Steven Spielberg

Discussion and info on people in film, ranging from directors to actors to cinematographers to writers.

Moderator: DarkImbecile

Post Reply
Message
Author
dda1996a
Joined: Tue Oct 27, 2015 6:14 am

Re: Steven Spielberg

#176 Post by dda1996a » Wed Apr 03, 2019 12:24 pm

I think even Spielberg forgot he made that film. Isn't it his only remake as well? (Until West Side comes out)

User avatar
Roger Ryan
Joined: Wed Apr 28, 2010 12:04 pm
Location: A Midland town spread and darkened into a city

Re: Steven Spielberg

#177 Post by Roger Ryan » Wed Apr 03, 2019 12:31 pm

dda1996a wrote:
Wed Apr 03, 2019 12:24 pm
I think even Spielberg forgot he made that film. Isn't it his only remake as well? (Until West Side comes out)
War of the Worlds is a remake as well. You could also add the remake of Kick The Can he did for the Twilight Zone movie.

User avatar
knives
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: Steven Spielberg

#178 Post by knives » Wed Apr 03, 2019 12:38 pm

As well as BFG and Tintin. He's tackled tons of stuff that has been previously seen on the screen. Always remains the only absolute remake though.

User avatar
domino harvey
Dot Com Dom
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

Re: Steven Spielberg

#179 Post by domino harvey » Wed Apr 03, 2019 12:38 pm

I know it’s a contentious pick for some, but War of the Worlds stands with Jurassic Park and the first two Indiana Jones movies as Spielberg’s best for me. Still the most depressing, feel-bad Hollywood blockbuster I’ve ever seen, one that captures the downbeat terror of what an alien invasion would look like (angry mobs and all), all while being an obvious but effective metaphor for the then-current post-9/11 fears. Plus that unforgettable sound design!

User avatar
Rayon Vert
Green is the Rayest Color
Joined: Wed Jan 08, 2014 10:52 pm
Location: Canada
Contact:

Steven Spielberg

#180 Post by Rayon Vert » Wed Apr 03, 2019 1:04 pm

I share your admiration for War Of The Worlds. It ranks 5th for me. There are only 7 or 8 that I consider keepers, which includes the non-officially directed or co-directed Poltergeist.
Last edited by Rayon Vert on Wed Apr 03, 2019 1:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

dda1996a
Joined: Tue Oct 27, 2015 6:14 am

Re: Steven Spielberg

#181 Post by dda1996a » Wed Apr 03, 2019 1:05 pm

I've always loved A.I, and find it's ending the only happy ending Spielberg made that actually truly works for me (E.T as well). The film uses this "happy" ending to engineer such a sweet melancholy that is just perfect.
Domino, you prefer Temple of Doom to Last Crusade?

User avatar
swo17
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:25 am
Location: SLC, UT

Re: Steven Spielberg

#182 Post by swo17 » Wed Apr 03, 2019 1:12 pm

He's not the only one

User avatar
domino harvey
Dot Com Dom
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

Re: Steven Spielberg

#183 Post by domino harvey » Wed Apr 03, 2019 1:29 pm

Last Crusade is easily my least favorite of the four Indy movies, so yep! I hadn’t considered it but maybe the problem is that it’s the most comedic of the series, and as established, that’s not his strong suit!

User avatar
hearthesilence
Joined: Fri Mar 04, 2005 4:22 am
Location: NYC

Re: Steven Spielberg

#184 Post by hearthesilence » Wed Apr 03, 2019 1:40 pm

I haven't seen it in a while, but the stuff I remember most are the comedic bits between Connery and Ford. ("They got us." "Dad, we're well out of range...", etc.) Favorite story is how Connery and Ford didn't wear pants during their scene on the blimp. Ford was baffled why Connery would take off his pants, and Connery explained he didn't sweat from the lights when he had that extra bit of air circulation. Ford did the same and it did indeed work.

User avatar
movielocke
Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 12:44 am

Re: Steven Spielberg

#185 Post by movielocke » Wed Apr 03, 2019 1:41 pm

dda1996a wrote:
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)
I'd blame the combination of copious cartloads of cocaine, empowerment in studio control of peers from their generation, and Reagan tax cuts for the demise of new Hollywood (with the end of the high marginal rates, everyone demanded massive salaries, instead of drip-drip-drip backend participation that stayed under the high marginal tax rates year over year), and the combination led to the hedonism of and excess of the 80s. There were no more checks in the system and the whole thing went pear shaped really quickly. They did it to themselves because Greed was good. Spielberg didn't do it, at most he's a weathervane.

