Steven Spielberg - classic or dud

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Now Steven Spielberg has abandoned plans for his next career-defining film to involve the exploits of a six-foot-tall imaginary rabbit.

'Career defining'? Really?

I enjoy or love most of the Spielberg films I've seen. The only ones I can think of that left me kinda 'meh' are Jurassic Park and War Of The Worlds. But at least they were both pretty to look at, and WOTW had a pretty awesome first 30-45 minutes.

Now I'm feeling inspired to go dive into my unwatched copies of 1941 and Amistad...and probably find a couple more Spielberg movies to feel 'meh' about in the process.

Pooping And Crying (Deric W. Haircare), Saturday, 5 December 2009 16:44 (4 years ago) Permalink

I think Empire of the Sun may be his best 'grown up' film.

Communi-Bear Silo State (chap), Saturday, 5 December 2009 16:51 (4 years ago) Permalink

Now I'm feeling inspired to go dive into my unwatched copies of 1941

I wouldn't do that to yrself.

SBanned of Brothers (Noodle Vague), Saturday, 5 December 2009 17:00 (4 years ago) Permalink

I'm super fascinated to see how badly he could've possibly stumbled in the midst of such an classic streak (Sugarland, Jaws, and Close Encounters on one side and Raiders and E.T. on the other). In the midst of watching Doumanian-era SNL (which isn't nearly as bad as I'd been led to believe), I'm reminded that accepted wisdom of epic failure isn't always the whole story.

Pooping And Crying (Deric W. Haircare), Saturday, 5 December 2009 18:01 (4 years ago) Permalink

Don't think he's much cop as a comedy director but from what I remember the script leaves quite a lot to be desired.

SBanned of Brothers (Noodle Vague), Saturday, 5 December 2009 18:03 (4 years ago) Permalink

I don't let that fact affect my enjoyment of Close Encounters (which I realized, finally, that you pretty much have to accept as a fairy tale or fable, as it completely falls apart when any logic is applied to the story).

Pooping And Crying (Deric W. Haircare), Saturday, 5 December 2009 18:11 (4 years ago) Permalink

thank god he saw the light on the harvey thing

mod only knows who i'd ban without u (s1ocki), Saturday, 5 December 2009 18:13 (4 years ago) Permalink

I don't let that fact affect my enjoyment of Close Encounters (which I realized, finally, that you pretty much have to accept as a fairy tale or fable, as it completely falls apart when any logic is applied to the story).

― Pooping And Crying (Deric W. Haircare), Saturday, December 5, 2009 1:11 PM (1 minute ago) Bookmark Suggest Ban Permalink

a lot of good movies are like this tbh

mod only knows who i'd ban without u (s1ocki), Saturday, 5 December 2009 18:13 (4 years ago) Permalink

I'm super fascinated to see how badly he could've possibly stumbled in the midst of such an classic streak

Great directors stumble and deteriorate all the time!

Hell is other people. In an ILE film forum. (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Saturday, 5 December 2009 18:16 (4 years ago) Permalink

Not trying to dissuade you, just thinking out loud really. I don't think he's directed an actual comedy movie since 1941 and I wonder if that's because of the way that film turned out or if he just doesn't like the genre or what.

SBanned of Brothers (Noodle Vague), Saturday, 5 December 2009 18:17 (4 years ago) Permalink

1941 has its fans. Still haven't seen it.

really senile old crap shit (Eric H.), Saturday, 5 December 2009 18:41 (4 years ago) Permalink

as it completely falls apart when any logic is applied to the story

Hitchcock called such critics The Plausibles!

I enjoyed 1941 as spectacle rather than comedy. (Robert Stack is really good tho.)

Feingold/Kaptur 2012 (Dr Morbius), Saturday, 5 December 2009 20:27 (4 years ago) Permalink

2 months pass...

A.I. = so frustrating. Saw it again tonight.

Still, what a decade. I don't love any of them through and through, but Hitchcock would've been proud of A.I., Catch Me If You Can, The Terminal, War of the Worlds and Munich. Can't believe he threw A.I. at a cineplex audience.

Most of ILX hates Spielberg cuz most of his eighties and nineties movies are CRAP. Those decades were the apprenticeship for this one.

Inculcate a spirit of serfdom in children (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 22 February 2010 00:08 (4 years ago) Permalink

Most of ILX hates Spielberg cuz most of his eighties and nineties movies are CRAP

Sort of an odd argument to make, considering ILX (and the rest of the world) seems to be basically cool with Duel, Jaws, Close Encounters, Raiders and E.T. It's just the last 15 years' worth that's been received all splitsville.

queen frostine (Eric H.), Monday, 22 February 2010 00:18 (4 years ago) Permalink

And I say that as someone who's drinking mixing the KoolAid on most of those '00s movies you mention.

queen frostine (Eric H.), Monday, 22 February 2010 00:19 (4 years ago) Permalink

Those two eighties movies omit a lot of nonsense.

