Two Plus Two Newer Archives

Two Plus Two Newer Archives (http://archives1.twoplustwo.com/index.php)
-   The Lounge: Discussion+Review (http://archives1.twoplustwo.com/forumdisplay.php?f=65)
-   -   Ranking Spielberg (http://archives1.twoplustwo.com/showthread.php?t=489517)

Dominic 08-29-2007 11:26 PM

Ranking Spielberg
 
As strange as it may sound, I believe Steven Spielberg to be an underrated talent. When film is being critically discussed he seems to get the short-end of the stick, often labeled as a technically brilliant director of simple stories meant to entertain the masses.

Well, I disagree. Not only has his movies made more money than any other film director ever, no one has consistently turned out films of such high-quality. Because of this, he's taken for granted. Even though he admittedly has a sentimental streak that some people disdain, his films have always struck me as intensely personal and human stories, even in the midst of some of the most SFX laden films of a all-time. He is a master story-teller.

Yes, I could have done a "ranking Kieslowski" or "ranking David Lean," but I wanted comments from more than Pryor, Blarg and John Cole! [img]/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]

I've decided to rank Spielberg's films as all-in-one artistic achievements. It'd be very simple to break them down by his "serious" films and his technologically-brilliant-yet muddled-story ones, but I thought that'd be cheating. So here you go. Steven Spielberg's films, from worst to best:

(by the way, I'm not counting Duel, as that was a TV movie and not truly a feature, or his contribution to Twilight Zone: The Movie.)


The Terminal, 2004

While parts of this film are interesting, it is a complete misstep for me and one I do not ever plan on revisiting again. Catherine Zeta Jones is miscast and Tom Hanks's character is too precious by half. There's never going to be a Spielberg movie where you can complain about the lighting or framing or music (although I'd really like him to force himself to use someone other than John Williams), but this is the only film of his I can honestly say just plain stinks.

Hook, 1991

Wow, what a great concept that somehow became completely muddled and boring. Strangely enough, the exciting parts of the movie are when Peter Pan is in the real world and doesn't realize who he is. The boring parts are when we're in Never Never Land! How in the world did this happen? If anyone has the right pedigree to make a Peter Pan movie, it's Spielberg! Dustin Hoffman was fine as Hook, Robin Williams was perfectly ok...I think what makes this film a mess is the fact that The Lost Boys seem like extras from the Goonies. In other words, not at all memorable. But maybe your kids will like it.

The Lost World: Jurassic Park, 1997

Fun movie, but one that was completely unnecessary. They seemed to have made it for one purpose: to perfect the CGI dinosaurs. Oh, and the money.

1941, 1979

I have a soft spot in my heart for this one. It's generally considered to be Spielberg's one bomb, but I kinda like it. While he doesn't really have a great touch for slapstick, there are some incredible set-pieces in this movie that are pretty spectacular and funny: The ferris wheel, the cannon in the house, and the planes crashing in the street. Great cast, too.

War of the Worlds 2005

Boy, I was excited about this one but it seems he was saddled with (yet again) a great concept that doesn't make a great story. Really can't blame H.G. Well's stupid ending (give the aliens a cold!) on Spielberg, but the whole movie falls apart for me when Cruise and and his daughter meet up with Tim Robbins. Up until then, I was hooked.

The Color Purple, 1985

This is a film I admire. But why do I have no desire to ever see it again?

Always, 1989

If there's a Spielberg movie people haven't heard of it's this one. But I'm a sucker for a love story with ghosts, and it has Holly Hunter, Richard Dreyfuss and John Goodman, so for that, it makes it eminently watchable for me.

AI: Artificial Intelligence, 2001

Damn is this movie a mess. there's so many incredible ideas and visual mastery that it is certainly a watchable and enjoyable film, but I find it to be a movie that bites off more than it can chew...either stick with the maker of the robots...or the robot child with his new family...or the robot on the run...or the robot searching for his maker...but putting all of these together just makes it a mess, to me. Plus, the ending was annoying.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, 1984

Decent, fun movie with some incredible stunts and sequences. But really, that's what the whole movie is to me: one long stunt.

