How many world-class male directors (domestic or foreign) are known for appearing to understand and get under the skins of strong female characters, and have shown more than once how masterful they are at telling women-friendly dramas? I’ve noted before that this description fits Beyond The Hills director Cristian Mungiu…but who else? With this grim but curiously compelling drama of obsession and exorcism opening on March 8th, it’s worth re-posting a four-month-old riff:

Beyond The Hills director Cristian Mungiu at Bouchon — Sunday, 11.4, 10:07 pm.

“A thought hit me during Sunday night’s dinner at Bouchon for Beyond The Hills and Four Months, Three Weeks and Two Days director Cristian Mungiu that he could be in the Terrence Malick business if he wanted it. His rep as a woman-friendly, deep-focus, introspective helmer is such he could make indie-fashioned pics in this country with any in-demand actress in the business.

“They’d all work with him at the drop of a hat, Meryl Streep on down, because he’s a celebrated, Bresson-like perfectionist.

“I asked Mungiu about this and he said that he’s heard from more than a few American actresses, all saying they’d love to work with him. But he really is a Bressonian in that he prefers (or has so far preferred) to work with non-actresses. He also says there’s something about the aura of an established or famous actress that might impose itself upon his process…maybe. But he’s open to the right thing if it seems right, he said, so no doors are firmly closed.

“He said he recently got an email from director William Friedkin about wanting to meet, partly because they’ve both shot films about exorcisms. But he’s leaving Los Angeles tomorrow with no plans to return anytime soon.”

Mungiu, dp Svetlana Cvetko — Sunday, 11.4, 10:10 pm.

And this from five and half years ago:

“Calm, confident and obviously whip-smart, Mungiu speaks with a vast English vocabulary and a very faint accent. He’s a believer in pared-down, less-is-more realism, and he knows how to explain his cinematic aesthetic in a very clean and concise way. He listens carefully and knows his stuff. I could talk to Mungiu for days. The same ‘instant comfort’ thing happens whenever I meet a good director from any culture.”