Steven Spielberg

This is the place to talk about films from around the world.

Re: Steven Spielberg

Postby stof_ » Mon Oct 13, 2003 5:21 am

Hey Henry, I'm a teenager too. But I have to say you're going a bit overboard. Personally I have some mixed feelings towards Spielbergs work. In Jaws he did a fantastic job of sustaining the feeling of fear and anticipation. The Goonies was an incredibly fun film that captured the bright eyed inocense of children like few can. I just finished watching Close Encounters of the Third Kind and I still maintain that it is one of the most well done science fiction films to come out of the U.S.

However... I'm sometimes dissapointed by his films also. Minority report would have been great if it wasn't so bogged down by flashy action. I could see what Kubrick had imagined in AI, but Spielbergs version was a train wreck.

Sometimes I feel as though he is stretching a bit for the sugary ending. It isn't always a bad thing, just not what I'm after.

So is he terrific? sometimes
is he awful? sometimes
is he somewhere in the middle? quite often.

Re: Steven Spielberg

Postby felipejuanfroilan » Mon Oct 13, 2003 10:01 pm

OK, Henry, I've liked a lot your message, well,
1.- I am 22 years old.
2.- Don't be so cruel with those who are not impressed by Spielberg's films. Non-commercial film lovers, we are just four in the world! Spielberg has received in life all praise he deserves, and more.
3.- You are right that we sometimes like to say that we love Renoir or Mizoguchi, just to consider ourselves as good critics, like Andrew Sarris, or François Truffaut.
So, what I recommend is to respect everybody's preferences. And watch a lot, a lot of cinema, whatever you want. It's a pleasure, and I really feel that the more cinema I see, the more I elaborate a "personal theory about cinema" with some reasons to explain why I prefer one film or another one.
4.- What I have said here, it can be said too to the film discussion about Terminator. Terminator 2 is nice, and specially, Die Hard 3, it is great!!!

Re: Steven Spielberg

Postby HenryGinsberg » Tue Oct 14, 2003 4:05 pm

Ok, I think I've calmed down now. felipejuanfroilan, I respect your comments (I feel exactly the same way about forming my own theorys on film making). However you have really missed the point of my post. I am not in any way trying to infer that there is something wrong with not liking Spielberg. Everybody has their own preferences. When I talk about anti-Spielbergism, I'm refering to people who dissmis him because he is a mainstream film maker, and take all of his films at face value. No, there is nothing wrong with disliking his style of film making, but please try to view his films with an open mind. If you go into the theatre saying to yourself "this is gonna be crap this is gonna be crap this is gonna be crap", then the chances of you enjoying the film are greatly minimalised. It has become so fasionable to criticise Spielberg that he has almost become a hate figure, and in my opinion that is disgusting. It's just another form of prejudice.

Re: Steven Spielberg

Postby Gaz » Tue Oct 14, 2003 5:37 pm

Of course it would be disgusting if Spielberg became a hate figure, but I don't see any evidence of thi happening. Granted, there has been some lukewarm critical reception of some of his projects, but I'm sure he only pays attention to the audiences - when they stop watching his films, then he will maybe start to worry, but that's not going to happen.

Re: Steven Spielberg

Postby HenryGinsberg » Tue Oct 14, 2003 8:07 pm

There is a lot of evidence of him becoming a hate figure. When people are judging weather a director is popular or not they normally just look at how much money their films are making. But that hardly reflects how people really feel about them. The Matrix Reloaded made a lot of money, but I would have trouble finding anyone who actually thought it was any good. Just look at any of the Spielberg related discussions on the IMDB boards. People think of him as a symbol of Hollywood superficiality (though at a time when Hollywood has sunk to new lows he is really one of the few people holding it together).

Let me introduce another angle of anti-Spielbergism. It's generaly among film buffs that he is a hate figure, which is why lots of people are still spending money to see his films, but the fact that it is fasionable to critisise him effects people, probably without them even thinking about it.

There was an ocasion recently (well, about a year ago) when I was talking about films at school (I'm out of school now thank God). This one guy was basicaly taking the piss out of me for liking Spielberg. Now I seriously doubt if he could actually name 5 films that Spielberg has made (I'l also add that he was the sort of person who thinks that Lagaan is the greatest film ever made in India, and thinks that the grades you get in school reflect your intellegence). Steven S has made films that appeal to children (and some of you need to realise that that doesn't mean they are just for children), so it is fasionable to say "oh Spielberg isn't cool, his films are just for little kids. Tarantino - he's cool".