User avatar
movielocke
Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 12:44 am

Re: Steven Spielberg

#186 Post by movielocke » Wed Apr 03, 2019 1:45 pm

dda1996a wrote:
Wed Apr 03, 2019 1:05 pm
I've always loved A.I, and find it's ending the only happy ending Spielberg made that actually truly works for me (E.T as well). The film uses this "happy" ending to engineer such a sweet melancholy that is just perfect.
Domino, you prefer Temple of Doom to Last Crusade?
SpoilerShow
The extinction of humanity and the earth followed by the metal mecha putting David in a zoo so he can have an assisted suicide is a bit darker than sweet melancholy, but I agree the ending is perfect.

dda1996a
Joined: Tue Oct 27, 2015 6:14 am

Re: Steven Spielberg

#187 Post by dda1996a » Wed Apr 03, 2019 1:52 pm

I meant the very end, which can seems saccharine when viewed in isolation.
I love Last Crusade, less so 2&4. I think Spielberg can do comedy well when it's not the whole point of the film. See also Catch Me If You Can, Jurassic Park, Tintin, Ready Player One.

User avatar
Finch
Joined: Mon Jul 07, 2008 5:09 pm
Location: Edinburgh, UK

Re: Steven Spielberg

#188 Post by Finch » Wed Apr 03, 2019 2:27 pm

Spielberg having Wilder's cynicism? If only! If he'd had, he'd have added quite a few more wonderful films to join my favourite trio of Close Encounters, Jaws and Raiders of the Lost Ark (I also think Catch Me If You Can and Sugarland Express are very good). Spielberg's greatest weakness is that he doesn't feel comfortable enough in pushing the darkness of some of his films enough to an ending that feels tonally of a piece with what went before. War of the Worlds pisses me off most in that regard. It's so perfect right until the scene where the son disappears over the hill with what's made to look like an atomic explosion following shortly after, only for the kid to emerge unscathed at the very end. Thousands of people have died in that film but Cruise's family is intact? It just feels so false! They could have written an ending where the kid survives but has lost an arm or leg but at least he is alive and reunited with the family. That'd have felt more honest. As it is, War of the Worlds is two thirds awesomeness undone by a phony happy ending (they didn't even bother improving on Wells's anti-climax of a resolution).

Spielberg used to be more cynical when he was younger. I think fatherhood and his damn eagerness to please people and not too upset them too much has mellowed him too much. The Spielberg of the 90s, let alone the Spielberg of now never would have filmed the death of the little boy in Jaws.

Munich and AI are the recent major films of his where the ending feels consistent in tone but neither are great for me. The actress playing the mother in AI is awful, and Munich has that embarrassing sex scene, and the film in general is too verbose. It has a great assassination scene that also plays like a rape sequence and it summarises the film's ideas more eloquently and succintly than Kushner's dialogue does. Good films that frustrate me just the same because they could and should have been so much more.

Last Crusade is a full-on bore. Temple of Doom is racist and bitter and shrill and exhausting but at least it's something. I agree the first Jurassic Park is workmanlike outside of Goldblum, the kids and the amazing effects.

Schindler's List is so problematic on several fronts but what angers me the most is the lack of trust in the audience to be moved by the material without the sentimental music throughout the entire film, the histrionics of the "I could have saved more" ending and the tasteless manipulation in the shower sequence. I think David Mamet it was who called it emotional pornography and that description is spot on. Spielberg's sensibilities are why he was one of the most ill-suited directors for this project. Wilder wanted to make Schindler's List as his last film. I wish he'd stuck to his guns and directed it himself.

Saving Private Ryan is a very good film with idiotic bookends. Just imagine diving right into the film with the Omaha Beach sequence without the aggravating handholding!

User avatar
hearthesilence
Joined: Fri Mar 04, 2005 4:22 am
Location: NYC

Re: Steven Spielberg

#189 Post by hearthesilence » Wed Apr 03, 2019 2:32 pm

Finch wrote:
Wed Apr 03, 2019 2:27 pm
Spielberg's greatest weakness is that he doesn't feel comfortable enough in pushing the darkness of some of his films enough to an ending that feels tonally of a piece with what went before.

