Alexandra DuPont Gives Your Head A Spin With Her Review Of MINORITY REPORT!!!
Harry here, um HOOOOLLLLEEEEE SHHHIIIIIITTTTT!!! MUST SEE THIS MOVIE NOW!!!! pant pant pant pant...
Alexandra DuPont's Semi-Spoilerific Gushing Over Minority Report
But first, a sort of "Department of PreScreen" warning: Whatever you do, don't read this review.
I'm only sort of joking about the above. I went into Minority Report with very little foreknowledge, other than reading a couple of reviews and seeing a couple of trailers -- and I was totally overwhelmed. I'd recommend that you take the same path.
Still reading? Okay, here's a quick, spoiler-free review and then you're on your way:
Suffice to say, the movie is an utterly immersive, seemingly effortless, wildly complex futuristic mystery -- one with a tight storyline, some surprising twists, a dense thicket of well-performed really tiny parts, and more than a dash of social commentary, moral quandary, and creepy absurdity. It is, I'd dare say, director Steven Spielberg's best and most cohesive film in 20 years -- other than maybe Schindler's List -- showcasing a surprising restraint and maturity, a light, throwaway touch, and a firm grasp of the tenets of Kafkaesque Big Issue Sci-Fi that proves The Beard was paying attention while he sat at Kubrick's footstool for a couple of years.
For both Spielberg and star Tom Cruise, Minority Report functions as a sort of final draft -- a polished piece of work that seamlessly integrates lessons learned by both men on the sets of A.I., Eyes Wide Shut, and Vanilla Sky. It's also more thematically "Kubrickian" than A.I. (which I sort of admired, despite its flaws) could ever hope to be.
Okay. Now I'm going to say all the above all over again, at length, only I'm going to go into semi-spoilerific detail. Go away.
I mean it. Leave.
Still reading? Okay, fools:
And So But Again: Alexandra DuPont's Semi-Spoilerific Gushing Over Minority Report, Only Now in Excruciating Detail
Steven Spielberg has, for almost two decades now, been compartmentalizing his film output into two categories: "Entertainments" and "Civics Lessons."
For my money, Spielberg's "Entertainments" (e.g., Jurassic Park and its sequel) have grown steadily more inconsequential. Starting somewhere around Indiana Jones and the Bland Crusade, he's seemed more detached from each ensuing "popcorn flick," outside of one or two spectacular set pieces per film -- the marvelous trailer-over-a-cliff sequence in The Lost World, for example.
Meanwhile, The Beard keeps getting more attached to his "Civics Lessons" (Schindler's List, Saving Private Ryan, Amistad). These also contain one or two stunning set pieces each -- e.g., Ryan's staggering and indelible and oft-imitated Normandy beach invasion, or Amistad's slave-passage flashback -- but the movies as a whole have, in my opinion, failed to work as cohesive pieces of cinema.
I'm sorry, but facts are facts. Saving Private Ryan is, in retrospect, two jaw-dropping battle scenes bookending a hoary old war-movie plot -- G.I.s musing about their girls and careers back home in the most stereotypical fashions imaginable and then getting blown to ribbons. Amistad features, for pity's sake, Anthony Hopkins telling us -- in his best Doddering Voice of Authority intonations for what feels like 190 straight minutes of Oscar-whoring paragraphs -- that Slavery is Bad. These films (with the exception of Schindler's List, which IMHO actually dared to explore the Nazi psyche with some clarity) have climbed the lofty slopes of Mt. Obvious with Stanley Kramer subtlety -- batting us lightly over the head with giant Salamis of Truth in an annoying directorial bid to be Taken Seriously by The Academy.
But take heart, readers: All of the above categorization will be thrown into disarray this Friday.
Parenthetically: A.I., Spielberg's "transitional films," and perhaps too much attention devoted to Hook
I'd hoped that A.I. represented a sort of transitional film for Spielberg -- much as Hook did -- and not just a fascinating anomaly like the all-but-forgotten Empire of the Sun.
As I've written before about Hook: Thematically speaking, that movie is fairly riveting stuff -- but only if one takes the critically specious step of incorporating Spielberg himself into the analysis. It's a midlife crisis in an elf suit; only when Peter Pan re-embraces his sense of family responsibility can he fly again. It takes very little effort to apply this analysis directly to Spielberg: His post-Hook output has been largely marked by an almost-fatherly (and really, really boring when taken in volume) sense of civic duty. In Hook's aftermath, Spielberg's approach to filmmaking -- much like the adult Peter's approach to flying -- changed, with youthful skill being applied to more paternal pursuits. Yawn!
Bear with me. I do have a point.
I'd argue that A.I. was another transitional work -- the creative act of a director casting about for a way to merge his ability to craft a fable with his urge to create Serious Art. To that end, Spielberg hitched his wagon, with the best of intentions, to Stanley Kubrick's star -- and the result, as we all now know, didn't hang together all that well.