Another interesting thing is that he has had such an influence on family movies of the last 20 or so years that many people sometimes need reminding that he DIDN'T make Free Willy.

It is always going to be fasionable to criticise something that has mass appeal (the "it makes a lot of money so it must be crap" phenomenon). People have similar attitudes to Chaplin. He's had such mass popularity that he has trouble getting recognised as a serious artist and it's fasionable (I've got to think of another word to use) to favour Keaton of Tati. I think that the critics are gradually starting to treat Tarantino in the same way.

Yet another angle: people critisise Spielberg because...thay can. Let me explain: I'm not a great fan of Bergman, but I do reognise that he is a master film maker. I really didn't like Wild Strawberrys, and if I'd seen it anonymously, not knowing who directed it, I might have taken the view that it was a bad film. However, knowing that it was a highly aclaimed film, and not being one to take the view that all the people who rate it are idiots, I assumed that there was probably something that I had missed, and did managed to admire Bergman's technique. Now when you have the same sort of experience with a Spielberg film, you don't feel that you HAVE to give it a chance, because he is known as a mainstreem director and not as an artist. So if yo don't quite get ti, or it just doesn't hit you on a gut level, then you can choose to say "it is crap". I am certain that if he had made all of his films in French, people would take him a lot more seriously.

Anyway, getting back to my origonal point, if you take a look at the IMDB discussions on Spielberg (mostly on the best/worst voards) you'l find that he is beggining to become a hait figure.

Re: Steven Spielberg

Postby Gaz » Tue Oct 14, 2003 9:27 pm

I don't want an argument, but here are some points in passing.

I have always favoured Keaton over Chaplin since I was an infant. Personally, I found Keaton a much more sympathetic character on screen, probably because of his face. It may have helped that Chaplin bears a passing resemblance to a certain famous Austrian right-winger (no, not Schwarzenegger).

It is wrong always to use people deliberately shunning fashion as an argument, not that this is what anyone on this site does. It seems an odd concept nowadays, but there are lots of people left who are able to think for themselves. One of the reasons I dislike Spielberg's films may be that I am a cynic, but I don't think you have to be too cynical to believe that E.T., for instance, is just a tiny bit superficial, not to mention manipulative of the viewer, a point I have made several times before. I don't deny that Spielberg has made films which families can watch together; I just think that the best family films are often films made for adults with simple messages. An example of this is perhaps that my family loves to watch The Night of the Hunter or 12 Angry Men together. Or maybe I come from an odd family.

I believe that, generally speaking, grades do reflect a person's intelligence. There are of course exceptions.

Thank you for reminding me that Spielberg didn't make Free Willy. I had genuinely forgotten. I suppose he was busy with the masterpiece that is Jurassic Park.

If you take a look at the IMDB message boards, you will find hundreds of people who think The Matrix Reloaded is a great movie. They are called Americans.



Re: Steven Spielberg

Postby HenryGinsberg » Tue Oct 14, 2003 11:10 pm

I heard that Hitler based his facial hair on Chaplin's. If so, it's almost poetic justice that Chaplin made The Great Dictator. I never said that Chaplin was a superior filmmaker to Keaton (though he is my personal preference).

I'v always said that Spielberg is one of the hardest directors to fully understand, because it's so easy to take his work at face value. I think you're being very dissmisive of ET and Jurassic Park. Spielberg often makes films which do have deeper meanings but which can also be enjoyed on a superficial level.

ET: Spielberg's primary objective was certainly not to make us cry. He has stated many times that it is his most personal film, and that it revolves around the way he felt following his parents' devorce. ET represents a way for Elliot to releive himself of the greif left by his brocken home. The film also holds more than a passing resemblence with the Christ story - whereas Christ took the sins of the world away with him, ET takes away Elliot's regrets. I also think that the film's representation of suburbia is amazing. He paints such a nostalgic image in the film that the sci-fi element seems completely down to earth. Francois Truffaut is the only other director I can think of who can evoke a feeling of nostalgia in a viewer like that. I don't think it's fair to call the film munipulative. My idea of a munipulative film is the sort of TV historical dramas you see where the film's only message seems to be "you're going to like this because it's aserious film!". I don't think you can call a film munipulative just because it makes people cry. Spielberg was just trying to make a film that had emotion in it. The fact that everyone cried at the end is irrelevant. I'm a cynic too, but I have a very high toerance level when it comes to films.

