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Disco Stu

SPIELBERG, Upcoming HBO documentary

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I thought the whole point of the documentary was to address the highs and lows of his career. Disappointing (and predictable) that two of his biggest flops would be completely omitted. Hook, especially, which became such a fascinating mess of a production. I'd love to see an Alien 3-esque documentary on that film one day.

 

I had a chuckle listening to Spielberg the other day claiming he's never worked with a "diva" on one of his films. Erm, has he forgotten about a certain actress on Hook?

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18 minutes ago, crumbs said:

I thought the whole point of the documentary was to address the highs and lows of his career. Disappointing (and predictable) that two of his biggest flops would be completely omitted. Hook, especially, which became such a fascinating mess of a production. I'd love to see an Alien 3-esque documentary on that film one day.

 

I had a chuckle listening to Spielberg the other day claiming he's never worked with a "diva" on one of his films. Erm, has he forgotten about a certain actress on Hook?

 

Hook was not one of Spielberg's biggest flops though. It actually made money anyway. I'm assuming they skipped over the film because Spielberg didn't really want to talk about it or something. They also skipped over The Terminal though, I'm assuming they just saw it as a minor "lightweight" "forgotten" Spielberg film, and didn't feel the need to talk about it, despite it being a collaboration between him and Hanks. 

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There are career lows and then there's Hook. It's better to keep it forgotten. 

 

Plus, what would you say about Hook now without dwelling too much on Robin Williams? If you say nothing, Robin fans will be pissed. Linger too long and you shift the focus. Better to just ignore it. 

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Well they did cover / mention 1941 after all, which is generally considered Spielberg's lowest point by most, both financially and critically. 

 

It's a documentary, and Hook is hardly one of Spielberg's "forgotten film" unlike say Always. I would have been more interested in him talking about it. Good or bad, I usually like hearing behind the scenes stories especially if they're from one of my favorite filmmakers. It can often be interesting, regardless of the film.

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10 minutes ago, crumbs said:

I had a chuckle listening to Spielberg the other day claiming he's never worked with a "diva" on one of his films. Erm, has he forgotten about a certain actress on Hook?

What do you have against Maggie Smith?

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I thought that scene was completely harmless. I've seen worst in "family" films anyway. 


Also watching the documentary, reminded me I need to see Empire of The Sun again. That movie is excellent, and possibly his most underrated. 

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9 minutes ago, Fancyarcher said:

I thought that scene was completely harmless. I've seen worst in "family" films anyway. 


Also watching the documentary, reminded me I need to see Empire of The Sun again. That movie is excellent, and possibly his most underrated. 

Agreed.  I've seen worse stuff in acclaimed Pixar films.  

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8 minutes ago, Not Mr. Big said:

Agreed.  I've seen worse stuff in acclaimed Pixar films.  

 

I'm a big Pixar fan, and that's a little too much for me, but I do think some scenes from Cars 2 are much worse. Eh otherwise!!! 

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2 hours ago, Fancyarcher said:

Animation's a completely different ballpark from live-action though. 

 

Hmmm. Selecting a story, making sure the voices and drawings convey what you want, with the proper lighting and music to set the tone, making sure it all flows. Yup, I can see how you think they're totally different. 

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25 minutes ago, Woj said:

 

Hmmm. Selecting a story, making sure the voices and drawings convey what you want, with the proper lighting and music to set the tone, making sure it all flows. Yup, I can see how you think they're totally different. 

 

Of course animated films are done similar to live-action films, when it comes to many aspects, I never claimed that. I'm talking more about the story process / animation. Animated movies usually have co-directors who help with overseeing the production as well. Also hundreds of people can work on an animated movie, doing things like animation rigging. It's a bit different from live-action directing, even with the use of CGI characters for example. 

 

My sister works at blue-skies, so I've actually been lucky to get a first hand look at how a typical animation studio works. It was a fun experience. 

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If he does, I'm afraid he won't be able to handle it all anymore. 

 

"RPO another flop for Spielberg."

 

*"la la la la land, I can't hear you la la la la la".

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This documentary was a mammoth disappointment.