Inculcate a spirit of serfdom in children (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 22 February 2010 00:23 (4 years ago) Permalink

*mentioning those films, that is

Inculcate a spirit of serfdom in children (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 22 February 2010 00:23 (4 years ago) Permalink

Ned Raggett, Monday, 22 February 2010 00:23 (4 years ago) Permalink

"It's just the last 15 years' worth that's been received all splitsville."

Nah he's been splitsville since the Color Purple at least. Maybe even E.T.

Fig On A Plate Cart (Alex in SF), Monday, 22 February 2010 00:25 (4 years ago) Permalink

I like the little 'introducing Brad Johnson' tucked away down in the actual credits of that poster because after that he rode the rocket sled to anonymous working actor nonfame.

Ned Raggett, Monday, 22 February 2010 00:26 (4 years ago) Permalink

Sure. Point being, the only movies I think you'd find predominately universal acclaim among just about any sample group are the movies that fell within his first decade.

queen frostine (Eric H.), Monday, 22 February 2010 00:30 (4 years ago) Permalink

i.e. most of ILX thinks Spielberg is crap because of, among other things, HIS '00s FILMS!

queen frostine (Eric H.), Monday, 22 February 2010 00:31 (4 years ago) Permalink

WoW was awes also MR was a gr8 ad 4 everything, kinda hate SS tho

plaxico (I know, right?), Monday, 22 February 2010 00:35 (4 years ago) Permalink

yeah, E.T. was received "splitsville." Record-setting box office, Oscar nominations, one of the most beloved films of its era, etc. Alex forgot to add "by me."

Fusty Moralizer (Dr Morbius), Monday, 22 February 2010 01:59 (4 years ago) Permalink

Record-setting box office, Oscar nominations

if you like E.T., you'll love Avatar

i know who the sockpuppet master of ilx is (velko), Monday, 22 February 2010 04:24 (4 years ago) Permalink

9 months pass...

bless those kids

Gukbe, Sunday, 19 December 2010 08:42 (3 years ago) Permalink

1 year passes...

what's up w/ this dude that the hyper-detailed mise en scene of mass destruction of war of the worlds or parts of war horse can be so authentically horrifying, but the sentimentality of those films' final acts can be staged and shot in such a risibly phoney way? shouldn't this guy have been a horror director?

flesh, the devil, and a wolf (wolf) (amateurist), Friday, 17 February 2012 12:39 (2 years ago) Permalink

didn't find either risibly phony, but u know, we've argued this for 8 years. If anything ppl are complaining about the violence of WH being reined in to keep it family-appropriate. (The scene of the brothers' execution in front of the windmill is pure, poetic Hollywood imagemaking in the classical style.)

Kaminski said the orange skies at the end of WH were real (I know this likely isn't what you're principally addressing).

Literal Facepalms (Dr Morbius), Friday, 17 February 2012 12:57 (2 years ago) Permalink

Haven't seen War Horse, but I understand visually (at least) it's a conscious throw-back hybrid. War of the Worlds is just a clumsy script that didn't put nearly enough effort into the people as it did the action sequences. Here I invoke an interview I did with David Koepp, where (off the record) he nonetheless still diplomatically implied some of the worst things about Lost World (gymkata girl) were ideas imposed on his script by corporate committee. Spielberg has lately been pretty unabashed about Lucas's crap "Crystal Skull" script, basically being a good sport, saying "hey, it was his story." Don't know if that's a defense or anything, but I think Spielberg knows when to hold 'em and knows when to fold 'em, essentially.

Josh in Chicago, Friday, 17 February 2012 14:10 (2 years ago) Permalink

i just found the staging of the reunions in WotW and WH to be impossibly stilted and phoney, almost ludicrously so. i don't get the feeling that spielberg feels it; he can't imagine a convincing, much less an unexpected, way to stage this sort of thing. yet many of his scenes of utter horror are admirably inventive and effective.

but opinions are opinions.

flesh, the devil, and a wolf (wolf) (amateurist), Friday, 17 February 2012 15:13 (2 years ago) Permalink

also i don't know that we've argued about spielberg before, at least not that much. i don't have very strong opinions on the guy in general.

flesh, the devil, and a wolf (wolf) (amateurist), Friday, 17 February 2012 15:19 (2 years ago) Permalink

I meant the communal "we," hehe.

In the case of War of the Worlds character is action to a large degree; 90% of it worked for me, and i am inclined to fuckin' hate Tom Cruise.

