Who are the most underrated film directors

Underrated Movies 2015You haven't seen the best yet!

By Patrick Wellinski

The South Korean film director Hong Sang-soo with the Golden Leopard, which he won for "Right Now, Wrong Then" at the Locarno Film Festival: The film still did not make it to German cinemas (picture alliance / dpa / EPA / Urs Flueeler)

You only see those in the light, you can't see those in the dark. After almost 600 films that were shown in German cinemas in 2015, one thinks: The most important and the best was there. Thought wrong. Patrick Wellinski lists some film pearls that are still waiting for their big appearance in cinemas.

"The Assassin" by Hou Hsiao-Hsien (Hong Kong 2015)

There was a single flawless film this year. A masterpiece without fault or blame. No searching for the right picture or the right attitude: "The Assassin" by Taiwanese Hou Hsiao-Hsien is a sword fighting film that does almost without sword fighting. A tragic family story in ancient China. A lost daughter trained to be a hit man to kill her family. But the plot is secondary. Much more important are the overwhelmingly composed images, the ingenious equipment, the calm of the tracking shots, the longing that sets in when the wind blows through the barley fields ... And you could go on for hours talking and raving about an absolute masterpiece that just stands out can still be compared with the paintings of Diego Velazquez. That it was withheld from the German cinema audience is a scandal.

"Right Now, Wrong Then" by Hang Songsoo (South Korea 2015)

It's no secret that Asian cinema is still the true creative engine of cinema art (only for German distributors that still seems to be a mystery). One of the most important directors is the South Korean Hong Sangsoo, whose films are adored by Martin Scorsese. This year Hong won the Golden Leopard in Locarno for "Right Now, Wrong Then". The South Korean actually always makes the same film, silent everyday comedies about men and women who fall in love, who eat and drink a lot. This is also the case here, where the same constellation is told twice, but with small variations. A wonderful film about modern loneliness and the healing gestures that can overcome it.

"Happî awâ" by Ryusuke Hamaguchi (Japan 2015)

I promise, that's the last Asian on the list. But what a one! "Happî awâ" lasts 5.5 hours and tells of the disappearance of smiles. A group of friends is shaken up by the divorce of one of them. Everyone then begins to rearrange their lives. The film takes a lot of time. This then results in its gigantic length. But we get very close to these women and soon get to know them as well as our own friends.

"Jackson Hights" by Frederick Wiseman (USA 2015)

Attention! Another very long film. This long-term observation of the American documentary film legend Frederick Wiseman takes 4.5 hours. This time he has planned an entire neighborhood. Jackson Heights in New York, the most culturally diverse neighborhood in America. And Wiseman takes us right into this church, which tackles any problem with great fairness. Every conflict is resolved immediately on a grassroots basis. This is a utopia that shows us that a better world is possible.

"The End of the Tour" by James Ponsoldt (USA 2015)

One would think that American cinema in particular is overrepresented on our screens. Nevertheless, we miss many pearls from overseas. This includes "The End of Tour", a biographical film about the exceptional writer David Foster Wallace. Based on the book "Although of course you end up becoming yourself". In the film - as in the book - a journalist accompanies David Foster Wallace on his last book tour for "Ein Unendlicher Fun". Well cast with Jesse Eisenberg and Jason Segal, the film approaches the secret of genius, and that's how we learn something of the inner agony of this exceptional talent.

"Chante d'hiver" by Otar Iosseliani (Georgia 2015)

Who would have thought that an 81-year-old Georgian made the most playful film of the year. It is difficult to summarize Iosselianis' philosophical comedy "Chante d'hiver", which is heavily influenced by the silent film slapstick. In this tragicomic odyssey of two elderly men, rebellious spirit of resistance, melancholy frenzy of love mix with a magical and fairytale surrealism that only want one thing: to celebrate life. Great!

"Un jeune Poète" by Damien Manivel (France 2015)

Anyone who thinks that French cinema consists primarily of comedy nonsense like "Die Beliers" and "Willkommen bei den Sch'tis" is underestimating the creativity of low-budget cinema. A young star in this sky is Damien Manivel. His first feature film is called "Un jeune Poète" and is an ingenious and laconic comedy that watches an 18-year-old would-be poet trying to be kissed by the muse in a sleepy coastal town. Everything in the spirit of a Jarmusch or a Rohmer. Ingenious humor, cleverly composed picture tableaus - and (very important) a relaxed view of the big things in life.

"Happy Hour" by Franz Müller (Germany 2015)

Even if he doesn't like to hear it himself, Franz Müller is the German director who makes buddy comedy socially acceptable again in Germany and transports it into the 21st century. In his last film "Worst Case Scenario" he observed a group of Germans who found themselves on the Polish Baltic coast. He proceeds similarly in "Happy Hour", where three male friends go to Ireland to free one of them from the pain of separation. And suddenly the film exposes fragile images of men, playing with insecurities and macho clichés. Everything tender and sensitive, funny and intelligent. It is time for Franz Müller's films to become known to a regular cinema audience.

"Der Nachtmahr" by Akiz (Germany 2015)

This is the most relevant German monster film since ... since when? When did Fritz Lang and F.W. Murnau shot her films? This techno horror fairy tale from today's Berlin, in which a teenage girl encounters a little monster, is part of this expressionist tradition. Then time and space become blurred and reveal a much older story that is not by chance reminiscent of Goethe's ballad "Der Erlkönig". Young German cinema can be so rhythmic, dynamic and powerful. Why is this film, which was celebrated at festivals in Toronto, Locarno and Munich, still not shown in German cinemas?