Friday, October 13, 2017

You've Read The Book, Now See The Movie

No sooner do I finish Molly Haskell on Stephen Spielberg than I catch the HBO documentary on the same subject.  Featuring interviews with the man himself and numerous big names who worked with him, as well as footage from his movies, it does a good job giving you a feeling for both the man and his work.

The story is told chronologically, for the most part, with his films dominating over his private life.  Even with a career like Spielberg's, it's a bit long at two and a half hours. It's also highly positive, though it stops short of hagiography.

It made me think about his accomplishments.  Is there any director (let's not even get into his producing) in Hollywood history who can compare to him--someone who's had both gigantic hits and significant films, and sometime both?

Look at the list: Jaw, Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, Raiders Of The Lost Ark, E.T., Jurassic Park, Schindler's List, Saving Private Ryan, Catch Me If You Can, Lincoln.

A lot of directors would be glad just to have done the films that are his secondary (according to me) efforts: The Color Purple, Empire Of The Sun, Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade, Amistad, A.I., Minority Report, War Of The Worlds, Munich, Bridge Of Spies and so on.

He's a natural-born filmmaker who speaks in the language of cinema (though he also proves to be fairly articulate in his interview). But it's not as if he has no flaws. For instance, he often has extended codas which he may believe lends something extra-special to his films, but generally weakens the overall effect.  He also has certain themes, such as the break-up of the family, that he has trouble taking head on so he has to hide behind genre.

But at his best, and even second-best, he's something special.  Now 70, he maintains a busy pace.  Soon he'll be releasing The Post and Ready Player One.  I'm looking forward to both.

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