Jurassic Park: This is Spielberg's greatest film in my opinion. It's about a lot more than just dinosaures, belive it or not. The whole structure of the film is basicaly a metaphore for the relationship between man and nature. Spielberg paralels this by creating a constant conflict between the part of the film that is fatasy and the part of the film that is horror. In the film's second half, nearly every scene complements the last in it's tone. We have on one side the dark interiors of the controll room which are full of computers, representing man, and on the others side the scenes shot on location which represent nature because all we see is err...trees. It's great that the interiors are all set inside the controll room, because one of the observations the film makes is that we are only the dominant speices on Earth because of our technological advances, and when they fail us we are at the mearcy of nature so to speak. Obviously, nature wins at the end of the film, and the penultimate scene really epitomises the balance of nature (big fish eating little fish). Another aspect that has been overlooked is that the film can be seen as a warning about the moral and practical dangers of genetic enginearing (and technology in general). The film came only a few years befor the creation of Dolly the sheep.

In all fairness, this is possibly the easiest of his films to look at in a superficial way. When it first came out, it was a summer blockbuster and all the critics could think to talk about were the special effects. Every review I've ever read of Jurassic Park goes along the lines of "the special effect cost $2 million, and that dinosaur cost $5 million". They completely ignore the deeper side of the film.

I'd really appriciate it if you don't get sarcastic in that way with me, because to be honest, if I hadn't had a good day today, I'd be going crazy right now. Like I said befor I can't help leting the little things get on top of me.

Grades and intellegence: Who was that really stupid kid who failed all his maths exams at school? What was his name?...err...Albert Einstein. Yeah, that was his name. I don't know what kind of school you went to, but at my school, getting good grades meant working hard to remember lots of facts. Don't get me started on the British education system. As far as I'm concerned it should burn in Hell. I'd better not get into that subject.

Re: Steven Spielberg

Postby nina* » Wed Oct 15, 2003 2:04 am

Grrr... Gaz,darling.. grades and intelligens? You've been reading the wrong book honey,maybe you should read something from the last half of the 1900th century.That comment earns you IQ 50 (Koko's was over 70 so you should be sucsesfully able to peel a banana!/no't to underestimate Koko).Don't believe all the ignorant comments the raisins tell you!


Re: Steven Spielberg

Postby auteur » Wed Oct 15, 2003 3:13 am

Back to Spielberg. I think my views are fairly moderate: a skillful craftsman with an ear attuned to the mainstream audience. Spielberg is consciously trying to please the largest possible audience, which sometimes comes off as manipulative, or at least calculated. This applies to [i]Amistad, The Color Purple[/i], and the middle 2-hours of [i]Saving Private Ryan[/i], which I find worth-seeing but a bit stodgy. Actually only three of his films are not worthy of at least a rental:[i]Always, 1941[/i] and [i]The Lost World[/i]. He rarely makes a bad movie but some of us can't accept this because he gets more than his share of media coverage and gets way overrated by Henry et al. After all, does [i]Jurassic Park[/i] say anything about man vs. nature than wasn't said with more grace and style in [i]The Lost World[/i](1924) and [i]King Kong[/i](1933)? Also, some of us remember that the phenomenal success of Jaws inagurated the era of bigger-is-better blockbusters in a Hollywood that had financed some very unique, bold movies in the late 60s/early 70s. Cinephiles over-react by failing to appreciate, perhaps not [i]Schindler's List[/i], but certainly Spielberg's science-fiction films: the extremely effective and entertaining [i]E.T.[/i] and [i]Minority Report[/i], the almost brilliant [i]Close Encounters[/i](a tad schematic but it earns its optimism) and [i]A.I.[/i], who had me thinking about the ambiguous differences between human and nonhuman, and contains decidedly dark undertones.
So basically my point is: don't confuse Mr. Spielberg with a visionary like Kubrick and Polanski, but remain open-minded and receptive to his gifts.

Re: Steven Spielberg

Postby groom_daniel » Wed Oct 15, 2003 8:37 am

I'd argue that by denying Spielberg's talent, you're marginalising what talent in filmmaking is, and not looking at cinema as a whole and the important part that Spielberg plays in it. Spielberg is what Truffaut would call, "a man of the cinema". You can't deny Spielberg's love for the cinema. He's a filmmaker in the purest sense. Better yet, he's poured millions into preserving America's film heritage, which is more than most of the great cinematic nations have done.


Return to Film Talk

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests