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Steven Spielberg: Cinematic Genius or Overrated 'Has Been'?

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Placebo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-12-04 08:38 PM
Original message
Poll question: Steven Spielberg: Cinematic Genius or Overrated 'Has Been'?
Edited on Sun Dec-12-04 08:45 PM by Placebo
None of his movies of late have been very, err, good in my opinion. But then there's evidence of his genius in films like Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan.

Sorry, polls are turned off at Level 3.

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madison2000 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-12-04 08:40 PM
Response to Original message
1. Still the best storyteller around
and very versatile.
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unblock Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-12-04 08:44 PM
Response to Original message
2. can't i vote both?
his genius lies primarily in heavy-handed emotional manipulation on all fronts. most notably, his were the first musical scores to truly reach into the audience's tear ducts and extract the desired response, leaving you with that empty, manipulated feeling one usually associates with a visit to the local hooker....
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WMliberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-12-04 10:01 PM
Response to Reply #2
10. um, the musical scores weren't his
give the credit to John Williams. He wrote the music.
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Ron Green Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-12-04 10:06 PM
Response to Reply #10
11. John Williams is to music writing as Spielberg is to filmmaking....
Emotionally manipulative and overwrought. They both know the truth: The good is inversely proportional to the popular. And these guys know how to be popular.

:puke:
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WMliberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-13-04 03:14 PM
Response to Reply #11
23. Only to be succeeded by Hans Zimmer
:puke:
At least they have a talent for scoring orchestral music that doesn't cause a knee-jerk hatred by the country music listening masses. Anything that gets Toby-Keith-listening morans to listen to violins, brass and woodwinds instead is at least marginally supported by me.
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Ron Green Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-13-04 03:42 PM
Response to Reply #23
27. Yes...but I'd much rather hear a score by Ry Cooder (maybe even with some
country music in it) than Williams' overblown schlock.
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Swamp Rat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-14-04 11:48 AM
Response to Reply #23
30. Insiders tell me that Williams doesn't score his own music
Assistants and interns do. Though, you make a good point about the morans. I recommend Bugs Bunny cartoons.
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unblock Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-12-04 10:07 PM
Response to Reply #10
12. duh. but, you don't think spielberg gave him guidelines?
no director turns an artist loose on a score and says, do "whatever you want". or at a minimum, this happens only when the artist developing the score is highly predictable.
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autorank Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-12-04 08:51 PM
Response to Original message
3. Schindlers List is a *Masterpiece* -- a testament to humanity.
Armistad is also brilliant. The rest is shit, I mean really shit. Those stupid ET movies are just children's fantasies. Minority Report is nothing more than a 'get used to it, it's coming' film. The guy knows how to promote himself but his work, outside the two titles mentioned, is nothing more than Hollywood poop.
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DerekG Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-12-04 09:01 PM
Response to Reply #3
7. Um...Five of his films made the AFI's Top 100...
--Schindler's List
--E.T.
--Jaws
--Raiders of the Lost Ark
--Close Encounters of the Third Kind


I hate to break it to you, but all five of the aforementioned films are in the pantheons of their respective genres. Oh, and calling E.T. a "stupid...children's fantas(ies)" places you in a very small minority of filmgoers; E.T. rocks, as does 2/3 of Spielberg's output (I forgive him for 1941, Hook, Always and The Lost World).
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autorank Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-12-04 10:08 PM
Response to Reply #7
15. Well, a minority of Americans think this election was rigged.
As Wittgenstein said, aesthetics ultimately comes down to what you say you like. I'm happy for the back slapping Hollywood community. Schindler's List might be the greatest film ever made, IMHO. Jaws and Raiders are worth the $8.50 because they're fun. The other's up there suck. "Pantheons, what pantheons, I don't need no stinking Pantheons." I don't make my artistic judgments based on authority.

Each to his own.

You post made me wonder when the international market is going to get fed up with the tedious crap coming out of Hollywood. I would see a movie in a theater 2x's a week (and did when I lived in NYC). Now, if I just went to mainstream theaters, I'm luck to go 2x's a month (so I resort to "art" houses).
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sir_captain Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-13-04 01:08 PM
Response to Reply #3
20. Disagree on both accounts
I find Schindler's List to be lousy and am actually offended at portions of it. The Pianist is a much better film in the same genre.

