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On Spielberg and "Manipulation" 
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Post Re: On Spielberg and "Manipulation"
NotHughGrant wrote:
Ken wrote:
What's wrong with sentimentality?

(That's not a rhetorical tactic. It's a genuine question and I'm interested in how people answer it.)


I think it's hard to deal with when it's foisted on the plight of quaint middle-class folk with no real problems in the world beyond not immediately living out their wildest most beautiful dreams. You know, the kid in ET is annoying. Ditto the kids in Jurassic Park. And Hook - well, you get it!

I think I get what Threeper and Unke are getting at here. I like Spielberg very much, but there is a sickly sweetness about some of his protagonist that will alienate members of the audience from, or have seen, the other side of the tracks. Tom Cruise in War of the Worlds isn't working class. He's Tom Cruise in a leather jacket.

it's not the sentimentality. It's where that sentimentality is (seemingly without irony) targetted.


Spot on! That is exactly (!!!) what I wanted to say, just with a better choice of words. Nah, not whining about that I'm not a native speaker, I was actually excited seeing my exact thoughts written out clearly and "hitting it" dead center!


Last edited by Threeperf35 on Tue May 21, 2013 11:21 am, edited 1 time in total.



Tue May 21, 2013 11:10 am
Post Re: On Spielberg and "Manipulation"
Unke wrote:
Ken wrote:
What's wrong with sentimentality?

(That's not a rhetorical tactic. It's a genuine question and I'm interested in how people answer it.)


I should have written "excessive sentimentality", as there's nothing wrong with sentimentality in movies per se. I'm afraid I'm not a very sentimental person in general (which makes me a real dude, as I have learned from Threeperf35's post) [Edit]


Oooooops, guess I hit a nerve there, hum?! Nah, just kidding. Peace! 8-)


Tue May 21, 2013 11:19 am
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Post Re: On Spielberg and "Manipulation"
Threeperf35 wrote:
O.K. to sum it up: I think Spielberg is really great. One of the all time greats. He knows what the word magic means. In interviews he usually appears to be nice, down to earth, respectful and keen to explain why he did stuff and how. He even admits missteps.

I do have a problem with the sappy and cheezy overacting he hammers out from time to time from his thespians. Examples:
Laura Dern opening her mouth in awe when seeing the first Dino. You can almost hear Spielberg giving her precise directions, it's so unnatural and exaggerated.


Uh, didn't he have to give her precise direction, because the dinosaurs weren't actually there? I know if I somehow got to see a real-life Jurassic Park, that would be my reaction, so I don't think it was "unnatural and exaggerated." I actually think Jurassic Park is underappreciated because it was a summer blockbuster. Same thing with Minority Report. Those are two of my favorite Spielberg films.


Tue May 21, 2013 3:54 pm
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Post Re: On Spielberg and "Manipulation"
Of course, I've also never really considered Spielberg an 'actor's director,' either. Daniel Day-Lewis is the only actor to win an Oscar for a role in one of his films... and I still say he won more purely because of WHO he was playing, rather than the actual performance itself (which I found a bit overrated).


Tue May 21, 2013 6:49 pm
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Post Re: On Spielberg and "Manipulation"
H.I. McDonough wrote:
Of course, I've also never really considered Spielberg an 'actor's director,' either. Daniel Day-Lewis is the only actor to win an Oscar for a role in one of his films... and I still say he won more purely because of WHO he was playing, rather than the actual performance itself (which I found a bit overrated).


Sally Field/Tommy Lee Jones/Daniel Day-Lewis for Lincoln
Christopher Walken for Catch Me if You Can
Tom Hanks for Saving Private Ryan
Anthony Hopkins for Amistad
Liam Neeson/Ralph Fiennes for Schindler's List
Whoopi Goldberg/Martha Avery/Oprah for The Color Purple
Melinda Dillon for Close Encounters of the Third Kind

As we see above, he directed 12 Oscar nominated performances in a career that (despite what others might say) I think largely eschewed showcase, Oscar-ready roles. The fact that only one person won is surprising -- and I think most critics would disagree about it being about Lincoln himself. Most of them were, like me, bowled over by the directions Day-Lewis took -- but not especially meaningful. John Patrick Shanley has two actors win for Moonstruck alone, but that doesn't make him the better director.

