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The Autronic Eye gives Father Geek a clear view of MINORITY REPORT

The Autronic Eye, peering out into the Darkest Night since 1953, has just contacted Father Geek here at AICN World Headquarters to give us all a glimpse of the near future as it concerns that much spectulated about Speilberg project... MINORITY REPORT. This motion picture will be based on a Philip K. Dick short story, the same source writer that did one of Father Geek's favorite SF flicks, BLADE RUNNER. Further, I understand that Alex McDowell is the Production Designer and his work is known to all geeks from FIGHT CLUB, FEAR & LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS, the 2 CROW movies and LAWNMOWER MAN. It may have some problems, but this film IS going to rock, can't wait. Last spotted in Belair, The Autronic Eye automatically tracks faint glimmers of light in the darkness of the future. Watch for his/her oncoming reports...

Set construction has already begun in earnst at the Manhattan Beach Studios in Manhattan Beach, California. (This is the same place that they film Ally McBeal and The Practice). I'm always reading about this on again/off again project--but trust me they've really already started working on it. I guess it's just too top secret to be widely known in the real world. Working on other projects at MBS I actually know little about this film itself---but you can believe me, set construction is nearly complete at the Manhattan Beach Studios. I see it daily and Speilberg himself often shows up to check out the sets.

These are the sets of Minority Report--you can bank on that.

Here's the setup for people who don't know what it's about- I won't give anything major away. In the future, which is stylistically like the 1950's (one of several nice touches), crime is prevented by a system that predicts criminal events that will happen in the future.

The method by which it is predicted is really really shaky, it involves some sort of psychic person/device known as "precog" - it is not well explained at all. But the main conflict centers around one of the two heads of Pre-Crime, and how it has been predicted that he is going to commit a crime.

Like the Fugitive, the movie follows him in his escapades escaping all of the pre-crime officers. But the major problem with this quasi-Orwellian script is that the major bad guy has somewhat weak motives. I can't believe that Spielberg expressed initial interest in this, but the project is moving ahead rapidly.

I'll Be Seeing You, In the Future... for as you know, That is where we will all spend the rest of our Lives...

The Autronic Eye

Readers Talkback
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  • Jan. 9, 2000, 5:26 p.m. CST

    Natalie Portman!

    by LaneMyers T.R.

    God she's amazing!!

  • Jan. 9, 2000, 5:44 p.m. CST

    I'm 4th!

    by Superman#1

    Okay it was immature I know. Anyways is Cruise still attached and Damon as the villain or brother?

  • Jan. 9, 2000, 5:46 p.m. CST

    Ms. Portman

    by NamelessNarrator

    Ms. Portman was much cuter when she was 14, or however old she was when she starred in "Beautiful Girls". As she gets older, she's rapidly getting homely. I have a fairly simple theory for this, but it probably shouldn't be espoused here. What does she have to do with "Minority Report", anyway? I hope they make this damn movie. I've got huge money in it on the Hollywood Stock Exchange. The only cooler thing that Spielberg has on his plate is "Indy 4", and I really doubt that that project is ever going to come to fruition.

  • Jan. 9, 2000, 5:52 p.m. CST

    The Demolished Mninority?

    by Kraven

    This is the first time I've heard vague rumblings about the plot. Anyone ever heard of a great SF novel by the late Alfred Bester called "The Demolished Man"? It's set in the future where the Thought Police prevent crime by having a special psych unit that can "feel" whether someone is about to, or is in the midst of, committing a crime. Minority Report sounds awfully similar. The anti-hero confuses the Thought Police by repeating a nonsense rhyme in his head while he's murdering someone: Tenser, said the tenser, tension, apprenhension and dissension have begun...

  • Jan. 9, 2000, 5:52 p.m. CST

    Hmmm.......I don

    by E_Man

    I don

  • Jan. 9, 2000, 6:09 p.m. CST

    I thought minority report was based on a Philip K. Dick story

    by Travel'n Jones

    Howdy I thought Minority Report was based on a Philip K. Dick story. Wasn't this the dude who wrote Electric Sheep, which inspired Bladerunner? I don't get the 50's style if the above is true. Dick's stories are all set in the same world, I thought. Am I getting this all wrong?

  • Jan. 9, 2000, 6:25 p.m. CST

    Saulot's Point: Should Leering Be Confined to Those You Know?

    by NamelessNarrator

    In theory, I'd agree with Saulot: it's certainly more practical to "leer" at a person you know. In the case of someone you know, there is at least some sort of possible practical outcome (however unlikely that outcome may be). At the same time, Saulot overlooks the power of the celebrity mystique. Natalie Portman is not particularly attractive. Walking down Santa Monica Boulevard, you should be able to see a more attractive girl in five minutes or less. Film and television, however, take an otherwise only mildly interesting person and create an aura of attractiveness through the absolute INACCESSABILITY of that person. Inaccessability confines the person in question strictly to the realm of fantasy, making them inherently more inticing because there is no possibility of a favorable outcome. So in practice, Saulot, it is precisely because the above posters DO NOT know Ms. Portman that they find her a good target for ogling. Isn't all of this obvious, though? (And lastly, Saulot, I certainly hope that when you refer to "homoronally [sic] obessed [sic] perverts", you're not including me.)

  • Jan. 9, 2000, 6:33 p.m. CST

    buffyoda, you are incorrect

    by Adam

    The aforementioned story The Demolished Man by Alfred E. Bester was published in the 50's.

  • Jan. 9, 2000, 7:46 p.m. CST

    Minority Portman

    by Ambrose Chappell

    What does Portman have to do w/ this movie? Anyway... I love Dick's original story for MINORITY REPORT. I really hope this project turns out okay. BLADE RUNNER has been the only Dick material that's translated perfectly to film so far. TOTAL RECALL was flawed (but still kind of enjoyable) and I don't even want to talk about the wretched piece of excrement that is SCREAMERS - total injustice to SECOND-VARIETY. The best part of BLADE RUNNER was the film's atmophere. It was perfect - a dirty, dark city with constant rainfall, buildings with giant animated advertisments covering their entire sides, and that creepy singing Japanese geisha on the zepplins. And Ford's character? Like Mike Hammer in the future. Good, good, good sci-fi noir. MINORITY REPORT has the potential of being THE sci-fi noir film because of the '50s stylistic approach. Imagine the best of GATTACA's '50s style mixed with BLADE RUNNER's hard-boilded action...I'm drooling already...

  • Jan. 9, 2000, 7:53 p.m. CST

    inaccessability

    by reneumann

    I have to agree with NamelessNarrator; inaccessability truly adds to attractiveness. This is related to the meaning of the phrase "absence makes the heart grow fonder," and is also why people are always thought of in such a forgiving light immediately after death. The key difference is that although the same reasoning makes dead people seem very attractive, you *can* bury your sausage in the bad place if you tip the mortician a couple of andy jacksons to give you a half hour alone w/the body the night before the burial. DAMN I SAID IT!! DAMN DAMN DAMN.. well cat's out of the bag now

  • Jan. 9, 2000, 7:57 p.m. CST

    Bookends

    by soupy

    I wonder what kind of bookends "Minority Report" will offer us.

  • Jan. 9, 2000, 8:06 p.m. CST

    MINORITY REPORT And The Obligatory Natalie Portman Comment

    by mrbeaks

    I still think they should scrap MINORITY REPORT. Given, it has an intriguing premise, but I've yet to hear a positive comment on the script. If, after the efforts of Scott Frank and many other talented writers, they still can't get a workable screenplay, why do it? Do we really need another subpar Spielberg genre effort in the tradition of JURASSIC PARK and THE LOST WORLD? Scrap it like WB did SUPERMAN LIVES, and let Spielberg move onto LINDBERGH. Oh, and Natalie Portman is blossoming into a beautiful young woman. I look forward to marrying her after I divorce Rachel Leigh Cook, whom I will wed once I leave Amy Pascal. I've got a lovin' to get to.