Amistad, 1997

I'm always moved by the film, especially by the performance of Djiman Hounsou. However, I think Spielberg makes a misstep in this film that compromises the rest of the picture: the "middle passage" sequence is so horrifying and real that it makes what come after completely forgettable.

Empire of the Sun, 1987

In part, a great adventure movie, but one that I have to admit bores me sometimes.

The Sugarland Express, 1974

Spielberg's first feature, and a very entertaining, thought-provoking one. Fantastic performances by Goldie Hawn and William Atherton, as well. You get the feeling after watching this that if his next film hadn't been Jaws, Spielberg would've turned out to be John Sayles!

Catch Me if You Can, 2002

A wonderful piffle of a movie. Fun, funny and gorgeous to look at, with a great period color-scheme and design. But if it were any lighter it would float away.

Jurassic Park, 1993

This is a tough one to rank, as it contains some of the most thrilling images ever put to film; however, it also has some story problems (it doesn't have an ending) and at times it seems like an amusement park ride more than a movie. Nothing wrong with that, it's just difficult to judge the movie's artistic merit.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, 1989

Sean Connery as Indiana's dad is pitch-perfect, isn't he? And Jones finally has a worthy artifact to chase after - The Holy Grail. Pure b-movie fun.

Munich, 2005

Very powerful film, and one I've viewed again and again. Eric Bana gives a devastating performance, and the rest of the cast acquits itself admirably. Well-done, thought-provoking and intense.

ET: The Extra-Terrestrial, 1982

Cute, funny and a tear-jerker. Incredibly well done. Why it gets put up on lists with the best films of all-time, I'm not sure, because I think that does a disservice to this fine, little film. It's the perfect children's movie. Period.

Minority Report, 2002

I think this just may be Spielberg's most underrated movie. I love it. Brilliantly photographed, with a fantastic story, it's exciting and "important" all at the same time. And as a bonus, it's a great who-done-it!

Close Encounters of the Third Kind, 1977

Put this next to the other "space" movie that came out the same year - you know, the one about "The Force?" Close Encounters is heads and tails above it. It's adult, it's child-like, it's scary, it's thrilling...and finally, it's life-affirming. Every time poor Richard Dreyfuss sculpts his mashed potatoes I want to yell at him - "you're not crazy!" I can watch it over and over again.

Raiders of the Lost Arc, 1981

Has there ever been a more perfect adventure movie? Put it up there with The Four Feathers and Gunga Din. It's magic. And for me, Harrison Ford will never be anyone else but Indiana Jones.

Jaws, 1975

I was lucky enough to have been around when this came out in the summer of 1975. It was an EVENT. Beach towns all across the country were reporting less-than-normal attendance and it was all because of this movie. Scary as [censored], while making you want to go hunt sharks at the same time. It was the very first "adult" movie my parents took me to, and thank god for that. "Smile you son-of-a-bitch!" BOOM!

Saving Private Ryan, 1998

I know a lot of critics don't like the bookends of this movie, but I feel they're necessary to first bring you into the past, and second, bring you back out again. Yes, the movie is technically brilliant, but it is also incredibly humane and good. I'm not sure what that means, I just know it to be true. Every character we meet - and ultimately lose - is indelible and real...this movie takes you back to WWII and introduces characters that could've been your father, your brother, your friends, and makes you watch their amazing sacrifice. That's the whole point, I think.

Schindler's List, 1993

Spielberg's masterpiece. At the time, we maybe thought he didn't have it in him. But boy, did he. I'm not going to wax poetic about the greatness off this film, all I can say is that if you don't agree with me, just watch it again. It really is that good. Everything comes together for Spielberg on this one: cinematography, story, performance, meaning. I'm sure he'd be happy with a legacy that only includes this film.

rothko 08-29-2007 11:36 PM

Re: Ranking Spielberg
 
spielberg is absolutely terrible. him making lots of money is exhibit A.

