Who’s the best director working today under the age of 40?

Why 40? Of course, it’s not good form to answer a question with a question. The dogs commented, “What does it matter because you’d be dead in dog years.” I now also know that Matt Singer is all of 32.

Not being particularly age conscious except in dog years, I checked the age of some directors who I might consider only to find that they (e.g. Joss Whedon and Ben Affleck) won’t make the cut. Affleck at 40 is just barely out of the running, but he  impressed me greatly with “Argo” despite some minor historical quibbles. Whedon created Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the TV series “Firefly,” but it’s the mad genius of “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog” that really has me smitten. (Joss, No chance of being a groupie background extra for future episodes?)

By what seems no more than sheer luck, I’ve hit upon two directors:  Rian Johnson and Jon M. Chu. If this question had been asked in late December, Johnson would have missed the mark. He is 39 now and best known for writing and directing that 2012 time travel movie “Looper” which starred Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the young a regular Joe assassin and Bruce Willis as his older self in the future. The beauty of the intricate plot and its gruesome logic along with the seamless inclusion of a love story won me over. The gritty 1950s gone wrong in the future sensibility also charmed this fan of that dance era.

Jon M. Chu, 33 but still dead in dog years,  hasn’t impressed me with his writing, but he understands dance and has good sensibilities in how he uses dance and records, including in 3D. I didn’t watch “Step Up 2: The Streets”  for the plot or the acting. You knew how the story was going to play out pretty much after the first 15 minutes or so. The same can be said for “Step Up 3D.” A purer expression of Chu’s gift for recording dance and encouraging creativity is his online series: The Legion of Extraordinary Dancers.” I’m certain in the future, when dancers research aspects of today’s dance and they will be turning to footage caught by Chu.

In the interest of full disclosure, both Johnson and Chu attended the University of Southern California where they studied cinema. I also attended USC and will do so again.

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