 

Sure some candid moments were unveiled, but this whole project screams of lip service and sycophantism. God, can the guy ever do any wrong? I guess not, according to this puff piece.

 

I usually like biographies being a bit more hard-hitting, especially when someone like Spielberg's life and career has so much juice to offer, whether it's the directorial authorship dispute on Poltergeist, the Twilight Zone accident and it's impact on his friendship with John Landis, the problems making Hook, etc.

 

But no, only the good things about dear leader.

 

The more intimate and revealing material about his early family life was news to me though. His decades-long tift with his father over something that wasn't even his fault suggests Spielberg has a penchant for personal melodramatic hysterics, which has seeped into his films in the form of uncomfortable domestic disputes in all their rawness. I'm like "Seriously? You couldn't get over this and resolve this bizarre daddy issue a lot sooner?"

 

Otherwise, this thing was a letdown.

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Good lucking finding anyone in Hollywood who is willing to go on record as saying anything remotely negative about Spielberg. At least anyone who wants to continue to have a career (just ask Shia LaBeouf).

 

 

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10 hours ago, Nick1066 said:

Good lucking finding anyone in Hollywood who is willing to go on record as saying anything remotely negative about Spielberg. At least anyone who wants to continue to have a career (just ask Shia LaBeouf).

 

 

And Megan Fox. 

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9 hours ago, Baby Jane Hudson said:

What did Megan and Mutt say about him?

 

Shia LaBeouf basically said Indy IV sucked (it did), and I think Shia LaBeouf might have even criticised it while it was still in theatres (which Shia LaBeouf shouldn't have done), which understandably didn't sit will with Spielberg.  Shia LaBeouf also later said something along the lines that working on a Spielberg film was a soul crushing experience and that Spielberg is more of a businessman than director now, and that his film sets are like factories.

 

So yeah, while Thor may appreciate this kind of Horner like "bluntness" when talking about colleagues, I find Shia LaBeouf to be a putz, and have never cared for Shia LaBeouf as a person or actor. That said, I do think there's probably some truth to Shia LaBeouf's characterisation of how Spielberg works these days.

 

Unlike Shia LaBeouf, I don't think Megan Fox criticised Spielberg directly, but she did have a go at the Transformers franchise (which deserves it) and compared Michael Bay to Hitler (yes, really). Again, stupid to say these things publicly. She's not Meryl Streep, has zero clout of her own, and Spielberg reportedly demanded she be fired.

 

9 hours ago, Jay said:

I saw this was on HBO Now but... 2 1/2 hours...ugh

 

2.5 hours? Yeah, too long. I'm somewhat interested in this, but given that it's apparently a fluff piece w/o much new info, and way long, I'll probably wait until a rainy day to catch it.

 

Of course, I'm in England, so....

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Your sad devotion to Transformers is a blemish on what is otherwise a solid genre fan rep.

 

Renounce this awful franchise and I'll be proud to call you brother!

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I think I became sick to death of Spielberg's daddy issues by the time I first saw War of the Worlds when it came out. I was like "Dude... your parents split up, shit happens, get over it!" -- but evidently this mature man just couldn't let this go and insisted on beating a dead horse by persisting to exhibit the dirty laundry of his formative years. Boo hoo, grab the violin.

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5 hours ago, Baby Jane Hudson said:

I think I became sick to death of Spielberg's daddy issues by the time I first saw War of the Worlds when it came out. I was like "Dude... your parents split up, shit happens, get over it!" -- but evidently this mature man just couldn't let this go and insisted on beating a dead horse by persisting to exhibit the dirty laundry of his formative years. Boo hoo, grab the violin.

 

The most offensive was perhaps in Hook. It was the way Spielberg made Peter out to be a deadbeat dad for being a workaholic. What? He was providing for his family! Working = bad.

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And in Jurassic Park, Alan Grant rightfully can't stand kids, but conveniently the experience at the park somehow readies him for fatherhood. What kind of bullshit is that?

 

Then in The Lost World, Ian Malcolm has a kid, because Spielberg's lead character just needs a damn kid, right?