  • Jan. 9, 2000, 8:29 p.m. CST

    Nice touch?

    by Otaku73

    Speaking for the people who want to stay on topic..yeah, nat's pretty. Very much so. But then, our girls are, more often than not. And nameless...if you think nat was easier on the eyes when she was 14, chances are you've got some of those crazy pedarist jones. More power to you, just don't corrupt the minds of this nations youth, like harryknowles. He doesn't need to be confused by such messages. But the movie...will need retooling to work. hope this isn't another 1941 for spielberg. It's good he's getting back to "the science fiction with a moral" stories. (and if Phil Dick is good for anything, it's those) One big thing...i thought it was set in the 40's, but it could be the fifties. In either case, it's wrong. It'll come off too much like 1984. The 60's...something spielberg would be more familiar with, to be sure, and more apropo, considering the practice of blacklisting. I think this could be a great movie about the power of suspicion and the ability of the government to arbitrarily end your life, figuratively or literally. In which case, all the elements would work for Spielberg: sci-fi with a trite moral, the 60's, and spielberg paying homage to all those filmmakers who came before and faced so much difficulty for their art, so that he can make movies like SPR and ET now. Wow, I sound so trite. And if i can do it, so can our man Steve!

  • Jan. 9, 2000, 8:59 p.m. CST

    What is the Hell is everyone smoking???

    by GEEKBASHER 3.0

    Okay, SO Natalie Portman is cute...cool, great, cream my twinkie!! Now Is she suppose to be in this movie? Is Tom Cruise Attached? I am sorry but I did not find the news about Minority Report anything to fucking jump for joy about...maybe it's because I have the evil flu and I am sitting around watching Sigourney Weaver be a total bitch in "Death and The Maiden" She rocks!!! Did she get a boob job for Galaxy QUest? Cause Honey she sure showed her tities in this movie and they were like little tiny hershey Kisses!!!

  • Jan. 9, 2000, 10:16 p.m. CST

    Dicks Anybody?

    by SCOTT1458

    P.K.Dick was/is one of the most wacked out sci-fi authors of all time. He's basically unflimable, like Lovecraft. That's why Blade Runner is SUCH a great flick, only cause they got it DEAD fucking right. I only wish that they KEEP THE FUCKING ORIGNAL TITLES!!!!!! He picked them for a reason you know! Do Androids Dream of Electronic Sheep and We can Remember it for you Wholesale sound so much better than Blade Runner or Total Recall. Ok, well Blade Runner isn't bad, but Total Recall sucks. Funny thing about TR, is that Dick's story is very short, and basically only goes up to the part where Arnold freaks out in the chair. Everything else after that is all made up.

  • Jan. 9, 2000, 10:34 p.m. CST

    SoulWax Is A Tad Confused

    by mrbeaks

    JAWS was followed by the excellent CLOSE ENCOUNTERS. RAIDERS followed by E.T. Oh, and DUEL followed by JAWS. He's done it before, and he'll do it again when he makes LINDBERGH *next.* If you read A. Scott Berg's book on C.A.L., you'll know why I'm so jazzed about it.

  • Jan. 9, 2000, 11:01 p.m. CST

    "The Stars My Destination"

    by Uncapie

    "My name is Gulley Foyle and Terra is my nation. Space is my dewlling place, the stars, my destination". Arf, arf!

  • Jan. 9, 2000, 11:10 p.m. CST

    Philip K Dick stories to movies

    by Niiiice

    Phillip K Dick was an incredible writer. How many films have been based on his work? Minority Report, then we have Blade Runner from Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and Screamers from Second Variety. If only he were still around, he'd be a monster in the screenwriting arena...

  • Jan. 10, 2000, 12:39 a.m. CST

    Hook/Minority Report synopsis

    by Lazarus Long

    I'm still laughing at the previous comments about "Hook" being excellent. The concept might have been good, but like most Hollywood pieces of tripe, that's where the "good" ends. The screenplay, by Bram Stoker's Dracula (another terrible script, but redeemed by great acting and filmmaking) scribe James V. Hart is garbage, and this was the beginning of Robin Williams' annoying phase. Add in a terrible Julia Roberts, Glenn Close as a man...where does it end? Let's at least give credit to Phil Collins as the inspector for not embarrassing himself. Dustin Hoffman's scenery chewing...the only thing good about this film is the debut of Gwyneth Paltrow. As for Minority Report, Dick is the opposite of Stephen King in that the story ideas sound idiotic, but turn out to be very thought-provoking. Minority Report deals with a system of 3 precogs that predict crime scenarios. When 2 of the precogs agree on one, a Majority Report is printed and the "future criminal" is arrested. Well when the director of the organization sees on the list that his name has come up, he resists arrest because how could he commit a crime when he has already been told he will? He would now know not to commit one. So he goes on the lam to try and "prove" not his innocence, but his harmlessness. Or something. It's really a great story, and not that Spielberg can do it justice (Dick's view of society is too dark for a panderer like Spielberg), but anything that will bring more attention to Dick's genius is fine with me.

  • Jan. 10, 2000, 12:39 a.m. CST

    cruise and speilberg

    by canuck boy

    i know that i may not neccesarily be in the majority in saying this, but i am heavily anticipating Minority Report for two reasons, two people really. Cruise and Spielberg. i have always respected and liked both people and their works, but never on a the level i admire kubrick, david lean, or peter lorre. but lately cruise has all but proven himself to those standards to me in eyes wide shut and magnolia. the reason is the director i think. kubrick and pt anderson bring a lot to the table, as does cruise, so it works well. spielberg is spielberg.....he has always made good movies, (exceptions: The Lost World and although he didn't direct, he was involved with the Flinstones movie) but his movies seem to be getting better such as Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan fall much later in his career. this is the main reason i think MR will be amazing. it has so much to offer visually and plot wise, and then spielberg and cruise on top of that! i don't see how it can't be a winner. as cruise and speilberg emerge as more and more deep and profound movie makers, their collaberation if you will, is a truly divine event! so, for those of you who can't tell: i am looking forward and hoping for Minority Report's completion. until next time from the frozen waste land of Canada, i shall remain here with my movies and my hockey stick, canuck boy

  • Jan. 10, 2000, 1 a.m. CST

    Spielberg's filmography

    by Mozeman

    Alright, people. To address the person who has no seeminly has no access to factual data, Spielberg has had relatively few "bad" movies and certainly has made more than two good movies in a row. After Duel (made for TV) came Sugarland Express, hailed by many to be one the best diretorial debuts ever. His sophomore effort was Jaws, followed by Close Encounters, the incredibly bad 1941, then Raiders of the Lost Ark, ET, and the Color Purple. If anyone had made those films in the entirety of their career, that would be impressive enough. But he went on to make Schindler's list, followed by Amistad (an hollow attempt at an Oscar IMHO), and then Saving Private Ryan. I left out Empire of the Sun, Always, Hook and Jurassic Park (in that order following Color Purple) on purpase, since those particular movies seem unrelated to this topic. As for MR, I can't wait to see what Spielberg can do with his first attempt at pure sci-fi. I think it will be unique by any standard, but my fear is that it will lean toward the action focus of Jurassic Park rather than the more elegant and magical Close Encounters.

  • Jan. 10, 2000, 1:09 a.m. CST

    Spielberg

    by Kraven

    Okay, let's talk about Mr. Spielberg for a while. Not so long ago ol' Steveroonie was being deep-sixed by Hollywood for not making "serious" pictures. To waylay the moans of the (so-called) intelligentsia, he made Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan, but Steve's a kid at heart and with kids of his own (for whom he made "The Lost World" by his own account). Now it seems inconceivable to me that his kids (biological or adopted) would not have heard of a certain Harry Potter; now that Spielberg has proven to Hollywood that he can do "serious" work, my money is on the J.K. Rowling matrerial, for...the sheer fun of it. The fact is, the apparently splendid screenplay for Harry Potter came along subsequently from Minority Report, and I would bet good money that THIS is what Spielberg is both wanting, and is going to, make. (That said, I would KILL to have him make The Stars My Destination ("Tiger! Tiger!" to the Brits), which is, hands down, just about the best SF novel ever written.)

