Steven Spielberg - classic or dud

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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

do you mean in the performances? because that i get, completely.

as for the mise-en-scene in other respects, i don't get it.

flesh, the devil, and a wolf (wolf) (amateurist), Friday, 17 February 2012 21:15 (2 years ago) Permalink

that was the worst fight in the movie!

RudolfHitlerFtw (Hungry4Ass), Friday, 17 February 2012 21:15 (2 years ago) Permalink

well in terms of fight choreography, maybe.

in terms of crazy editing and deliberately mismatched lighting, hell no.

flesh, the devil, and a wolf (wolf) (amateurist), Friday, 17 February 2012 21:16 (2 years ago) Permalink

the shot of her running up behind mcgregor is great. the way the fight was shot really grated me, with the camera centered on like a nice sunset with the two fighters stuffed in the corner. it further depersonalized a conflict that was already thin and difficult to care about. i felt like soderbergh was throwing it in the audiences face in an unpleasant way

RudolfHitlerFtw (Hungry4Ass), Friday, 17 February 2012 21:17 (2 years ago) Permalink

that's probably true, but i like the way that instead of trying to match the lighting they just allow the sunset light to radically shift with each cut. i thought that was kind of brilliant.

flesh, the devil, and a wolf (wolf) (amateurist), Friday, 17 February 2012 21:18 (2 years ago) Permalink

there are also lots of really (deliberately i assume) jarring elliptical cuts.

flesh, the devil, and a wolf (wolf) (amateurist), Friday, 17 February 2012 21:18 (2 years ago) Permalink

yeah i rarely notice editing choices like that. i'd be interested in reading an analysis of some of the things he was doing stylistically - i couldn't really tell why he made certain decisions (like how he shot that beach fight), maybe it's really obvious from a certain perspective, he seems to have like a unifying aesthetic for each movie he does

RudolfHitlerFtw (Hungry4Ass), Friday, 17 February 2012 21:59 (2 years ago) Permalink

I'd love to see a comparison between that scene and a "standard" action scene because it certainly felt different. i remember one particular cut that shifted the POV exactly 180 degrees, which certainly seemed unusual to my eyes.

ryan, Friday, 17 February 2012 22:05 (2 years ago) Permalink

oh, great

Literal Facepalms (Dr Morbius), Friday, 17 February 2012 22:44 (2 years ago) Permalink

oh great people are actually talking about movies in an interesting and detailed way

the jazz zinger (s1ocki), Friday, 17 February 2012 23:48 (2 years ago) Permalink

I just happen to like stayin on topic

Literal Facepalms (Dr Morbius), Saturday, 18 February 2012 01:19 (2 years ago) Permalink

Classic.

dead-trius (Eric H.), Saturday, 18 February 2012 04:37 (2 years ago) Permalink

1 month passes...

Some great essays on Spielberg, plus memorabilia and diary excerpts from Truffaut's acting stint on CE3K, in the February Cahiers.

Lawanda Pageboy (Capitaine Jay Vee), Monday, 19 March 2012 23:02 (2 years ago) Permalink

1 month passes...

Reverse Shot continues its Spielberg coverage: http://www.reverseshot.com/section/steven_spielberg

Munich

War of the Worlds

GoT SPOILER ALERT (Gukbe), Thursday, 26 April 2012 16:15 (2 years ago) Permalink

Tom Hiddleston sure can wear an uniform (as he proved in The Deep Blue Sea).

Exile in lolville (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 8 May 2012 21:20 (2 years ago) Permalink

He played one of the sharks?

bark ruffalo (latebloomer), Tuesday, 8 May 2012 22:57 (2 years ago) Permalink

He played Samuel L. Jackson.

Josh in Chicago, Tuesday, 8 May 2012 23:37 (2 years ago) Permalink

Goldman isn't a fan then..

http://achtenblog.blogspot.co.uk/2007/08/saving-private-ryan-goldman-essay.html

piscesx, Wednesday, 9 May 2012 00:09 (2 years ago) Permalink

ha i remember reading that in Premier. pretty OTM to be honest.

bark ruffalo (latebloomer), Wednesday, 9 May 2012 00:35 (2 years ago) Permalink

6 months pass...

Munich
"It's almost over-the-top to some degree, right?" admits Kaminski

Bobby Ken Doll (Eric H.), Wednesday, 14 November 2012 19:19 (2 years ago) Permalink

and all the better for it.

saltwater incursion (Dr Morbius), Wednesday, 14 November 2012 19:21 (2 years ago) Permalink

What the hell. Ranked my favorite Spielbergs out in response to that Salon ranking and here's what I came up with:

01. A.I. Artificial Intelligence 2001
02. E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial 1982
03. Munich 2005
04. War of the Worlds 2005
05. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom 1984
06. Close Encounters of the Third Kind 1977
07. Raiders of the Lost Ark 1981
08. Lincoln 2012
09. Schindler’s List 1993
10. Jurassic Park 1993
11. Minority Report 2002
12. War Horse 2011
13. Jaws 1975
14. Saving Private Ryan 1998
15. The Color Purple 1985
16. Catch Me If You Can 2002
17. The Lost World: Jurassic Park 1997
18. Amistad 1997
19. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull 2008
20. Hook 1991
21. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade 1989

Biggest blind spots still are Duel and Empire of the Sun.

Bobby Ken Doll (Eric H.), Tuesday, 20 November 2012 14:41 (2 years ago) Permalink


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