Steven Spielberg

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aox
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Re: Steven Spielberg

#151 Post by aox » Tue Oct 10, 2017 3:58 pm

Audio only of Spielberg on De Palma on his reaction to Star Wars

EDIT: that clip is not from the documentary where Spielberg actually expounds a little more on the story. But, you get the gist of it. In the documentary, Spielberg actually gives more credit to De Palma for coming up with the opening scroll idea that Lucas attributes to Flash Gordon elsewhere. Those two ideas don't have to be mutually exclusive since Spielberg recounts that De Palma merely said there should be a prologue (what is this hairy man?; who's at war with whom?) and the scroll was Lucas' answer. Spielberg clearly likes to tell this story.

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Re: Steven Spielberg

#152 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Tue Oct 10, 2017 4:57 pm

I'd love to see a documentary about the 5 of them in that span of time from when Spielberg was starting to direct TV to when Star Wars came out.

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aox
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Re: Steven Spielberg

#153 Post by aox » Tue Oct 10, 2017 5:06 pm

flyonthewall2983 wrote:I'd love to see a documentary about the 5 of them in that span of time from when Spielberg was starting to direct TV to when Star Wars came out.
That would be great.

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Re: Steven Spielberg

#154 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Tue Oct 10, 2017 5:12 pm

The one revelation for me was the analogy of bullying he makes with Duel. As well as ABC wanting the truck to blow up at the end.

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domino harvey
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Re: Steven Spielberg

#155 Post by domino harvey » Tue Apr 02, 2019 10:52 pm

Well, 1941 is every bit the disaster its reputation promised. Imagine plucking several comic actors from SNL, SCTV, and Animal House in their prime and still coming up this empty! It takes real talent to fail this badly. One bad laborious set up after another here. A Ferris wheel shows up and we patiently count down til it comes loose, because what else is it going to do? At one point there’s a car chase through a paint factory, just so we can see big puddles of color go SPLOOSH. Treat Williams keeps trying to rape some USO dancer and hates eggs (the fuck?). Robert Stack desperately wants to watch Dumbo, which several someones thought was a funny idea meriting very, very long scenes of... Stack happily watching Dumbo. :thatsitthatsthejokeGIF: And on and on. Poor Toshiro Mifune, imagine that call: “Spielberg wants you in his next movie... to force-feed Slim Pickens prune juice and wait toilet-side for him to evacuate his bowels.” (That really happens, by the way, and it’s not even in the top ten of worst jokes that fall flat here) Poor everyone in this, though, really. And poor me for watching 2 1/2 hours of this. And lucky you if you don’t.

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Rayon Vert
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Re: Steven Spielberg

#156 Post by Rayon Vert » Tue Apr 02, 2019 11:15 pm

Yeah, I gave this an F when I saw it last. A complete misfire, the type of film that makes you doubt the basic judgment and intelligence of the director. There isn't a single laugh to be had (you ask yourself "did anybody actually read the script?"), and, embarrassing adolescent sex jokes aside, even the different plot stories are so badly pieced together you have time to lose track of whatever was going on before you get back to it.

Still... I'd watch this again before Hook. Like Altman, he's got some spectacular turkeys sprinkled amidst the masterpieces and the so-so's.

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Re: Steven Spielberg

#157 Post by domino harvey » Tue Apr 02, 2019 11:25 pm

It is astonishingly bad on an epic scale. Like, It’s Mad et al World-level. And you really start to wonder how Spielberg pulled off all the funny moments in the Indiana Jones movies and Jurassic Park after this literal shitshow

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ShempTCat
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Re: Steven Spielberg

#158 Post by ShempTCat » Tue Apr 02, 2019 11:39 pm

domino harvey wrote:
Tue Apr 02, 2019 10:52 pm
Robert Stack desperately wants to watch Dumbo, which several someones thought was a funny idea meriting very, very long scenes of... Stack happily watching Dumbo.
In real life, Stack's character Major General Joseph Stilwell was a fan of Dumbo. I seem to remember an interview with either Spielberg, Zemeckis or Gale mentioning the aforementioned trio found the idea of a military General liking an animated film so funny they had to add it to the film.
Last edited by ShempTCat on Tue Apr 02, 2019 11:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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whaleallright
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Re: Steven Spielberg

#159 Post by whaleallright » Tue Apr 02, 2019 11:40 pm

Aside from Spielberg, given what a hot streak Bob Gale and Bob Zemeckis were on at this time (they had made I Wanna Hold Your Hand, written Used Cars, and were soon to write the first draft of Back to the Future) you have to wonder what happened here. I guess nobody's perfect?