  • Jan. 10, 2000, 1:47 a.m. CST

    Hey HEY!!! aren't you all forgeting the point

    by Fishman_Jack

    of this talkback...which is after all the delictible Natalie Portman...oohhh yeah. hehehe... <br> ANYWAY...Philip K Dick material IS brilliant, but as several others have said, the text to film transfer kinda fucks itself. Apart from Blade Runner whats to suggest this wont happen again. Speilberg? Nah, personally i dont think you can rely on him to make GOOD movies anymore. Hes only interested in making Films. Always has been. <br> oh yeah. to the guy who like Hook....HAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHA shit thats pretty funny stuff.....SPLISH, tha Fish

  • Jan. 10, 2000, 1:47 a.m. CST

    PASS the CRACK PIPE

    by MAlkovich

    What are you people talkin bout this movie is gonna be amazing. I have lots of faith on Spielberg for this one. If i heard right the script is still being worked on and i hear it is gonna kick ass. Now i know spielberg might be busy with JP3 but it is gonna be good. He isnt the best director but he is definately a popcorn movie director and that is what this is. From what i understand the script is a cross between blade runner and fugitive which i think would be a good 2 hours of entertainment. By the way after magnolia and the trailer for MI2 Tom Cruise is on my good side and i look foward to his presence. AND THAT IS WHAT I HAVE TO SAY

  • Jan. 10, 2000, 8:17 a.m. CST

    what's this about 1984?

    by dastickboy

    If you're saying Minority Report will mimic 1984 stylistically, what about Gattaca? I'm thinking big shiny black cars and lots of sharp suits. Anyway, what's Natalie Portman got to do with tings, and is Tom Cruise acting or Producing?

  • Jan. 10, 2000, 9:46 a.m. CST

    If Dick were here

    by SCOTT1458

    I don't think he'd be getting involved in any screenwriting. The guy was a nut, and it shows in the bizare lititure he left behind. Wasn't there another Dick story just done a few months ago by Willis that got panned big time? Anyway, as for MR, it's a very weak story, I can't imagine why they picked this one, but oh well. His stories are almost impossible to film, because only Dick had the image of what was taking place, what things looked like, what they smelled like, etc. That's why Blade Runner is primo. He wasn't even around, and it's a fantastic adaption. As for Speilberg..GET OFF HIS ASS!!! If fucking AICN was here in the 50's, some fanboys would be stating how Cecil B. DeMille and John Ford suck major ass!!!! Give it a rest.

  • Jan. 10, 2000, 10:32 a.m. CST

    Willis Movie?

    by mrbeaks

    Did you mean BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS? That was Kurt Vonnegut, and, my sweet Nipsy, was it awful. Whenever Alan Rudolph and Bruce get together, run for the fucking hills. I do agree, though, that Spielberg is a frequent recipient of some often undue criticism, but, hey, he is one of the most successful filmmakers of all time. And, despite his brilliance, he deserves every tomato lobbed his way in the name of HOOK. What an embarrassment! Even Natalie Portman couldn't save that thing (what, she wasn't in it? Oh..... well, she's still hot.)

  • Jan. 10, 2000, 11:12 a.m. CST

    Hook...the start of two holes in two film careers...

    by All Thumbs

    I think most people agree that "Hook" is the begining of Williams' too-sweet fest of movies (excluding the excellent "Good Will Hunting"), but it is also a turning point for Roberts' as she made her descent into her own crap-fest. Granted, she has said she chose those films because she didn't want to get type-cast, but unfortunately, all they were was "see Julia Roberts as Julia Roberts playing in some poorly adapted novel or giant schmaltz-fest." Glad to see she's doing better with "My Best Friends Wedding" and "Notting Hill." Maybe "Hook" was also a start of Close's bad decisions, such as "102 Dalmations." I saw the crappy trailer and all I can say is the extra dog in the title must mean the entire movie. But I won't judge until it comes out...I won't judge until it comes out...just repeat it to yourself...nope...won't work for "102..."

  • Jan. 10, 2000, 11:50 a.m. CST

    Spielber is a...

    by COLE

    ...hack. He's overrated, and this film will blow. I'm sure it will also be filled with super-evil Germans.

  • Jan. 10, 2000, 11:55 a.m. CST

    Steven Spielberg - More Than You Know (redux)