On the other hand, The Indiana Jones films, particularly Raiders of the Lost Ark, are some of the best movies ever made.
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Dorian Gray Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-13-04 03:40 PM
Response to Reply #3
25. I liked
Empire of the Sun. (I just saw it last night for the first time!)

It was a beautiful movie.
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Prisoner_Number_Six Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-12-04 08:52 PM
Response to Original message
4. I'll lay heavy odds he can't remake War Of The Worlds
better than it was- I mean, really. Tom Cruise? What's the man thinking? That in itself guarantees a bit of a box office profit and little more.

There just aren't any greats left, and the only way to make a classic is to remake a classic, which is never EVER as good as the original.
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DrWeird Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-12-04 08:53 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. If you're talking about making a better movie, that won't be hard.
The original movie one of the worst adaptations of a book ever filmed.
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Prisoner_Number_Six Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-12-04 09:00 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. I'd rather listen to the original Orson Welles radio broadcast
but the original movie was pretty good for its time.

Tell me about one single movie that follows the book page, chapter, and verse, and I'll buy it. Hell, they couldn't even do that for Lord Of The Rings!
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DrWeird Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-13-04 12:48 PM
Response to Reply #6
18. It's one thing to change a few scenes, add a few characters, etc.
It's another thing to change the whole concept of the book.
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no_hypocrisy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-12-04 09:23 PM
Response to Original message
8. I still say that "Duel" was his first and best production (1971 starring
Dennis Weaver).

Everything else seems . . . commercial, y'know?
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Magrittes Pipe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-13-04 01:00 PM
Response to Reply #8
19. It's been all downhill since.
I saw that film about a decade ago, and I was RIVETED.
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Muzzle Tough Donating Member (187 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-12-04 09:33 PM
Response to Original message
9. I voted Cinematic Genius.
Because of Jaws, Raiders, and E.T.

But Saving Private Ryan is boring. People claim they love it, but I don't know anyone who watches it over and over and over, like people do with Raiders.

Changing the guns in E.T. into walkie talkies was dumb, stupid, and ridiculous.
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WindRavenX Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-12-04 10:08 PM
Response to Reply #9
14. Re: Saving Private Ryan...
...I thought it was more of a documentary than a plot driven movie and should be viewed with that in mind. "The Thin Red Line" (also released the same year as "Ryan") did a much better job at showing the emotional suffering of war.
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WMliberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-12-04 10:07 PM
Response to Original message
13. i don't see much genius in Spielberg's work in most of the films
he was a part of. Most of them had great screenplays, a good cast, well-written music, HUGE budgets, and basically everything else anyone could ask for. There was enough to make many of his movies great with an empty suit in the directors chair. A lot people attribute to "a great Spielberg film" is due to someone other than him. Give credit to where it's due. If the music is great, then credit the composer. If a story is a credit to humanity, credit the writer. So on and so forth.
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Placebo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-12-04 10:09 PM
Response to Reply #13
16. But it's a a great Spielberg film!
All Spielberg! No one else! JUST Spielberg! He did it all! Without Spielberg, it would be a worthless ball of freeper feces! :crazy:
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TexasBushwhacker Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-12-04 10:28 PM
Response to Reply #13
17. Sorry, but no
Put the wrong director in the chair and you can throw all the money into a project you want and you'll end up with a piece of shit. For one thing, Spielberg knows that if it's not on the page, it's not on the stage. He has the utmost respect for the writer, and if the script needs work, he doesn't start until the script is ready. None of this, "Well we didn't know what the ending was going to be until about 2 weeks before we finished shooting." You've got to know how your story is going to end before you even start writing! I've also never heard any actor complain about working with him, nor have I ever heard of him bad mouthing an actor. Again, it comes back to respect. Speilberg respects all the people it takes to make a film and he respects his audience.
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WMliberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-13-04 03:11 PM
Response to Reply #17
22. and put an even more capable director in the chair
and imagine what those films could have done. Maybe someone with Elia Kazan's talent for bringing more out of an actor. How about someone with Billy Wilder's wit for the long, cynical passages of Saving Private Ryan?
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TexasBushwhacker Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-13-04 08:41 PM
Response to Reply #22
28. Can you choose someone who's making films now?
You know, SOMEONE ALIVE. Not to knock the talents of Kazan and Wilder, but not only are they both dead, neither worked the last 20 - 30 years of their lives. The question was not "greatest director of all time" or overrated has been. I still believe that Spielberg is in a class of very few when it comes to being a solid director who can director a BIG film, with a BIG budget and still remember that it's about the story stupid. You can have great acting, great special effects, and even great editing, but it all comes back to the story.

