What Is It With Steven Spielberg?

The guy can direct. That scene in Munich when the three hunters kill the assassin in revenge for murdering their colleague? That was freaking incredible. But… was the movie incredible? No. It was solid, but in the end, it didn’t feel like it was something that I hadn’t seen before, in one way or another. How about the scene in Saving Private Ryan when Jeremy Davies is cowering on the stairs, when his comrade, Adam Goldberg, is being stabbed to death by a Nazi? How about in Schindler’s List when Ralph Fiennes, after “pardoning” a worker for not being able to clean the stains out of his tub, changes his mind and shoots the worker, simply to make himself feel better? All great scenes filmed by a great director. BUT. I always feel that Spielberg, no matter how intense the subject matter, can’t help himself, and panders too much to his audience. Spielberg is more of an entertainer than anything else. Scorsese may make a Spielberg movie (The Aviator anyone?), but Spielberg, although capable, will never make a Scorsese picture. Even when it seems like he’s going there, he never completely goes there.

I was sixteen when I saw E.T.. There was a drunk dude sitting next to me, his soda cup filled with liquor. At one point he started to cry, whimpering between breaths… “Spielberg, Spielberg”. He may as well have been saying: “Jesus, Jesus… I love you” Spielberg is one of the all time great American filmmakers, I know this. But despite that fact, there are only two films in the fifty something films he’s made in his career that I give multiple viewings to. Those films are Duel and Jaws. And that’s it. Other filmmakers of his caliber and of his generation have made as many films as Spielberg, but I watch they’re movies again and again. Filmmakers like: Scorsese, Coppola, Friedkin, Fosse, Allen, Cassavetes, Polanski, Altman, Ashby, Lynch, Lumet, De Palma. Hell, I even watch more multiple viewings of films that Clint Eastwood has directed, than films that Spielberg has.

Hey Grumpy Guy! What about Schindler’s List, or Saving Private Ryan? What about them? They’re not great movies. Huh? What? The hell you say! Yeah, I said it. They’re big films, with amazing moments in them, but they are not great movies. So now Spielberg has made another Indiana Jones movie, 20 years after the last one he made. I haven’t seen it yet, and I’m probably not going to. What’s the point? Haven’t I already seen it without actually seeing it? Badazz MoFo has a review which I’m sure is completely accurate.

So what if Grumpy Guy was stranded on an island for the rest of his life and could only have ten Spielberg movies to watch? What would those movies be?

1. Duel
2. Jaws
3. Close Encounters of the Third Kind
4. Raiders of the Lost Ark
5. Saving Private Ryan
6. Schindler’s List
7. Minority Report
8. Empire of the Sun
9. War of the Worlds
10. Munich

Which ones would you choose?

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3 Responses to What Is It With Steven Spielberg?

  1. film seyret says:

    a master director of this

  2. Chris says:

    I love EMPIRE OF THE SUN & have seen it a few times. I think it’s one of Spielberg’s best. And of course, the original Raiders is an awesome fun movie. Can’t stand ET! Hated Shcindler’s List and thought Saving Private Ryan was totally overrated. Good but not great. For it’s day, Zanuck’s THE LONGEST DAY was just as much of an accomplishment if not more. Anyway, just came across your site & I’ve already become a huge fan!

  3. jet smit says:

    Man, you said it. The Spielberg movies that I like are the ones he made under stress.
    Duel- Young kid just trying to get noticed.
    Jaws- First big budget flick going over budget.
    Close Encounters- First movie with his own money invested in it.
    Raiders- Made after 1941 sucked ass.

    And that is it. Other than Raiders, he pretty much died in the 70’s just like Coppola.

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