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Tue May 21, 2013 6:59 pm
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Post Re: On Spielberg and "Manipulation"
Don't get me wrong. I am a huge fan of Steven Spielberg(s). I think he is one of the all time great filmmakers. The only criticism I have is that in some of his movies he dramatizes something which isn't a drama: the American middle class not having it all - in a world full of injustice, violence and suffering, outside the clean cut American suburbs.

Spielberg showed very early on that he is a genius. Check for example "Duel" or the "Columbo" episode he directed in his early 20s: "Murder by the Book" - both are simply brilliant. "Jaws" and "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" alone would have made him one of the all time greats. Even "1941" isn't as bad (by a long shot) as its rep.

I think it isn't even necessary to mention the Academy. After all Sir Alfred Hitchcock didn't earn the recognition he deserved. That alone should render the Academy as completely incompetent. But who am I to say that?

Anyway: Steven Spielberg may have made some poor choices, but in general he is and will always be one of the all time greats. I can't even imagine life without him. Any criticism would be of the "Darn, you are such a brilliant filmmaker, why did you have to f*** this particular thing up?" - variety. Nothing more.

I have seen many interviews with him and he always seems like a great person highly respecting the people working with him, never being a bloated ego like so many other movie directors. That alone should tell us what a great human being he is. And perhaps he even admits the flaws we are pointing out.


Tue May 21, 2013 10:30 pm
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Post Re: On Spielberg and "Manipulation"
Unke wrote:
For instance, the ending of "A.I." is awful, incongruous to the preceding movie and seems like a tacked-on happy ending. The movie should have ended with the android boy having sunk to the ocean floor and staring at a decaying statue of the blue fairy in the hope that she might make him a human. This would have been a bleak ending in line with a relatively bleak movie, and it would also have posed the question of whether the determination and act of self-denial on the part of the android boy is part of his programming and he just acts like a "stupid" machine or whether it constitutes an act of real love and he has actually achieved human qualities. Instead, some thousand years later, the android boy is found by Aliens/evolved Mechas (it doesn't matter it all what they are) who manage to conjure up a happy ending for the boy providing closure. No further questions asked, you may digest your popcorn in the peaceful knwoledge that everything will be all right. (Yes, I'm aware that Spielberg claims that the ending has been Stanley Kubrick's idea, to which I say: Mr. Spielberg, this is your movie and yours alone. You may take credit for everything which works wonderfully in this movie, but you also deserve criticism for what's wrong with it. If the ending was Kubrick's idea, you should have changed it.)


Image

If you find that ending to be happy then you gotta be one dour son of a bitch. The whole film is David's search for home and family, and the question of what it takes to be human. He is thrust into a world that doesn't care for him before he is ready and spends life relying on faith that there is someone who loves him and all he needs to do is find them; that once he finds them everything else will be okay. His humanity will be validated. After two thousand years, lost and alone, all he has left is this now hopeless dream. Discovered by an advanced race in the evolutionary process David is given the option to become human, truly human, and gives it up for one day with an illusion of the love he was always looking for... and then dies. This isn't Spielberg telling us there will always be hope, that through perseverance will we be able to achieve our dreams. This is the toil of living in the real world, of living a life with hopes and dreams, loves, wants and desires. The real world doesn't hope you make it, doesn't love you and cares little for your dreams or desires; all it wants from you is what it can take from you. As far as the trade off David accepts by the end of his journey, he may as well have thrown down some cash for a night with Gigolo Joe. We can tell ourselves we felt all we wanted but in the end we're all gonna end up alone holding on to that one everlasting moment to assure us it was worth it. Not to mention if you pay attention to the final shot they left the fucking bear to rot.