    by Jambalaya Gumbo

    As Mr. Spielberg is once again taking it on the chin in these talkbacks, I'm re-posting the following, which illustrates just how talented Spielberg really is and also illustrates how personal prejudice can block your critical faculties. Enjoy. EMPIRE OF THE SUN (1987) (d. Steven Spielberg, scr. Tom Stoppard, ph. Allan Daviau) JAMIE: I was dreaming about God. MARY: What did he say? JAMIE: Nothing. He was playing tennis. Perhaps that's where God is all the time -- [in our dreams] -- and that's why you can't see Him when you're awake, do you think? MARY: I don't know. I don't know about God. JAMIE: Perhaps He's our dream...and we're His. -- EMPIRE OF THE SUN In the short documentary, THE CHINA ODYSSEY, Steven Spielberg talks about his take on author J.G. Ballard's semi-autobiographical novel, EMPIRE OF THE SUN. Ballard's book details his own true-life experiences as a British child of privilege separated from his parents by the Japanese invasion of Shanghai in 1941, and one of Spielberg's boldest opinions of the work was that half of the book was a lie -- half of it true in the broad strokes, certainly, but it was Spielberg's belief that the details and vignettes were completely warped by Ballard's childhood perception. This is crucial to understanding Spielberg's work on the film - which has long been dismissed or completely, fundamentally misread - not a single shot can be trusted. Consider the scene referenced above. Spielberg concludes this passage with a shot of Jamie in bed while his mother and father look on fondly. Spielberg's editor Michael Kahn then does something strange - he performs a quick dissolve of this same shot onto itself, which at first glance appears to be a gaffe. Only later - and only if you're looking - do you see the payoff to this moment. Jamie becomes separated from his parents and spends the remainder of his childhood in a Japanese internment camp. He's spent years idealizing his parents to the point where he finally admits - in a scene of tremendous power - he can't remember what they actually look like any more. Subtly illustrating this point, hanging next to Jim's makeshift prison bed is a Norman Rockwell painting torn out of the pages of LIFE Magazine. The painting is of a Mother and Father looking fondly at a child in bed. It is the exact same image from earlier in the film. The implication here is that the earlier scene NEVER HAPPENED, or at the very least didn't happen in the way Spielberg presented it to you -- the reality of the moment has been skewed by Jamie's fantasies. Either way, Spielberg's camera lied to you. And there wasn't a film critic in America who noticed. Spielberg's camera is a font of dishonesty in EMPIRE OF THE SUN, a blazingly original, criminally ignored film. Nothing in the frame can be trusted. Consider the first appearance of John Malkovich as the stranded maritime con man, Basie. When we first meet Basie, he is one cool customer, strongly backlit, his face obscured by dark sunglasses and a G.I. cap. This is all fine and good, except Basie's appearance has already been foretold by the cover of the WINGS comic book Jamie reads in the first moments of the film. The cover of the comic details a back-lit G.I. wearing dark sunglasses and a wide-brimmed cap. The truth is that Steven Spielberg, long considered dead behind the eyes in some circles, made a film that toyed with reality as much as RASHOMON or BLOW UP, but because at that time he was critically regarded as a live-action Walt Disney, his work was dismissed. EMPIRE OF THE SUN would seem to be sitting up and begging for analysis, so loaded it is with moments of fantasy and reverie in the midst of suffering. The film is all about the human need for escapism and denial in the face of a harsh reality but it was received as a Shanghai version of AN AMERICAN TAIL by way of a David Lean imitator. This was incorrect. Many critics, in fact, directly faulted Spielberg for the unreality of EMPIRE OF THE SUN and took him to task for it. They missed the point. Spielberg literally lifts the subconscious interpretation of events by a 12 year-old boy and prints those memories onto film. The prison camp - which was criticized for being a Hollywood construct and not a real environ - exists as the child remembers it. Since children can have quite a fine time with a cardboard box, you can imagine how much fun a boy who loves planes had living next to an airfield. Spielberg puts that interpretation on film. The headache-inducing result of his labor was that audiences took his moments - some of them wildly abstracted - at face value, too long conditioned to shut off their frontal lobes when viewing a work with the word "Spielberg" attached to it. The film is jammed full of impossible moments that clearly are not happening, including a toy glider that stays impossibly aloft, the aforementioned scene involving the family, a trio of pilots who salute the young boy in a hail of welding sparks, a pilot of a P-51 who waves to Jim, a refrigerator that bursts open revealing - instead of food - glitter and toys...there's a gesture that Jim sees his father perform, rubbing his finger across his upper lip. Later, Jim will have a new father figure, Dr. Rawlins, who will repeat the same gesture. Film critic Patrick Taggart actually asked what the point of this gesture was. Ten years later, I'm happy to tell him the gesture is the result of Jim's fading recollection of his parents. He remembers his father making the gesture, and as Dr. Rawlins becomes his "new" father, Jim begins superimposing attributes onto him, including his father's own mannerisms. Spielberg reveals to us this inner life in an enormously subtle way. The standard practice for Dream Scenes is to clue the audience in by the use of hazy wipes and dissolves. Spielberg discarded these completely, trusting in the intelligence of his audience. One quick throw-away even spotlights the British POWs reading from A Midsummer Nights Dream, another little clue to the movie's intentions that Spielberg discards like so much pocket lint. Time and time again, Spielberg and his screenwriter Tom Stoppard serve up an entire cast of characters who choose to ignore the reality of the world around them and end up emaciated shells of their former selves or worse. The film's message seems to be that in the face of such a serious reality, denial and escapism are deadly, and the world must be dealt with on its own terms. Jim's Great Dream - other than flying - is to reunite with his parents, and he carries all of his childhood memorabilia in a small suitcase. Jim must forsake this fantasy and grapple with reality - this case that contains his dreams will later be seen floating alongside the dead in the Shanghai Harbor. Because of his pre-occupation with exploring this theme, EMPIRE OF THE SUN is unique in the Spielberg canon in that it is a film less concerned with plot than it is with examining an idea - the value and necessity for denial and escapism -- and all the ways the human animal lies to itself. The unfortunate result is a film that winds down emotionally by the end of its 2nd hour. Movies are things we go to for many reasons, but primarily we go because we want to feel something. Works like EMPIRE OF THE SUN almost function like a parlor-game -- they're a great work-out for the left-side of your soul and a litmus test for how you view film, but they're also a bit emotionally cold. This oft-repeated criticism of EMPIRE OF THE SUN isn't something so easily dismissed away. LAWRENCE OF ARABIA sported a hole in the center of its drama in the shape of a man who was a total enigma. EMPIRE OF THE SUN - which David Lean himself was attached to at one point - also has a protagonist at its center who is emotionally distant, keeping the viewer at arm's reach. The difference being, in LAWRENCE, you had a man of fathomless interest and contradictions at its fore, and in EMPIRE OF THE SUN you had a spoiled child. To me, EMPIRE OF THE SUN represents the death of the Spielberg I grew up with, just as much as it tells the tale of a child who must shuck off the best parts of childhood in order to survive. Its my personal belief that the failure of this film was a giant blow to the man, whose career went into a tailspin even as it was generating ever-higher box office returns. Spielberg's public quotes around this time are the most self-loathing of his life, referring to works like INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE, ALWAYS, and HOOK as "hamburgers" and himself as little more than a McDonald's fry chief. INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE - in particular - is the flattest, least-inspired and assured film he ever made. The great thing about video is that it gives films a second chance, and it is never too late to rediscover a buried classic. EMPIRE OF THE SUN deserves your attention on home video, but what's more, I think Spielberg's work in the film deserves your open mind and your further contemplation.

  • Jan. 10, 2000, 12:35 p.m. CST

    Spielberg's Films. This is Long...

    by agentcooper

    Let's examine Mr. Spielberg's resume for a moment, shall we? THE SUGARLAND EXPRESS: a terrific debut film. He made the low speed chase interesting long before OJ Simpson did. Seriously, an action packed character study that has held up very well over time. JAWS: Simply one of the best films ever made. A flawless action film with mystery, suspense, and characters we geniunely care about. Sadly, they don't make 'em like this anymore. CE3K: Another perfect film. Full of the facination with innocence that will mark a great deal of Spielberg's work thereafter. He once again uses the government conspiricy (as in JAWS) to work suspense into the story of an everyman faced with an extraordinary situation. On the recent collector's edition of the film, he wisely got rid of the extra footage where we go inside the Mother Ship. 1941: Not as bad as some make it out to be. It is meant to be a big dumb cartoon of a movie, and succeeds on that level. Perhaps too many subplots ultimately do it in, but it is still enjoyable fun, primarily for John Belushi's performance, the brilliant musical score, and the dance sequence featured in the film's second act. Spielberg often said that after he saw how this sequence turned out, he was sorry he didn't make the whole thing a musical. RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK: A return to form for Spielberg. A perfect movie if there ever was one. I don't think anyone can argue this one. (What am I saying? This is talk back...) E.T.: Spielberg considered this his most personal film until Schindler's List. I saw this film about nine times in the summer of '82. It still holds up as a tale of hope for all the outcasts who wish for something extraordinary in their lives. Equal parts story of lonliness and magic, the film should have won best picture in 1982. INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM: Too violent, too much comic book action, it is still an enjoyable adventure, but the most flawed of the I.J. trilogy. I didn't really like the way the "lite" elements of the plot: Short Round, the romance with Willie Scott, were mixed with the extreme violence: hearts pulled still beating from bodies, people being burned alive. This is the film (along with GREMLINS) that caused the MPAA to come up with the PG-13 rating. THE COLOR PURPLE: The first of Spielberg's "mature" films, meaning the first without fantastic elements such as aliens, huge stunts, or the supernatural. A remarkable story of one woman's journey through a horrible life, he proved himself to be a great "actor's director." This is Whoopi Goldberg's best film performance (her first) as well as Oprah Winfrey's. He made the story of a Black woman in the early part of the 20th century accessible to people of all colors and backgrounds. EMPIRE OF THE SUN: the most underrated of all of Spielberg's films. A moving story of the horrors of war as seen through the eyes of a child. There was a great post on talkback about two weeks ago (I cannot remember the topic or the Poster-forgive me) that contained a great deal of praise for this film. I couldn't improve on this Poster's criticism or praise. Suffice it to say that this is visually one of Spielberg's greatest accomplishments with good performances from John Malkovich and Christian Bale. INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE: An apology for the Temple of Doom. A return to form for Indy. Not as good as Raiders, but a worthy sequel, full of adventure, action and fun performances by Harrison Ford and Sean Connery, Denholm Elliot, and John Rhys-Davies. This one makes me want INDY 4. ALWAYS: probably Spielberg's worst film. It has its moments, but the chemistry between Dreyfuss and Hunter never really makes sparks fly. Still, it does have a great score and a few cool action sequences. HOOK: probably the greatest disappointment I've ever had at the movies. I genuinely thought that this would be the greatest movie ever made. The original script by James V. Hart was quite good, addressing more of the events in Barry's PETER PAN than wound up in the film. Too many re-writes and Spielberg trying too hard to fill the film with "magic" spoiled it. Neverland looked like a set, the Lost Boys were annoying, and there were three or four too many endings. Some time has passed, and I have found quite a few things I like about the film, but it remains a disappointment. JURASSIC PARK: The film was meant to be nothing more than an action adventure film, and it succeeds. It was so much fun to sit in the theatre in the summer of '93 and watch those dinosaurs rampage. SCHINDLER'S LIST: A perfect film that brought the horrors of the Nazi oppression back to light for millions of people around the world. The film has become more than a movie. It has become a memorial for those who died, and a warning for future generations. As a film, it is no less than brilliant. Heartfelt and entertaining. Interest never flags, dispite its three hour plus running time. Never before have I been in a theatre where the audience was afraid to move after the titles began to roll at the end, afraid they might show disrespect to what was shown on the screen. His masterpiece. THE LOST WORLD: Fun for all the same reasons the first one was. Spielberg gave the audience more of what they wanted: Dinos, Dinos, Dinos!!! and was criticized for it. Personally, I thought this one was just as good as the first, with even better effects and action sequences (the lab truck dangling off the cliff, anyone?) Vapid? Sure, but Fun. AMISTAD: He tried too hard on this one. Dispite a compelling story line and good performances all around, the film just didn't grab you emotionally. Probably Spielberg's least enjoyable film. SAVING PRIVATE RYAN: Brillance again. I just watched it again over the weekend. It just grabs you and won't let go. Spielberg's obvious facination with the period of World War II is on display again here. Once again, the film transcends itself, becoming a tribute to the ordinary men who "fought the good fight" during the second world war. Recent posters have critcized the film for being too manipulative, but for me, the film didn't cheat any of its emotional elements. A genuine "thank you" to the brave soldiers of World War II, while being a great and entertaining story....Okay, well this has been an extremely long post, and to anyone who actually got through it, thanks. My point is that Spielberg is, in my opinion, the most consistant director in the history of American film. With minimal misfires, he has put out an amazing body of work, eclectic in its style and subject matter. I look forward to whatever he chooses to do next, be it Minority Report, Lindberg, or Memoirs of a Geisha.