Dominic 08-30-2007 12:04 AM

Re: Ranking Spielberg
 
[ QUOTE ]
spielberg is absolutely terrible. him making lots of money is exhibit A.

[/ QUOTE ]

This is a completely useless post. Do better.

midnightpulp 08-30-2007 02:46 AM

Re: Ranking Spielberg
 
I 100% agree with you that he is terribly underrated. Not necessarily among main-stream critics, since they seem to appreciate his work, but by elitist cinephiles who pack the arthouses, read Filmmaker religiously, and genuflect at whatever Foreign or Indie director is en vogue.

They really have no legitimate argument of why they hate him. They just know they have to. It's hipster cinesthete law.

Spielberg is definitely one of the world's great filmmakers. His great talent is to take pop formula and transform it into art. Tarantino does the same thing with pulp. Fassbinder, Sirk, and Ray did it with melodrama.

Yet all those directors are relatively respected, but not Spielberg.

It's a shame.

Dominic 08-30-2007 02:54 AM

Re: Ranking Spielberg
 
I think it's because a lot of people consider him a populist, when in fact he's simply making movies that are either very personal to him (Close Encounters, ET, Schindler's List) or films he think it'd be a blast to see (Jurassic Park, Raiders, Jaws). The fact that his movies just happen to be hugely popular is somehow seen as him selling out.

midnightpulp 08-30-2007 03:10 AM

Re: Ranking Spielberg
 
Yep.

BTW, Dom, did you get my PM?

Triumph36 08-30-2007 03:15 AM

Re: Ranking Spielberg
 
[ QUOTE ]
I think it's because a lot of people consider him a populist, when in fact he's simply making movies that are either very personal to him (Close Encounters, ET, Schindler's List) or films he think it'd be a blast to see (Jurassic Park, Raiders, Jaws). The fact that his movies just happen to be hugely popular is somehow seen as him selling out.

[/ QUOTE ]

His more intellectual points always seemed incredibly facile to me. I love Jaws and Indiana Jones, and while I've probably only seen less than half of Spielberg's oeuvre, there's just not that much depth there. Saving Private Ryan just seemed forced past the incredible Omaha Beach scene.

To me, he's like the filmmaking version of Stephen King - something about his work IS very poignant and he's a terrific crafstman. 'Literary' people have the same problem with him - which causes other people to rush forward and make ludicrous claims like King will one day stand beside Melville and Dickens. No, he won't. He's more than an 'entertainer', but less than an 'artistic genius'. To call him a sellout is absurd.

midnightpulp 08-30-2007 03:51 AM

Re: Ranking Spielberg
 
Good points.

Personally, I think something brilliantly crafted can stand on its own as a work of art without those characteristics we commonly associate with "great" narrative art - like insights into humanity or an exploration of love.

When the mention of Spielberg comes up as a great filmmaker, I think too many people try to compare him to directors who operate in a totally different context. "He ain't no Altman. He ain't no Bergman."

I think Spielberg's kindred spirits are Hitchcock and Tarantino. Both directors can be accused for their lack of depth (Vertigo and Psycho are, however, very deep films), especially when they're compared to directors who take on more "mature" material, and again, such a comparison is unfair.

Simply speaking, these directors just flat out know how to entertain, and do it with such a style that is unlike anything else that they can get away with having their work be art without needing any great depth.

youtalkfunny 08-30-2007 04:37 AM

Re: Ranking Spielberg
 
Heckuva post there, Dom. I liked "The Terminal" more than you did, but can't quibble much about the rest of it.

[ QUOTE ]
spielberg is absolutely terrible.