A.I.: Artificial Intelligence was ambitious as hell and visually stunning and acted with creepy sincerity by that half-pint Olivier, Haley Joel Osment -- but it also lurched from locale to locale with precious little transitional tissue, and it never committed fully to being cryptic or perverse at a Kubrickian level. As a result, the whole enterprise seemed sort of half-assed -- switching between sentiment and grim dystopia with all the subtlety of Patch Adams with a rat cage strapped to his face.
I personally said many times that I would rather have seen an entire movie about one of A.I.'s better subplots -- the robotic Gigolo Joe trying to clear his name against (a) the fierce limits of his programming and (b) a society that conspires against him at every turn.
And it looks like -- against all hope -- I got my wish. In Spielberg's very next movie.
So we're finally talking about Minority Report?
Uh-huh. Sorry about that.
What's the story?Minority Report's central conceit is actually pretty high-concept -- an emotionally dead cop tries to clear his name against the fierce limits of (a) his belief system and (b) a society that conspires against him at every turn. It's the usual Spielbergian Riff on a Big Idea (a la his riffs on UFOs, sharks, adventure serials, and dinosaurs). The pitch, I suppose, would go something like this, only with the appositive phrase "IN A WORLDÃ–" sprinkled liberally throughout:
"A law-enforcement agency can stop murders before they happen. But what happens when that agency's top cop (Cruise) discovers that he himself will murder someone a short while hence -- and has to go on the lam to solve the mystery and/or clear his name?"
Yes, that sounds nifty, if a little like The Fugitive -- but what's the really good news?
Well, the good news is twofold:
(1) You spend much of the movie -- as one would expect, given the above story pitch -- anticipating and making your way to that appointed future moment when Cruise is destined to kill somebody. Then you get there. And the movie, co-scripted by Scott Frank (Dead Again, Out of Sight) and Jon Cohen, just keeps going.
The effect of suddenly being freed from the shackles of High Concept -- of sailing on where most Hollywood movies would end -- is weirdly exhilarating. Like Cruise's character, the viewer experiences the adrenaline rush of sailing into parts unknown. (A.I. tried to pull the same stunt, you may recall, but what followed there was all treacle and sap and Ben Kingsley narration and super-evolved robots that looked like 1970s living-room statuary. Not so here.)
(2) Also, for the first time in a couple of decades, Spielberg merges Art and Entertainment and Civics Lesson without dropping any narrative eggs in the process. He riffs on his Big Idea -- and it's a Socially Relevant Big Idea, at that -- in a very entertaining and organic and delicious way.
So this is one of Spielberg's damned "Civics Lesson" films?
Oh, it's much more than that.
Certainly, in the wake of Sept. 11 and threatened encroachments on our civil liberties in the name of "public safety," Minority Report is probably the most "relevant" film Mr. Spielberg's ever made. Cruise's cop on the lam, John Anderton, lives in a politely semi-paranoid society that feels like a logical, but never ostentatious, extension of our own. Retina scanners are everywhere -- on the subway, in the mall, on every semi-secured door and in every public square. But Spielberg doesn't draw attention to all this gadgetry in a way he might have a few years ago. Yes, one could easily imagine The Beard dollying in on each snapping opti-lens while John Williams' music swells menacingly and Cruise looks frightened with a wind machine tousling his hair -- but this movie consciously chooses to trust its audience and throw such details away, realizing that an accumulation of data about Anderton's world will build in your head. Crowds file by the scanners, blankly going about their business as they're eye-snapped and then targeted with super-niched advertising ("Welcome back to the Gap, Kim! Would you like to buy another pair of khakis?"). Spielberg shows us just enough of this world -- and much of it in the background -- to give us a sense of how much things have changed, how much we've given up.
And then he tells a story with characters.
(BTW, can I also note parenthetically how refreshing it is, in this post-CGI society, to not be clobbered in Minority Report with noisy digitally created background detail in its "world of the future"? How marvelous it is, when we see Cruise standing on a balcony during a dusky climactic moment, to not have the sky behind him filled with flying and/or beeping things? How ginchy it is that this movie frequently looks like it took place today -- with architecture you can recognize and people who aren't wearing silvery jumpsuits or post-apocalyptic trench coats?)
Even better, Minority Report never grinds to a halt so someone can deliver a monologue telling us that "Police Should Never Be Trusted" or that "Civil Liberties Should Be Preserved at All Costs" or that "True Freedom Means Choosing Your Own Future." I mean, people do say stuff like that in this movie -- but they say it while they're on the run, for the most part in casual tones, while interacting with their fellow characters and the movie's jaw-dropping world in sexy and desperate and human ways. Otherwise, these themes and/or messages emerge naturally out of the story. You never feel like you're being told -- as you did in A.I. when William Hurt was spewing out, in his opening monologue, all that Star Trek-ish Pinnochio-lite hornswoggle. Instead, in Minority Report, you're being shown a world -- which you're then allowed to judge on its merits.
This from Spielberg. He finally trusts us to notice details again. Incredible!
