The shot of cruise standing in front of the Merry Ground from Minority Report immediately reminded me of a GIF I made from François Truffaut’s 400 Blows. Both shots are made for the animated GIF, which is indicative of a sign of compelling filmmaking for me these days.
In fact, while watching Minority Report this time around I had fun realizing how many of his props and shots were quoting others classic films. Below are just a few examples I recall, but I want to watch it again for more. This film not only nails a near-futuristic aesthetic better than most, but it’s also veritable film allusion fest. Reading movies is fun, and I have to hand it to Minority Report, it is chock full of quotes. I just know there are a ton of noir references I missed on this go round, but that’s what will make watching this film again that much more fun.
Anyway, all this to say that more and more I am gaining a much deeper respect for some of the later Spielberg films, particularly this film, Munich (2005), War of the Worlds (2005), and last year’s Lincoln (I intentionally avoided Crystal Skull and Tintin).
Exhibit A: The Influence of Bobba Fett’s Slave 1 on the Pre-Cog unit’s awesome helicopter.
Exhibit B: Clockwork Orange any one?
Exhibit C: Metropolis
Eh, not so much. Like with the spectacularly hideous A.I., Spielborg makes these refs, but they don’t go very far. Tom Cruise is like Alex DeLarge because they’re both… cops? ultraviolent? um, male? And exhibit C, Cruise is like that robot because…?
Nah, the guy’s a skilled technician, but not too much more. His addiction to schmaltz, his pre-adolescent imagination, his love of power kill off any ability to tell actual stories. Setting aside A.I. (because it’s too easy to mock), my exhibit is the weirdly dull War of the Worlds. A few cute set-pieces, but remarkably unimaginative, especially given the rich source material and its tradition. Compare with the George Pal version, for example, as flawed as it is, to see what an imaginative creator can do.
Caveat: I haven’t seen Munich.
Munich is pretty dark, you might like it. As for War of the Worlds, I thouht the film was pretty riveting, particularly when Cruise gets stuck in the basement with Tim Robbins, not bad stuff—but that said not a masterpiece either. Also, how about Duel and Jaws? They are masterful. The majority of his 1980s and early 90s stuff is bad, granted, but I love some of his early and later stuff. And perhaps I can sustain this post because I refuse to see AI for all the reasons you allude to.
So, in short, I’m not the hater of Spielberg I once was, but your arguments for his issues remain valid, they just don;t seem to bother me as much anymore 🙂
I’ve been meaning to get to Munich for a while. Thanks for the reminder.
War of the Worlds was so dull. Think about how the source material inspires real invention, like the 1970s rock opera (do you know it? awesome!), the George Pal movie, Alan Moore’s comic version (it’s part of his grand League of Extraordinary Gentlemen series), or the Welles radio play. Creators really cut loose, combining their own time with interesting imaginations of the alien. Instead Spielberg had a kind of pointless idea (underground alien seeds…?), that dull family dynamic slathered in cliche and improbability (remember how the alien give the child back, just because of sweetness?), and then Hollywoodized versions of scenes from the novel. I give him credit for a couple of set pieces, like the first attack and the alien body bag (one of my favorite, underappreciated bits from the original), because he’s not a Uwe Boll disaster. But that’s too little to expect from a movie.
I agree about Duel and Jaws. That’s early Spielberg. Then he did Hook and 1941, which revealed the other side of his sick, sick mind. And this post is about late Spielberg, the guy who also did the last Indiana Jones movie. And AI.
Serious question: are you less hating on Spielberg’s schmaltz because you’re a family man? I know stories of parents and children used to leave me unmoved when younger, but now strike right to my ursine heart.
I love you are calling me on my late Spielberg love, and I avoided AI and Indiana Jones because I am self-respecting, and I despised much of early 80s through the 90s spielberg, up until the first 15 minutes of Saving Private Ryan, which is awesome. That said, Minority Report remains a solid for me. Can;t necessarily argue against your calling out the lack of why or the Kubrikean precision, but the sense of the future in that film is almost uncanny, even if a bit schmaltz. And whiel i am not married to War of the Worlds, I kinda like how dark it all seemed with an almost 70s violence/apocalypti realism. The ending was ridiculous, but I could live with that.
As for my Speilberg softiness, I guess I no longer can hate on him to the degree when there is so much shit in Hollywood being produced daily, he seems like a Kubrick compared to how dull and uninteresting almost everything is. I guess it’s a relativist approach for me.
For you, lord Bava, I will rewatch Minority Report. My family should probably watch it for futurism reasons.
I hear you about relativism. I’m very sparing about what Hollywood I sample these days. Each taste needs careful vetting by fine folks like yourself. Meanwhile there’s so much else out there….
Did we bounce around the argument about creativity exiting movies and heading to tv?