 

More of this shows up in Twilight Zone, ToD (to an extent), Last Crusade, AI, Minority Report, KotCS, a little bit in Lincoln but thank god it wasn't the focus in the story.

 

I bet it's all done on purpose. He did get over it decades ago, but decided he'd annoy everyone about it by making a trope in his films. Sounds like someone who can't stop telling people he has erectile dysfunction.

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Indiana Jones became a professor and archaeological explorer to impress his old man. But he did chop off those luscious locks and started murdering people, so he gets a pass.

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I just saw this.

 

I've seen dozens of Spielberg-related documentaries, and read about just as many Spielberg books over the years, but I think this is the best Spielberg documentary so far. There's very little here that us hardcore fans don't already know, but I think it's about the closest we've been to him as a person. It's very intriguing to see how that has informed his creative output over the years. Especially the childhood bits were great. I like the fact that it's more organized out of themes, and not in a strict, tried-and-true chronological fashion. Finally, I also loved it when it got a bit more technical, down to detail level on the films.

 

Alas, it doesn't cover ALL of his films. It covers pretty much everything up untill INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE, but after that becomes more selective in terms of what it wants to stress. ALWAYS, THE LOST WORLD and THE TERMINAL don't even have a single shot in the whole film, much less a reference (although a interview snippets with Holly Hunter is included, about Spielberg in general). Nor are his two documentaries referenced.

 

I'd love to see a Spielberg documentary that was made JUST for the hardcore fans at some point; i.e. ONLY his obscure stuff, from his childhood films through his TV work in more detail and dwelling on the less-talked-about movies he's done.

 

Williams features much too little in the film. If they conducted a special interview with him for this film, I'd LOVE to see the outtakes.

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And everyone should know that Spielberg had no input in this film whatsoever beyond being an interviewee.  He has stated outright that he was in no way involved in the editing and didn't see a final cut or anything.

 

So if something wasn't included it doesn't necessarily mean he wasn't willing to talk about it.  In the past he has shown to be more willing than most filmmakers to talk honestly about his failures.

 

12 minutes ago, Thor said:

I just saw this.

 

I've seen dozens of Spielberg-related documentaries, and read about just as many Spielberg books over the years, but I think this is the best Spielberg documentary so far. There's very little here that us hardcore fans don't already know, but I think it's about the closest we've been to him as a person.

 

Yes, not much we didn't know but what made this special was the access the filmmakers had to he and his family.

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And what genes he has! Leah passed away this year, but she lived to be 97. Arnold is presently 100 years old. So expect three more decades of Spielberg movies -- at LEAST!

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2 minutes ago, Thor said:

And what genes he has! Leah passed away this year, but she lived to be 97. Arnold is presently 100 years old. So expect three more decades of Spielberg movies -- at LEAST!

 

Let the Spielberg/Silvestri/Newman Collaboration commence!

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26 minutes ago, Thor said:

ALWAYS, THE LOST WORLD and THE TERMINAL don't even have a single shot in the whole film

 

A single shot of those films should never have been made in the first place.

 

And none of those films are crucial in understanding Spielberg's work. One is an (inferior) sequel and the other two are both unremarkable and forgettable. I can understand why some completists might want to know everything there is about them, but spending time on them would take away from something more deserving...and the film is long as it is.

 

And the reason Spielberg's early work is covered in more detail is b/c his earlier work is what made Spielberg Spielberg. He was more of a filmmaker then and less of the Hollywood mogul he would become by the time THE TERMINAL came around.  The stories surrounding the making of the earlier films are more engaging, and insightful, than the machine like way movies like BFG were ultimately put out.  

 

If Spielberg spent the last 20 years putting out the kind of movies he put out the first 20, the focus of the doc might be different. 

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Just because the stories are less glamorous or dramatic doesn't mean I don't want to hear them personally, as someone who is incredibly interested in all phases of his career as my favorite filmmaker.  He's still making daily creative decisions making these latter-day movies and I'd be fascinated to hear his thoughts and reflections on them.  A.I. is worth as much screentime as Close Encounters IMO.  Certainly as the only other movie for which he is solely credited for the screenplay.