Uh-huh. But even then, the movie's not that simple. Minority Report is packed to the gunwales with characters who aren't quite what they seem, with sad little thematic paradoxes strewn throughout. I don't want to ruin the film, but here are a few examples:
(1) One character we all know and care about is a closet drug addict eaten alive by guilt over the loss of his son -- and, when the chips are down, he wrestles with a legitimate but all-consuming thirst for bloody revenge;
(2) The law-enforcement agents can see into the future thanks to three genetically altered "PreCogs" (one of them played by Samantha Morton) -- but these valuable human beings are kept in more or less the same semi-comatose state in which the "pre-criminals" Cruise arrests are kept. Precisely this sort of paradox -- what do you give up to gain "security"? -- is explored consistently throughout.
(2) There are several deliciously creepy moments where we see the film's jailers and law-enforcement pioneers acting totally but quietly fucked-up batshit nuts. Tim Blake Nelson, playing the "Pre-Criminal" warden, talks a bit like his character from O Brother Where Art Thou? and pounds on a church organ like Hell's own Baptist minister. And based on one or two throwaway moments, you can just totally tell the technician attending to the PreCogs (Daniel London) has a quiet psychosexual fixation on Morton's wordless character.
But best of all is Lois Smith as Dr. Iris Hineman -- the so-called "Mother of PreCrime" who's apparently become something of a botany-obsessed hermit In the movie, Anderton, on the lam, stumbles to Dr. Hineman's house, climbs over her retaining wall, and is immediately grabbed by unexplained living vines that apparently secrete some sort of slow asphyxiating hallucinogen. Anderton frees himself and stumbles into her greenhouse, where she seems calmly unsurprised to see him. What follows is the second-kookiest exchange of dialogue in Spielberg's career (the first-weirdest also being in this movie, and involving Peter Stormare making terrifying quacking sounds, which I'll get to below). The good doctor is clearly completely crackers, possibly with regret, and alternately rebukes Anderton, offers him tea, and tries to make out with him, all while tending to a frightening array of living plants. It's an utterly committed, totally alive piece of writing by Frank/Cohen and directing by Spielberg -- and one of the best scenes in movies this year.
What's that first-weirdest scene? Tell me now!
Peter Stormare as a black-market eye-transplant specialist -- who talks to his hard, blonde assistant in what seemed to be a secret language consisting of Finnish and duck quacks -- shooting Anderton full of anesthetic even as he tells the rogue cop how they met before, when Anderton arrested him for setting his plastic-surgery patients on fire.
This is a Spielberg movie? It sounds more like David Lynch!
I know. I won't even get into the business with rotten food and Anderton with an artificially sagged face chasing his eyeballs after they fall out of a baggie and roll into a drain grate. (Minority Report is just packed with eye and sight motifs in an uninsulting way that will give armchair film scholars quite a bit to chew on.)
Huh? Is this a sci-fi action movie or what? The trailer was packed full of action! How are the action scenes?
The one where Cruise plays a sort of vertical Frogger on cars driving down the side of a building is really, really cool -- as is a complicated bit where "Opti-Spiders" are searching a tenement building for Anderton. Otherwise -- and this is a near-inversion of how Spielberg bits usually play -- the action scenes are really sort of clunky and silly and far-between (especially the much-promoted jet-pack chase, which contains the movie's only "silly" bits of business).
Viewers should be warned now: The trailers have been deceptive. This is a smart, chatty, Big Issue sci-fi movie with a few action scenes interspersed throughout. Leaven your expectations accordingly. You'll be rewarded if you do.
For the three obsessive John Williams fans out there: How's the score?
If you're reading this, then you probably already bought the soundtrack CD, and you already know it's not what you'd expect from a Williams sci-fi score -- it's unobtrusive and largely dark underscore that's bombastic where it needs to be. I hardly noticed it, and couldn't pick out any themes or leitmotifs that obtrusively drilled their way into my hippocampus -- which is probably some sort of compliment.
What else is good?
(1) Tom Cruise. He's taken his anguished, tense character from Eyes Wide Shut and merged him with Ethan Hunt from Mission Impossible, if that makes any sense. You'll see what I mean. His performance is peppered with tiny details.
(2) The twisty, L.A. Confidential levels of misdirection -- particularly as applied to oily Justice Department suit Witwer (Colin Farrell, in a star turn).
(3) The way Spielberg seems to have remembered, all of a sudden, how to encode small, human moments within a Big Movie, just like he used to in Jaws and other pre-1983 classics. Like Cruise, The Beard seems to have emerged from Kubrick's boot camp wheezing from a swift kick in the nethers, and now eager to relax and play again -- only his "playtime" is now informed with a certain discipline, a meticulousness, that he picked up in the trenches. Again, you'll see what I mean.
(3) The opening set piece, in which we see an entire PreCrime investigation carried out from soup to nuts. There's a patience to the storytelling, and some great acting by a softened-up Arye Gross (Arye Gross!) as a cuckolded husband turned pre-criminal.
(4) The way the movie juggles really plausible sci-fi (eye scanners, dense advertising, realistic monitor technology) with totally silly "world of the future" bullcorn (cars on Hot Wheels-like elevated tracks, PreCrime perps' and victims' names carved on balls of wood that roll down long, Habitrail-like tubes). It's like putting an iBook in the same room with UNIVAC -- and it somehow totally works.
