Steven Spielberg - classic or dud

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it's not just about that (although, you know, it's nice to have more than the two-shot, the close-up, the master -- nice also to have expressive editing JUST OCNE IN A WHILE). i don't care if he's "great art" (blah jargon) or not; it's just he isn't all that interesting. there are more interesting directors. like spielberg!!! they both have a somewhat limited and audience-minded view of 'human nature', praps.

xp

N_RQ, Thursday, 28 July 2005 09:33 (twelve years ago) Permalink

I'm with NRQ here.

Sick Mouthy (Nick Southall), Thursday, 28 July 2005 09:50 (twelve years ago) Permalink

i'm gonna have to restrain myself from writing an entire essay here, but suffice to say i think hawks is one of the five greatest directors ever and i can't even begin to say why his best films transcend "expressive editing" and all that film school bullshit. this is verging on "the ramones aren't as interesting as frank zappa" territory. and i hope no one thinks i'm being a boring old film rockist because hawks is like the most ENTERTAINING great director who ever lived. and i don't think your last sentence shows much (or any) understanding of his attitude toward his audience.

i actually LIKE spielberg and feel he gets a bad rap from "entertainment is not art" types, but howard hawks is a greater director than spielberg for the same reason charles schulz is a greater artist than dave sim.

J.D. (Justyn Dillingham), Thursday, 28 July 2005 10:15 (twelve years ago) Permalink

haha when ppl ask me tomorrow why i look so sleepy i'll have to say "cos i was up at 4 a.m. being the film geek version of that guy who throws a fit because you think picard is better than kirk."

J.D. (Justyn Dillingham), Thursday, 28 July 2005 10:16 (twelve years ago) Permalink

and i hope no one thinks i'm being a boring old film rockist because hawks is like the most ENTERTAINING great director who ever lived.

i. dis. agree. there, that wasn't so hard. in this context, i don't care about great directors. i care about entertaining films. hawks' films are *quite* entertaining. but they don't stand out particularly from hollywood films of the 'classic' (c. 1930 - c. 1960) period.

he has a slightly nasty, right-libertarian view of society based on the rugged-individualist/masculinist ideal (women have to be men). it's this glib view of 'how to deal' that i mean by 'audience-minded'. he's all about winners.

expressive editing (blah phrase, but whatevs) is not film school bullshit. following the aesthetic choices of 1950s cahiers du cinema is film school bullshit!!

N_RQ, Thursday, 28 July 2005 10:25 (twelve years ago) Permalink

when did great exciting crowd-pleasing moviemaking become "film school bullshit"?

s1ocki (slutsky), Thursday, 28 July 2005 13:24 (twelve years ago) Permalink

if indy running from the rock is now considered some abstract academic film-school braininess then i don't even know what we're talking about anymore

s1ocki (slutsky), Thursday, 28 July 2005 13:25 (twelve years ago) Permalink

i think jd thought that what i meant [that was fun] by expressive editing and non-shot-reverse-shot moviemaking was, i dunno, something hyper-intellectual -- resnais, or whatever. i love resnais, but i *also* meant modern movies LIKE 'SAVING PRIVATE RYAN'. i have my qualms but as movie art there's a shitload more to chew on in 'SPR' than there is in anything by hawks.

N_RQ, Thursday, 28 July 2005 13:30 (twelve years ago) Permalink

i'm gonna refuse to take sides on this one

s1ocki (slutsky), Thursday, 28 July 2005 13:33 (twelve years ago) Permalink

would the oft-overlooked michael curtiz be a better predecessor comparison?

s1ocki (slutsky), Thursday, 28 July 2005 13:34 (twelve years ago) Permalink

no-one has seen all of curtiz's movies. he made 100s. there's no pressing reason to separate his stuff from hawks' or from thatera of hollywood in general: more unites 'to have and have not' and 'casablanca' than, oh i dunno, two curtiz films i've forgotten the names of. it doesn't belittle classic genre films to say that the differences between them are not particularly big -- in the context of the history of film as a whole.

point is the kind of stuff spielberg does, like the beach scene, was beyond the dreams of any classic hollywood director. they'd have fucking killed to have done it. maybe sam fuller with spielberg's crew would be the best thing.

N_RQ, Thursday, 28 July 2005 13:41 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Hitchcock was also "middlebrow" (which seems to be the label for a great image-maker who also entertains a mass audience). Not that Spielberg has ever achieved the consistency of Hitch from 1954-64, but his films (esp post-Jurassic) generally show more complexity and disturbingly adult themes than directors who are taken more seriously (cf Spike Lee, Soderbergh, Coens).

Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Thursday, 28 July 2005 13:46 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Here are some movies I have not seen and don't have any real intention of seeing.

# Indiana Jones 4 (2006) (announced)
# Untitled Steven Spielberg/Abraham Lincoln Project (2007) (pre-production)
# Untitled 1972 Munich Olympics Project (2005) (filming)
# War of the Worlds (2005)
# The Terminal (2004)
# Catch Me If You Can (2002)
# Minority Report (2002)
# Artificial Intelligence: AI (2001)

This list, of films I have seen, arranged more or less in descending order of quality (last = best) is the reason why I'm not interested in any of the films above:

# Saving Private Ryan (1998)
# The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997)
# Schindler's List (1993)
# Jurassic Park (1993)
# Hook (1991)
# Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
# Empire of the Sun (1987)
# The Color Purple (1985)
# Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)
# E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
# Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
# Jaws (1975)
# Duel (1971)

In conclusion, Thank You Mr. Spielberg for bringing some really fantastic adventures to the big screen, and showing us some highly exciting moments, No Thank You Mr. Spielberg for saddling nearly all of them with increasingly awful casting as time marches on and for trying to choke us to death with your faith in the human spirit or whatever you want to call that unbelievably smug annoying self-congratulatory horseshit.


xpost,
more complexity and disturbingly adult themes
So do the fucking Matrix movies. OMG HE DIES TO SAVE EVERYBODY

TOMBOT, Thursday, 28 July 2005 14:22 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Such soul-crushing cynicism deserves, oh, Michael Bay.

Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Thursday, 28 July 2005 14:30 (twelve years ago) Permalink

"unbelievably smug annoying self-congratulatory horseshit"

this is kinda otm -- it's there in the movies -- but the horseshit bits are outnumbered by the highly exciting moments. or, they're *both* there. same way fall-flat bits of unfunniness and misanthropy coexist with real chills in hitchcock.

otoh, is 'saving private ryan' really that smug? it has those terrible bookends, and the matt damon bits are really annoying, but i've seen far less convinving movies about war.

N_RQ, Thursday, 28 July 2005 14:34 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Spielberg has always been very good at provoking a visceral reaction using whatever crap he has available. He knows how to make ostensibly exciting movies. Unfortunately, since you know that all of his ostensibly exciting movies will be ending in some fashion that makes you feel like a baby chickadee just regurgitated golden liquid cuddles of redemption directly into your stomach, the thrill isn't there, because you're just waiting for the hammer to fall and get the brainwashing over with.

The first time I saw Duel I knew it was supposed to be "atypical" Spielberg but I still spent probably half the movie waiting for some insipid deus ex machina to rob me of all my actual emotions and replace them with spoonfed lotus blooms. This is what he's done to his legacy.

TOMBOT, Thursday, 28 July 2005 14:34 (twelve years ago) Permalink

into the west was awesome - rachel leigh cook!!

j blount (papa la bas), Thursday, 28 July 2005 14:36 (twelve years ago) Permalink

i helped my friend videotape an audition for into the west! he didn't get the part though :(

s1ocki (slutsky), Thursday, 28 July 2005 14:38 (twelve years ago) Permalink

I am the only person in the world who thinks Jaws is a shitty, shitty movie. I don't entirely blame Spielberg because the book it's based on is even worse than the film, so in that respect, he did well.

Looking at that list above I realize I've disliked a LOT of his movies, without even really realizing they were Spielberg flix. I mean the only movies that I like in that list are Raiders, Last Crusade, Duel, Catch Me If You Can (and that's not even an active like because I forgot I saw it until recently) and...uh...well, I don't actually like Jurassic Park at ALL but Jeff Goldblum dresses fantastically in it so I'll give it a little bit of a pass (THAT FINAL SHOT OF THE T-REX AND THE RAPTORS IS THE ABSOLUTE WORST SHOT IN THE ENTIRE HISTORY OF CINEMATOGRAPHY AND DIRECTION AND THAT IS A STONE COLD FACT PEOPLE). I'd like Saving Private Ryan better if the bookends were deleted and it was about a half hour shorter.

Dr. Morbius, how about you discuss the "disturbing adult themes" in, say, Catch Me If You Can?

Allyzay knows a little German (allyzay), Thursday, 28 July 2005 14:38 (twelve years ago) Permalink

He's okay. I thought Minority Report was pretty decent, up until the ending, anyway.

Leon C. (Ex Leon), Thursday, 28 July 2005 14:39 (twelve years ago) Permalink

anyway, i gotta agree with everyone praising band of brothers on this thread, i really liked it so much more than i expected (and overall a lot more than saving private ryan).

s1ocki (slutsky), Thursday, 28 July 2005 14:39 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Dud. Fuck him. I am Filmist.