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Re: Steven Spielberg

#160 Post by beamish14 » Wed Apr 03, 2019 12:50 am

As enormously problematic as 1941 and Hook are, I still think they're leagues better than The Lost World: Jurassic Park, which
he was so indifferent to that he allowed David Koepp to direct major setpieces for it and supposedly had Joe Dante help out on in exchange for being
given Small Soldiers. 1941 has some of the most awe-inspiring, gorgeous visual effects I've ever seen. The model work
(and some of the artificial buildings were over 20 feet high!) is just incredible.

Nostalgia definitely plays a major factor in my respect for Hook (I had licensed bedsheets from it for years!), but I really do enjoy parts of it,
particularly once they leave the maudlin, hyper-sentimental "real world" and go to Neverland (interestingly, Spielberg feels the opposite way about the film).
John Williams' score is one of his very best, too. There are plenty of head-scratchingly bizarre moments, like a gust of wind that assaults Robin Williams midair
after a character's death and the terrible song "When You're Alone". Still, watching Hook does make me wish that Spielberg had continued his artistic
relationship with Dean Cundey and/or Allen Daviau instead of Janusz Kaminski.

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Lost Highway
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Re: Steven Spielberg

#161 Post by Lost Highway » Wed Apr 03, 2019 2:57 am

I saw 1941 when it came out and was I blown away by the effects and model work. I also thought the jitterbug sequence was great. Spielberg’s previous film was Close Encounters which I’d adored as an unhappy teenager (who would happily have taken off with the aliens), so I felt charitably inclined towards him. I recently tried to rewatch 1941 and didn’t make it further than 30 minutes in. Just couldn’t get through it, it was painful.

At the time 1941 didn’t make a dent in my love for his films, that happened for me with The Color Purple. I remember audience members dissolving in tears around me while my heart turned to stone. He treats Whoopi Goldberg like ET in that movie. I didn’t mind that sort of sentimental manipulation with a space goblin, but it felt grotesque when it comes to the experience of an abused black, queer woman.

From then on I had more of an on and off relationship with his work. Hook and Always are absolute stinkers, The Last Crusade should have been fun but it is a joyless retreat. I never made it through Amistad without falling asleep and I get the enthusiasm for the first half hour of Private Ryan, but not the rest.

I’ve never warmed to his prestige dramas, even if over time he got better at them. There are other filmmakers I look to for that. He had a great run from Duel to Temple of Doom and then he lost it for a while. Even with Jurassic Park I felt that apart from pushig effects technology and two stunnung action sequences, his heart wasn’t quite in it. The characters and their arcs felt routine. Apart from Goldblum and the kids, the film felt miscast.

He had a second great run of movies at the start of the 21st Century. A.I., Minority Report, Catch Me if You Can (finally succeeding at something like a comedy) and the first two thirds of War of the Worlds are as good as anything he’s done. Munich is the best of the straight dramas which I’ve seen. Then things went wobbly again. Tintin is one of the ugliest looking films ever made and while I have some admiration for Lincoln, there isn’t else much I’ve loved. Since Lincoln I’ve only watched Ready Player One, which I didn’t care for. The rest is still on a “to watch” list which I can never be bothered to get round to.

But when I was 15, I wanted to be Steven Spielberg.
Last edited by Lost Highway on Wed Apr 03, 2019 3:25 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Lost Highway
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Re: Steven Spielberg

#162 Post by Lost Highway » Wed Apr 03, 2019 3:14 am

...and I agree with beamish about Kaminski. I hate his overworked “look”

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Re: Steven Spielberg

#163 Post by colinr0380 » Wed Apr 03, 2019 3:24 am

domino harvey wrote:
Tue Apr 02, 2019 11:25 pm
It is astonishingly bad on an epic scale. Like, It’s Mad et al World-level. And you really start to wonder how Spielberg pulled off all the funny moments in the Indiana Jones movies and Jurassic Park after this literal shitshow
I sometimes wonder if Norman Jewison's The Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming! was at all an influence on 1941, and if Spielberg was actually trying to capture some of the qualities of those epic scale (yet ramshackle and almost improv) mid 60's roadshow comedies.

beamish14, which setpieces did David Koepp direct on The Lost World? The one with the trailer getting pushed off the cliff? That's the only real standout sequence in the film, with some amazing moments (Julianne Moore on the cracking window) despite the astoundingly dumb 'let's bring a dinosaur back to our sanctuary' set up in order to get everyone into that situation in the first place. Even if Goldblum's character and his daughter lampshades the stupidity, it does not really mitigate it!

