I have a few obscure heroes in show business. One of them, as I note here from time to time, is Vincenzo Natali, best known for Cube, but also for an awesome little techno-thriller called Cypher, an offbeat, surreal comedy called Nothing, and the forthcoming Splice (which I would commit atrocities to see right now). He shares my fascination with the unknown and otherworldly, and expresses it on the screen in unfailingly creative and intelligent ways. Another example along the same lines is Don McKellar, whose Last Night is one of the most perfect little movies I've ever seen (though his participation in last year's godawful Blindness shall not go unpunished).
A third hero of mine is Andrew Niccol. I didn't think much of Lord of War, but all of his other projects have been conceptually brilliant in ways that are very much on my wavelength: The Truman Show (which Peter Weir directed from Niccol's screenplay) is probably my favorite film of the 90s (though that changes from week to week); Gattaca is deservingly becoming a sci-fi classic; and Simone is tragically underrated. He's smart, he's careful, and he has a wonderful imagination. Oh, and his just-announced next project, The Cross, is destined to rock my world.
I say that without even really knowing what the film is about. All we know of the plot is that it involves a man, played by Orlando Bloom, who, in the near future, is trying to be the first to cross a mysterious "border," while a guard (Vincent Cassel) will go to any lengths to stop him.
What's beyond the Border? I've read one sentence and I'm dying to know. And the reason that Niccol, Natali and McKellar are such terrific filmmakers, to my mind, is that they share this impulse -- to know what's beyond the Border, or who's behind the Cube, or what will happen when the world ends -- and exploit it, brilliantly.