 

JUSTICE FOR BRIDGE OF SPIES

 

By the way, @Thor you might be interested in this recent book by the film critic Molly Haskell.

 

It's part of Yale University Press' "Jewish Lives" biography series.  She goes through film by film (and includes every film) and especially analyzes them as manifestations of his relationship (or non-relationship) with his faith and family heritage/core beliefs.  Very interesting!  I've been slowly making my way through it (got it from the library).

 

https://www.amazon.com/Steven-Spielberg-Films-Jewish-Lives/dp/0300186932

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Thanks for the tip, Disco Stu. My favourite of my Spielberg books (my "Spielberg bible", if you will) is still Douglas Brode's 1995 book THE FILMS OF STEVEN SPIELBERG (the first book I read that charted his stylistic and thematic traits). It informed my own high school thesis on him, even. But I'm always open to more material, especially if they are unusual angles.

 

24 minutes ago, Nick1066 said:

 

A single shot of those films should never have been made in the first place.

 

Oh, I couldn't disagree more. Love all of them. ALWAYS and THE TERMINAL are straight up odes to the likes of Frank Capra, Howard Hawks and Victor Fleming (in the case of ALWAYS obviously because it was a remake of a Fleming movie). Especially in the staging and cinematography. In fact, that's one of the aspects I missed from the documentary; Spielberg's play with his Hollywood director favourites -- even evident as late as BRIDGE OF SPIES (that ending is like it's taken straight out of a Capra movie). I kinda expected that when the documentary was introduced with his love for LAWRENCE OF ARABIA.

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I think the point is, we all have our individual favorites that might not be considered among Spielberg's classics...whether it's AI or The Terminal. But you can't fault the filmmakers for focusing on the movies the most people are most interested in.  This is HBO, not a film class.  And the people who are deeply interested in Spielberg's lesser known films have no doubt already learned everything there is to know about them. 

 

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12 minutes ago, Nick1066 said:

I think the point is, we all have our individual favorites that might not be considered among Spielberg's classics...whether it's AI or The Terminal. But you can't fault the filmmakers for focusing on the movies the most people are most interested in.  This is HBO, not a film class.  And the people who are deeply interested in Spielberg's lesser known films have no doubt already learned everything there is to know about them. 

 

 

True, but that still doesn't remove my desire for a Spielberg documentary of that particular kind.

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I know this will likely be an incredibly unpopular opinion around here, but I can't say I'm a huge fan of Spielberg's output the last 20 years.  He's certainly made some fine, critically acclaimed films, many of which I've enjoyed. And no one would question that he's still an incredibly competent, talented director. But I can't say there's anything that's been truly great in the second half of his career. And by truly great I mean approaching the inspired genius that made Spielberg what he is.

 

Yes, I know everyone has their favourites they individually regard as classics post 1997, whether it's Munich or Bridge of Spies or Lincoln. But to me those films are merely very good, not inspired and certainly not influential.  I think the last truly influential movie he made was arguably Minority Report, and before that SPR.  

 

The other thing for me is, I personally don't care for Kamiński's cinematography, which is obviously a key part of all of Spielberg's latter work. And frankly I think Spielberg's reliance on him and Williams, talented as they may be, has limited his growth as an artist, and I think it would have benefitted him to work more with people who brought different things to the table and pushed his boundaries a bit. His films just feel very safe to me now and don't take a lot of risks. 

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It makes no difference to me how influential a movie is.  I have a deep love for many of his recent films.  A.I., Minority Report, Catch Me If You Can, Lincoln, and Bridge of Spies all sit comfortably beside his established classics in my imagination.  And I'm fascinated by the (relative) failures.  I've invested myself in his work and career so my opinion isn't really relatable for most people though.

 

And I've always gotten the impression that Thor and I are in the minority with our love of latter-day Spielberg.  I think your opinion is the more common, actually.  Maybe I'm wrong.  I have talked at length in the past about why I think BoS is a brilliant work of cinema and I don't feel like doing it again.  I only get made fun of anyway :( 

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