Schindler's List is so problematic on several fronts but what angers me the most is the lack of trust in the audience to be moved by the material without the sentimental music throughout the entire film, the histrionics of the "I could have saved more" ending and the tasteless manipulation in the shower sequence.
It's been too long but there was an article published at the time where Spielberg explains why he made that "I could have saved more" scene up, saying he couldn't accept that Schindler would just leave in the middle of the night as he did in real life. I'm guessing it was in Entertainment Weekly or the Chicago Tribune or Sun-Times.

User avatar
Finch
Joined: Mon Jul 07, 2008 5:09 pm
Location: Edinburgh, UK

Re: Steven Spielberg

#190 Post by Finch » Wed Apr 03, 2019 2:35 pm

That just makes me want to pull my hair out. Why even bother taking a film on if you don't have the integrity not to embellish it to align it more with your own sensibilities? Clearly, he didn't get enough of a bollocking in 1993.

User avatar
knives
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: Steven Spielberg

#191 Post by knives » Wed Apr 03, 2019 2:36 pm

Isn't that what literally every filmmaker does though?

User avatar
Finch
Joined: Mon Jul 07, 2008 5:09 pm
Location: Edinburgh, UK

Re: Steven Spielberg

#192 Post by Finch » Wed Apr 03, 2019 2:39 pm

I'm not sure literally every filmmaker does it. Some resist the temptation to pander to their own instincts more than others.

User avatar
Rayon Vert
Green is the Rayest Color
Joined: Wed Jan 08, 2014 10:52 pm
Location: Canada
Contact:

Re: Steven Spielberg

#193 Post by Rayon Vert » Wed Apr 03, 2019 3:21 pm

Finch wrote:
Spielberg used to be more cynical when he was younger. I think fatherhood and his damn eagerness to please people and not too upset them too much has mellowed him too much. The Spielberg of the 90s, let alone the Spielberg of now never would have filmed the death of the little boy in Jaws!
That’s such an accurate assessment I feel and explains a lot about his failings as a director, accounting for the disappointments even in his great(er) films since the 70s. Nothing he did comes close for me to what he did with Jaws and Close Encounters, when his sensibilities weren’t what they turned into.

User avatar
dustybooks
Joined: Thu Mar 15, 2007 10:52 am
Location: Wilmington, NC

Re: Steven Spielberg

#194 Post by dustybooks » Wed Apr 03, 2019 3:26 pm

I prefer '70s Spielberg like (seemingly) everybody else, but there was a period -- roughly from A.I. to Munich -- when it really seemed like he was on the way to a Hitchcock-in-the-'50s style late zenith. I was briefly excited whenever a new film of his came out, but with the three-year lapse after Munich the momentum kind of went away (though I really didn't mind Indy IV that much -- as a fan of the franchise, I never expected a 2008 Indiana Jones movie to be anything but stupid fun, which it was).

I did really enjoy The Post while being very aware of its flaws.

dda1996a
Joined: Tue Oct 27, 2015 6:14 am

Re: Steven Spielberg

#195 Post by dda1996a » Wed Apr 03, 2019 4:11 pm

I'm wondering out loud, do most of you find it hard to still love him and his films (other than his 70s) even when it's mostly his ending that fail? I'd say a third of his films are brilliant but undone by their endings (Minority Report, Saving Pvt. Ryan). It still doesn't stop them from being amazing works of cinema.
I miss the days where blockbusters were trying to imitate him; I actually have a game for all recent blockbusters where I try to imagine how Spielberg would have made the scene. It makes watching all the dull superhero and video game films less excruciating

User avatar
Mr Sausage
Not PETA approved
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 9:02 pm
Location: Canada

Re: Steven Spielberg

#196 Post by Mr Sausage » Wed Apr 03, 2019 4:39 pm

domino harvey wrote:Last Crusade is easily my least favorite of the four Indy movies, so yep! I hadn’t considered it but maybe the problem is that it’s the most comedic of the series, and as established, that’s not his strong suit!
I prefer Temple of Doom as well, but for inverse reasons. The endless screaming jungle antics and immature preschool romance humour of the first half all but sinks the movie, whereas the humour between Ford and Connery is one of the few places Last Crusade shines.

