among many other helmers of note on Criticwire's polling of other online writers' opinions on who are particularly underrated auteurs of film and TV.

It's pretty clearly supposed to be a list about filmmakers, not TV makers. And as much as I love both Serenity and The Avengers, I don't think two movies is enough to get any filmmaker on a list of underrated auteurs.
Mike Judge I could probably justify, but a man with the third highest grossing movie of all time? Not underrated.
Not underrated as of today, but let's be honest, that's a pretty new status for our big damn hero. And the broader moviegoing population, loving every second of the Avengers as they did, probably hasn't gone out and gotten their Serenity Blu-Ray just yet. I think the writer who mentions him does a fair job of stating why he's a nontraditional but appropriate pick. Joss is also one of the people who has slowly but surely elevated genre entertainment and televised entertainment over the last 15 or so years that the line between cinema and television programs, from a quality standpoint, has truly blurred. That's a pretty short list of auteurs right there.
Yes, but this is a "cinema" list. Picking him isn't just non-traditional, it's pretty much just inapplicable.
Yeah - having trouble understanding how having just made one of the highest rated films of all time can get you on an underrated list.

ETA: If he's overrated, I can only wonder what it takes to be normal or overrated in this context.

[ edited by brinderwalt on 2012-07-02 20:25 ]
I guess one issue to consider is whether or not film auteurs should be considered separately from television auteurs. According to Wikipedia,

In film criticism, auteur theory holds that a director's film reflects the director's personal creative vision, as if they were the primary "auteur".
(emphasis mine)

Looking at Joss' work, I would say that he has developed a singular creative vision that is reflected in all of his work, whether film or television. While there are obvious differences between the two, I'm not sure that drawing a firm line between film and television when one's worked in both is the best course of action, especially when one's beliefs about storytelling do not necessarily change depending on the medium. But that's just my two cents.
Even if you ignore the success of The Avengers, you can't really say that he has been underrated or ignored as an auteur. Although he may not be publicly well known, his name has carried enough weight to be stuck in front of both Firefly and Dollhouse. He is very well regarded amongst the critical community, who,
let's be honest, are the only ones who really care that much about who is an auteur (as well as sad people like myself.)

You don't get to that position without having a distinctive style.
While I think his writing is enough to clearly indicate a specific voice, there are still plenty of people who critique him for an unambitious "TV-style" to his staging or mise en scene and what not.

Granted I read a lot more of those reactions in regards to just the trailers for The Avengers, I'm not sure as many people nitpicked when the film actually was released. While he does have a couple of Whedon-esque moves he digs that are fun quirks (tracking shots, having the camera spin in place, a tendency to "find" the action sequence and present it rather than hyper frenetic editing) he doesn't go out of his way to have a unique visual stamp for every frame.
You know, I think it does. I think it's very comic-book panel. The aspect ratio helps with that, but everything about it - the colour scheme, the design, positioning - it looks like it's The Avengers. Iron Man, Thor, Cap - they all look quite a bit different.
"Film is an auteur's medium, full stop," as someone famous once said. You can do film badly, but you can't fake it, methinks.

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