  • Jan. 10, 2000, 12:39 p.m. CST

    Mr. Gumbo

    by agentcooper

    I mention Jambalya Gumbo's great critique of Empire of the Sun in my overlong post, and by the time I press enter, it's right above mine. Not much to add on topic, but Natalie Portman is quite beautiful. I wonder if she has a say in who gets cast as Anakin.

  • Jan. 10, 2000, 1:36 p.m. CST

    Even More Than You Know

    by Jambalaya Gumbo

    Here's another example of Spielberg toying with narrative to the complete and utter silence of audiences and critics. I ask you - what is the eventual fate of Richard Dreyfuss in CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND? Consider first the many many references to PINOCCHIO in CLOSE ENCOUNTERS (the little puppet is shown as a chime figurine, Dreyfuss tries mightily to get his family to see PINOCCHIO, "When You Wish Upon A Star" is even played as Dreyfuss begins to ascend the ramp at the end of the film). These many tips of the hat aren't accidents - they're in the script and the film for a reason. Now consider the SPECIAL EDITION and the shot selection of the finale. Dreyfuss ascends the ramp. "When You Wish Upon A Star" plays out. Dreyfuss enters the EMPTY foyer of the Mother Ship. The ceiling raises, then finally ascends to the heavens, revealing a glorious interior of lights. Dreyfuss begins to breathe heavily. Something big is about to happen. Suddenly, a shower of "light dust" falls down on him. CUT TO the external view of the ship. Who or what comes walking out of this previously empty foyer? An Alien. He signs to Truffaut, who signs back. The two smile at each other. Alien goes back into the Mothership. Ship leaves. End of movie. This is just me, but I think its quite clear that Dreyfuss has his wish fulfilled, and is physically transformed, just as Pinocchio is. And I've never heard a single human soul discuss this aspect of CLOSE ENCOUNTERS, and the damn movie is 23 years old. When I've shown this to people on disc at home, they have had to slap themselves in the foreheads and generally mutter "Oh my God" a few times because they can't believe that there are things going on in Spielberg films they never picked up on. Their prejudice blocks their critical faculty. Many have this infection and its always amusing to see these chaps have the blinders pulled away. Must run. Yours, Ernest Rister

  • Jan. 10, 2000, 1:56 p.m. CST

    Still More Than You Know

    by Jambalaya Gumbo

    One last comment about EMPIRE OF THE SUN. Has anyone else noticed that the only use of slow-motion photography in the entire Spielberg canon is found in this film, and only during one crucial sequence? Why is Spielberg slowing down time in this moment? Its not just to glamorize a P-51. Also, look for the figure of Death stalking the edge of the frame at the Lockwood Christmas party (may be hard to see on Pan and Scan) and the scores of other little throw-aways that highlight the collision between dreams and reality. --Ernest Rister

  • Jan. 10, 2000, 3:14 p.m. CST

    Spielberg

    by Smack

    I'm glad to see Jambalaya Gumbo and agentcooper make some very good, and well thought out arguments in favor of Spielberg's brilliance as a director. I think he gets criticsized unfairly in these talkbacks. Maybe it's because he makes commercially successful movies, or because he's won major awards when other filmmakers haven't. I also think that he has the most impressive track record of any modern filmmaker in terms of the quality and accessibility of his films. I think that 50 years from now he will be rightfully considered one of the top directors of all time. I hope he goes forward with Minority Report. I think it's definitely the most interesting of the current projects he has recently been attached to.

  • Jan. 10, 2000, 3:30 p.m. CST

    Geez!

    by Solidus420

    No one posting their fake nude Portman pics? For shame! Post them NOW!

  • Jan. 10, 2000, 5:11 p.m. CST

    Did anyone else pick up on this?

    by Isidore

    Is it just me or does anyone else think it odd that there is all this talk about how hot a certain actress is and that the subject is the fate of a DICK movie? OK bad joke. This is the most puzzling movies I've come across in a long time. P.K. Dick and Speilberg? It doesn't compute. If this does come come to be I am seriously hoping that will elevate Speilberg and not undermine Dick. But I am surprized that Speilberg would do this short story and not do The Man In The High Castle. (I hope that's the correct title) It's about the US after WWII and the Nazis won! What better fodder for Speilberg to put in super evil Germans? Maybe too weird for him though.... Also has anyone found it funny that Speilberg has yet another actor supposedly involved that has a huge nose? It's in every film of his. At least one actor not always the main character has a freakishly large nose. Oh well. Enough for now...

  • Jan. 10, 2000, 5:15 p.m. CST

    Spielberg blah blah blah

    by Lazarus Long

    first off, Todd1138 or whatever your name is, don't even think of putting John Ford in the same class with Spielberg, or Cecil B. DeMille for that matter. The last two may belong together, but John Ford was in a class all his own. The Grapes of Wrath is a film of social critique that is light years beyong anything in Schindler's List. And there is no image in Spielberg's oeuvre that captures what the final shot of The Searchers does. As for DeMille, he was also a hack who helmed over-the-top productions. His "Greatest Show on Earth" has the dubious distinction of being recognized widely as the most undeserving of all Best Picture winners. Do we really need to start another Spielberg debate? The box office of his pictures ensures that a whole cavalry of jokers will come to his defense. But let me put it this way: For people who don't know a lot about film history, and haven't seen a lot of old films, it's probably a natural reaction to think Spielberg is something special. But any decent film critic will tell you that he's just a much older Tarantino. He's seen a million films, and that's all that comes through in his. He mixes up everything he's seen before and rehashes it (and no, this ISN'T what every director does) without adding much of his own. As much as I enjoy Raiders of the Lost Ark, there are many adventure films preceeding it which it borrows from heavily (see Gunga Din). And as for the "originality" of Close Encounters, one of his better films, it is known that he paid other writers to take their names off so he could claim sole writing credit, an effort to appear the auteur that Lucas, Coppola, and Scorsese were considered. This might sound cynical, and each generation needs to have its own influences, but it bothers me that people don't recognize how derivative everything Spielberg does. One final note, don't listen to anyone who says Minority Report isn't a good story. They probably didn't understand the explanation at the end. Dick's ever-present theme of "What is reality?" is here, and in a shockingly original way.