(5) The charismatic, blindingly white, buffed-out Neal McDonough as one of Cruise's partners;
(6) A sustained, room-to-room overhead shot of the tenement invaded by the spiders;
(7) The way this movie's cyber-fetish underworld is actually perversely sexual in a way that A.I.'s Rouge City was not.
I could go on and on. But I think you get the idea.
Oh, sure. There's one scene where Morton's PreCog is riffing on a dead boy's alternate future that lays it on a little thick. (That's one scene, mind you.) And students of the noir genre will probably guess a few dramatic beats moments before they happen. There are a couple of dramatic chestnuts. Stuff like that.
Also -- and I'm trying to figure out how to write this without giving away any plot points -- those who like really dark, merciless noir endings will probably argue that there's a point about 15 minutes before the actual end of the film where you fully understand the film's central puzzle and things are at their absolute worst for Anderton, and the movie could and have ended. These fans of really dark, merciless noir are sort of correct; however, if Spielberg had heeded their advice, the movie would be hailed as a dark masterpiece but make only about $50 million at the box office. As it stands, the film's close to perfect as is.
That's right: "The film's close to perfect as it is." And you'll be happy to hear that most of the very same film snots I quoted in my recent "Attack of the Clones review" review agreed with me on that point.
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June 19, 2002, 1:40 a.m. CST
Doesn't anyone want to go into a movie fresh anymore? I mean, really. The best movie experiences are the ones with little or, if possible, no expectations. I know she liked it, but that's all I really want to know right now. Anyone agree?
June 19, 2002, 1:40 a.m. CST
How's the score? Nonstop unavoidable spoilers prevent me from reading anything beyond the first paragraph of this review.
June 19, 2002, 1:46 a.m. CST
Ms. DuPont is in tune with my opinions about a good 85% of the time, so yet another notch in the M.R. belt. I was already sold on Speilberg+Cruise, now everyone's jizzing all over this movie. I'm there this weekend. And unlike many grown children, I don't spew shit from the mouth when a movie happens to fall a tad short of my unrealistic expectations.
June 19, 2002, 1:56 a.m. CST
One man's art is another man's pretentious crap. And I'm saying that as a guy who actually LIKES most of Lynch's work. I'm not calling Lynch crap, but your view of Spielberg and Lynch can be reversed by millions of people in one form or another. Steven Spielberg is an artist in his own right. Just because he's more of a straight storyteller than Lynch (no pun intended) doesn't make his work less vital or valuable. Maybe Spielberg couldn't have done Eraserhead or Blue Velvet, but Lynch probably couldn't have done Schindler's List or Jaws, either. And most importantly, just because millions of people like it doesn't mean it can't be art. Most people who dismiss mass entertainment are pretty close to the mark, but people who dismiss GOOD mass entertainment are just being snobs... A different, off-subject way of putting it: There is a difference between N'Sync and The Jackson Five, no matter what Entertainment Tonight would have you think. And I'll take the Jackson 5's greatest hits against a Lou Reed compilation any old day of the week.
June 19, 2002, 2:31 a.m. CST
It's more insulting to say Spielberg does linear story better than David Lynch does, which was indicated by MCVAMP. Obviously he has never seen "Elephant Man", "Straight Story" and "Blue Velvet". How can ANYBODY call the above films worse than Jaws or Schindler's List? Blue Velvet is one of the best films of the 80s, it defines the term "film noir" for god's sakes. And "Elephant Man" is the best motion picture ever made to combine art and story-telling. Just because David Lynch does so many non-linear movies, doesn't mean he cannot do excellent linear movies.
June 19, 2002, 2:50 a.m. CST
You say "worse" as if I implied that Lynch couldn't make a good linear film. Well of COURSE I didn't mean that. But Lynch's visual and storytelling styles are different than Spielberg's styles, and as the dog said in "Babe" that's the way things are. If you want to champion Lynch as some kind of motion picture Picasso (which he may very well be) and Spielberg as a cinematic Todd MacFarlane, be my guest (though you'd be very wrong about Spielberg.) In his own way, each man is as capable and talented as the other, and I'll stand by that to the death. Furthermore, I'll continue to watch Jaws, Raiders, and Jurassic Park. A lot. Hey, Blue Velvet may very well define modern film noir... but remember, if adventure has a name, it must be Indiana Jones.
June 19, 2002, 3:04 a.m. CST
Since I don't want to get in a big old discussion back and forth, let me make something clear. I was responding to a post that implied that Lynch created unquestionable moving masterpieces almost every time and Spielberg was just a guy who told the camera operator to start filming. I did not imply that Lynch was not a great filmaker, perhaps even an artist. What I am implying is that you don't have to be all pretentious and pass judgement on Steven Spielberg with the opinion that he is NOT an artist, and a gifted one... which he most certainly is. Who's the better filmmaker? I refuse to make that judgement, it's like saying who wrote better songs, Lennon or McCartney (and before anyone jumps all over my ass about how Lennon wrote the pants off McCartney, look at my first post regarding mass entertainment.) I will say this: although I've enjoyed many of David Lynch's films, they do not inspire repeat viewings for me in the way that most of Spielberg's have.