[/ QUOTE ]

Sorry, but if "Raiders of the Lost Ark" is his 4th-best movie, then he's not terrible.

context 08-30-2007 04:45 AM

Re: Ranking Spielberg
 
The guy is technically brilliant but has poor judgement. You can never fault his cinematography, but the stories themselves can be banal. Take Saving Private Ryan. If you took that first third of the film it would be one of the best films of all time. Technically brilliant, breathaking, fantastic realisation of an awful battle. But then he goes off into his old routine. The film just wanders, drifts and loses itself in sentimental nonsense for a couple of hours, something he does in many of his films. Sometimes the sentimental thing doesn't matter, ET works, but then it's sentimental most of the way through. If he had an editor who could keep him on track his films would be consistently great, but many of them fall away. His self-indulgence lowers them by a few notches. But hey, the guy isn't a bad film maker [img]/images/graemlins/wink.gif[/img].


Btw. I find it funny, you say he's under-rated then keep repeating that his films are either messy, or he made a "misstep".

diebitter 08-30-2007 04:54 AM

Re: Ranking Spielberg
 
Dom,

I agree he's very talented, and when he picks the right script, he's masterful. The problem he has is in script picking and maybe doctoring. He just lets some of his movies get a little shaggy, and of course sentimental.

I mostly agree with your list, but I'm move both SPR and Schindler's List down a few notches, and put Raiders as the #1. I'd also move the second Indy film next to the 3rd one, but otherwise it's sound.



I like the comparison of Stephen King as writer and Speilberg as director, I think there's a lot in that (however, I do think King will rank alongside Dickens in terms of stature in the future).

J.Brown 08-30-2007 05:39 AM

Re: Ranking Spielberg
 
Dom,

great analysis of a great director, but underrated might be a bit of a stretch.

i guess i have just always thought of him as one, if not the, premier directors of our time. is this not the general public and critics view?

your well thought out reviews of his movies were interesting because i loved some of the same movies as you (minority report, amistad), hated a few (et always rubbed me really wrong for some reason, war of the worlds was awful), had forgotten that he directed several (catch me if you can, lol, seen it several times, really liked it, for some reason never even thought about the fact he directed it, the color purple, totally forgot about him in that too, maybe the respective stars outshined him in both), forgot a few of the bombs (hook and 1941, can you even find them on dvd??!!), but.......

without a doubt he is so relevant, talented, commercially successful, and blessed with great vision that i can't see how he can be underated?

how do you think he could be more highly rated? this is muy interesante. J.

Peter666 08-30-2007 07:16 AM

Re: Ranking Spielberg
 
Pre-1982 Spielberg is superior to post 1982 Spielberg. His films become uneven after that. No doubt, he is a great action /adventure director. Jaws is infinitely rewatchable.

mrbaseball 08-30-2007 08:19 AM

Re: Ranking Spielberg
 
[ QUOTE ]
I 100% agree with you that he is terribly underrated. Not necessarily among main-stream critics, since they seem to appreciate his work, but by elitist cinephiles who pack the arthouses, read Filmmaker religiously, and genuflect at whatever Foreign or Indie director is en vogue.

They really have no legitimate argument of why they hate him. They just know they have to. It's hipster cinesthete law.

Spielberg is definitely one of the world's great filmmakers. His great talent is to take pop formula and transform it into art. Tarantino does the same thing with pulp. Fassbinder, Sirk, and Ray did it with melodrama.

Yet all those directors are relatively respected, but not Spielberg.

It's a shame.


[/ QUOTE ]

Great post! You hit the nail on the head.

BigPoppa 08-30-2007 08:34 AM

Re: Ranking Spielberg
 
Spoiler Warning

Minority Report is typical of later Spielberg work in that it was a beautiful, well crafted movie that could've been a great movie if he'd made a few different choices. It had the perfect ending, with Cruise frozen in stasis and the bad guy getting away with it, but that wasn't good enough. They had to ruin the movie by giving it the happy studio ending. There were also a couple of rather obvious holes in the plot big enough to drive a truck through.


Indiana Jones #1
Close Encounters #2
Jaws #3


Schlindler's List I find impossible to rate due to subject matter, but it's one of the most emotionally devastating films ever made.