  • Jan. 10, 2000, 5:19 p.m. CST

    Spielberg/Minority

    by ratso

    Me thinks not...as you will soon see...

  • Jan. 10, 2000, 5:38 p.m. CST

    Oh, Lazarus.....

    by mrbeaks

    It's not simply re-hashing. It's using what he's seen before as a springboard to conveying *his* vision. Scorsese, for one, does the exact same thing. Look at how FORCE OF EVIL influenced the style of the narration in GOODFELLAS in CASINO. The similarity is astounding, but detracts not one bit from Scorsese's achievement, since, through his considerable skill, he was able to integrate it into his vision. Why is it that one filmmaker can borrow, but another cannot? Could it be that the aforementioned resentment of Spielberg's overwhelming success is clouding your opinion? I'd think on that a bit before offering a knee-jerk response.

  • Jan. 10, 2000, 6:33 p.m. CST

    Give us A.I.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    by 33.3rpm

    Please..........

  • Jan. 10, 2000, 8:31 p.m. CST

    oh jeez...

    by Lazarus Long

    why have I been on this site long enough today to respond this quickly...I'm surprised there were attempts to make intelligent criticisms of my post without reading it closely! We all know the "there are no new ideas, just new ways..." line of shit, which somehow is proven wrong every year by talented screenwriters. Exactly what came before Being John Malkovich aside from a tab of LSD and a flip through some Dali & Escher paintings? What makes the best films aren't the stories told but, yes, the way they are told. I'm sorry, and I've said this in greater length and analysis on the infamous "Saving Private Ryan/Spielberg" talkback, but Spielberg is just a good storyteller. So is Stephen King. But neither, to me, are great stylists, and that is who belongs in the pantheon of film. I never said that Spielberg "ripped-off" or "borrowed" anything, but nothing seems to come from his non-film history imagination. Indy, Saving Private Ryan, etc. The term "visionary" doesn't really apply here. And contrary to what you may say, I don't believe a majority of the people here have plumbed the depths of film history. I'm not trying to be condescending, but you need only read the majority of arguments on various subjects here to gauge that. I don't feel like I'm name dropping when I reference films that were well known in their day and are antecedents of what you see today. There are many informed people on here, and I welcome those arguments...by citing The Searchers I was trying to highlight a famous film that wasn't just an audience pleaser (although the Native American portayal is outdated and sterotypical) but had a profound affect on today's masters. It's not fair to say everything is derivative and cheer Spielberg for his audience-pleasing success, when there are plenty of directors who are inspired by the same films as Spielberg, yet challenge the public, take chances, and create original art while still entertaining. My lament remains, how can you be one of the greatest directors without adding to the language of filmmaking (shining a bright off-camera light onto your actor's widening eyes in every film does not qualify)? Hitchcock, Scorsese, Welles...none of them ever released a film with such a lack of artistic imprint as The Lost World. That film looked like a robot directed it. I can't even think anymore....this argument is as stale as (insert humorous Spielberg analogy).

  • Jan. 10, 2000, 9:53 p.m. CST

    The Portman Legacy!

    by Eddie Vedder

    Its funny how I was the first to post, mentioning Natalie Portman only cause I knew everyone would read it. And now there's a frenzy. "What does Natalie Portman have to do with Minority Report?" Any damn way, one of my posts was deleted, thats too bad. Did I piss you off Harry? "I may just grow to be 5'10, I'll be hot"- Natalie Portman- Beautiful Girls.

  • Jan. 10, 2000, 11:16 p.m. CST

    Lazarus Lays Down The Law

    by mrbeaks

    Spielberg hasn't added to the language of film? His work on JAWS, CE3K, and RAIDERS are still unimpeachable models of storytelling; clearly bearing the imprint of the same artist. Few can stage and edit an action sequence with the same ruthless efficiency as Spielberg, and his seemingly innate sense of story structure is unmatched by anyone working today, with the sole exceptions of Atom Egoyan and Anthony Minghella (which is what made the rather slipshod JP and THE LOST WORLD such massive disappointments; although, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't enchanted by the dinos on the first go-round.) All he's done recently is raise the war movie bar to impossible heights (insofar as battle sequences go,) while also forming a company where filmmakers such as Cameron Crowe, Sam Mendes and Ridley Scott can work without studio interference (unless they pull a Mimi Leder and shoot unacceptable footage.) It's hardly fair to take the guy to task for not being a more experimental filmmaker in, relatively speaking, his later years. Spielberg is a straightforward man, and his gift is for simply spinning a good yarn. So, he isn't attempting to tweak genre conventions like Nicholas Ray did with JOHNNY GUITAR (superior, IMO, to THE SEARCHERS,) or taking a semi-documentary approach to create a vivid portrayal of poverty ala ROSETTA, or PIXOTE. Think that's bad? I hate to sound like Steve Martin in GRAND CANYON, but you need to watch SULLIVAN'S TRAVELS. All of life's little mysteries are solved in movies. And you bring up BEING JOHN MALKOVICH as so thoroughly original? Yes, it was a breath of fresh air, but it still obeyed all of those nasty, mythic storytelling laws. Every film, in its own way, does. 'Tis an inescapable fact, dear Lazarus. Drop all the acid you want, those rules are imbedded in your subconscious, along with that well-hidden PVC fetish, and will haunt you until the day you die.

  • Jan. 11, 2000, 1:38 a.m. CST

    Spielbergian? No such term exists.

    by Lazarus Long

    Monsieur Beaks, thank for for an intelligent reply. But let's not confuse Spielberg the Producer with Spielberg the Director. His encouragement of new talent (like Mimi Leder!) may be admirable, as well as the Dreamworks endeavor, which has nicely turned itself around from a shaky start. I've stated in previous talkbacks his keen sense for good source material, actors, crew, etc. We'll even throw in some composition skills. But there are other directors (again, mentioned before, Michael Curtiz) who had the same talents, yet fail to suggest any auteur element. When was the last time you heard another filmmaker's film referred to as Spielbergian? I'd like to see it in print. What exactly is Spielbergian. Because I've seen Tarantinoesque...Hitchcockian...you could even male a case for Ridley Scott, Terry Gilliam...but how would you define the style of the man you're defending? A film that has a big budget and makes a lot of money? Or a heavy-handed social message film? How about Darabontesque? Are Darabont's films Spielbergian? I don't think you are going to see these terms used in the future either, for the reasons I've already stated. There isn't an aesthetic strain that goes through Spielberg's filmography as it does with greater directors. There may be a level of quality that does, but that isn't the same thing.