He is one of the best, if not THE best storyteller we've got, and although SPR isn't my favorite of his films, it's still better than 90% of the other stuff out there. Obviously some of his films are better than others, but since he's not dead yet and does't seem to be looking at retiring any time soon, if I have to choose between "has been" and "genius", I'm still going to say he's closer to genius. He works a heck of a lot, he's already made more films than Wilder or Kazan made in their lifetimes and they made a few stinkers too. I suppose he could have been like Terrence Malick and made a handful of great films, but I think we would have missed out on an awful lot of very good, but not great, films if he had.
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WMliberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-14-04 11:27 AM
Response to Reply #28
29. I could start a nice flame war and say Woody Allen!
but we have so many on the subject here every month, that it'd be trite. Besides, his last dozen or so have been crap. As for others... Tarantino has his moments. He still can't make an entire film great. Frank Oz sucks (I think he should do time for Stepford Wives). Michel Gondry did great work in Eternal Sunshine. I like Alfonso Cuaron. I wouldn't even call him a sell-out for doing Harry Potter; he actually interpretted the books, instead of transposing them to the screen like Columbus did. He also has a talent for drawing roles out of characters. Look what he did with the SHIT screenplay for Great Expectations. Peter Weir is great, although he doesn't direct often enough.

I guess I'm just a glass is half full kind of guy. I see plenty of talent out there, I just don't see them getting the credit like Spielberg does for doing half as good a job.
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TexasBushwhacker Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-14-04 12:16 PM
Response to Reply #29
31. I think it's because of Spielberg's body of work
Edited on Tue Dec-14-04 12:17 PM by TexasBushwhacker
There aren't too many in his class right now. The only one that comes to mind is Coppola, and again, that's in terms of his body of work. I like Cameron Crowe a lot. His strength is really his screenwriting, but his directing is just fine. It's just not something that calls attention to itself. Gus Van Sant is a damn fine director.

I expect Sam Mendes will have a fine body of work when all is said and done decades from now. American Beauty blew me away, and Road to Perdition was great too. With Mendes' stage directing background, I think it's good that he works with very strong, experienced cinematographers, but he IS the director, it's his vision and man he really knows what he's doing. I can only assume that he's very good with his actors, because the actors performances in his films are sublime.

I have to agree with you about Taratino. He's more about great moments than a great film in its entirety, other than Pulp Fiction. That one falls into the great category for me. The Kill Bill movies, and I'm probably inviting the flamethrowers on this one, could have and should have been made into one GREAT tight film. I think he got lazy with his scriptwriting and missed a lot of good opportunities to make it a better film and a better STORY. Enough with the loop-d-loops Quentin. Show us what you can do with a linear plotline, and while you're at it, make a movie that's NOT about criminals. There are other interesting characters out there.
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mitchum Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-13-04 01:15 PM
Response to Original message
21. Sentimental hack
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DerekG Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-13-04 03:31 PM
Response to Original message
24. I've been watching Bergman and Kurosawa films since I was 12...
And I'm not so entrenched in cultural snobbery that I can't admit Spielberg is as great a director as Hitchcock and Scorsese. You'll usually find Spielberg-haters frequenting the fine arts centers at college campuses, wearing French berets...because they're so complex and all.
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sir_captain Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-13-04 03:40 PM
Response to Reply #24
26. Spielberg is in love with himself
and it shows whenever he tries to make "art." I think his popcorn movies are terrific, but he should leave film as art to those who have the talent for it.

Saving Private Ryan, other than its visceral "realness" is a pretty lousy film, with one-dimensional characters and atrocious dialogue ("eaaaaarn it.")

Schindler's List is overly melodramatic and, in my opinion, has some morally questionable moments.

On the other hand, Raiders of the Lost Ark kicks ass.
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