June 19, 2002, 3:10 a.m. CST
And I'm getting scared of the fact she actually liked the movie.
June 19, 2002, 3:55 a.m. CST
by Bari Umenema
As I understand it the Minority Report opposes this whole precrime unit so therefore the Majority Report is in favor of it. Or am I wrong?
June 19, 2002, 4:13 a.m. CST
by Julius Caeser
My head's nearly exploding with the amount of BULL SHIT in this review... please spare us from any more of this tripe... Lynch V Spielberg... blah blah blah. Please Harry get some feckin decent remotely intelligent people to write for your site
June 19, 2002, 4:14 a.m. CST
by Billy Talent
I just sat through 'I am Sam', easily one of the worst movies I've ever seen. My god, it's burning my brain. I sort of feel like I should watch 'Leprechaun 4' just to clean myself. I'd like to see 'Minority Report' very much. I'd also like for critics to stop making such broad and sweeping statements about the supposed failure of 'A.I.'. But then I think of all the unkind words I've had to say about your beloved 'Lord of the Rings'. Oh pity, oh bitter irony. I've just learned the most important lesson there is - that all you need is love. So which one of us is the retard now?
June 19, 2002, 4:46 a.m. CST
I'm totally excited by this. Du Pont's review of AOTC was right on the money and showed it up for the POS it is. Minority Report is gonna rock!
June 19, 2002, 5:44 a.m. CST
June 19, 2002, 5:46 a.m. CST
by Billy Talent
Yeah, there sure was a lot of screaming in that movie. I also love the scene where Penn takes a tumble with the birthday cake, and when Michelle Pfeiffer is crying because she's gotten more from Sam than he has from her. "John wanted to go in new directions, and it wasn't Yoko's fault!", or something to that effect. All of his cutesy retard friends, and what the hell was up with that zoom lens? Starbucks! IHOP! Pizza Hut! God what a terrible movie! I don't throw around terms like 'worst movie ever' loosely, but that was inconceivably bad - definitely the worst thing to happen to The Beatles since Peter Frampton and the Bee Gees.
June 19, 2002, 8:11 a.m. CST
The VS bullshit is bullshit
June 19, 2002, 8:17 a.m. CST
I'm sorry but when someone uses words like in a movie review you know they're taking themself too seriously. Do wahat George Orwell did and use SIMPLE words understandable to the bulk of humanity.
June 19, 2002, 8:47 a.m. CST
I actually have nothing to say about the review. (Incidentally, if the text you are typing is already contained within parentheses, you don't need to type "parenthetically")
June 19, 2002, 9:35 a.m. CST
by Atticus Finch
One thing you will never hear out of Spielberg's or Lucas' mouth..."Ok people, how do we build this film to cater to sarcastic lesbians?"
June 19, 2002, 9:37 a.m. CST
But what does her lesbian-filmmaker friend have to say? sk
June 19, 2002, 9:58 a.m. CST
harry be happy!!!!!!! you`re at least able to see that movie during the coming week!!!!!!! lynch does art steven does films. i hate such sentences!!!
June 19, 2002, 10:48 a.m. CST
by half vader
...someone is trying to steer things back to regular ol' sci-fi, and not the usual sci-fi/action/comedy that usually gets a budget greenlit these days. Saw it tonight (in OZ) and even though I had to wear a white jumpsuit to get in, it was well worth it. Dupont is wrong about the ending though. IMHO, it has the same drawn-out pacing problems after the supposed 'climax' that A.I. had. I think I preferred A.I. dragging out to this one, but maybe it's just me. Oh well - see what you guys think in a coupla days I guess.
June 19, 2002, 11:24 a.m. CST
Alexandria uses caps not for dramatic effect, but for humorous effect. They are winks in recognition of cliches. The conspicuous use of parentheses and
June 19, 2002, 11:44 a.m. CST
by La Dolce Vita
She identifies herself here... http://groups.google.com/groups?q=Star+Wars+fanboys+ROCK!+group:rec.arts.movies.current-films&hl=en&lr=&selm=3CDAAF56.286BC4FD%40clackamasreview.com&rnum=1
June 19, 2002, 12:01 p.m. CST
I'll admit, I didn't read the review because I want to see Minority Report w\o any sort of spoilers, but Alexandra DuPont is one of the few decent reviewers at AICN. This is partly because she actually reviews films instead of gushes\boos and partly because she is a pretty good writer. I think she gets way too many pats on the back for being coherent. Things are in a sad state when people get ecstatic because someone spell-checks their work and, Heaven forbid, re-reads (parenthetically, perhaps more than once??) it when they're done. All that being said, she's pretty keen. On the subject of Spielberg V Lynch: I honestly don't watch Spielberg films that much. He doesn't appeal to me. Well, 'cept for Goonies. I don't really understand why Indiana Jones is the be-all end-all of adventure. I like Indiana Jones, but I've never adored him like some do. When Spielberg is good, he's pretty good; when Spielberg is bad, he's awful. Lynch, on the other hand, I can watch over and over. Lynch's films (for the most part) have depth. Whenever I watch them, they inspire a particular mood. Maybe it's personal druthers, but I'll pick Lynch over Spielberg any day.