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Wed May 22, 2013 2:40 am
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Post Re: On Spielberg and "Manipulation"
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If you find that ending to be happy then you gotta be one dour son of a bitch. The whole film is David's search for home and family, and the question of what it takes to be human. He is thrust into a world that doesn't care for him before he is ready and spends life relying on faith that there is someone who loves him and all he needs to do is find them; that once he finds them everything else will be okay. His humanity will be validated. After two thousand years, lost and alone, all he has left is this now hopeless dream. Discovered by an advanced race in the evolutionary process David is given the option to become human, truly human, and gives it up for one day with an illusion of the love he was always looking for... and then dies. This isn't Spielberg telling us there will always be hope, that through perseverance will we be able to achieve our dreams. This is the toil of living in the real world, of living a life with hopes and dreams, loves, wants and desires. The real world doesn't hope you make it, doesn't love you and cares little for your dreams or desires; all it wants from you is what it can take from you. As far as the trade off David accepts by the end of his journey, he may as well have thrown down some cash for a night with Gigolo Joe. We can tell ourselves we felt all we wanted but in the end we're all gonna end up alone holding on to that one everlasting moment to assure us it was worth it. Not to mention if you pay attention to the final shot they left the fucking bear to rot.


Interesting interpretation, never quite thought of it that way. My main problem with this movie as a whole is that it's often very chatty while simultaneously trying to be extremely smooth; visually, rhythmically fluid. It's a tricky dichotomy, and I can think of other films which have done it better. There's times here when Spielberg's camera should be looser, like certain brilliant scenes in Catch Me if You Can and Munich. I probably don't consider it a masterpiece, but it's fascinating and definitely worth analyzing in depth.


Wed May 22, 2013 4:54 am
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Post Re: On Spielberg and "Manipulation"
Threeperf35 wrote:
NotHughGrant wrote:
Ken wrote:
What's wrong with sentimentality?

(That's not a rhetorical tactic. It's a genuine question and I'm interested in how people answer it.)


I think it's hard to deal with when it's foisted on the plight of quaint middle-class folk with no real problems in the world beyond not immediately living out their wildest most beautiful dreams. You know, the kid in ET is annoying. Ditto the kids in Jurassic Park. And Hook - well, you get it!

I think I get what Threeper and Unke are getting at here. I like Spielberg very much, but there is a sickly sweetness about some of his protagonist that will alienate members of the audience from, or have seen, the other side of the tracks. Tom Cruise in War of the Worlds isn't working class. He's Tom Cruise in a leather jacket.

it's not the sentimentality. It's where that sentimentality is (seemingly without irony) targetted.


Spot on! That is exactly (!!!) what I wanted to say, just with a better choice of words. Nah, not whining about that I'm not a native speaker, I was actually excited seeing my exact thoughts written out clearly and "hitting it" dead center!


No problemo. I agreed completely.

The funny thing is, Spielberg comes across in many ways as a quite a liberal and progressive guy on a personal level. But his films if anything are very much a 1950s republican, white, middle-america dream, where as you say, any deviation from sub-urban perfection is a travesty.

I don't think this is political at all, but rather a hangover from old Disney or disney-esq fairytales, as you say.

It's interesting. I mean, I'm the last guy in the world to demand a quota on race, background, or whatever else in film. But even I notice this about Spielberg's "children films".

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Wed May 22, 2013 5:00 am
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Post Re: On Spielberg and "Manipulation"
Threeperf35 wrote:
Unke wrote:
Ken wrote:
What's wrong with sentimentality?

(That's not a rhetorical tactic. It's a genuine question and I'm interested in how people answer it.)


I should have written "excessive sentimentality", as there's nothing wrong with sentimentality in movies per se. I'm afraid I'm not a very sentimental person in general (which makes me a real dude, as I have learned from Threeperf35's post) [Edit]


Oooooops, guess I hit a nerve there, hum?! Nah, just kidding. Peace! 8-)


Oh, I didn't mean to convey the impression that I felt offended; I just liked the expression "real dude" and wanted to brag with my newly acquired status. All's fine, duderino, unless you pee on my rug. It really ties the room together, ya know?