Stagger_Lee 08-30-2007 09:26 AM

Re: Ranking Spielberg
 
Two decent movies stuck in amongst a pile of crap.

Take out Jaws and Saving Private Ryan and the rest is a testament to the ability of the public to swallow whatever junk is thrown our way.

Spielberg makes huge commercials - and we swallow them hook,line & sinker.

RIIT 08-30-2007 11:50 AM

Re: Ranking Spielberg
 
I'll respond with an honest account of how many times I've personally watched each film in it's entirety (theatre, tv, or dvd)

Four:
1975 Jaws
In my entire recollection no other film, besides StarWars, has created more significant box office ticket waiting lines and theatre seating waiting lines. It was the blockbuster EVENT for the summer of '75 and the number #2 summer blockbuster of all time.

Three:
1981 Raiders of the Lost Ark
Raiders permanently set, within the minds of the public, the expectation that a Spielberg action film will deliver a thrill beginning with the very first seen.

Two:
1977 Close Encounters of the Third Kind
1982 ET: The Extra-Terrestrial
1984 Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
1993 Jurassic Park
1998 Saving Private Ryan
2002 Minority Report

One:
1974 The Sugarland Express
1979 1941
1985 The Color Purple
1987 Empire of the Sun
1989 Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
1991 Hook
1993 Schindler's List
1997 Jurassic Park: The Lost World
1997 Amistad
2001 AI: Artificial Intelligence
2002 Catch Me if You Can
2004 The Terminal
2005 War of the Worlds
2005 Munich

Zero:
1989 Always

Wynton 08-30-2007 11:56 AM

Re: Ranking Spielberg
 
I agree with much of the OP, with just a few exceptions.

I thought War of the Worlds was absolutely terrible. But I thought AI was pretty good, though it was kind of depressing. AI was originally a Kubrick project and it really does have kind of sterile, Kubrick feel to it.

Minority Report has a somewhat similar flavor in mood, but is much more fun.

The only problem I have with Spielberg is that he just can't often can't resist that extra manipulative, somewhat obvious heart-tugging scene. As terrific as Schindler's List was, I really dislike the scene where Oskar laments not selling his watch. Similarly, I loved Private Ryan, but could have done without the scene where Ryan tearfully asks whether he was worthy by the cemetary.

On the other hand, I enjoyed The Color Purple and Empire of the Sun more than Dom did, I think.

And Spielberg really should get more credit for his range. Not many directors can handle adventure, drama and comedy as equally well, as he can.

Marwan 08-30-2007 11:57 AM

Re: Ranking Spielberg
 
I'm more of a mainstream movie-goer than most that post here, but I like most of his movies.. The action/blockbuster types are entertaining, the sci-fiction ones like Close Encounters or Minority Report were really engaging, the drama/more serious pictures like Schindler's List, Munich are pretty highly regarded by most everyone, and the fluffy comedies like Catch me if you can or The Terminal are worth the price of admission.. I think he's got something for everyone (the casual moviegoer) and that's why he's popular.

Dominic 08-30-2007 01:00 PM

Re: Ranking Spielberg
 
[ QUOTE ]
The guy is technically brilliant but has poor judgement. You can never fault his cinematography, but the stories themselves can be banal. Take Saving Private Ryan. If you took that first third of the film it would be one of the best films of all time. Technically brilliant, breathaking, fantastic realisation of an awful battle. But then he goes off into his old routine. The film just wanders, drifts and loses itself in sentimental nonsense for a couple of hours, something he does in many of his films. Sometimes the sentimental thing doesn't matter, ET works, but then it's sentimental most of the way through. If he had an editor who could keep him on track his films would be consistently great, but many of them fall away. His self-indulgence lowers them by a few notches. But hey, the guy isn't a bad film maker [img]/images/graemlins/wink.gif[/img].


Btw. I find it funny, you say he's under-rated then keep repeating that his films are either messy, or he made a "misstep".