Anti-Pope Consortium (noodle vague), Thursday, 28 July 2005 14:40 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Ok the more I'm thinking about that final shot of the T-Rex and the Raptors in the lobby with the fucking banner floating in front of them in Jurassic Park the more angry I'm getting. Goddamn hack.

Allyzay knows a little German (allyzay), Thursday, 28 July 2005 14:42 (twelve years ago) Permalink

minority report had a pretty good first third/half, i guess, but boy does it ever go to shit. and it's about as dark and adult as an episode of young indiana jones

s1ocki (slutsky), Thursday, 28 July 2005 14:42 (twelve years ago) Permalink

catch me if you can woulda been alot more disturbing/adult/fun if it'd kept true to frank abagnale's motivation in the book (pussy).

jaws fucking rules ally. jpark3's pretty great, the best of the bunch no doubt. poltergeist was pretty great. band of brothers was incredible. into the west was rousing fun.

j blount (papa la bas), Thursday, 28 July 2005 14:44 (twelve years ago) Permalink

catch me would've been better if it had been about 30 mins shorter

s1ocki (slutsky), Thursday, 28 July 2005 14:44 (twelve years ago) Permalink

WAIT WAIT I ALSO LIKE EMPIRE OF THE SUN.

Jaws does NOT fucking rule!

Allyzay knows a little German (allyzay), Thursday, 28 July 2005 14:45 (twelve years ago) Permalink

i think jpark3 is rett bratner or someone...

N_RQ, Thursday, 28 July 2005 14:46 (twelve years ago) Permalink

it's jumanji guy... joe johnston

s1ocki (slutsky), Thursday, 28 July 2005 14:47 (twelve years ago) Permalink

nrq makes a really good point: that maybe spielberg is - deliberately? that wd be so cool - sacrificing good UNIFIED WORKS for the opportunity to make astonishing scenes or moments

UNIFIED WORKS suck anyway

ie his refusal to end his recent movies unyuckily is the price he is prepared to pay for the chance to shoot [x] idea

i don't buy this really, but i wd admire SS lots if i discovered this is where he's secretly at

mark s (mark s), Thursday, 28 July 2005 14:47 (twelve years ago) Permalink

war of the worlds woulda been alot better if richard dreyfuss had come out of the ship at the end.

j blount (papa la bas), Thursday, 28 July 2005 14:47 (twelve years ago) Permalink

or if it had turned out it was the nazis!

j blount (papa la bas), Thursday, 28 July 2005 14:48 (twelve years ago) Permalink

allyzay i have seen lisztomania and yr hyperbole impresses me none

mark s (mark s), Thursday, 28 July 2005 14:48 (twelve years ago) Permalink

jaws rules

j blount (papa la bas), Thursday, 28 July 2005 14:49 (twelve years ago) Permalink

http://www.thegreenhead.com/cat-gallery/3/cat_g3_10.jpg
from up-coming director's cut

mark s (mark s), Thursday, 28 July 2005 14:51 (twelve years ago) Permalink

free frisky

j blount (papa la bas), Thursday, 28 July 2005 14:52 (twelve years ago) Permalink

i don't buy this really, but i wd admire SS lots if i discovered this is where he's secretly at

oh, begone intentionality! i think most movies are compendia of bits with lots of redundancies put in to keep front office happy. it's always been like that(?). spielberg is a total enigma as a man -- i have read a biography of him and know NOTHING about him.

but cutting through or ignoring the 'greatest generation' blah i've been impressed by the action scenes in the saving private ryan/band of brothers projects.

as with albums, ignore the rubbish bits.

N_RQ, Thursday, 28 July 2005 14:53 (twelve years ago) Permalink

bbbbbbbut what if Richard Dreyfuss was the Nazis?????!

My hyperbole is totally correct, watch JP again and wait for it...that final shot of the freaking T-Rex. Claymation dinosaur, why you ruin shot all the time? I would've liked Jurassic Park better if there was no dinosaurs, but instead Richard Dreyfuss and Roy Scheider.

Anyway I am still interested in finding out how Spielberg classics like Catch Me If You Can or The Terminal or The Lost World explore more disturbing, dark, and adult themes than Bamboozled and are more complex than The Big Lebowski! I'll give Morbius Soderberg.

XPOST ARGH STOP IT WITH THOSE MORPHED ANIMALS

Allyzay knows a little German (allyzay), Thursday, 28 July 2005 14:53 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Film school types have a different measuring stick than an ordinary film viewer like me. Speilberg is probably the quinessential film school success story, the Lord of the Film School Graduates, the wet dream of budding director-wannabes. He's filthy rich, can command any script he pleases, casts A-list actors at will, and has all Hollywood groveling before him. He's a One Phone Call kind of guy.