June 19, 2002, 1:53 p.m. CST
Your writing style of asking yourself a question then answering it is not only annoying, it indicates deep emotional problems, possibly split personality. Please...seek help before it's too late.
June 19, 2002, 1:56 p.m. CST
SPOILER In the scene towards the end in which Samantha Morton appears to be describing the alternate future for one of the murdered characters, that is NOT what she is doing. It seems that she is, and that fact draws tears from Cruise's character, but we discover a few scenes later that what she has really done is describe the ACTUAL future of someone who has not yet been born, another boy, not the murdered boy. So what seems like a deflatingly sentimental moment is actually the set up for another climactic plot twist that provides some emotional closure for Cruise's Anderton.
June 19, 2002, 3:11 p.m. CST
DuPont is a MAN, baby, yeah.
June 19, 2002, 3:42 p.m. CST
June 19, 2002, 3:53 p.m. CST
by Wee Willie
She's judging AI by a set of cinematic criteria that are based in old fashioned ideas about "dramatic" film. Like much of Kubrick's work (and I see A.I. as a kubrickian film) A.I. is a philiosophical meditation in story form. It is sort of like those discourses Descartes wrote where three characters 'discussed" aspects of philiosophical issue. When you see them on the page, they look like a script, but they aren't. Kubrick's films look like regular ole story movies, but they aren't. Every frame, every scene is a different examination of his philisophical argument. Spielberg's unfairly described "sentimental" approach was perfect for A.I. because of the inherent irony in a sentimental portrayal of an artificial being's quest for love. David was programmed to mimic the yearning of love, but ultimately could never achieve true love because he is just a robot; a comlicated toaster. he can do what he is programmed to do, but not much else. See David is no Data. He's not a living thing. He's not real. His love, despite what the poster for the film stated, is also not real. The fact that the film moves from location to location without any connection is not a flaw in the storytelling. it is a flaw in Ms. Dupont's ability to make sense of the argument that was being dramatized. Kubrick is/was an artist like Brecht, who refuses to let us settle into the relatively shallow act of emotionally enjoying a film, and instead forces us to intellectually engage with hsi material. Speilberg captured Kubrick's style and intent perfectly. Long after we've all forgotten who Spiderman is, smart people will be talking about A.I. Probably with A.I.s.
June 19, 2002, 3:58 p.m. CST
by Wee Willie
You're the most interesting film writer since Kael.
June 19, 2002, 4:08 p.m. CST
...last post, folks. Anyway, I can't let an Alexandra DuPont post go by without asking the traditional question: Alexandra, will you marry me? Oh, yes, Alexandra, I'm so serious. I can make you happy. I'm not like these other bungholes who are terrified of women who use "big" words (where are these guys - still in kindergarten?) and try to alleviate their acute sense of inferiority by accusing you of showing off. Most of my fellow geeks, I'm sorry to say, may be computer savvy but their command of the English language is minimal at best. Their limited vocabularies are matched only by their non-existent grammar and spelling skills. Having been out of school for quite some time, now, I only have one question? What the f---? do you kids do in school all day? Just listen to the latest illiterate rap a-hole and shoot at each other when the occasion demands? And, no, I'm not just flaming or being sarcastic. I'm asking a serious question that I'm hoping one of you younger guys can answer for me. We seem to be producing whole generations of native-born Americans who appear to have not the slightest grasp of any aspect of English, who would rather be skinned alive over a slow fire than have to read text longer than a paragraph, and who apparently lack the ability to form coherent thoughts and put them down on paper in any meaningful way. Does anybody actually "teach" at school anymore. Whew. Sorry for the rant, folks, but it's a point of genuine curiosity for me. Oh, and Alexandra, that offer still stands, girl (if girl you are - not that there's anything wrong with that)!!
June 19, 2002, 9:31 p.m. CST
That was one of the best things I've read about A.I since last summer. I continue to find new interpretations and feelings about this film as time passes. Spielberg, (while not perfect) is a great film-maker.
June 19, 2002, 10:05 p.m. CST
To answer BARI, a majority report is when at least two of the precogs agree on the fact that someone is likely to commit murder. The title of the story, which was written almost 50 years ago, is derived from the fact that one of the precogs differs in the interpretation of the data the trio of precogs are fed. The twist comes when Anderton eventually discovers that two of the three precogs have turned in "minority reports" on him, saying he is not going to kill anyone, leading him to understand that someone higher up is fucking with him. The reasons for this become apparent in the second half of the story. It ends up being all about power and politics, a favorite Dick theme. Hope I was coherent with this explanation and didn't give away the whole plot.
