Lisa Schwarzbaum
March 30, 2007 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Which do you prefer: workaholic directors or perfectionist hermits?

Which do you prefer: workaholic directors who average a film every two years with occasional duds (e.g., Spielberg) or perfectionist hermits who make something only every 5 or 10 years but knock them out of the park (e.g., Kubrick)? — Robert Knaus

I’m struck by your associations to ”workaholic” and ”perfectionist hermit” — as if there’s such a thing as too many projects per filmmaker, or too few. And I’m wondering what you’d make of the old Hollywood studio system, where directors under contract — some of the greatest, including John Ford, Frank Capra, Ernst Lubitsch — turned out one, two, and sometimes three pictures a year. (The more-is-better approach still applies in Hong Kong, where John Woo learned to work fast and good.) Personally, I’m in tune with the creative discipline that comes of frequency (which is why I write for a weekly, not a monthly). But I’d never begrudge the gaps between Terrence Malick’s Days of Heaven (1978), The Thin Red Line (1998), and The New World.

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