Does this make him classic, or just Darryl Zanuck reborn?

I stick with my B+ assessement. He has good chops, and a consistent record. I like him OK, but nothing he makes excites me much.

Aimless (Aimless), Thursday, 28 July 2005 14:54 (twelve years ago) Permalink

'lost world' is about the amoral exploitation of scientific research for profit -- it's an adult theme. treatment another matter.

aimless -- steve is hurt, but he will try to improve his record for next semester.

N_RQ, Thursday, 28 July 2005 14:57 (twelve years ago) Permalink

i don't give a penny fig for intentionality nrq, it is a phantom of goofy wackness, i wd still admire SS if this is where he was at!! it wd just be kinda cool given everything, if he too thought john williams wz an gharstly hack but WHAT THE HELL, at least with him on board i get to do x y and z

mark s (mark s), Thursday, 28 July 2005 14:57 (twelve years ago) Permalink

well the treatment and exploration of these adult themes would seem to be the key here.

Allyzay knows a little German (allyzay), Thursday, 28 July 2005 14:58 (twelve years ago) Permalink

jpark1 wasn't all that but people were just so damn happy to finally get to see a real live dinosaur.

j blount (papa la bas), Thursday, 28 July 2005 14:59 (twelve years ago) Permalink

wow you musta sawn i difft version to me blount

mark s (mark s), Thursday, 28 July 2005 15:00 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Film school types have a different measuring stick than an ordinary film viewer like me. Speilberg is probably the quinessential film school success story, the Lord of the Film School Graduates, the wet dream of budding director-wannabes. He's filthy rich, can command any script he pleases, casts A-list actors at will, and has all Hollywood groveling before him. He's a One Phone Call kind of guy.

what's your point here exactly? that people in film school like him because he's successful? wtf does that have to do with anything

s1ocki (slutsky), Thursday, 28 July 2005 15:01 (twelve years ago) Permalink

claymation dinosaurs

Allyzay knows a little German (allyzay), Thursday, 28 July 2005 15:01 (twelve years ago) Permalink

when i finally saw jurassic park 2 i was amazed at how bad and UN-masterful it was actually

s1ocki (slutsky), Thursday, 28 July 2005 15:01 (twelve years ago) Permalink

(hmmm i am leavin the surface of planet english i think --- brisk walk off to robster's bday for me)

mark s (mark s), Thursday, 28 July 2005 15:02 (twelve years ago) Permalink

give him our best mark

j blount (papa la bas), Thursday, 28 July 2005 15:04 (twelve years ago) Permalink

will do! i am sure this will be settled when i am next online

mark s (mark s), Thursday, 28 July 2005 15:04 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Salem's Lot smuggled in some eptitude. So did The Funhouse, despite the production problems. He isn't a worthless filmmaker. It's just that Poltergeist is unquestionably a Spielberg film. I used to think otherwise, that Hooper and Spielberg battling for supremacy resulted in a fascinatingly schizo family horror movie. But Spielberg in that era was already dealing in some serious kindertrauma.

Anne of the Thousand Gays (Eric H.), Saturday, 15 July 2017 16:45 (four months ago) Permalink

Salem's Lot was, at best, ept, but Funhouse - a movie I've inexplicably seen a bunch - is pretty dull. His movies are just ugly and underlit and shot poorly, and that's before the acting and script.

Josh in Chicago, Saturday, 15 July 2017 17:03 (four months ago) Permalink

lifeforce is entertainingly tolerable if you set yrself up to expect a late-70s hammer reboot of the quatermass x-periment

(lol i saw it at its london film festival debut, when it was given a very grand opening in a swanky leicester square cinema, as TH's star was at that point very high: oops)

mark s, Saturday, 15 July 2017 17:07 (four months ago) Permalink

Ha. Yeah, and that was his post Poltergeist big bugdet shot. Oops indeed.

Josh in Chicago, Saturday, 15 July 2017 17:14 (four months ago) Permalink

two weeks pass...

The Amazing Stories episode 'The Mission', starring Kevin Costner and Kiefer Sutherland, is some damn fine Spielberg.

Chock Full of Love and Sexy Feeling (Old Lunch), Tuesday, 1 August 2017 12:17 (three months ago) Permalink

Big Lebowski might be the Coens' best movie...
― Eric H. (Eric H.), Thursday, July 28, 2005 11:36 AM (twelve years ago) Bookmark

A pod person was posting as me back in 2005.

