The Right Stuff: Warners Bros./Everett Collection
Owen Gleiberman
April 25, 2005 AT 04:00 AM EDT

What once-inspiring filmmaker’s career disappoints?

What once-inspiring filmmaker’s career has been the most disappointing to you? — Paul
Many of the great directors who came to prominence in the ’70s have had a rough ride in the age of the comic-book blockbuster. Scorsese and Demme come to mind: Both have struggled valiantly, and with diminishing results, to make films on their own humanist terms. That said, the director who may have been most neutered by this era is Philip Kaufman. His best work is monumental: The Right Stuff (1983), which gets better each time you see it, is an addictive pageant of life-size American heroism, and The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1988) is, to me, as moving a portrait of adult sexuality and love as the cinema has given us. But after the failure of 1990’s Henry & June, Kaufman has been reduced to anonymous genre duds (Rising Sun, Twisted) and the faux outrage of Quills. I haven’t stopped hoping that he’ll find the will — and clout — to be an artist again.

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