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 Posted:   Aug 28, 2013 - 11:57 AM   
 By:   Ado   (Member)

I like all his films(*), I really like Hook and do not understand the backlash on that one.

*Except Indy 4, I think it is a sorry piece of trash. I wish it was never made.

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 28, 2013 - 11:58 AM   
 By:   Octoberman   (Member)

He redeemed himself with Schindler's List and the awesome Jurassic Park but overall I find the majority of his output nowadays to be hugely over-rated with far too much cloying sentiment.


He's got to stop using kids in his movies, unless they are a vital and irreplaceable part of the story. Sorry to say, he's just not getting very good performances out of them.
That's part of the reason I so badly want to see a Rex gobbling them up. big grin

 
 Posted:   Aug 28, 2013 - 12:47 PM   
 By:   Mike_J   (Member)

have you seen MUNICH? Such a mastery of restraint....I think it's his most restrained film ever. Loads of subtle, audiovisual symbolism.

I have seen Munich and it is restrained. But overly so in my view, because the film is not at all compelling and the characters are not fleshed out at all. A major problem with Munich is the under-developed screenplay by Roth and Kushner (the latter who wrote the screenplay for the worst disaster movie ever made, The Concord: Airport '79, aka Airport '80 : The Concord). Ok, so Spielberg didnt write it but he chose to shoot it rather than recognising it's deficiencies and ordering a re-write or at least a polish.

 
 Posted:   Aug 28, 2013 - 12:50 PM   
 By:   Mike_J   (Member)

One thing I will give Spielberg credit for is the diversity in his movies. He clearly does have a very wide interest in making movies across a wide spectrum, more so than probably any film maker in recent history. From historic biographies, to science fiction and action, even embracing animation, he really does have an incredibly broad range.

Personally I'd love to see him do a small scale comedy along the lines of Neil Simon's The Goodbye Girl. Interestingly he was originally on-board to direct Meet The Parents but he bottled out.

 
 Posted:   Aug 28, 2013 - 1:30 PM   
 By:   Mike_J   (Member)

I like all his films(*), I really like Hook and do not understand the backlash on that one.

Well, as one who thinks Hook is a terrible movie and Spielberg's worst by a country mile let me just say that it comes across as a very cheap amateur pantomime, both in script and acting and it looks like it was filmed in a barn at the bottom of Spielberg's garden - seriously I cannot recall a more obviously studio-bound production ever. The Production design is terrible and the Jolly Roger looks like something you would see in a Kidd's play area. Even the cinematography - by the usually reliable Dean Cundey - is bland and flat and consistently fails to disguise how much of this film was shot on a sound stage rather than on location.

The film is appallingly paced and badly acted by just about everyone save for Hoffman who I loved in the role. But pretty much the rest of the cast - especially Robin Williams - are dire in the extreme, although special mention has to go to Julia Roberts who is totally miscast as Tink and looks so dazed and indifferent throughout the film she surely must have been suffering from concussion from a car accident when she filmed it. So much of the time she even seems to be looking in the wrong direction.

Even the final battle is a poorly edited mess. Just watch how so many if the background extras fail to engage at all - they all seem to be looking at the same distant point that Roberts was when she did her blue screen work.

John Williams' score is fantastic and would be brilliant attached to a decent pirate movie- you could easily dub The Ultimate War queue of the soundtrack over any of the swashbuckling sequences of say The first Pirates of the Caribbean movies and it would work superbly) But for me this and Hoffman's performance are the only saving graces of a film that is to me almost embarrassingly bad to watch.

The film is utterly devoid of charm and magic. How anyone - let alone Spielberg - could make a movie about Peter Pan and take the magic out of it is beyond me. Perhaps he just ran out of fairy dust. Fortunately he found another bag of it in time for his next movies, Jurassic Park and Schindler's List although he not only did he drop the bag for his next one - The Lost World - he spilled all the dust over the studio floor and clearly bought some fake fairy dust off eBay for that film.


 
 Posted:   Aug 28, 2013 - 1:31 PM   
 By:   dogplant   (Member)

He's got to stop using kids in his movies.... Sorry to say, he's just not getting very good performances out of them.

Gosh, Octoberman, I have to disagree. I think Spielberg has gotten some amazing screen performances out of kids, and Truffaut famously noted that while they were making "Close Encounters". There is one exception, "Hook", which for me was a misfire; I never connected with that film. But I thought the way he created the kids' world in "E.T.", the intimacy and attention to detail, was like something out of J.D. Salinger. As for "Jurassic Park", the kids were ten times more annoying in the book! And if anyone thinks he's soft and mushy, using kids to be cute, I'd have to quote the Paris bomb sequence from "Munich" or the bonfire in "Schindler's List", both of which I found chilling.

