Some directors don't say much. Michael Mann, for example. I remember on 'The Insider' he never had much to say. He would do a scene, just kind of nod, and then set it up to do it again. And you might do a scene 10 or 12 times or more, the same little 31-second bit. And you could tell he wasn't satisfied, but he wouldn't say much.
The technology is really where all of the changes have taken place, but the fundamentals of a good story being the basis of every good picture, and really the only basis still remains the rule, more so today, I think, because we've unfortunately weaned an audience from birth to kind of mindless movies.