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PostPosted: Sun Jun 24, 2007 7:00 am 
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flyonthewall2983 wrote:

Thanks for that.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 24, 2007 7:01 am 
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Robotron wrote:
He is interested in nothing but the mechanics of manipulation, without the innovation and skill of Hitchcock [...]

That applies far more to Ron Howard, who I've come to really loathe, and to Zemeckis, than to Spielberg himself. He has a sensibility that, as repeatedly and trenchantly noted by many of the above posters, causes him to somewhat squander his gifts on less than worthy projects and to leave a veneer of treacle on even the best ones, but his skill, and his ultimate aesthetic success, far outpaces those two half-baked imitators.

colinr0380 wrote:
I have problems with Spielberg but at the same time like many of his films and agree with Narshty that they all have something that his many imitators lack.

That's my position in a nutshell.

He regularly dismays, and occasionally infuriates, me, but I always extend him critical support because he's an artist when all is said and done. My griping about his flaws is like the excuse given by parents when they spank kids, all about how it's for their own good.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 24, 2007 7:50 am 
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exte wrote:
flyonthewall2983 wrote:

God bless youtube, and the people at Google who bought it... Any more of these, just keep them coming...

Check out the Kubrick thread.


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 Post subject: Steven Spielberg
PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2011 8:50 pm 
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Mr Sausage wrote:
But then I'm the guy who thinks Raiders (along with Jaws) is the best thing Speilberg's ever done.

Wait, is this not the majority opinion? Aside from those who credit Poltergeist to Spielberg, I thought this was pretty much a universal consensus.

Mr Sausage wrote:
Temple of Doom is, for me, the most interesting of the sequels. It has so much going for it: the opening, the Gunga Din atmosphere, the score, the incredible set-pieces. But it just has such bad taste. The humour is awful, the side-kicks annoying, the writing full of groan-inducing cliches--it's strikingly immature in the worst ways. Last Crusade is more solid and yet less interesting. It does everything well, but nothing distinguishes it.

Seconded. And, perhaps it's just me, but the cut-away to Jones after he dispatches the slave driver of the children is one of the greatest passages in Spielberg's entire body of work. After Raiders, his films became very similar to De Palma's: problematic, but with masterfully crafted sequence here and there, and Temple is full of them (though that single cut-away remains my favorite)!


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2011 9:17 pm 
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Highway 61 wrote:
Mr Sausage wrote:
But then I'm the guy who thinks Raiders (along with Jaws) is the best thing Speilberg's ever done.
Wait, is this not the majority opinion? Aside from those who credit Poltergeist to Spielberg, I thought this was pretty much a universal consensus.

I used to love Raiders as much as anyone but the last time I saw it a few years back I thoroughly hated it. It came across to me as a perfect example of what many routinely criticize Spielberg for, namely his manipulation. In this case, it has less to do with his penchant for sentiment and more to do with the genuine feeling I had of suffocating under a welter of exactingly filmed storyboards. I don't remeber any of the sequels resonating with so much control fetishism.

And for me his best remain firmly Empire and A.I. I can't imagine anything surpassing those.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2011 10:08 pm 
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I thought he peaked with Duel.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2011 10:09 pm 
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I thought he peaked with The Last Gun ironically.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2011 10:24 pm 
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I thought he peeked with A.Eye.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2011 10:39 pm 
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Highway 61 wrote:
Mr Sausage wrote:
But then I'm the guy who thinks Raiders (along with Jaws) is the best thing Speilberg's ever done.
Wait, is this not the majority opinion? Aside from those who credit Poltergeist to Spielberg, I thought this was pretty much a universal consensus.

Is it? I really don't know. I tend to hear stuff like Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan, his more openly ambitious films, receive more praise, or if not them, then Close Encounters and E.T.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2011 10:44 pm 
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Actually E.T. is the one I have heard even his acolytes bag on from his classic period. Raiders and Jaws is the only one I've never heard anything truly bad on.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2011 10:52 pm 
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knives wrote:
Actually E.T. is the one I have heard even his acolytes bag on from his classic period. Raiders and Jaws is the only one I've never heard anything truly bad on.

I find--and this is among people I meet in my daily life rather than film buffs/communities or critics necessarily--that people don't immediately consider Raiders and Jaws as being candidates in a discussion of Spielberg's masterpieces. I think they get shuffled to the back of the mind as 'that adventure film' and 'that horror film.' I tend to get an "oh, never thought of those" expression whenever I mention that I don't think he's ever equaled those two. Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan come up way more often.