I know Spielberg's got a half dozen or so kids of his own, a few of which are now grown-ups and have acted in his films (Sasha threw a punch in the bar fight in "Indy 4", Jessica piloted the Pre-Crime ship in "Minority Report"), so I've found it interesting to see how he's treated children in his films. I think he's made some interesting choices -- from "Jaws", to "Empire of the Sun", and more recently "Lincoln" -- and it's always been a big part of who he is as a filmmaker.

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 28, 2013 - 1:36 PM   
 By:   henry   (Member)

Hey guys, don't forget his early work DUEL and THE SUGARLAND EXPRESS! Great works.

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 28, 2013 - 1:46 PM   
 By:   Ado   (Member)

I like all his films(*), I really like Hook and do not understand the backlash on that one.

Well, as one who thinks Hook is a terrible movie and Spielberg's worst by a country mile let me just say that it comes across as a very cheap amateur pantomime, both in script and acting and it looks like it was filmed in a barn at the bottom of Spielberg's garden - seriously I cannot recall a more obviously studio-bound production ever. The Production design is terrible and the Jolly Roger looks like something you would see in a Kidd's play area. Even the cinematography - by the usually reliable Dean Cundey - is bland and flat and consistently fails to disguise how much of this film was shot on a sound stage rather than on location.

The film is appallingly paced and badly acted by just about everyone save for Hoffman who I loved in the role. But pretty much the rest of the cast - especially Robin Williams - are dire in the extreme, although special mention has to go to Julia Roberts who is totally miscast as Tink and looks so dazed and indifferent throughout the film she surely must have been suffering from concussion from a car accident when she filmed it. So much of the time she even seems to be looking in the wrong direction.

Even the final battle is a poorly edited mess. Just watch how so many if the background extras fail to engage at all - they all seem to be looking at the same distant point that Roberts was when she did her blue screen work.

John Williams' score is fantastic and would be brilliant attached to a decent pirate movie- you could easily dub The Ultimate War queue of the soundtrack over any of the swashbuckling sequences of say The first Pirates of the Caribbean movies and it would work superbly) But for me this and Hoffman's performance are the only saving graces of a film that is to me almost embarrassingly bad to watch.

The film is utterly devoid of charm and magic. How anyone - let alone Spielberg - could make a movie about Peter Pan and take the magic out of it is beyond me. Perhaps he just ran out of fairy dust. Fortunately he found another bag of it in time for his next movies, Jurassic Park and Schindler's List although he not only did he drop the bag for his next one - The Lost World - he spilled all the dust over the studio floor and clearly bought some fake fairy dust off eBay for that film.


If you watch it on bluray, preferrably at high volume, it is pretty enjoyable and looks good.
I think the better Peter Pan film is the 2003 Peter Pan by PJ Hogan, which does not try to look "realistic", it is a totally lovely and picturesque film.

 
 Posted:   Aug 28, 2013 - 1:51 PM   
 By:   solium   (Member)

Spielberg is a masterful filmmaker but one of the worst in directing kids. Hollywood has never been good at presenting kids in films. They are usually obnoxious loud mouths and Spielberg follows that trend to the letter.

 
 Posted:   Aug 28, 2013 - 3:55 PM   
 By:   Mike_J   (Member)

If you watch it on bluray, preferrably at high volume, it is pretty enjoyable and looks good..

Ever since I saw Hook I've had this nightmare that I am detained in that Turkish prison from Midnight Express and as punishment I am screened Hook on a daily basis.

Trust me you couldn't pay me to watch it on blu ray. Hell, even if you came over to my house with the world's first holographic movie projector and a copy of Hook I still wouldn't watch it. Its a risible movie which is so bad it makes Crystal Skull look like Schindler's List.


 
 
 Posted:   Aug 28, 2013 - 10:04 PM   
 By:   Octoberman   (Member)

Gosh, Octoberman, I have to disagree. I think Spielberg has gotten some amazing screen performances out of kids, and Truffaut famously noted that while they were making "Close Encounters".


Yeah I knew my opinion would not be too popular, but your comment did get me thinking. I'm always willing to give credit where it is due--even if it's a little begrudgingly. But in all fairness I think that good child performances in a SS movie may simply be more due to the skills of the children themselves than to any directing SS gave them. Ironically, "ET" is a good example. Quite good child moments in that movie, but ironically, also some of the worst. The kid in CE3K, can that even count as a performance if the child is too young to really be aware that he's performing a "make-believe" role for a camera? I admit I could be way off, but it seems to me that the little guy was simply given instructions and he just did it: go here, go there, look up, say goodbye, hug the lady... that kind of thing.

