Time Out‘s Adam Lee, disappointed with Public Enemies, asks if Michael Mann has “lost it.” My not agreeing is neither here nor there. The point is that Lee doesn’t seem to want to allow that directors sometimes go through slumps only to creatively re-charge.
John Huston began an eight- or nine-year slump in the mid ’70s after The Man Who Would Be King, but came back with Under The Volcano (’84) and then Prizzi’s Honor (’85).
Alfred Hitchcock went through a five-year slump after Notorious (’46) but was back in the saddle and slinging the six-shooter in ’51 with Strangers on a Train. Then he slumped again after The Birds (’62). If you ask me he didn’t really and truly bounce back with Frenzy (’72), although a lot of critics said he did.
Martin Scorsese started slumping after Taxi Driver (’76) but came back guns blazing with Raging Bull (’80) and After Hours (’82) and then slumped back again. Then he really kicked into gear with the magnificent The Last Temptation of Christ (’88) and Goodfellas (’90). Then came Scorsese’s whopper-sized, 13-year Cape Fear-to-Aviator slump (’91 to ’04). Then he re-charged and surged back with No Direction Home, The Departed and Shine a Light. Now he’s slumping again.
Steven Spielberg was on fire and could do no wrong between Duel (’71) and Close Encounters of the Third Kind (’77), went off the rails with 1941 (’79), came back with Raiders of the Lost Ark (’81) and E.T. (’82). Then he fell into a nine-year-slump starting with ’84’s Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and stayed in it until the double score of Jurassic Park and Schindler’s List in ’93. He slumped again for five years and then sort of came back with Saving Private Ryan (with a great first 30 minutes) in ’98, and then went into another big slump — 11 years and counting.