Anne of the Thousand Gays (Eric H.), Tuesday, 1 August 2017 12:53 (three months ago) Permalink

I remember watching "The Mission" when it first aired, and my dad was def disappointed at the fantastical turn things took. ("It's called Amazing Stories...")

ice cream social justice (Dr Morbius), Tuesday, 1 August 2017 13:20 (three months ago) Permalink

Taken out of the context of the series' conceit, I can definitely understand that. The forty minutes leading up to the resolution are a great tension build. I wish Spielberg would do more suspense pictures. It's one of his strongest suits, imo.

Chock Full of Love and Sexy Feeling (Old Lunch), Tuesday, 1 August 2017 13:26 (three months ago) Permalink

is "the Mission" the one with the fighter plane that grows cartoon wheels so it can land

Οὖτις, Tuesday, 1 August 2017 16:13 (three months ago) Permalink

wow I had forgotten how crazy the directors' list for that series was

Οὖτις, Tuesday, 1 August 2017 16:14 (three months ago) Permalink

SPOILER shakes

ice cream social justice (Dr Morbius), Tuesday, 1 August 2017 16:15 (three months ago) Permalink

xposts Yes, that's the one.

Watching this series for the first time in 30+ years is wigging me out a little because bits and pieces of it had strongly imprinted themselves on my pre-adolescent brain without me ever realizing where this random assortment of images had come from.

Chock Full of Love and Sexy Feeling (Old Lunch), Tuesday, 1 August 2017 16:19 (three months ago) Permalink

oops sorry I ruined the plot of an episode of a 30 yo children's tv show my bad

Οὖτις, Tuesday, 1 August 2017 16:21 (three months ago) Permalink

Monster, imo.

Chock Full of Love and Sexy Feeling (Old Lunch), Tuesday, 1 August 2017 16:23 (three months ago) Permalink

a children's tv show, huh

ice cream social justice (Dr Morbius), Tuesday, 1 August 2017 16:29 (three months ago) Permalink

so much ronging

ice cream social justice (Dr Morbius), Tuesday, 1 August 2017 16:29 (three months ago) Permalink

After I blow through this series, I'm interested in revisiting some of the other projects from that era which Spielberg was tangentially involved with (e.g. *batteries not included, which was apparently originally intended to be an Amazing Stories episode). He seems to have been trying to curate a particular Spielbergian feel across everything emblazoned with his producer credit (the Williams-scored whimsy and wonder of suburbia intersecting with the fantastic, with just a sprinkling of coke-heightened overacting).

Chock Full of Love and Sexy Feeling (Old Lunch), Tuesday, 1 August 2017 16:30 (three months ago) Permalink

the Williams-scored whimsy and wonder of suburbia intersecting with the fantastic, with just a sprinkling of coke-heightened overacting

kill me now

Οὖτις, Tuesday, 1 August 2017 16:31 (three months ago) Permalink

One of the reasons the episode I mentioned is so good is that it largely eschewed those tendencies that he clung to so tenaciously through at least, what, Hook?

Chock Full of Love and Sexy Feeling (Old Lunch), Tuesday, 1 August 2017 16:36 (three months ago) Permalink

I don't think Empire of the Sun fits that mold, pilgrim

ice cream social justice (Dr Morbius), Tuesday, 1 August 2017 16:41 (three months ago) Permalink

There's something about that tendency that I find ineffably appealing, despite (or maybe because of) how cloyingly sentimental it sometimes is. There's something almost sinister about it. Some of these Amazing Stories episodes (a lot of which have at least a story credit for Spielberg) have this weird artificial sheen that almost feels like the grotesque depictions of humanity from a contemporaneous David Lee Roth video. I feel like there's a weird continuum from Spielberg's '80s sensibility to Joe Dante to, like EC Comics. The mundane overexposed into horrifying cartoonishness.

xpost Yes, I immediately remembered outliers like Empire and The Color Purple after I posted.

Chock Full of Love and Sexy Feeling (Old Lunch), Tuesday, 1 August 2017 16:44 (three months ago) Permalink

p sure I've said this before - Empire of the Sun is great except for the score, which is godawful

Οὖτις, Tuesday, 1 August 2017 16:44 (three months ago) Permalink

i'd remind you OL that the 'wonder of suburbia' generally included divorce, isolation, sometimes poltergeists!

ice cream social justice (Dr Morbius), Tuesday, 1 August 2017 17:10 (three months ago) Permalink

Yes! It is horror as viewed through the gauzy haze of nostalgia.

Chock Full of Love and Sexy Feeling (Old Lunch), Tuesday, 1 August 2017 17:13 (three months ago) Permalink

two months pass...
one month passes...

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