It's possible that I simply notice the bad performances more than the good ones, because when they ARE good, the viewer unconsciously accepts them as realistic portrayals. The contrast makes the bad more conspicuous.

Anyway, it's not a bash-Spielberg thread so I don't wanna stink up the place with my particular point of view. I really just wanted to see dinos eat some kids for once!! big grin

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 29, 2013 - 8:41 AM   
 By:   Ado   (Member)

If you watch it on bluray, preferrably at high volume, it is pretty enjoyable and looks good..

Ever since I saw Hook I've had this nightmare that I am detained in that Turkish prison from Midnight Express and as punishment I am screened Hook on a daily basis.

Trust me you couldn't pay me to watch it on blu ray. Hell, even if you came over to my house with the world's first holographic movie projector and a copy of Hook I still wouldn't watch it. Its a risible movie which is so bad it makes Crystal Skull look like Schindler's List.


Oh come on Mike.
Crystal Skull is much worse, the whole picture looks like it was smeared with petroleum jelly!

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 29, 2013 - 11:16 AM   
 By:   Joe E.   (Member)

Number of times I saw his films in theaters (including as producer)....
Temple of Doom - 33


How is this even possible?


Easy! I lived very near a new theater that opened in my neighborhood in 1984. I went to see it opening day and saw it 2-3 times a week (did the same for Raiders in 1981) when the theaters were still packin' em in. It's always fun to see it with an enthusiastic audience. That theater also had a state-of-the-art sound system and the sound effects and score just surrounded you. Movie tickets weren't much then so money was no problem (I never spent money at the concession stand). I took friends and co-workers a few times too. Like now, I worked during the day so my evenings were free. I was 21 at the time.


I envy you that opportunity! I got to see the first two Indy movies theatrically just a handful of times each when they first came out, partly because I was a high-school teenager without much money, and partly because I was limited to seeing them at the base theater overseas where my dad was stationed, and where movies went on a circuit from one base theater to another, playing for just a few days at a time before moving on to the next theater in the circuit. The popular ones would come around the circuit again, playing for a little less time each time around, but even with that it still amounted to a pretty limited number of possible showings I could have attended, even with unlimited funds and no scheduling conflicts from school or whatever. Somehow I've inexplicably lost track of the exact number of times I saw them then, despite the paltry numbers of viewings, but I know I saw Raiders at least three times and probably more like five, and Temple I believe I saw one time more than the number of times I saw Raiders.

By the time Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade came out, though, I was back in the States and in my early 20s, and even though it was my least favorite of the series as well at that time (and like you, I've grown to appreciate it more with time), I still wound up seeing it 16 times in its original release.

Like many others I consider Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull both the worst and my least favorite, but I still love it and embrace it anyway, flaws and all, and despite having some serious financial constraints in 2008 I couldn't let myself see it fewer than seven times in its release then. That made Raiders the one I'd seen the fewest times theatrically (closely followed by Temple), up to last year.

When the special screenings of the movies were done last September (Raiders in IMAX for a week, which wound up being two weeks at some locations, plus a marathon of all four at AMC theaters on Saturday the 15th), I jumped at the chance, and wound up seeing Raiders eight times in IMAX during the first week, plus it and all three others again during the marathon, so now I think my numbers are (definite for the last two, not sure about the first two though I know they're close):

Raiders of the Lost Ark - 14
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom - 7
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade - 17
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull - 8

I'd dearly love to see all of them theatrically a great many more times, but compared to some I've probably been lucky to see them this many times.

 
 Posted:   Aug 29, 2013 - 12:15 PM   
 By:   MRAUDIO   (Member)

Hey guys, don't forget his early work DUEL and THE SUGARLAND EXPRESS! Great works.

Yeah, Henry - DUEL is also one of my top favorites - never get tired of it - I saw this for the first time on TV in 1971 - showing my age, here...:-)

The DVD of DUEL is one great looking (and sounding) disc - I just love that DTS track...:-)

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 29, 2013 - 12:49 PM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

Wow, I'm surprised to see the criticism of Spielberg's direction of kids. In my opinion, he is one of the greatest directors of all time when it comes to directing kids on screen.