  • Jan. 11, 2000, 3:06 a.m. CST

    the movie that moriarty said was as good as dead....

    by Efihp

    is still ticking. <picks up ball that moriarty dropped>

  • Jan. 11, 2000, 10:57 a.m. CST

    Again with the Not Knowing

    by Jambalaya Gumbo

    Because Spielberg's work is usually so misunderstood - or worse, ignored - I can see how opinions like those of Lazarus can be defended, even championed. I find it odd that Lazarus criticizes Spielberg for not having an individual style, when he adapts his style to suit the needs of his story film to film. I find it curious that he doesn't extend the same level of vitriol to filmmakers like William Wyler or Victor Fleming - Spielberg's true idols, and also filmmakers clasified more for their intelligence and craftsmanship than for their individual personal style. Spielberg is very aware of the auteur movement - a concept only some 40-odd years old now. He might even agree with Lazarus - he has a new fave T-Shirt he wore on the set of SAVING PRIVATE RYAN which reads, I AM NOT AN AUTEUR. Crticizing Spielberg for what he's not instead of paying attention to what he's actually doing is something rather specious, narrow-minded, and frankly, intellectually immature. I once had dinner with a major film director who told me he/she sat through SCHINDLER'S LIST with a sneer on her face. If that isn't the definition of critical prejudice, I don't know what is. I guess opinions like these are just revelatory about the nature of art - these opinions say far more about the viewer than they do about the artist. In Lazarus defense, True - Spielberg is not an iconoclast like Von Stroheim or Kubrick - but an apple is nothing like a banana, and films come in all sizes and shapes and forms. So, too, do directors. Saying one "type" of director is more worthy of deabte and analysis over another is like trying to tell people what their favorite colors should be. You can't do it. If not for film scholars championing the works of Douglas Sirk, I'm convinced he wouldn't warrant even a footnote in film history. But thank God someone took the time to see that - beyond simple mechanincs - there was a real artist at work. And I may be wrong, but didn't Lazarus detail a Spielbergian cliche', something like someone holding a flashlight off screen and shines it in an actors face while the actor looks up in awe and wonder? If that is a trait carried from film-to-film (awe is found in abundance in JAWS, CLOSE ENCOUNTERS, RAIDERS, E.T., EMPIRE OF THE SUN, HOOK, and JURASSIC PARK)- doesn't that sound like something of an identifiable style easily typified as "Spilebrgian"? You've contradicted yourself, Lazarus. I'll tell you precisely why I admire Spielberg - because he has never ever made a film that did not, on some basic level, celebrate the craft of filmmaking. The best of his films - DUEL, JAWS, CLOSE ENCOUNTERS, RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, E.T., EMPIRE OF THE SUN, SCHINDLER'S LIST and SAVING PRIVATE RYAN - evidence a joy in cinema that is rapturous. I admire Spielberg for evidencing as much control over his frame as his idols Victor Fleming and David Lean, and I admire him for - like Disney - making the choice to have his work be a force for good in the world. I admire his controlled choreography (when appropriate) - but I pity smart young writers like Lazarus who are clearly intelligent and somewhat knowledgeable, but their prejuidce clouds their critical faculty. Lazarus, read my take on EMPIRE OF THE SUN above, and then go watch it. You'll be doing yourself a service, and you may realize that your estimation of Spielberg's talent and abilities is wrong, and worthy of your further reasoned contemplation. --Ernest Rister

  • Jan. 11, 2000, 11:33 a.m. CST

    Spielberg's "mature" films

    by Stosslova

    I

  • Jan. 11, 2000, 12:42 p.m. CST

    Still More Not Knowing

    by Jambalaya Gumbo

    Yet another specious criticsm. How can sitting in a huge air-conditioned auditorium in front of a huge screen with a jug of popcorn between your feet and a soda pop in your hand - how can that ever equal the experience of Warfare, on any reasoned level? The idea of the film was conceived as a tribute to the soldiers who gave so much so you could sit at your desk and critique a movie that honors them. The next time you watch the movie, substitue the name "Pvt. Ryan" with your own, and the film's intent becomes achingly clear. This is about as much as you can reasonably expect from a film. Going to the movies looking for reality is like going to a Green Bay Packers tailgater looking for objectivity. You're not going to find it. Film inescapably breaks up time and emphasizes some details at the exclusion of others. It is not encompassing, it is specific. The world stops at the edge of the set, and everything on that set is fake. You cannot criticize Spielberg for being a filmmaker who makes "unreal" movies any more than you can criticize his mastery of film technology. His taste is open for debate, but critizing SCHINDLER'S LIST and SAVING PRIVATE RYAN for failing to equal the enormity of the D-Day Invasion or the Nazi Genocide is simply laughable.

  • Jan. 11, 2000, 2 p.m. CST

    Stosslova

    by agentcooper

    I'm the one who posted that Saving Private Ryan is a "thank you" to the average men who fought World War II, and I stand by the statement. The film is not about strategy or good versus evil. It is told on a very personal level. It struck a real emotional chord with me. I, however, do agree with your statement that sitting in a cinema will never be equal to the actual experience of being in war. Cinema, like all art, is representative. One film could never show us all we need to know about any facet of life or death to allow us to feel the same emotions a person would go through in any real life situation. We are always secure in the knowledge that we are safely in our theatre seats. Even if the motion picture unspooling before us is a "true" story, we are aware that some liberties may have been taken for dramatic effect. HOWEVER, cinema does have the ability to make us think, to provoke emotions in the viewer. Films like Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan have caused many of us to examine history and the current state of the world. Art can help us expand our ideas and the way we relate to the world around us, but everyone relates to art differently. Art is never reality, and every film has a point of view. I happen to like Mr. Spielberg's point of view. I've been a fan since JAWS, and will continue to look forward to each of his films.

  • Jan. 11, 2000, 5:38 p.m. CST

    The Definition of Speilbergian!!

    by Isidore

    Speilbergian- A Style of filmaking involving 1 or more of these characteristics: Long closeups of people looking at stuff; Saccharine and annoying children; A distinct visual style as evidenced in the movies by Steven Speilberg; Obvious attempts at suspending the disbelief of the audience. These are the things I have noticed. I like his movies but I am getting bored with his 70's-80's style. I liked Schindler's List because it was different and well made. It wasn't as horrific as I expected but still a good turn for him. (except for the final part in color, that was just lame) His greatest strength at the moment, in my opinion, is his ability to recreate events, i.e. Saving Private Ryan. But That movie was Totally detached from the horrors. You knew none of the people who were being slaughtered, and as such had no emotional involvement when they died. My perception. I just want to see Speilberg make a daring artsy film, because I know it would be very interesting. And by the way the Black and White in SL sucked the big one, no one has done good B&W since In Cold Blood. That may be an exageration. I just hope that the Coen brothers do something like Confessions of a Crap Artist by PKD. Let Speilberg do his thing and if you like it fine if not then go beat off to the Kubrick collection. Just kidding.

  • Jan. 11, 2000, 6:06 p.m. CST

    so THAT'S where you're coming from!

    by Lazarus Long

    Jambalaya, another great post. And you've summed up exactly what I'm saying. Wyler and Fleming are 2 more examples that I could have used. They are craftsman, and that's what I've been trying to say about Li'l Steven. Ben-Hur is a joke, its artistic merits have been questioned by many, yet most remember the exhilirating chariot race. Victor Fleming? HA! Another hack who happened to place 2 films in the AFI's top 10. Gone With the Wind and Wizard of Oz are great to watch, but one is fantasy fluff, and the other was the work of what, 3 other directors? A great movie but not a great film like Citizen Kane. This really boils down to matters of taste (supposedly in these matters there is no dispute, according to the Latin phrase), in a preference of art over entertainment. I love to be entertained, but I don't like when entertainment is passed around as art when it isn't. Empire of the Sun will definitely get another viewing, but if the lack of success of this film made him rethink trying new things, that is sad. Our greatest directors never let a public failure stop their growth. It is very hard to straddle the Thin Red Line between art and commerce, but it has been done. I just don't think Spielberg is on that fence. Great movies, sometimes, great moviemaker, obviously. But no one is going to "rediscover" his work like Douglas Sirk, becaus it is already grain for sheep. Aside from your insight into Empire of the Sun, there's nothing to read into, nothing to think about, and nothing to intelligently discuss (except the quality of the work--not the work itself). It ain't art.

