The Other David Cairns
There’s another David Cairns. He makes documentaries. This is potentially confusing, even to me, especially since I’m currently preparing a documentary. (Remind me to tell you about that.) Since I sometimes write as just D. Cairns, I’m tempted to use that as my screen credit in future, although it seems unfair because I WAS HERE FIRST, DAMNIT.
But it got me thinking about names. What are the best film director names? Obviously Aldo Lado is very pleasing because the first name is an anagram of the second name, and vice versa. You can’t say that for Andrei Konchalovsky.
Names like Roberto Rossellini, Federico Fellini and especially Pier Palo Pasolini have both the mellifluous sound of the Italian language, and inbuilt alliteration. They sound like SUPERHEROES. I can readily picture Roberto punching his enemies through walls, Federico swinging from his webs above a Cinecitta Manhattan, and Pasolini picking up rough trade in his Salomobile.
Michelangelo Antonioni, on the other hand, is a ridiculous name. It doesn’t know when to stop.
Kinji Fukasaku is a terrific little name. So dynamic — it’s like every swear word in the universe crammed into six syllables. Robert Bolt reported that his first word after his stroke was “Fuck,” because it seemed to fit the circumstances and it’s so satisfying to say.* Had he gone that extra mile and uttered the name of BATTLE ROYALE’s future director, his recovery might have been accelerated greatly.
Britain seems ill-served in this capacity. No doubt familiarity breeds contempt, and we’re hardly likely to find the exotic at play, but I do find the arrays of Mikes, Kens and Tonys a little disappointing — the names fall far short of most of the actual work. You have to dig to come up with more ambitious names like Anthony Pelissier, Horace Ove and Piers Haggard. The double acts got it right — with Powell & Pressburger and Launder & Gilliat you can sense filmmakers capitalising on the greater interest of their surnames by jamming them together and dropping all the boring Michael and Sidney stuff.
America, the great melting pot, should offer a great variety of crazy mash-up names, and any set of end credits can usually be relied upon to throw up a few extraordinary conglomerations — from THE MATRIX I pluck the following — Jenaya Pender, Robert Simper, Mali Finn, Hugh Bateup, Sonja Smuk, Grayden le Breton, Toby Pease, Pieter Ploody. And yet, I submit, the crazy names department is one area in which American cineastes have consistently underperformed. Can you suggest any good exceptions?
*Also, a stroke often has a disinhibiting effect, making swearing more likely.