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domino harvey
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Re: Steven Spielberg

#164 Post by domino harvey » Wed Apr 03, 2019 3:28 am

I also thought of the Russians Are Coming! the Russians Are Coming! I suspect the whole Ned Beatty household setting is indebted to that one, in addition to the non-threatening saboteurs showing up on the shore storyline. I also hate that movie too, so sure, of course they took cues from it haha

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Re: Steven Spielberg

#165 Post by dda1996a » Wed Apr 03, 2019 6:05 am

I always wished Spielberg and Wilder were somehow fused. I love both to death, but I always wished Spielberg's innate skill and brilliance of directing scenes was fused to Wilder's cynical disposition.
Anyhow, I agree Lost World and 1941 are lesser films (that still contain stunning pieces of cinema), but I found Hook to be a beautiful summation of Spielberg's themes and outlook.
I don't think any of these are completely awful though. It might be very unfunny, but 1941 still has terrific set pieces. It may not work as a film, but I still think it, like all of Spielberg's bad films, work as pieces of kinetic cinema.

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Re: Steven Spielberg

#166 Post by Mr Sheldrake » Wed Apr 03, 2019 7:21 am

Nothing will ever supplant Zabriskie Point as my all-time favorite film maudit but 1941 is a contender. At the time, like everyone else, I was astonished by how unfunny it was but I took pleasure at seeing Spielberg knocked off his genius perch, as I blamed him for the demise of my beloved New Hollywood, incorrectly, as it was certainly already in its death throes.

Over the years I keep getting an urge to revisit, perhaps it's a fascination with ambitious failure, which is sometimes more interesting than universally acclaimed success. I now enjoy the sheer energy, the exuberant chutzpah of the project, the aforementioned jitterbug sequence, Stack at Dumbo, John Belushi in iconic poses. Most shockingly I find myself laughing out loud at times at jokes that once made me cringe.

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Re: Steven Spielberg

#167 Post by Grand Wazoo » Wed Apr 03, 2019 9:13 am

domino harvey wrote:
Tue Apr 02, 2019 11:25 pm
It is astonishingly bad on an epic scale. Like, It’s Mad et al World-level. And you really start to wonder how Spielberg pulled off all the funny moments in the Indiana Jones movies and Jurassic Park after this literal shitshow
I couldn't agree more. I just watched this too and it took me three days to fully suffer through what is one of the most shockingly unfunny slogs imaginable, made exponentially worse by how up its own ass and convinced of its zany brilliance it is. I'm not sure a single joke landed in 2 1/2 hours of cinematic dry heaving and as much as I admire the truly incredible miniature work it amounts to little when this is the movie it's in service of. I'm reminded of reading the wonderful The Devil's Candy about the hellish making of Bonfire of the Vanities featuring passages focused heavily on some stunning second unit photography. When I finally watched the film, those shots are indeed astonishing but who the hell cares about these brief glimpses when the film surrounding them is abject garbage? However, that these anomalies of transcendent craft within an awful film exist is another reason why I love the medium.

Judging from Letterboxd, I'll assume Domino and I were both somehow watching the lesser-loved Spielberg films from the blu ray box at the same time. I also tackled Always, which is instantly forgettable and felt as if Spielberg only cared about the forest fire sequences (which are gorgeously photographed and surprisingly harrowing given the general tenor of the movie), and The Sugarland Express, which instantly jumped to one of my favorites of his. Given that it's rarely mentioned comparatively to the rest of his output I was blown away at how well crafted and creatively photographed every scene is, with special attention paid to some complex car choreography. That single take where Ben Johnson is in radio communication with the captive police car (in which the camera is housed) and he shifts from the left side of the car, across the road in front of it and landing to its right, all while driving at a relatively high speed and being in full view during the radio-dialogue, is like highway ballet. I felt like I discovered the greatest (and slightly more chaste) Roger Corman film never made by his companies and some of the most fun I've had watching anything in the past few weeks aside from The Beach Bum.

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Re: Steven Spielberg

#168 Post by Roscoe » Wed Apr 03, 2019 9:21 am

I remember a couple of amusing moments in 1941, mostly having to do with Robert Stack sitting there in that cinema enjoying the hell out of DUMBO.