June 19, 2002, 10:40 p.m. CST
and he said "oh my god wheeeeee!" Yes, that's what I think this movie is going to be like. Of course, I read only the first and last paragraphs of this review. So the plot is still totally up in the air for me, because Spielberg always gets guys to make his trailers who make you want to see the movie, even if you don't know what the movie is about. Did I want to see "A.I." from the trailers, which did not reveal that it was an unmitigated CrapFest, a story that was sadistic, evil, and cruel to children, with totally boring performances (especially in William Hurt's case, and excepting only the amazing Jude Law and the guy who played the Stage Manager at the Flesh Fair), insipid voiceover which managed to bother the hell out of me despite its brevity, and an ending that made no sense in context? Of course. The trailers didn't tell you much. It gave an idea, and let you think about what could be done with the idea before you go to see the movie. Same with "Amistad," "1941," "Empire of the Sun," "Hook," or any other film that Spielberg has made, with the notable exceptions of "A.I." and "Saving Private Ryan." (please notice that I mentioned the Spielberg "crap" films instead of the mainstays. These, to me, are more interesting. "Last Crusade" and "Raiders" may be two of my favorite movies of all time, but they're not as interesting to pick apart and try to figure out why Spielberg was making them, and what he was trying to accomplish through the themes of the film. In fact, both of the Spielberg films I dislike have interesting themes. The difference is that they aren't well executed, and manage to destroy themselves on massive plot inconsistencies. Fans of "A.I.," riddle me this: At the end, why did the Future Robots not just create the mother as a robot using the DNA that they have in the hair? And, if the plot made such a big, big deal about the fact that robots can't go to sleep earlier in the film, then why does the film end with David going to sleep with his mother? Why is that ending so saccharine? Why is it so Oedipal? Why does my brain hurt? Ahhhh!) But what's still great about all of these movies is that Spielberg knows how to take a premise and build themes out of it that are immediately engaging. Which is why I'm going to see Minority Report. I'm interested to see what Spielberg can do when his directing and storytelling style interact with the storytelling style of Philip K. Dick, notorious Crazy Person (and an amazing writer). Here's hoping that Steven realizes how witty and scary all of Dick's work was. Oh, and one more thing, to the person who said that "Spider-Man" will be outlived by "A.I.": Don't count on it. At worst, "Spider-Man" will end up like "Highlander" or "The Ice Pirates" or "Turk 182!" or "Buffy, The Vampire Slayer" or countless other movies that I discovered on Saturday Night movies on WPIX back when it was good: as a movie that is not pretentious, nor boring, nor insipid, but rather one that is merely entertaining and that an entire group can sit around and watch and enjoy. At best, it will end up as a cultural touchstone, like "Superman: The Movie," (or like "LadyHawke" or "The Last Starfighter" to me, but that's just my taste) loved by many, many people for, many, many years, making those of you who hate it just to get a rise out of talkbackers look like fools. Wow, sorry for being longwinded. Off to tend to the wifeoid and 700 little Griglings...
June 19, 2002, 11:29 p.m. CST
Is there any significance to your thesaurus volume number, or am I just paranoid?
June 20, 2002, 2:07 a.m. CST
I have just Minority Report at the local Cinema here in Hornsby (Sydney Australia). Its Thursday here and I guess we got to see this movie here before the U.S. for once. Anyhow, this is easily one of the best films for this year, and the best from Speilberg in a long time. No punches pulled, excellent story, plot development, and characters. Just love all the cool future gadgets. It's a little like reading Neuromancer in a way. The things in the world around are never really explained (apart from the precogs) or dwelt on, they are just there and just happen. And when you think its all over, its not and then it keeps going. Fantastic stuff. 9/10. I have to see this again.
June 20, 2002, 4 a.m. CST
I agree with Alex's review. Minority Report is a really classy suspense thriller, almost completely devoid of stupid, time-wasting, sentimental moments. However, Spielberg still had to include a happy ending, which seemed a bit rushed compared to the rest of the film which had just the right pacing and detail to keep u guessing. But this wasnt as jarring or stupid as AI's ending, so Minority Report still ends up as a great sci-fi film.
June 20, 2002, 7:08 a.m. CST
Weasel, don't blame the kids for being stupid. Most of them have horrible diseases that prevent them from learning. I'm talking, of course, about ADD, Autism "lite," and the like. These illnesses are far worse than cancer or AIDS. I applaud the little troopers for carrying on so bravely the way they do, week after week, year after year, with nothing to do but watch 6 hours of television a day and not playing outside. And while it's true that these kids aren't learning basic literacy, they are at least learning that the best thing one can be in today's world is a victim, and isn't that the greatest lesson of all? Now a cynic might look upon these schools that spend the greater part of each morning administering to the little tykes their daily doses of Ritalin, and say that they've become the ultimate enablers. I guess I'm a cynic.
June 20, 2002, 12:01 p.m. CST
All questions about A.I can be answered in 2 words: fairy tale.