JJoshay wrote:
Unke wrote:
For instance, the ending of "A.I." is awful, incongruous to the preceding movie and seems like a tacked-on happy ending. The movie should have ended with the android boy having sunk to the ocean floor and staring at a decaying statue of the blue fairy in the hope that she might make him a human. This would have been a bleak ending in line with a relatively bleak movie, and it would also have posed the question of whether the determination and act of self-denial on the part of the android boy is part of his programming and he just acts like a "stupid" machine or whether it constitutes an act of real love and he has actually achieved human qualities. Instead, some thousand years later, the android boy is found by Aliens/evolved Mechas (it doesn't matter it all what they are) who manage to conjure up a happy ending for the boy providing closure. No further questions asked, you may digest your popcorn in the peaceful knwoledge that everything will be all right. (Yes, I'm aware that Spielberg claims that the ending has been Stanley Kubrick's idea, to which I say: Mr. Spielberg, this is your movie and yours alone. You may take credit for everything which works wonderfully in this movie, but you also deserve criticism for what's wrong with it. If the ending was Kubrick's idea, you should have changed it.)


If you find that ending to be happy then you gotta be one dour son of a bitch. The whole film is David's search for home and family, and the question of what it takes to be human. He is thrust into a world that doesn't care for him before he is ready and spends life relying on faith that there is someone who loves him and all he needs to do is find them; that once he finds them everything else will be okay. His humanity will be validated. After two thousand years, lost and alone, all he has left is this now hopeless dream. Discovered by an advanced race in the evolutionary process David is given the option to become human, truly human, and gives it up for one day with an illusion of the love he was always looking for... and then dies. This isn't Spielberg telling us there will always be hope, that through perseverance will we be able to achieve our dreams. This is the toil of living in the real world, of living a life with hopes and dreams, loves, wants and desires. The real world doesn't hope you make it, doesn't love you and cares little for your dreams or desires; all it wants from you is what it can take from you. As far as the trade off David accepts by the end of his journey, he may as well have thrown down some cash for a night with Gigolo Joe. We can tell ourselves we felt all we wanted but in the end we're all gonna end up alone holding on to that one everlasting moment to assure us it was worth it. Not to mention if you pay attention to the final shot they left the fucking bear to rot.


JJoshay, are you sure that David is offered the choice of becoming truly human or spending a day with the illusion of his "mum" being around? It's been a long time since I watched the film, but I am quite certain that the aliens (just kidding) inform David that he can never be made human. All they could do for him is to clone his "mum" from a hair found in his teddy bear, although said clone would only live for a day. David accepts this offer and we are told in voiceover that he spends the happiest day of his life with "mum" finally telling him she loves him. Then the "mum" clone goes to sleep and David lies next to her, seemingly peacefully asleep, too (which I took as him having literally switched off).

Hold on, why am I relying on my increasingly blurry memory when I can just check on the internet ...

According to the wikipedia entry, I remember the film correctly: David's wish of having his mother love him like a real boy is indeed fulfilled (well, sort of) and David "dies" happily. For me, that's a happy ending relying on a ridiculous deus ex machina.

You are right about the teddy bear, though. Poor sod, will nobody think of the cuddly toys?


Wed May 22, 2013 11:47 am
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Post Re: On Spielberg and "Manipulation"
Unke wrote:
Threeperf35 wrote:
Oh, I didn't mean to convey the impression that I felt offended; I just liked the expression "real dude" and wanted to brag with my newly acquired status. All's fine, duderino, unless you pee on my rug. It really ties the room together, ya know?


Yes, yes, great phrase from an awesome movie! There ya go: I still think Jeff Bridges is not a truly great actor, but he is one hell of a cool dude and seemingly always totally comfortable with himself. Brilliant choice for the Dude. Just gotta say that again: the idea of having people talk way more articulared than they would in real life and of course often totally out of context is simply hilarious. Is there a Ralph's anywhere nearby? :lol:

On-topic again: I am really not sure what to make of the end in "A.I.". On the surface it is a happy ending which feels tagged-on, yes, but since it deals with illusion vs. realty it is rather philosophical. It's the old (scary) idea: I don't care if it's real, as long as I think it's real - or: I don't care if mom really loves me, as long as she says it convincingly I'll be fine.... Doesn't that apply to some human beings as well?