  • Jan. 12, 2000, 1:54 a.m. CST

    it doesn't HAVE to be art

    by Lazarus Long

    I'm just scared that a bunch of little kids who will soon have access to digital cameras will be primarily inspired by Spielberg's work, and that's where their knowledge ends. I'm not warning against the downfall of the film industry, but there is something to be said for film school in that at some point you wind up taking classes where you study the real masters (and I'm not just talking about watching Citizen Kane and analyzing it shot-by-shot). I don't imagine serious film schools having courses like "The Films of Steven Spielberg", but there certainly is something to be gained by being subjected to stuff you may not think to rent on your own. Foreign film is not something that a late 20th century (or early 21st century) adolescent naturally gravitates to. I would have remained in school myself if I didn't feel I had been exposed to enough variety of method. I'll state yet again that there's nothing wrong with being entertained, but the films and books that affect us most are the ones that make us think and reflect. This is something found in greater quantity of films by auteurs. To reference Jambalaya Gumbo's EOTS analysis again, that is just one example, no large achievement. With directors I respect you could write several different papers on EVERY film that they do. Many filmmakers have whole books devoted to the analysis of their work. I'm sure there's one for Spielberg, but this is not what people study to become masters of the art.

  • Jan. 12, 2000, 3:02 a.m. CST

    Our Boy, Spielberg

    by Cyclopentadiene

    Is the work of spielberg art? of course it is!! Just the visuals in his films alone bring it to the level of "art". Could they teach a class on the films of Spielberg? I think so, i'd like to take it if my school offered it! Look at 'the color purple'...Surely the novel is art, So why would a beautiful film telling the same story not be? Previous postings have shown that EOTS is open to interpretation. And certainly Schindler's list and SPR are too. If all you got out of those films was that nazis are bad, well you missed the point. Speaking of Spielberg? Do you guys remember hearing about the guy arrested in Spielberg's house with a knife and duct tape in his possesion, who was there for the purpose of raping Steven? Well anyhoo...I bet THAT guy thinks Steven is an artiste of the highest caliber

  • Jan. 12, 2000, 6:46 a.m. CST

    Spielberg's artistry (response to Agent Coop)

    by Stosslova

    Agent Cooper (good name, by the way - I myself post elsewhere on the net as your colleague, Agent Chet Desmond), The only problem with the Spielberg Second World War films is that I don't think they achieve much beyond their supposed presentation of a reality. "Saving Private Ryan" was heralded for the supposed realism and grit of its opening scene (few think it sustains itself well after this), but I object, as I've said, to the notion that what we see and experience there is anything akin to what it was like, HOWEVER, the masses will leave that film thinking that's what they've experienced. Spielberg doesn't really intimate that it's actually a HELL of a LOT worse than that. Artists (and a good example is the team behind 'Life is Beautiful') use an artistic medium expressly to say something. All Spielberg managed to do was show something - I learnt far more about the horror of war through the stylised impression of it conveyed through 'Life is Beautiful'...they knew it was fruitless just to try and recreate it on a cinema screen, they knew that could only say so much. Spielberg doesn't seem to realise this. What truly does his film tell us about war beyond that sequence? What, that we didn't already know? That's my problem with his 'serious' films. I do, of course, love ET and Close Encounters, because they are honest.

  • Jan. 12, 2000, 1:02 p.m. CST

    Stosslova/Lazarus Long

    by agentcooper

    I've gotta tell you, I really don't understand the point you are trying to make. Are you criticizing Spielberg's WWII films (not Indiana Jones or 1941 obviously) for not being realistic enough? I've never heard an interview with Spielberg wherein he claimed "this is what it was like." I do think an effort was made to insure historical accuracy whenever it was possible in SL and SPR, but it would be ludicrous to suggest that anyone could come out of the theatre thinking they have nothing further to learn about the horrors of war because they have seen these two films. These two films, along with Empire of the Sun, entertained me. They were terrific stories. They also made me want to learn more about this period of world history. So, they worked on two levels. Some of Speilberg's other films (JAWS, CE3K, ET, RAIDERS) are made primarily for entertainment. These are valid works of art as well. Lazarus Long comes down on Spielberg because he feels Spielberg doesn't have an identifiable film technique, or that he borrows too much from others. Honestly, I don't feel I know enough about the technical aspects of film to comment intelligently on this topic. I do know this, however: Speilberg is a master storyteller. He has the ability to make us empathize with what is on the screen. He has the ability to entertain and provoke simultaeously, and he does this with more consistancy than any other director I can think of.

  • Jan. 12, 2000, 3:37 p.m. CST

    more...

    by Lazarus Long

    Let's not use Welles to show the uselessness of film school, because he was a genius and revolutionized not just film, but radio and theatre as well. The film school generation didn't even start until the 70's, when Scosese, Lucas, Spielberg, etc. burst on the scene. Before that there weren't film schools of any note. But the people who came before that were a lot more versed in film history than what you're seeing today. Back to Spielberg---no one is criticizing Steve for not being realistic enough or honest enough, but for better or worse, he's still looking at everything through the naive and innocent eyes of a child. There are no "grown up" statements in his films, just basic observations. And as the previous poster nicely put it, a great artist should attempt to say something with the canvas and position that he/she is lucky to have. Spielberg could do ANYTHING he wants, yet doesn't want to get his hands dirty by taking a stand on anything. He's the Michael Jordan of Hollywood. And seeing someone with that much $$$ and clout playing it so straight is a little said. That's a harsh comparison, I know, Jordan is an evil fuck whose only goal in life seems to be endorsing every product known to man. Anyone remember when a African-American running against Jesse Helms asked for Jordan's support, to which Jordan replied "Republicans buy shoes too." Way to watch the bottom like, Mike. Scumbag.

  • Jan. 12, 2000, 5:14 p.m. CST

    Grown up Statements...

    by agentcooper

    In your previous post, you indicate that Spielberg's films do not contain any "'grown up' statements". I'm not sure I understand what you mean. Could you provide us with an example of a "grown up statement?"

  • Jan. 12, 2000, 5:15 p.m. CST

    Grown up Statements...

    by agentcooper

    Lazarus Long: In your previous post, you indicate that Spielberg's films do not contain any "'grown up' statements". I'm not sure I understand what you mean. Could you provide us with an example of a "grown up statement?"

  • Jan. 12, 2000, 11:22 p.m. CST

    Re: film school/Agent Cooper

    by Lazarus Long

    Most of what I learned about film didn't come from school either. But as you put it, one must watch a lot of film, different types of films, in order to make good films. Now Spielberg has seen a lot of films himself, but why does his work reflect only that? As for Agent Cooper and "grown-up statements", let's not bicker over semantics. I know many here didn't enjoy The Thin Red Line (imagine them trying to watch Koyanisquatsi or however it's spelled), but I admired more what Malick was trying to explore in his film than Spielberg's cliched episodic format. It was childish. I don't know how else to put it. The bookends of Saving Private Ryan serve as an example of how Spielberg makes his points. Broadly and awkwardly sentimental. I enjoy his lighthearted films as entertainment; Jaws is one of my favorite films. But when he tries to go serious he exposes himself as the underdeveloped filmmaker with nothing new or insightful to say. So why bother making a socially conscious film? To show you care? Self-serving...this is the guy who had the nerve to tell an interviewer how he often donates to charities anonymously so no one will know he does (thereby blowing his "cover"), and was rightfully chastized for it. Now Terrence Malick has a degree in Philosophy so maybe there's not a fair comparison, but let's even compare Close Encounters with Star Wars. Yeah CC3K (as I stated before, Spielberg paid others to let him have sole writing credit) shows the "wonder" of alien contact, but look how Lucas was exploring Campbell's mythology with his work. Much deeper, and we can even look at THX-1138 which is very European, and tackles some ideas that Spielberg still wouldn't be able to come up with alone. The world is still a better place with his films, but what's bothering me is the mislabelling. You guys don't have to be so defensive about the work, just recognize that there aren't other filmmakers who are led to epiphanies from viewing his work (unless it's of the monetary kind). The people that other directors view as influences are the ones that cause them to question the medium itself, the world, themselves, etc. How can you say with a straight face (or keyboard) that Spielberg does this for any new filmmakers?