« David Markson: some notes and selections | Main | They're coming to take me away, ha ha? »

June 06, 2010


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


Better to look like Spielberg, I suppose, than Jonah Hill...


Is he sitting next to Martin Mull?


Jeff Wells is going to love that Jonah Hill picture.

The Jake Leg Kid

I'm imagining your pal starring in the American remake of Kiarostami's CLOSE-UP. Will Smith's son would co-star as the kid who puts your friend back in touch with his inner child and reminds him of the true magic of movies. The real Mr. Spielberg would appear at the film's climax to give your tearful, grateful friend the $200 million needed to complete the film project he and the kid have been collaborating on - a live action version of "The Snorks".

John M

"Actually, I agree, Kate Capshaw's a terrible actress...Short-Round? That kid's been locked in my basement for years..."

Jeff McMahon

By the way, this picture also demonstrates, for anyone who didn't already know, that Antonio Villaraigosa is a tool.


I second that, Jeff. Yeesh.


Is your friend Señor Spielbergo?

Dan Coyle

"The Movies I make are for idiots"

Well that explains Miniority Report. And Terminal. And A.I. And The Lost World. And...


"By the way, this picture also demonstrates, for anyone who didn't already know, that Antonio Villaraigosa is a tool."

Is that Mr. Thumbs up who looks vaguely like Arnold on chemo?

Jeff McMahon

I would have described him as a Jersey Shore cast member thirty years later, but yes.

And I can't let an anti-Spielberg comment go uncommented on - A.I. and Minority Report were two of the smartest blockbuster-type movies of the last decade (feel free to rag on The Terminal, if you like).

Dan Coyle

Minority Report I can understand liking- but A.I. was a plotless, illogical, formless mess.

Jeff McMahon

We'll have to disagree, I thought it was the best film he's made in the last 15 years, and my favorite of 2001.

Glenn Kenny

I can't leave my man Jeff hanging here; I am a longtime admirer of "A.I." and I've got a lot of regard for "Minority Report" as well. And I think "Catch Me If You Can" is some kind of masterpiece. Nice three-film run, that. I'll discuss in more detail at a more apt time.

Sal C

I was just discussing with a friend how much I loved A.I. and how I think the whole experience (working so closely with Kubrick's...um..."ideas") turned Spielberg into a better filmmaker for awhile there. Minority Report and Catch Me If You Can were ambiguous and decidedly more thought-provoking than most of his work. And then it all wore off and he went back to being the technically proficient hack he's always been.

John M

I'll third that sentiment. A.I. Is a haunting masterpiece, and holds up extremely well. "Plotless"? "Illogical"? Sir, try it on again.


"A.I." is a fascinating failure. It has splendid elements and Osment was an amazing kid but finally it's incoherent.

Dan Coyle

I'm in total agreement with Glenn that Catch Me If You Can is a masterpiece, though. He really gets some dynamite performances out of DiCaprio and Hanks.


AI is flawed, but still extraordinary. It's one of the very few pure SF films I've seen. WAR OF THE WORLDS and MUNICH was a pretty stunning one-two punch, as well. MUNICH, in particular, was one the best directed films of his career.

The Jake Leg Kid

Does Steven Spielberg really need defending from a little light mockery? I ask this question in all seriousness. On the one hand, A.I. is a wonderful film, and Spielberg certainly deserves all the credit in the world for making something so thoughtful and moving, even challenging. On the other hand, Spielberg did executive produce both TRANSFORMERS movies. More to the point, Spielberg wields the power of a god in Hollywood; indeed, the gap in power between himself and the individual ridiculing him is so vast that it can't even be measured. No offense, but the last thing the powerful figures in our culture need is LESS ridicule. When it all comes down to it, I can't help but question reflexively identifying with and leaping to defend the honor of someone who wields such influence and might.