Wed May 22, 2013 12:05 pm
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Post Re: On Spielberg and "Manipulation"
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No problemo. I agreed completely.

The funny thing is, Spielberg comes across in many ways as a quite a liberal and progressive guy on a personal level. But his films if anything are very much a 1950s republican, white, middle-america dream, where as you say, any deviation from sub-urban perfection is a travesty.


I agree. Spielberg's films are celebrations of grass roots sincerity. I can't think of a Spielberg film where this isn't the case, although Lincoln did come across as more elitist. But to be honest, from my own experience, I've found elitism to be more of a liberal thing than conservative. Conservatism I associate more with a kind of smug self-righteousness. And I do think the big wigs in Hollywood are mostly liberals.


Wed May 22, 2013 7:51 pm
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Post Re: On Spielberg and "Manipulation"
Spielberg is my "desert island" director. There are some other directors' films that I love more, but I'm forced to choose only one director's films to take to an island with me it would be him.

What strikes me most about him is that his films are very high in "watchability". I don't know if there's a better word for that, but it's just how he masters the craftmanship and rhythms of films so that they are very smooth viewing experiences. Even before I became aware of directors' style and techniques and film knowledge in general, I noticed this about his films. When I finished Jaws, I was amazed when I realized that, taken on paper and going by plot points, there are nothing very remarkable about it, but the way Spielberg put the film together is great and pure movie magic. Duel finalizes this realization for me. I thought that since it's his first work the watchability that I got from him might not be fully formed yet, but it was right there from the start. The moment that seals the deal for me is the swaying shot in front of the truck, going in close up from one side to another, creating both tension and (really cool) feeling of menacing mystique to the truck. Those moments of realization combined with many other fantastic films get him a lifetime pass for any rare (and imo unimportant) missteps from me.

Also, I didn't know before that the ending of A.I. can be viewed as happy. I might misremember something since I watched it a long time ago, but the only happy thing in those last minutes occur inside the head of only one character, while everyone else (and the audience) can see it as the grim stuff as it is. For me it felt like someone that can never complete the stages of grief and move on, because he isn't, and can never be, human.


Wed May 22, 2013 11:41 pm
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Post Re: On Spielberg and "Manipulation"
MGamesCook

Quote:
I agree. Spielberg's films are celebrations of grass roots sincerity. I can't think of a Spielberg film where this isn't the case, although Lincoln did come across as more elitist. . And I do think the big wigs in Hollywood are mostly liberals.


Yeah I guess you could call it grass roots sincerity. But within a narrow remit.


Quote:
I've found elitism to be more of a liberal thing than conservative


Definitely.

Quote:
But to be honest, from my own experience, . Conservatism I associate more with a kind of smug self-righteousness


Yes, that the middle-American dream is the only path to salvation. Something Spielberg clearly agrees with in his films.

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Last edited by NotHughGrant on Thu May 23, 2013 4:38 am, edited 1 time in total.



Thu May 23, 2013 4:25 am
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Post Re: On Spielberg and "Manipulation"
Unke wrote:
JJoshay wrote:
If you find that ending to be happy then you gotta be one dour son of a bitch. The whole film is David's search for home and family, and the question of what it takes to be human. He is thrust into a world that doesn't care for him before he is ready and spends life relying on faith that there is someone who loves him and all he needs to do is find them; that once he finds them everything else will be okay. His humanity will be validated. After two thousand years, lost and alone, all he has left is this now hopeless dream. Discovered by an advanced race in the evolutionary process David is given the option to become human, truly human, and gives it up for one day with an illusion of the love he was always looking for... and then dies. This isn't Spielberg telling us there will always be hope, that through perseverance will we be able to achieve our dreams. This is the toil of living in the real world, of living a life with hopes and dreams, loves, wants and desires. The real world doesn't hope you make it, doesn't love you and cares little for your dreams or desires; all it wants from you is what it can take from you. As far as the trade off David accepts by the end of his journey, he may as well have thrown down some cash for a night with Gigolo Joe. We can tell ourselves we felt all we wanted but in the end we're all gonna end up alone holding on to that one everlasting moment to assure us it was worth it. Not to mention if you pay attention to the final shot they left the fucking bear to rot.