Literal Facepalms (Dr Morbius), Friday, 17 February 2012 15:22 (2 years ago) Permalink

i don't get the feeling that spielberg feels it; he can't imagine a convincing, much less an unexpected, way to stage this sort of thing. yet many of his scenes of utter horror are admirably inventive and effective.

been over this 100x on ILX but this nails exactly what's so suggestive about the final scenes of A.I. imo.

but I dunno I find the standard Spielberg "happy ending" kind of a mannerist affectation of his at this point...there's something strictly formal, i guess you could say, about its function in the narrative.

ryan, Friday, 17 February 2012 15:45 (2 years ago) Permalink

especially in the sense that they almost seem detachable from the movie proper.

ryan, Friday, 17 February 2012 15:56 (2 years ago) Permalink

well, in the case of War Horse, a reconciliation/happy ending is part of what he's adapting, it's a children's book!

Literal Facepalms (Dr Morbius), Friday, 17 February 2012 16:02 (2 years ago) Permalink

i feel like spielberg has the ability to infuse anything he does with a shitload of movie magic for lack of a better term, and sometimes its astounding and sometimes its a huge disaster (Always), usually if the material's too thin or bad to be redeemed. the reunion at the end of WotW is just dumb to me, but in WH i thought it worked. and i think the staging in WH's final scenes are just better and more interesting; in war of the worlds its risibly phony but in war horse it feels more like hes going for some heightened non-reality 'fable' - and i guess your reaction to that could be dependent on how skeptical you are of modern fables

i really liked War Horse

RudolfHitlerFtw (Hungry4Ass), Friday, 17 February 2012 16:08 (2 years ago) Permalink

I just don't get the utility of phrases like "heightened non-reality" re Hollywood studio-made films (and many others made elsewhere)... this is what all but *maybe* 2 of his films are. That's what Hitchcock films were. When mainstream filmmakers decided to be "gritty" between the '50s and '70s, they made up a new heightened-reality version of naturalism! (stealing that last point from Stephin Merritt I think)

Literal Facepalms (Dr Morbius), Friday, 17 February 2012 16:13 (2 years ago) Permalink

that's why to me Cassavettes films look more like Storybook Land than a Selznick production.

Exile in lolville (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 17 February 2012 16:17 (2 years ago) Permalink

i don't really know where you're coming from morbs! i would agree that many filmmakers are working in a heightened reality idiom, even those whose work is characterized as naturalistic, but im just talking about this specific movie. i didn't mean it critically, just that the ending of war horse seems conspicuously different from anything else you see in movies today - the composition (which struck me as Ford-like, not that im an expert), use of color, music - in a way that evokes the movies of SS's childhood

RudolfHitlerFtw (Hungry4Ass), Friday, 17 February 2012 16:57 (2 years ago) Permalink

Yeah, when the material calls for it (ie not in Munich), he mines that vein expertly (tho WH is only a semi-success for me).

Literal Facepalms (Dr Morbius), Friday, 17 February 2012 17:23 (2 years ago) Permalink

that's why to me Cassavettes films look more like Storybook Land than a Selznick production.

― Exile in lolville (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, February 17, 2012 10:17 AM (3 hours ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

wha--? this applies more to, like, jules dassin than cassavetes.

flesh, the devil, and a wolf (wolf) (amateurist), Friday, 17 February 2012 19:41 (2 years ago) Permalink

yeah the ending of war horse was seriously mega-stylized (no less than the much more interesting climactic scene of haywire) -- i don't see how you can argue against that.

flesh, the devil, and a wolf (wolf) (amateurist), Friday, 17 February 2012 19:42 (2 years ago) Permalink

what would a not-stylized ending look like?

The boy and horse going home is more a coda -- the 'endings' seem more like the two scenes before that.

Literal Facepalms (Dr Morbius), Friday, 17 February 2012 20:08 (2 years ago) Permalink

So is the "ending" the " ... and zee horse" part?

dead-trius (Eric H.), Friday, 17 February 2012 20:14 (2 years ago) Permalink

much more interesting climactic scene of haywire

challops!

RudolfHitlerFtw (Hungry4Ass), Friday, 17 February 2012 20:16 (2 years ago) Permalink

Is that French granddad? I saw it 2-1/2 months ago, 98% of it is gone.

xp

Literal Facepalms (Dr Morbius), Friday, 17 February 2012 20:16 (2 years ago) Permalink

Yeah, it's the 2 seconds of suspense about whether the horse and the boy will actually end up being allowed to stay together.

dead-trius (Eric H.), Friday, 17 February 2012 20:25 (2 years ago) Permalink

much more interesting climactic scene of haywire

challops!

― RudolfHitlerFtw (Hungry4Ass), Friday, February 17, 2012 2:16 PM (15 minutes ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

not really. whatever you think of haywire, the climactic scene on the beach is great.

flesh, the devil, and a wolf (wolf) (amateurist), Friday, 17 February 2012 20:33 (2 years ago) Permalink

wha--? this applies more to, like, jules dassin than cassavetes.

Cassavettes' naturalism is way stylized.

Exile in lolville (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 17 February 2012 21:14 (2 years ago) Permalink


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