I also think HOOK is underrated. Sure, it's schmaltzy and it has its narrative flaws, but I just ADORE the production design, the photography and obviously the music. Plus Hoffman's performance. For me, film is about so much more than storytelling. Spielberg is a master storyteller, of course, but the reason he's my favourite has to do with other things -- especially the creative use of image and sound.

By the way, I just stumbled over this great video from Time Magazine. Sums up 5 (out of several) reasons for why he's my favourite. I think we can all definitely agree on number 5, even if we may disagree on his merits otherwise! smile

http://entertainment.time.com/2012/01/03/the-five-ways-to-know-youre-watching-a-spielberg-movie/?iid=ent-main-lede

 
 Posted:   Aug 29, 2013 - 1:17 PM   
 By:   Mike_J   (Member)



Oh come on Mike.
Crystal Skull is much worse, the whole picture looks like it was smeared with petroleum jelly!


I wish the negative had been smeared with just petroleum and that someone had set a match to the whole sorry endeavour. It really is a totally shit movie and I can't think of a single thing about it that I thought was any good.

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 29, 2013 - 1:28 PM   
 By:   joan hue   (Member)

That is a great article and video, Thor. Really good. I always, of course, noted the music and the "light or lights" used in his works. He even used light in some of his TV directed shows. I never picked up upon the "daddy" issues as a reoccurring theme. "This shot and awestruck faces" were interesting.

I haven't loved every single film he has made, but overall, I have loved most of them. He is so versatile. I appreciate his fun popcorn movies that just plain entertain as well as his very serious movies that enlighten and educate. He seems to be a director for all seasons. I realize some think his movies are too saccharine or emotional, but that to me is his gift. It is hard to forget a movie that demands an emotional investment from its audience, and I'm grateful for these feelings.

 
 Posted:   Aug 29, 2013 - 2:15 PM   
 By:   dogplant   (Member)

I never picked up upon the "daddy" issues as a reoccurring theme....

Without wanting to get too 'Cahiers du Cinema' on you, Joan, I've always found it interesting that the father and the mother have played important roles in Spielberg's films.

Both occurred through his films, the latter more in the early films, the former later on. Critics have been pointing this out for years -- James Lipton really hit a chord when he discussed this with Spielberg in his 1999 Actors' Studio Q&A, when he asked Spielberg about the significance of the mothership as a beatific musical climax in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" and Spielberg just beamed, as if he'd been waiting years for someone to make that connection. I doubt that it was a deliberate metaphor, but it's no secret Spielberg loves his Mummy. His films are strewn with fractured families and strong female survivors. The hothouse scene in "Minority Report" has a great one-liner about that!

As he became older, and a father himself, Spielberg started to present the father's point of view. "Private Ryan" was a watershed in that regard, and I think he has admitted he made that movie for his Dad. Roy Scheider had a bit of that in "Jaws", "Catch Me if You Can" is a more melancholy flawed and distant father, same to a degree with Indy and "War of the Worlds", and then we got "Munich" with perhaps the most complex and tormented father, if you remember the scene where Avner is walking his little girl in New York and he suddenly thinks he's being hunted. I suspect the 'daddy issues' were also part of the reason Spielberg chose to tell the story that he told in "Lincoln" -- the wordless scene where Abe finds his younger son asleep by the fire is particularly tender and beautifully played.

Again, I don't think these correlations were overt on Spielberg's part. As you noted, he's certainly been casting his net wide in recent years with his choice of material. But I've always appreciated this when getting to know a filmmaker's work, or any artist come to think of it, you start to recognize the fingerprints. It's like the DNA.

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 29, 2013 - 3:30 PM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

I suspect the 'daddy issues' were also part of the reason Spielberg chose to tell the story that he told in Lincoln" -- the wordless scene where Abe finds his younger son asleep by the fire is particularly tender and beautifully played..

There are also problematic daddy issues in LINCOLN, but then mostly in regard to his older son.

Many of these 'spielbergian themes' have been swirling around for decades. I remember when I wrote my 'high school dissertation' about Spielberg in 1995, I used the Douglas Brode book as the main source of inspiration, and he applied those themes wonderfully to each of his films, up to SCHINDLER'S LIST.

There are several more topical issues that Spielberg continually explores, in addition to all his stylistic trademarks, that makes him the 'auteur' he is (to quote the aforementioned Cahiers de Cinema).

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 29, 2013 - 3:31 PM   
 By:   joan hue   (Member)

You can go all "Cahiers" on me anytime, dogplant. I really enjoyed reading your insights, and they all make sense. Thanks for the enlightenment.

 
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