JJoshay, are you sure that David is offered the choice of becoming truly human or spending a day with the illusion of his "mum" being around? It's been a long time since I watched the film, but I am quite certain that the aliens (just kidding) inform David that he can never be made human. All they could do for him is to clone his "mum" from a hair found in his teddy bear, although said clone would only live for a day. David accepts this offer and we are told in voiceover that he spends the happiest day of his life with "mum" finally telling him she loves him. Then the "mum" clone goes to sleep and David lies next to her, seemingly peacefully asleep, too (which I took as him having literally switched off).

Hold on, why am I relying on my increasingly blurry memory when I can just check on the internet ...

According to the wikipedia entry, I remember the film correctly: David's wish of having his mother love him like a real boy is indeed fulfilled (well, sort of) and David "dies" happily. For me, that's a happy ending relying on a ridiculous deus ex machina.

You are right about the teddy bear, though. Poor sod, will nobody think of the cuddly toys?


Yeah I fudged the one detail but I stand by everything else. Also, viewing this as a happy ending relies on whether you view David's search for love as having been truly fulfilled. He never got back to his "real" mother he was looking for, and she presumably never looked for him as she only cared enough to leave him in the dust instead of the barrel. His mother as the beings brought her back was not the same woman he left two thousand years before but a recreation, an illusion, her acknowledgement of David and her love of him is a little too late and David is only satisfied in his naivety. David, as a non changing childlike entity, is a stand in for humanity in the film, and his happy ending is an illusion he created to prove to himself it was worth it. Ebert, rest his soul, had a great take of the ending in his 2011 Great Movies essay here - http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/great ... gence-2001

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Post Re: On Spielberg and "Manipulation"
JamesKunz wrote:
Has anyone here seen Empire of the Sun? It really crystallizes my Spielberg thoughts.


I have. Empire Of The Sun was one of the first movies I fell in love with. Saw it in the theater when I was 9, then taped it off of HBO when ti came to cable and wore out the tape. I see it as Spielberg's most underrated film.

I agree with the viewpoint that Spielberg isn't as obvious with his manipulations as certain other directors. I think the primary reason many people tend to go after him is because of certain works (IE: Hook easily his worst film) and his tendency to ins ome ways put happy endings on material that doesn't deserve it.

A prime example of this is the last scene in Minority Report, my favorite Spielberg movie. The final scene wraps things upw uith a neat bow. My view is the mvoei would have ended better if he'd shown Burgesses suicide, then gradually faded to black as Anderton narrated the outcome. There would have been closure. But it wouldn't have had the last shot which many viewers see as a cop-out.

http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/the_completist/2012/01/steven_spielberg_s_complete_movies_i_ve_seen_every_one_and_i_almost_wish_i_hadn_t.single.html

Quote:
Martin Scorsese, Spielberg’s coeval and the director of roughly the same number of films, has helped five actors to Oscars. Spielberg’s tally? Zero.


I don't think that point is exactly fair. Scorsese's films are primarily character-driven. Spielberg tends to be more plot-driven. Although part of me has long felt that The Color Purple would've been elevated from emrely good to possibly great if Scorsese had helmed it.

Some of the points in the article are thought-provoking even if they seem to be relying on generalizations. For instance, I never saw Always as a romantic comedy. It was a drama.

So yes, Spielberg does manipulate. But then pretty much every director does.

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Post Re: On Spielberg and "Manipulation"
Jeff Wilder wrote:
I have. Empire Of The Sun was one of the first movies I fell in love with. Saw it in the theater when I was 9, then taped it off of HBO when ti came to cable and wore out the tape. I see it as Spielberg's most underrated film.


