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Old 08-02-2007, 06:00 AM   #16
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I like a lot of Spielberg, but don't care for just as much. I like Indiana Jones, Duel, Jaws, Munich. Catch Me was pretty good, the war scenes in Pvt. Ryan . I just find a lot of his stuff a bit too slick. And weak scripts often. But he's always worth checking out.
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Old 08-02-2007, 06:50 AM   #17
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E.T. , Jaws , Minority Report are all somewhaT interesting

and that amazing stories cartoon about a dog ........

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Old 08-02-2007, 11:28 AM   #18
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Didn't he do Serendipity too?
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Old 08-02-2007, 01:51 PM   #19
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i have such a complex relationship with Mr. Spielberg.

i don't think there was anyone born between 1970-1985 who isn't influenced by him in some way. he's like the Beatles -- at times invisible, but everywhere at the same time. he gets slagged off, big time, by many film intellectuals. and many of their criticisms are quite valid. one of the nastiest was by critic Jonathan Rosenbaum:

[q]If the message of Citizen Kane is "I think it would be fun to run a newspaper," the message of Raiders of the Lost Ark is "I think it would be fun to shoot an Arab."[/q]

whether fair or not, the legacy of "Jaws" and "Raiders" is stuff like "Twister" or "Sahara" or any other mindless action adventure blow-shit-up $175m orgy of destruction.

there's a juvenelia to many of Spielberg's movies, an often cloying sentimentality, and the ever present happy ending that often almost destroys the entire film that preceeded it. i'd point to WOTW for that. and, yes, even the vaunted SPR. those graveyard scenes are simply awful. a Spielberg film always reassures you, and some will contend that they contain no artsitic merits that exist independent of an audience's reaction.

there's tons of anti-Spielberg stuff out there. and much of it has merit.

but then, the nerds -- and i consider myself one -- never like the most popular kid in town. there's a sense that if you're successful, then you must be doing something wrong. kind of like U2. and they're right, to a degree. Spielberg is no Lars Von Trier. but he doesn't want to be, and it's this anger at success that leads many critics to overlook the fact that he's almost inarguably the single most talented director who's ever lived and also the single most versatile director who's ever lived. are ET and SPR by the same person? Last Crusade and Schindler's List?

and i don't want to go off into a term paper here, but i would go and watch any Spielberg movie simply to watch a masterclass in the art of popular filmmaking and, more importantly, storytelling, and the belief in cinema to spark wonder and imagination and hope that we, all of us, can be better.

the moment that sums of Spielberg, for me, is when the bicycles fly in ET. over suburbia, over the ordinary, and off into a more spectacular, emotional realm that is more "real" than the everyday. and, ultimately, isn't this the role of art? transportation? transcendence? unlocking the potential within?

no one, but no one, does it better.
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Old 08-02-2007, 02:42 PM   #20
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Fantastic post Irvine, and is pretty much the perfect compliment to what I was talking about originally.
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Old 08-02-2007, 03:05 PM   #21
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... just so long as Spielberg doesn't direct a "Field of Dreams 2" ...
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Old 08-02-2007, 03:31 PM   #22
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here's a fairly typical piece of high-minded anit-Spielberg criticism. it makes some good points, but it also seems to hold him to a nearly impossible standard -- not understanding that, at the end of the day, SL and SPR are, in fact, *films* and as such are subject to their rules and conventions -- as well as having an oddly personal tone throughout.

http://www.commentarymagazine.com/cm....Article::8211
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Old 08-02-2007, 06:09 PM   #23
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Irvine, I appreciate your input, which was a much-needed antidote to all the adulation that has come pouring down during this thread. Especially your issues with Saving Private Ryan, which is technically an achievement but has wafer-thin characters and bookends that render the whole preceeding story a fantasy and a sham.

There's a reason Spielberg is disliked by many film snobs (and I include myself in that group), but it isn't because he's successful. Hell, Martin Scorsese is successful and the majority of film geeks don't bedgrudge him that. It's because Spielberg has the clout to get anything he wants up there on the screen, yet constantly takes the easy way out when it comes to the resolution of his films, with pat endings (the totally fictitious Schindler Breaks Down scene), leaps of logic (the son surviving in War of the Worlds?), or awkward codas like the A.I. who SITS DOWN ON DAVID'S BED AND SPEWS OUT A BUNCH OF EXPLANATION (which reminds me of the awful Ben Kenobi sits on a log and explains scene in Return of the Jedi). He is a filmmaker who is so afraid of questioning, insulting, or challenging his audience that he manages to compromise any kind of statement he may be trying to make.

Even Minority Report, which for almost 2 hours was a grand depiction of Philip K. Dick dystopia, sells out the author's aesthetic for a happy ending with the family.

S.S.'s style may be sophisticated, but thematically he's still an immature boy who wants love from his daddy, and therefore will never be an artists on the level of the true cinema greats, regardless of how many Oscars he wins or tickets he sells.

And by the way, the most naturally talented or versatile director is NOT Spielberg. I think a brief look at the filmographies of Kubrick or Orson Welles will show you not only a wide range of subject matter (I'd like to see Spielberg tackle Shakespeare with such magical results, or any truly esteemed source material--The Color Purple & Empire of the Sun don't exactly qualify as classics), but the fact that while those two auteurs advanced the grammar of film, Spielberg has simply given us pretty pictures that are far from innovative.