June 20, 2002, 1:09 p.m. CST
See, I understand the Fairy-Tale aspect, and I can see instances where Spielberg was striving for that sort of feeling. I admit that, a few times, it worked. I liked the idea of David being carried out to the fairy on Coney Island (despite the fact that the currents would have carried him out the direct opposite way, into the Hudson River), and I thought that moment worked particularly well in that context. But, and this is a huge complaint of mine, even fairy tales have consistency. Sleeping Beauty will only rise at the touch of true love's kiss, Pinocchio will only become a real boy after he learns what it means to be a real boy, the Little Mermaid can't talk because her tongue was ripped out, etc. Spielberg has set up similar rules with his character of David. David cannot go to sleep, but he can lie without making a peep, or the rules outlined by the Eliot poem (which, I need to point out, are utterly destroyed when David gets to the workshop in Manhattan and he is told that it was set up only to get him to the workshop), for instance. My problem is that Spielberg abandons these conventions and these rules as soon as the "2000 years later" segment comes around. He forgets exactly how David has to become a real boy. He believed that his mother had to love him. Now, forget the asinine "going to sleep" at the very end. The ending still doesn't work, because that's not his mother. As Ben Kingsley said, once that corridor of life has closed, it cannot be reopened. That's not his mother, he cannot become a real boy, it's rather sad. Plus, not even Hans Christiansen Andersen hated children that much. Damn, that movie should have been about Gigolo Joe.
June 20, 2002, 1:16 p.m. CST
*Why did I write this post?* Because I felt like it. *So you're going to give the rest of the post now?* Yes I am. *You promise?* Abosutely. Getting annoyed yet, Alexandra? Well I had to labor through many friggin paragraphs of you writing like that. It's about as clever as an armpit fart. Once you filter out the "I'm a deep-thinking intellectual" fluff, your review is about 3 sentences long. And never mind these male cheerleader groupies on the board that are in love with you. They've since realized Natalie Portman won't go on a date with them, so they've moved on to you. I would unlist my number as soon as possible. If staying up all night with a thesarus and the oxygen channel in order to blow us cavemen away with your intellect is your gig, that's cool, though I don't buy its sincerity from a moment. On the other hand I'm looking forward to the Minority Report to see if Spielberg, um sorry,"the beard" grew his testicles back after CGI'ing out the guns in E.T.
June 20, 2002, 3:21 p.m. CST
by Dawn O' the Dead
Oh, goodness. Outed on AICN. To answer the Talkback questions: (1) What I said about AOTC was "I really enjoyed the scene with Count Chockula and the puppet." (2) As for Minority Report, I pretty much agreed with everything Alexandra had to say -- I loved it, and I haven't even LIKED a Spielberg film since before The Color Purple. (3) Huh? I thought *all* studios marketed their films towards sarcastic lesbians! And, to head off further speculation, (4) my initals aren't really R.H., and I'm neither a lesbian nor a filmmaker. Hence the wacky "anonymity" factor of the fictitious sobriquets used by A. DuP. in her review.
June 20, 2002, 6:59 p.m. CST
June 21, 2002, 12:19 a.m. CST
I mean the structure is nice, with the sub-sections, and how you have summary points and stuff. I really enjoyed being able to skip around the long review and cull what I wanted to know and skip over the types of spoilers that might have really spoiled it for me! THANKS! Too bad PKD couldn't be here to teach some of you other punks how to write!
June 21, 2002, 3:21 a.m. CST
Ahh...now we're getting somewhere. Okay you acknowledge the fairy tale aspects of A.I. Now imagine a Stanley Kubrick fairy tale. A deconstruction if you will. A happy ending, which if thought about long enough, as you have, turns out to be "rather sad." I agree...that's what I love about the movie. That I can agree with everything you said, and also argue that such things are what make the movie great. Understand I am not trying to devalue your opinion...I am just trying to illustrate how I responded to the film. cheers.
June 21, 2002, 3:56 p.m. CST
Well played. It is always interesting to see a movie you dislike interpreted from a different angle. Actually, it's how I came to appreciate "Fight Club," one of my favorite discussion films. I may have to go back and see the film again with your views in mind. But only three more hours till I see this damn film! Oh, and good Avatar Name, by the by. (Saw that film on a triple bill with "Ocean's Eleven" and "Ali G Indahouse." Now there was an odd experience.)
June 21, 2002, 6:25 p.m. CST
all the hosannas -- this is a breathtaking display of virtuosity. This is a very rich man, with the world's finest toys at his disposal, having fun, and sharing it with us. Thank you, Steven. This should be the final coffin-nail in the attitudes of the Spielberg doubters, if they will only see it. Similarly techno-cool to AI, and similarly generous -- once again, you really get your money's worth! New film is somehow warmer and more life-affirming. Kaminski is the best cinematographer working today. Did you catch all the quotes? -- including Amelie and Umbrellas of Cherbourg in rapid succession. Did you notice the two actors who've been in Woody Allen flix? I only nailed the second one in the closing credits. Sorry if I seem to be babbling incoherenet trivia. This film percolates the brain. I figured out the square root of 460,000 while watching this movie. Amazing thing is, that scene about 20 minutes in, where Tom Cruise's car-pod kind of zooms up sideways into his house? That's actually Tom Cruise's real house! I even remembered to switch off that damn "5" before clicking "Vote." This one is a 10.
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