Spielberg the man doesn't need protecting. But the status of AI as masterpiece/failure is a longstanding debate. I do find it hard loving AI and hating Saving Private Ryan, I'm almost always on the minority when discussing them. And I enjoyed Terminal.

S. Porath

I think it's kinda fascinating, the decade Spielberg had. 7 films. Chronologically, it comes to 3 great ones (okay, maybe Minority Report is just hover in the vicinity of greatness), 1 good one (The Terminal) and 3 failures (to varying extents). Unforunately, I don't get the sense that Tintin is going to significantly change this trend.

Owain Wilson

I've always thought of Minority Report as the best Mission: Impossible film. If you think about it, Minority Report and the first and last Mission: Impossibles are pretty much identical. Cruise leads a crack team of crime fighters. He is then hunted by his own people. Turns out his kindly boss/friend was behind it all. Oops!

Anyway, I find that Spielberg's 21st century films are hit and miss. The best is probably Munich, which improves beautifully as time passes, and the worst is easily The Terminal. Boy that was hard to sit through. I saw it on opening day, and the near the end of the film a lady somewhere the auditorium rather loudly voiced what the rest of the weary audience was thinking: "Jesus, will you just leave the fucking airport!" Much chortling ensued.

S. Porath

M:I 1&3 and MR Identical? They're all thrillers. Putting J.J. Abrams in the same company as Spielberg and DePalma is a rather questionable act (I'm reminded of DePalma's dry put-down of Gore Verbinski), and thematically there's very little to compare the films.

Owain Wilson

Of course, they're not literally identical. But they do share pretty much the same storyline, twist, and star.

As for putting J.J. Abrams in the same company as Spielberg and DePalma ... well, I didn't really. But all three films I mentioned are studio genre movies, two of which belong to a major franchise, so both Abrams and DePalma were directors-for-hire on those particular gigs. And let's not be precious about this, DePalma's Mission was a completely average film. So were the sequels, but Abrams made the most entertaining and fun entry in the series. It's Mission: Impossible, remember, not a personal work of art.

Abrams has only directed two films, both of which were blockbuster flicks. They were pretty good fun. It's not really fair to compare the man to Spielberg or DePalma, both of whom have long, varied and interesting filmographies. But since you made the comparison I'll point out that Star Trek is better than Mission To Mars, Mission: Impossible, Snake Eyes, and The Bonfire Of The Vanities. And Mission: Impossible III is better than The Lost World, Hook, The Terminal, Indiana Jones IV, and 1941.

S. Porath

Disagree with alot of those preferenances, but either way, in terms of filmmaking skill- of making sequences, scenes and shots, Abrams is more or less effective, where as Spielberg and DePalma are masters. Look at the way Star Trek cuts together as opposed to Catch Me if You Can or Mission: Impossible...there is no comparison. There is something inately cinematic about everything DePalma and Spielberg do, even when one finds the ideas they're tackling insipid.

And Mission: Impossible may not be personal, but it has a hell of a lot of personality. Star Trek is very likable, but in a bland sort of way. All good intentions done well enough (and really wonderful effects concepts). But whose personality is up there?

Owain Wilson

We could discuss the relative merits of these three directors forever, but honestly we haven't got enough pens.

I was just making a light-hearted observation about Minority Report and Mission: Impossible parts I and III, nothing more. They are remarkably - I'd say disappointingly - similar.

Account Deleted

Looking forward to a new piece on A.I. from you Glenn. I still go back and re-read your defence of it in Premiere from time to time.

Account Deleted

I still don't get the Abrams love. There's not one cinematically interesting thing going on in MI:3 or Star Trek. At least in Spielberg's lesser work like The Lost World there are still some incredible setpieces that revel in the possibilities of cinema.


Star Trek isn't that exceptional except for one sequence - The jump to the drill is wonderful (and much better than anything in The Lost World in my opinion). And Sulu holding that sword confidentally when you say to yourself - "That's right, he said fencing" - is funny and invigorating.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Tip Jar

Tip Jar
Blog powered by Typepad