Temple of Doom has tone problems Last Crusade doesn’t, but its Gunga Din style adventure degenerating into EC comics nightmare is something to behold, and the action scenes are full of a colour and imagination Last Crusade never even tries to replicate.

User avatar
knives
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: Steven Spielberg

#197 Post by knives » Wed Apr 03, 2019 4:44 pm

Finch wrote:
Wed Apr 03, 2019 2:39 pm
I'm not sure literally every filmmaker does it. Some resist the temptation to pander to their own instincts more than others.
What does this mean?

User avatar
Finch
Joined: Mon Jul 07, 2008 5:09 pm
Location: Edinburgh, UK

Re: Steven Spielberg

#198 Post by Finch » Wed Apr 03, 2019 5:36 pm

knives wrote:
Wed Apr 03, 2019 4:44 pm
Finch wrote:
Wed Apr 03, 2019 2:39 pm
I'm not sure literally every filmmaker does it. Some resist the temptation to pander to their own instincts more than others.
What does this mean?
Badly phrased on my part. What I'm trying to get at is that my impression of Spielberg is of someone who is very gifted on a technical level but who often enough isn't critical at all or not critical enough of his own choices and motives. If you invent an entire scene because you don't approve of your real life subject's choices, shouldn't you be asking yourself if you are really the right person to tell said subject's story? I mean, it's okay even desirable to be critical of whoever you are portraying but what Spielberg by his own admission has done is to add a scene to the film to make Schindler's behaviour more palatable to himself and to smoothen out what he seems to have regarded as a rougher or more indifferent side to Schindler's personality. I suspect he also did it out of a fear that audiences might have found Schindler less likeable and relatable as a person if he hadn't added the emotional breakdown.

I mean, I get what you're saying: Spielberg isn't the first or last filmmaker to have done this (Ron Howard did it in A Beautiful Mind) but this particular example demonstrates to me Spielberg's major weakness as an artist. He's trying too hard to please. He doesn't allow himself to be more uncompromising for fear of not being liked (anymore) so he resorts to scenes that are falsely reassuring and endings that are too tidy. Munich is a rare exception.

The success of Jaws may have been the undoing of Spielberg as a more ruthless artist. Too often he doesn't commit himself the whole way and because he is so good at orchestrating camera movements, setpieces and generating suspense, it's all the more maddening when he talks himself out of trying to be more confrontational and willing/"risking" to be disliked by some parts of his audience who don't like their films to be too scary and upsetting.

Sure, there are other filmmakers who give in to their worst tendencies and are prone to failures of nerve, but few as frustratingly as Spielberg.

User avatar
Finch
Joined: Mon Jul 07, 2008 5:09 pm
Location: Edinburgh, UK

Re: Steven Spielberg

#199 Post by Finch » Wed Apr 03, 2019 5:40 pm

I'm actually glad people protested so severely at the changes to E.T. (removal of the terrorist costume bit) and Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Richard Dreyfuss is a more conflicted and, shall we say, indifferent towards his family in the theatrical cut) that Spielberg relented and at least allowed the original edits without changes to be included in their home video releases.

User avatar
whaleallright
Joined: Sun Sep 25, 2005 12:56 am

Re: Steven Spielberg

#200 Post by whaleallright » Wed Apr 03, 2019 5:41 pm

domino harvey wrote:
Wed Apr 03, 2019 12:38 pm
I know it’s a contentious pick for some, but War of the Worlds stands with Jurassic Park and the first two Indiana Jones movies as Spielberg’s best for me. Still the most depressing, feel-bad Hollywood blockbuster I’ve ever seen, one that captures the downbeat terror of what an alien invasion would look like (angry mobs and all), all while being an obvious but effective metaphor for the then-current post-9/11 fears. Plus that unforgettable sound design!
this is correct. I know folks who have shown this in classes and students are initially like "yay! Spielberg movie! aliens! fun!" and then they get 2 hours of sheer visceral and existential terror. not to mention vivid nightmares for ever after.

in re. E.T. I recall Spielberg doing a complete volte-face, apologizing for having tampered with the film, and promising not to do this again with any of his other films. sort of a heartwarming story tbh.

Post Reply