I really like it too. I think it shows us some Bad Spielberg Moments (everyone in the American barracks saluting Jim as he walks in covered with mud) and some really good, earned emotional moments (the final scene where he reunites with his parents).

Jeff Wilder wrote:
I don't think that point is exactly fair. Scorsese's films are primarily character-driven. Spielberg tends to be more plot-driven. Although part of me has long felt that The Color Purple would've been elevated from emrely good to possibly great if Scorsese had helmed it.


To repeat my point from earlier because I think it's valid --

Sally Field/Tommy Lee Jones/Daniel Day-Lewis for Lincoln
Christopher Walken for Catch Me if You Can
Tom Hanks for Saving Private Ryan
Anthony Hopkins for Amistad
Liam Neeson/Ralph Fiennes for Schindler's List
Whoopi Goldberg/Martha Avery/Oprah for The Color Purple
Melinda Dillon for Close Encounters of the Third Kind

As we see above, he directed 12 Oscar nominated performances in a career that (despite what others might say) I think largely eschewed showcase, Oscar-ready roles. The fact that only one person won is surprising -- and I think most critics would disagree about it being about Lincoln himself. Most of them were, like me, bowled over by the directions Day-Lewis took -- but not especially meaningful. John Patrick Shanley has two actors win for Moonstruck alone, but that doesn't make him the better director.

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Thu May 23, 2013 3:58 pm
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Post Re: On Spielberg and "Manipulation"
Jeff Wilder posted a very interesting essay on Spielberg movies by Bill Wyman. Great reading and definitely a reference, but I don't agree with many of his points.

Quote:
Bill Wyman: Steven Spielberg has built a remarkable career by amplifying the familiar—taking what we know, both with regard to the language of cinema as well as his thematic concerns, and saying them loud. But he hasn’t said anything new.


No, not at all. Spielberg clearly comes from an old disney-esque sense of wonder and magic. He was the first to really bring that very convincingly to live action movies. And of course each and every single artist (and scientist for that matter) takes existing elements (which requires hard work to build up a rich reference pool) and adds his or her own touch and take on that. No human being ever designed any body of work completely from scratch. There is no necessity to do that.

Let's not forget that many innovations in arts and sciences were done by accident, not careful planning!

About "saying" anything at all in an artform: Does a painting "say" anything? Yes some do, but are they necessarily the best? Does any instrumental symthony "say" anything"? Could you tell that Holst's "the Planets" are about our Sun's natural sattelites if it wasn't in the title? And even if you could tell: they just "paint" the 1914 perception of one man of these planets - that's not "saying" anything.

Spielberg movies are mostly "soul food". Something which is badly needed, especially when it is this well made.

The only criticism I have is (as I mentioned before, and others agreed): that Spielberg is too centered around the middle-American dream in many of his movies. He addresses non-problems in a world where some people are suffering the unspeakeble - and many, many much worse than the drama when daddy doesn't come home for dinner in the expensive suburban home he is having an affair.

Anyway: how can anyone ever criticize a director who works (almost) exclusively with John Williams as the composer? I don't say that as a fan, I say that because Willams is brilliant.


Fri May 24, 2013 5:06 pm
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Post Re: On Spielberg and "Manipulation"
Wyman lost me when he listed Minority Report as dreck. That's a great movie, up there among the best of the previous decade. I actually re-watched the ending yesterday because posts mentioned criticisms of it, whereas I don't recall having any problems with it at all. Still don't. I guess that people have issues with the Andertons getting back together and his wife being pregnant? (The other events, mothballing pre-crime and moving the precogs to a remote location, make perfect sense.) I thought it was plausible given the events of the movie. You know, character development and all that.


Sat May 25, 2013 12:10 pm
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Post Re: On Spielberg and "Manipulation"
The Rolling Stones' former bass player wrote that essay? :lol:

Seriously, though, the final act of "Minority Report" just feels like a complete and sudden shift in tone compared to what preceded it. It's kind of jarring for me. A more likable/charismatic actor in the lead role might've made the film in general better overall as well. :|


Sat May 25, 2013 8:30 pm
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