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Re: Steven Spielberg

#169 Post by dda1996a » Wed Apr 03, 2019 9:27 am

Mr Sheldrake wrote:
Wed Apr 03, 2019 7:21 am
Nothing will ever supplant Zabriskie Point as my all-time favorite film maudit but 1941 is a contender. At the time, like everyone else, I was astonished by how unfunny it was but I took pleasure at seeing Spielberg knocked off his genius perch, as I blamed him for the demise of my beloved New Hollywood, incorrectly, as it was certainly already in its death throes.

Over the years I keep getting an urge to revisit, perhaps it's a fascination with ambitious failure, which is sometimes more interesting than universally acclaimed success. I now enjoy the sheer energy, the exuberant chutzpah of the project, the aforementioned jitterbug sequence, Stack at Dumbo, John Belushi in iconic poses. Most shockingly I find myself laughing out loud at times at jokes that once made me cringe.
I always get mad when people blame him for the demise of New Hollywood. Jaws is nothing if not a great 70s character study. Blame Star Wars if you wish, Spielberg's 70s work is not the hollow Hollywood fare that people say followed the 70s. (Don't hate SW, but it is a pretty simplistic science fiction fantasy)

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Re: Steven Spielberg

#170 Post by Big Ben » Wed Apr 03, 2019 9:35 am

Heaven's Gate is still infamous for being the public face of the demise of New Hollywood. I know people who worked on it and their recollections of both the film, and Cimino vary wildly. At the State Capital Museum here a plaque outright degrades the film and Cimino so I imagine perception wise people still blame good old Michael.

Now if you do want to blame Spielberg for something I think it would be fairer to say that his involvement with film gave rise to the blockbuster and endless, vapid sequels.

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Re: Steven Spielberg

#171 Post by Rayon Vert » Wed Apr 03, 2019 9:49 am

Lost Highway wrote:
Wed Apr 03, 2019 2:57 am
I saw 1941 when it came out and was I blown away by the effects and model work. I also thought the jitterbug sequence was great. Spielberg’s previous film was Close Encounters which I’d adored as an unhappy teenager (who would happily have taken off with the aliens), so I felt charitably inclined towards him. I recently tried to rewatch 1941 and didn’t make it further than 30 minutes in. Just couldn’t get through it, it was painful.

At the time 1941 didn’t make a dent in my love for his films, that happened for me with The Color Purple. I remember audience members dissolving in tears around me while my heart turned to stone. He treats Whoopi Goldberg like ET in that movie. I didn’t mind that sort of sentimental manipulation with a space goblin, but it felt grotesque when it comes to the experience of an abused black, queer woman.

From then on I had more of an on and off relationship with his work. Hook and Always are absolute stinkers, The Last Crusade should have been fun but it is a joyless retreat. I never made it through Amistad without falling asleep and I get the enthusiasm for the first half hour of Private Ryan, but not the rest.

I’ve never warmed to his prestige dramas, even if over time he got better at them. There are other filmmakers I look to for that. He had a great run from Duel to Temple of Doom and then he lost it for a while. Even with Jurassic Park I felt that apart from pushig effects technology and two stunnung action sequences, his heart wasn’t quite in it. The characters and their arcs felt routine. Apart from Goldblum and the kids, the film felt miscast.

He had a second great run of movies at the start of the 21st Century. A.I., Minority Report, Catch Me if You Can (finally succeeding at something like a comedy) and the first two thirds of War of the Worlds are as good as anything he’s done. Munich is the best of the straight dramas which I’ve seen. Then things went wobbly again. Tintin is one of the ugliest looking films ever made and while I have some admiration for Lincoln, there isn’t else much I’ve loved. Since Lincoln I’ve only watched Ready Player One, which I didn’t care for. The rest is still on a “to watch” list which I can never be bothered to get round to.
I think Private Ryan, Jurassic Park and Schindler's List are really up there, but apart from that I generally agree with the career arcs you've traced, your take on those different movies and what you consider stinkers (I'd add Kingdom of the Crystal Skull to that list). Amistad was completely lifeless, I'm always surprised when someone expresses admiration for it. I haven't seen his last three though.

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Re: Steven Spielberg

#172 Post by Lost Highway » Wed Apr 03, 2019 10:38 am

Schindler’s List is a good film, I’m just not the audience for it. I have a resistance to dramatised versions of the Holocaust and I never felt like watching it again. I also like Jurassic Park, the T-Rex break-out is one of the greatest sequences ever shot, but the scenes connecting the set pieces don’t work that well for me.

I feel indifferent towards the fourth Indiana Jones, I never felt its as bad as his detractors claim it is but I wouldn’t argue for it either. Never gave it a rewatch. I quite like JP2 The Lost World, considering its reputation as one of Spielbergs worst but then I’m always up for more Jeff Goldblum.

Grand Wazoo mentioned The Sugarland Express which is among my favourite Spielberg films. Never understood why nobody ever talks about it. Duel and Jaws are great, but The Sugarland Express is close to their equal. I wonder how his career would have looked, had it been a success.

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Re: Steven Spielberg

#173 Post by jazzo » Wed Apr 03, 2019 11:07 am

Like Grand Wazoo, I heartily recommend Sugarland Express if you haven't seen it. Seeing it for the first time is revelatory. You recognize Spielberg's grand visual style immediately, though obviously on a more modest scale, and his attraction to affable characters. And yet, it's also infused with the same counterculture/new wave sensibilities of seventies cinema many of us hold dear, and more akin to Peter Bogdanovich’s or Jonathan Demme’s work around that time in a way that most Spielberg films most definitely aren’t. It has a lovely,
SpoilerShow
albeit ultimately tragic
, heart that you just love being inside.

I will also add my fondness for his 2004 The Terminal. First time I saw it, I absolutely fucking hated it, especially coming off the heels of Catch Me If You Can, which I absolutely fucking loved. Everything about The Terminal rubbed me the wrong way. It was too cute, too orchestrated, and sadly naïve in the way it portrayed gender and any culture that wasn’t Anglo-Saxon. But I also couldn’t forget it (like I happily have with Amistad).

I was a different person then, and a few years ago wondered if that played more of a factor in my dislike than anything in the actual movie. As it turns out, it was exactly that. I can’t in good conscience jump to its defence if someone feels about it the way I initially did – all those elements still exist – but now I approach it as a fable rather than a document of a reality-based incident, and everything that I reacted too the first time hums along beautifully for me now. It’s obviously not my favourite Spielberg film, but I personally consider it bit of a forgotten gem (which is an odd qualification for such an expensive, elaborate production). Anyone slightly curious should check it out.

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Re: Steven Spielberg

#174 Post by hearthesilence » Wed Apr 03, 2019 11:50 am

Roscoe wrote:
Wed Apr 03, 2019 9:21 am
I remember a couple of amusing moments in 1941, mostly having to do with Robert Stack sitting there in that cinema enjoying the hell out of DUMBO.
Joseph McBride posted stills from this on social media last week along with some general comments. As you may know, McBride wrote what's possibly the definitive biography on Spielberg. I'm guessing the new Dumbo remake brought this to his mind, but regardless, here's what he wrote:
Joseph McBride wrote:A wonderful scene from Spielberg's misguided, historically mostly ludicrous and offensive, but intermittently fascinating "1941" that sort of actually happened to General "Vinegar Joe" Stilwell, although in DC, not LA (I checked his diaries). Robert Stack is perfectly cast as Stilwell. Spielberg first offered the role to John Wayne, who spent an hour on the phone trying to dissuade him from making the picture on the grounds that it is anti-American (which it is; that's why the French have always liked it; I object not so much to the outlandishness of air battles on Hollywood Blvd. as to the fact that Spielberg & Co. spoof wartime hysteria while ignoring a more deadly episode of hysteria that was actually taking place at the time, the internment of Japanese Americans being removed from LA and elsewhere). After Wayne passed on the role, Spielberg offered it to Sam Fuller, who objected he looked nothing like Stilwell but agreed to play another part.

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Re: Steven Spielberg

#175 Post by domino harvey » Wed Apr 03, 2019 12:02 pm

Grand Wazoo: yep, by sheer coincidence it looks like we both were polishing off that Universal Spielberg set at the same time, and we apparently both more or less agree on the quality of those three “lesser” films (but I think I liked Sugarland Express a little less than you, though I still found it pretty good— Ben Johnson and the guy who played the kidnapped officer are especially winning here). Always is truly a mess, and the first thirty minutes are so overwritten and Richard Dreyfuss is so untethered that I thought I was watching the equal to 1941 before it started to level out a bit into just mediocrity. Still, the entire movie ends up pointless: Dreyfuss is sent back to help the young kid who will literally take his place both professionally and romantically, but in the end he ends up helping his suicidal ex-girlfriend and that’s somehow okay with Heaven even though he didn’t do what they said he needed to do? And that boring hunk literally all but disappears in the end, even though we spent so much time focusing on him. A better movie would have had the bland kid choose Marg Helgenberger (what’s her character even doing in this?) after all, instead of him happily going along with Holly Hunter using him as a necrotic coping mechanism.

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