Harry's Non-Spoiler Comments on Moriarty's A.I. Review
Hey folks, Harry here... Last night, as soon as Moriarty got back to the Labs, I called him. I was dying to find out what he thought about A.I.
Was it to hear the ravings of a cynical ass? No, it was to hear from a friend that loves Spielberg films as only those that remember the euphoria over Steven's first decade can. People like Moriarty and I... we're nearing our thirties. Our earliest cinematic memories tend to be sitting with our parents and watching Robert Shaw being eaten by a shark... Or remembering Richard Dreyfuss leave his family to pursue his dreams of a flat-topped mountain and the lights in the sky. We remember walking into a theater and having RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK happen to us...
Now contrary to popular opinion... we did know these movies were coming... We read magazines like STARLOG and CINEFEX and CINEMAFANTASTIQUE... We were taught the language of cinema by folks like John Carpenter, John Landis, George Lucas and above all others Steven Spielberg. At the time, Scorsese and Kubrick and Copolla... well to pre-teen eyes, they made movies for grown-ups... Spielberg made movies for everyone... and he made them better than anyone had before. He made us want to be around film, be a part of film... smell it, feel it and bathe in the rich colors of it all.
They were the gateway filmmakers to the 'harder stuff' which as we matured.... well we moved on to.... we sought out. This is very much a brotherhood that wee film geeks share. Those 4 filmmakers.... above all others, we wish the best upon. We hope for the best from. And with every fiber of our beings we await their next film. This is why Moriarty (Drew) and I are the best of friends.
Drew was so excited to see A.I. he wanted to know everything and nothing... the real reason he had Mongo run over those two people and get those tickets was to see it before he read too much. He wanted to have the film HAPPEN to him.
Two days ago, I read Todd McCarthy's review in Variety out loud to Drew.... skipping all the spoilers and only quoting the parts that would in no way endanger the integrity of the film for him. Through the AOL TALK function I could hear little geekgasms come from Drew. The dream of Spielberg making the pinnacle film of his career as McCarthy was inferring literally shook him to the core. He was in love. In love with the film sight unseen. All the coy ways that the Ansen, McCarthy and Corliss reviews played with the film... teased the reader... and never daring to even begin to fully analyze the work... well... Drew was set to see, not an adequate film... not a good film... But for a great work of cinema that will gain in prominence with each passing year.
The voice I heard through my computer last night was the sound of a friend that had just gone through a divorce. A friend who's hero was stripped bare before him. He didn't take Kubrick with him into the theater.... He took Spielberg. CLOSE ENCOUNTERS, DUEL, JAWS, RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK... those films.... SCHINDLER'S LIST, SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, even AMISTAD... Drew carried EMPIRE OF THE SUN in there with him. He took the films that made Spielberg Spielberg.... Not Kubrick.
Trying to get him to talk about the film was like pulling teeth. It was like asking a friend, "Why'd she leave you?" This wasn't hatred or revenge... it was sorrow... profound sorrow and heartbreak.
IT'S JUST A MOVIE
Ok... if you have a job out there in the world with no media relations... no connections to Hollywood... no aspirations to go to make movies... and you are a passive filmgoer... someone that treats movies as a hobby only... like a trip to the local tavern. Ok, I could see that.
But to someone like Drew, watching one of the reasons you got into filmmaking fail in your eyes... To be less than what the dream of him could be... That hurts. Does this mean Spielberg is dead as a filmmaker... that A.I. will be terrible... that you won't be able to hope for a film ever again? No. Not at all. Hell, you may even love the film.
I tell you how I look at going to see A.I. I'm dying to see it still. do I think it is going to suck? No. Will I be taking CEOTTK and ROTLA and JAWS into the screening with me? No. I'd say about 15 years ago I stopped taking Spielberg's best films (in my opinion) into a theater with me. Steven became a different type of filmmaker. He ceased being about people like you and me... ceased being about working class people that live in normal neighborhoods experiencing amazing things... and became a filmmaker about Hollywood and the politics therein.
Steven makes films about 'the beautiful people' now. The world up in the hills with amazing views, not the world where the houses on either side of the street look the same. The themes of his films have changed radically. He has been making, for quite some time, movies about the affluent taking the unfortunate on an extraordinary journey.
Steven made SCHINDLER'S LIST, which was about a rich and powerful industrialist helping the unfortunate. JURASSIC PARK, which was about a rich and powerful industrialist paying for the company of 'experts' on an investment. AMISTAD, ultimately became about a former President... again a rich and powerful man, helping the less fortunate to achieve freedom. HOOK is about a rich man empowering himself to again... help little lost children against the tyranny of the world. SAVING PRIVATE RYAN was about a government ordering men to help an unfortunate family.
His last 'working class' film was ALWAYS, and he had already lost the vision for what that world was. Ultimately that is why it did not resonate and a major shift in his art came to be.
I have said my adieus to the Spielberg of my dreams many years ago. And I stuck out my hand to meet the Spielberg of today. And I find him endlessly fascinating. It is getting to peek inside the head of an artist that can indulge every whim. Who admits he couldn't make a film without all the brick-a-brac of BIG MOVIE MAKING. A filmmaker that admits he couldn't make CLOSE ENCOUNTERS today because he's changed.
We currently have a filmmaker in transition in Spielberg... his producing instincts are astoundingly sharp... He recognizes talent like a great hound dog picking up the scent... He has great tastes when it comes to others' work, but he... Steven as a filmmaker, well that is evolving, changing... and is fluctuating constantly. I'm enthralled. Why?
Well, I tend to look at things with a perspective of LONG VIEW... To give you an idea.... Look at the life of any great artist.... watch the shifts... the changes... when it was great, when there was trouble, how failure affected them, how success affected them... What period of their career was the most POPULAR? What period was LEAST Popular? Which did I like more?
Some people love early DALI, some the middle DALI and still others prefer the showman DALI. And I know people that can't stand one part of that career at all... that feel he lost it when he began to crank out the work at the end of his career... Me? I find it all fascinating.
Currently we have a Spielberg that makes movies to 'do a film with ____________'. A movie with Tom Hanks, Tom Cruise, Robin Williams, Stanley Kubrick, Harrison Ford... etc.... It has ceased to be about a genre or type of film... but about the people he would be working with. That's a radical shift... and I find the collaborative Spielberg interesting to no end.
I see his films as 'the next film presented to an audience'. And I may very well love it as being what it is that Steven is presenting. We'll see in a week or so.
My dear Moriarty? Well, he wrote that extensive review because the fact is no critique of the film thus far has written about A.I. in an analytical fashion. Every review has skirted discussing the 'issues' of the film... at some level this was to 'preserve' the mystery of the film. Which is why Moriarty put the SPOILER WARNINGS on the piece. But his criticism was not in joy... not as a Ha Ha I knew Spielberg would suck sort of thing. But because he had to let out how he was feeling. He couldn't not speak what's on his mind, he'd read other reviews that seemed to have a grand ol time of that.
He wrote a review for those that made the film, that have seen the film and those that want a step by step deconstruction of one of the most anticipated films of recent memory by cineastes.
He honestly has no idea how I'll look at the film, only that he can't wait to fully discuss it... argue it... whatever the case may be. Drew and I often see eye to eye and often disagree passionately. As do you with us and we with you. But remember, at no point does he tell you not to see the film, it's important to see... good, bad... Spielberg is one of the premiere filmmakers in the world, and his work helps shape the perceptions we have on life, art and the world around us. Even when his films aren't quite all they could be. See you in line....