For record, I greatly enjoyed about 4/5 of A.I., which I think contains his greatest filmmaking, and have a soft spot for Always & Catch Me If You Can. His only unqualified masterpieces in my opinion are Jaws and Close Encounters.
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Old 08-02-2007, 06:13 PM   #24
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To expand on my above remarks, if you've had the opportunity to see Orson Welles' hard-to-find Chimes At Midnight (aka Falstaff), you will see a battle scene that is as intense and brutal as anything in Saving Private Ryan, but the difference is that Welles shot his film 35 years earlier, and his groundbreaking direction of that scene wasn't just because of a high shutter speed and blood on the lens.
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Old 08-02-2007, 08:32 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally posted by lazarus
Irvine, I appreciate your input, which was a much-needed antidote to all the adulation that has come pouring down during this thread. Especially your issues with Saving Private Ryan, which is technically an achievement but has wafer-thin characters and bookends that render the whole preceeding story a fantasy and a sham.

There's a reason Spielberg is disliked by many film snobs (and I include myself in that group), but it isn't because he's successful. Hell, Martin Scorsese is successful and the majority of film geeks don't bedgrudge him that. It's because Spielberg has the clout to get anything he wants up there on the screen, yet constantly takes the easy way out when it comes to the resolution of his films, with pat endings (the totally fictitious Schindler Breaks Down scene), leaps of logic (the son surviving in War of the Worlds?), or awkward codas like the A.I. who SITS DOWN ON DAVID'S BED AND SPEWS OUT A BUNCH OF EXPLANATION (which reminds me of the awful Ben Kenobi sits on a log and explains scene in Return of the Jedi). He is a filmmaker who is so afraid of questioning, insulting, or challenging his audience that he manages to compromise any kind of statement he may be trying to make.

Even Minority Report, which for almost 2 hours was a grand depiction of Philip K. Dick dystopia, sells out the author's aesthetic for a happy ending with the family.

S.S.'s style may be sophisticated, but thematically he's still an immature boy who wants love from his daddy, and therefore will never be an artists on the level of the true cinema greats, regardless of how many Oscars he wins or tickets he sells.

And by the way, the most naturally talented or versatile director is NOT Spielberg. I think a brief look at the filmographies of Kubrick or Orson Welles will show you not only a wide range of subject matter (I'd like to see Spielberg tackle Shakespeare with such magical results, or any truly esteemed source material--The Color Purple & Empire of the Sun don't exactly qualify as classics), but the fact that while those two auteurs advanced the grammar of film, Spielberg has simply given us pretty pictures that are far from innovative.

For record, I greatly enjoyed about 4/5 of A.I., which I think contains his greatest filmmaking, and have a soft spot for Always & Catch Me If You Can. His only unqualified masterpieces in my opinion are Jaws and Close Encounters.
Well done Lazarus. I didn't want to get too negative in my post, but you summed things up better than I ever could.
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Old 08-02-2007, 10:11 PM   #26
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While I agree Spielberg isn't as innovative as some other esteemed directors, I can't think of another who could connect with such a wide audience like he has.
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Old 08-02-2007, 10:20 PM   #27
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Oh, gosh, I don't care how many directors I like better than Spielberg, he's made many wonderful films that have brought me great pleasure. It matters not if I hold Kubrick in higher esteem. Then again, there are plenty of Kubrick detractors out there as well.

I'd like to watch more of Welles' films.

Oh, and, there's nothing wrong with pretty pictures now and then.....and I should be lucky enough to create "only 2 unqualified masterpieces" in my lifetime.
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Old 08-02-2007, 11:10 PM   #28
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Yeah, Spielberg has made wonderful films. And even films with severe problems like Minority Report, Jurassic Park, and the two Indy sequels contain a lot of enjoyable filmmaking.

But I think the director who's really taken for granted is Scorsese. If you want to talk versatility, there's your man. Who else could go from a period piece like The Age of Innocene to a cinematic tone poem like Kundun to a nailbiting thriller like Cape Fear to an existential biblical film like Last Temptation of Christ to an underworld epic like Casino? Not Spielberg.

Surely Scorsese gets a lot of press, but it's primarily for his excursions into the crime genre, which really only accounts for a small portion of his output. The reality is that he has delved into so many types of films, bringing with him his own personal obsessions and unique way of exploring them through these different prisms.

You want to talk about how Spielberg has forged such a connection with the general public. There's a gift in that, but could it have been done with less compromise? Surely. And as much praise as I have for Close Encounters and Jaws, neither of them hold a candle to powerhouses of filmmaking like Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, or GoodFellas. It's easy to make a film about the Holocaust or World War II and gain sympathy and emotional reciprocation from your audience, whereas portraits of difficult, shades of grey individuals, or more complex periods of history are something that provide a greater challenge for the filmmaker, and the viewer. What can you take away from Schindler's List besides an appreciation for black and white photograpjy and a wet hankie?

You may get pleasure from watching a Spielberg thrill ride, but there is something equally engrossing about Marty's films, with much more going on beneath the surface that stays with you. Even something that seems basic like The Departed is rather Shakespearean, and says more about honor and loyalty than the grade school themes of Saving Private Ryan.
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Old 08-02-2007, 11:38 PM   #29
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Quote:
Originally posted by lazarus
Orson Welles' hard-to-find Chimes At Midnight (aka Falstaff)
That is a tremendous film. It stands right up there with Kurosawa's Throne of Blood as one of the best Shakespeare adaptations for the screen. Good stuff.
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Old 08-03-2007, 12:19 AM   #30
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Again, I don't think Spielberg is the filmmaker that Scorcese is. Hell, I love Gangs of New York, despite the Weinsteins shoving changes down Marty's throat...big fan of Taxi Driver, Mean Streets, Goodfellas, The King of Comedy, Color of Money, etc.

But, I guess what I'm saying is that while I'm watching Close Encounters or Raiders or Schindler's List, I'm not thinking to myself "Good lord, Scorcese is better than this guy". One thing has nothing to do with the other.
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