Evidently a lot more people think that way about Raiders and Jaws than I thought. I'm obviously happy to hear it.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2011 10:56 pm 
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This definitely shows my age, but IMO Jurassic Park is his best popcorn movie. And I'll go on record as saying Munich may be his masterpiece.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2011 11:02 pm 
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I used to like Spielberg a lot more in high school, but they just seem too drippy and bombastic to me now, and E.T.'s a perfect example of that. I don't think they're bad films, but I definitely don't enjoy them like I used to. Close Encounters has held up the best, I'd argue that's the best of his blockbuster period, with Jaws coming in second.

I generally think "serious" Spielberg is worse than popcorn Spielberg - didn't think much of The Color Purple, Munich, Saving Private Ryan and Amistad, and I think the far less ambitious Catch Me If You Can was better than all of them. But the ones I'd watch again more than anything else are Schindler's List and A.I.. They're far from perfect, but I think those are his best two films, at least the two most interesting ones for me.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2011 11:17 pm 
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I thought of the serious Speilbergs, Schindler, Private Ryan, and Munich were the standouts, and they all have tonal flaws (and in two cases, weakass endings) that he generally manages to avoid in his better fun movies. Still love Close Encounters, though.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2011 12:55 am 
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cough Catch Me if You Can cough


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2011 1:03 am 
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I like that one, but I'd definitely class it with the fun ones. That was the first movie I saw that I really thought DiCaprio-as-an-adult was good in.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2011 5:01 am 
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I'm not sure. I suppose Schindler's List is still thought of very highly outside of film devotees, but it seems that, at least in some circles, general audiences have soured on Saving Private Ryan. The pat American exceptionalism and jingoism that pervades the film was easy to swallow in '98, but post-Bush, I think it's become unpalatable to a large number of people.

And yes, for viewers of a certain age, Jurassic Park is revered. The film is something of a mess, but Sam Neill and Laura Dern make up for it. It's a shame that Spielberg has developed a rapport with bland performers like Tom Hanks and Tom Cruise instead of collaborating with actors who had a knack for conveying a believable conviction in an otherwise ludicrous, popcorn movie scenario. For as masterful a crowd pleaser as Spielberg is, I have no idea how he ever thought people wanted a Jurassic Park movie with Jeff Goldblum and Julianne Moore over Neill and Dern, or an Indiana Jones movie with Kate Capshaw instead of Karen Allen.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2011 6:04 am 
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John Cope wrote:
And for me his best remain firmly Empire and A.I. I can't imagine anything surpassing those.

This.

They are, for me, his strangest and most affecting films. They seem to benefit from a bleakness missing in a lot of his others (even those with apparently darker subject matter).

I've always enjoyed Temple the most of the Indy series, as mentioned before, it's all over the place but seems to fit the 'serial' feel better than any of the others.
Veering back to KOCS, i certainly found it far more entertaining than the deadly dull Last Crusade.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2011 7:00 am 

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flyonthewall2983 wrote:
This definitely shows my age, but IMO Jurassic Park is his best popcorn movie. And I'll go on record as saying Munich may be his masterpiece.

Co-sign with both of these sentiments.

As for Spielberg as a whole, I take him like I take Hitchcock. I really enjoy most of the films. They're masters of the craft, but you're going to get unearned emotional beats when it comes to character.

"Manipulation" is a tougher argument for me because so many great films are overtly manipulative, and even more great ones are covertly manipulative.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2011 11:52 am 
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I agree with the above. I grew up with Spielberg and tend to love him unconditionally (rightly or wrongly), but he's not a complex filmmaker, except when it comes to his technical expertise. I think Spielberg has an incredibly innate understanding of how the camera works and how to present a scene cinematically. His movies are a constant pleasure to watch on a visual level. He has said he doesn't have a style, but I disagree: he moves the camera better than anyone around. I know a Spielbergian dolly shot when I see it.

However, on levels relating to story, he tends not to trust his audience. That's not to say he doesn't love his audience; he's too much of a populist director to accuse him of that. It's just that he doesn't really like ambiguity, at least in his own films. It scares him. Every story beat is nice and clear. He doesn't think his audience is dumb, as evidenced by his willingness to tackle material with moral complexities; rather, he's afraid he hasn't related story information well enough. I have a feeling he's insecure about audiences not understanding exactly what happened in the story, which is why he tells his stories in such bold strokes. This is where the accusation of manipulation comes in. In general, every story is manipulative, but how one tells it effects the degree of manipulation on the audience. Since Spielberg is generally attracted to stories with emotional weight as opposed to intellectual heft (no problem here, a storyteller has to pick his poison), he hits his emotional beats hard and tells good old John Williams to hit them even harder (this is fine by me because I adore the man's music). Spielberg's shooting for clarity, which puts him in the tradition of old Hollywood. He's often said he would have loved to work in the studio system of the 30s, 40s, and 50s.

I see nothing wrong with this approach to filmmaking (after all, it's just one of many), but I sense that Spielberg is so eager to please that he loses sight of what he can accomplish if he would sacrifice clarity once in a while. Unfortunately, he has reason to be afraid. Remember all those people who thought the robots at the end of A.I. were aliens? The movie was all about robots... Amazing. Regardless, I think all his films have merit and can be learned from, but I'm in the camp that thinks when he's on target he's the best in the business. He just wants to make everyone happy. To his credit, he's done that better than anyone else since Walt Disney.

I wish I could remember the quote, but in a documentary I remember Akira Kurosawa saying something to the effect of (not an exact quote), "A movie should not be difficult to understand, but should be complex only in its implications." I think Spielberg would agree with this, especially later Spielberg.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2011 12:18 pm 
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I have my issues with Spielberg but seriously believe A.I. is one of the best films of the last decade (and by far Spielberg's best, though I like Duel and Jaws and even E.T. also. Minority Report would probably be bringing up the rear in my top five) and it even manages to utilise Jude Law and Robin Williams well. But I find most of the other films problematic and occasionally sloppy, sometimes in a way I can overlook, sometimes less so.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2011 12:44 pm 
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Aspect wrote:
I wish I could remember the quote, but in a documentary I remember Akira Kurosawa saying something to the effect of (not an exact quote), "A movie should not be difficult to understand, but should be complex only in its implications." I think Spielberg would agree with this, especially later Spielberg.


...And this is why I consider E.T. to be one of his best films. A lot of the credit should go to Melissa Mathison as well, but Spielberg's popular hit beautifully evokes a child's fear of having to become a responsible young adult. The alien, representing the magic of a child's discovery of the world, appears just as Elliot recognizes his childhood years are almost over. As the alien prepares to leave, he exclaims "I'll be right here" as he points to Elliot's head (note, not his heart); Elliot realizes he can maintain a small piece of his child-like perspective as he moves into young adulthood. The adults, meanwhile, long for that more innocent child-like perspective as they try to examine it from a scientific standpoint. Spielberg's use of the plastic tunnel to suggest a birth canal along with those shots of adults in Haz-Mat suites examining Elliot's toys and Elliot's older brother trying to submerge himself in his baby sister's stuffed animal collection are quite remarkable. I suspect with E.T. that Spielberg was telling himself that he needed to grow up, but that he didn't have to lose all of his sense of wonder.

For me, the young Spielberg's best work is JAWS, CLOSE ENCOUNTERS, RAIDERS and E.T., but after this last pivotal film, Spielberg succeeds best when embraces the more adult world than when he tries to recreate his younger man films. A.I., CATCH ME IF YOU CAN and MUNICH are my favorites from this later period.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2011 1:07 pm 
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Empire of the Sun and E.T. are my favorites; the first three Indy films and Jurassic Park are exquisite entertainments; Minority Report was fantastic; Munich is far and away his finest attempt at "art" or "prestige" (or however one would wish to classify it) filmmaking.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2011 1:24 pm 
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I'm with sausage: Raiders, Jaws and Close Encounters are his best films, closely followed by Catch Me If You Can (where's the Blu, Dreamworks?), Duel and A.I. Of the prestige pictures, I haven't seen Empire yet so with that in mind, I think Ryan is the most accomplished of these and in spite of the jingoism and the illogical flashback quite a good genre film. David Mamet summed up my feelings best when he called Schindler's List emotional pornography. Amistad has good intentions, shame that it's just so dull.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2011 1:27 pm 
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I didn't really care for the experience of watching Munich but he definitely did something right with it - I had nightmares related to it for a few nights afterwards. I could probably watch it again and pick it apart pretty good if I felt like it, but it seems beside the point given the fundamentally disturbed initial reaction I had to it. That kind of thing almost never happens to me, and it's one of the few movies that I've taken Pauline Kael's advice on and never watched again.


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