Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Spielberg Blogathon: Day 5

Minority Report

by Ed Howard

The film's literalization of seeing the future is so potent because it's a metaphor or a model for the cinema, but even more poignantly it's compared to home movies. Anderton spends his days looking into the future, but his nights are spent immersed in the past, in home movie recordings of his young son, who disappeared and is presumed dead. We never say that we are seeing the past in the same way as we talk about seeing the future, but when we look at home movies or a photo album, we are in fact seeing the past, visually engaging with memories. When Anderton pulls up the footage of his son playing on the beach, selecting it from a larger collection like a connoisseur, he engages with it in much the same way as he does with the precogs' visions of the future: looping and rewinding, revisiting key passages as though hoping to extract some meaning, some tangible clue, from these images of his laughing, energetic son. It places Anderton's work in heartrending relief, as an effort to find the truth in these video images of the future, the truth that eludes and mystifies him when trying to make sense of the loss of his son through video records of the past.

Family in the Spielberg Canon

by Ilias Dimopoulos

Telling of contemporary reviewers’ inability to convert imagery and concept into words is the comparatively prevalent notion of Steven Spielberg as “the family man” of modern Hollywood. It’s one thing to be a gifted entertainer and a completely different one to be a conservative storyteller of children stories to childish adults. People tend to overlook the difference. It’s easier that way.

The Greatest Film I've Ever Seen

by Damian Arlyn

Although controversy has always surrounded Schindler's List, I myself wasn't aware of most of it upon its release. All I heard was praise for the film. This was probably just as well since my passionate love for the film would've blinded me to anything negative anyone would've said about it. As the years have gone on, and I've watched it numerous more times as well as familiarized myself with the various writings on it, I feel I am in a better position to understand and appreciate the problems that people have with it (David Mamet famously called it "emotional pornography"). I can acknowledge that Schindler's List is not a "perfect" film (if such a thing even exists), but as the great Pauline Kael (who, incidentally, did not care for the film) once said, "Great movies are rarely perfect movies." There may be legitimate criticisms of Schindler's List, but they are not significant enough to undermine the overall greatness of the finished product. If Schindler missteps occasionally it does so because it reaches higher than most other films dare to. I've long thought it's better to strive for greatness and "fail" than aim for mediocrity and succeed.

Spielberg's Kids

by Machelle Allman

One of my favorite year end lists is the MSN "Moments out of Time". I love to see if the moments in film that I’ve fixated upon make the list, plus there’s the added bonus of discovering new ones. So many films in their entirety are aggravating at worst and boring at best, but there’s almost always at least one or two moments that catch the breath, or tingle the spine, or jolt the gigglebox. When I think of Spielberg, I tend to think of those transcendent moments almost as disconnected from the surrounding film. This is not to say that his films do not hold up, on the contrary, Spielberg has a remarkable stamina for making whole artworks. However, he also has an ability to find the perfect moment and lock it down for posterity.

Let 'Em Burn

by Bill Ryan

Steven Spielberg first showed that he had a way with violence in 1975 with Jaws. The severed, sinking leg, the terrifying, almost surreal death of the Kintner boy, and the brutal end of Quint still have a strong impact today, but Spielberg rather quickly backed away from that (unless you count the deliberately pulpy fantasy violence of the first two Indiana Jones films, which I don't) and became known for many years as a filmmaker of grand family entertainment, whose occasional attempts to branch out into more mature films, for lack of a better term, were slapped away by critics and audiences (most unfairly in the case of Empire of the Sun). But in the 1990s, he suddenly became one of the most deft, unblinking and morally complex creators of violence on-screen. This is not the sort of thing that a filmmaker is generally given credit for, as such, but I'm nevertheless going to point out that Spielberg never gets credit for it. At best, his way with violence is ignored -- because it's too low a thing to be appreciated? -- and at worst he's badly misunderstood.


  1. That dinosaur's having trouble finding his motivation.

  2. He should have known hiring a method dinosaur was a bad idea.

  3. The Strasbergosaurus -- always difficult to work with.

  4. "Faster and more intense, faster and more intense, faster and more intense".

  5. That Strasbergosaurus ought to be blacklisted.

  6. ^^Okay, that was just wrong. What I said.

  7. Yeah, really - let's stop this witch hunt!

  8. My entry will be going up at 8am tomorrow on The Dancing Image. (Please delete if this is not the appropriate place for notification)


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