[/ QUOTE ]

I'll have to disagree with you on SPR...I think it's great. Including the stretches between the two big battles. It's the personal, more "sentimental" moments which give the film its weight.

rothko 08-30-2007 09:03 PM

Re: Ranking Spielberg
 
[ QUOTE ]
I 100% agree with you that he is terribly underrated. Not necessarily among main-stream critics, since they seem to appreciate his work, but by elitist cinephiles who pack the arthouses, read Filmmaker religiously, and genuflect at whatever Foreign or Indie director is en vogue.

They really have no legitimate argument of why they hate him. They just know they have to. It's hipster cinesthete law.

Spielberg is definitely one of the world's great filmmakers. His great talent is to take pop formula and transform it into art. Tarantino does the same thing with pulp. Fassbinder, Sirk, and Ray did it with melodrama.

Yet all those directors are relatively respected, but not Spielberg.

It's a shame.

[/ QUOTE ]

how's that critical thinking class going?

http://img133.exs.cx/img133/863/bigle047wf.jpg

John Cole 08-30-2007 10:35 PM

Re: Ranking Spielberg
 
[ QUOTE ]
like the comparison of Stephen King as writer and Speilberg as director, I think there's a lot in that (however, I do think King will rank alongside Dickens in terms of stature in the future).



[/ QUOTE ]

No! In thunder.

CharlieDontSurf 08-30-2007 11:08 PM

Re: Ranking Spielberg
 
His early films as a whole are far better than his later ones.
Age seems to have mellowed him out and he now is known as the guy who can never correctly end a movie.

Overall he is a fantastic director top 10-15 all time.
He and M Night are two of the best at creating suspense/tension.

Speilberg is obv his best when paired with a great script/writer...Zaillian, Scott Frank etc

Peter666 08-30-2007 11:18 PM

Re: Ranking Spielberg
 
"I think Spielberg's kindred spirits are Hitchcock and Tarantino. Both directors can be accused for their lack of depth (Vertigo and Psycho are, however, very deep films), especially when they're compared to directors who take on more "mature" material, and again, such a comparison is unfair."

Whoever accuses Hitchcock of lack of depth has simply not studied the films outside of "Vertigo" and "Psycho". Even Hitchcock's lesser works are overflowing with psychological nuance and mastery of form. He is a genius, who also happens to be entertaining.

Also, I can't agree when people say that Spielberg is "underrated". He is the most popular director alive! If his work is considered not as demanding or deep as some arthouse directors, it's most likely because its true. But who cares when you are the king of Hollywood?

andyfox 08-30-2007 11:54 PM

Re: Ranking Spielberg
 
I think a case could be made for him being the most important person in the history of American cinema.

ClassicBob 08-31-2007 12:52 AM

Re: Ranking Spielberg
 
[ QUOTE ]
I think a case could be made for him being the most important person in the history of American cinema.

[/ QUOTE ]

Make it.

CharlieDontSurf 08-31-2007 01:08 AM

Re: Ranking Spielberg
 
[ QUOTE ]
I think a case could be made for him being the most important person in the history of American cinema.

[/ QUOTE ]

George Lucas > Steven Speilberg in this regard

Zeno 08-31-2007 02:55 AM

Re: Ranking Spielberg
 
[ QUOTE ]
[ QUOTE ]
like the comparison of Stephen King as writer and Speilberg as director, I think there's a lot in that (however, I do think King will rank alongside Dickens in terms of stature in the future).



[/ QUOTE ]

No! In thunder.

[/ QUOTE ]

A wiser head prevails - A rarity on this cosmic ball of space vomit. And Oliver Twist needs another bowl of gruel.

Anyway, I wanted to make a comment in this thread so my name could be associated with it; not because I would make any meaningful contribution to it - Sort of like Stephen King's contribution to literature. Poe still rules or even that Italian guy that wrote The Decameron, Boccaccio what's-his-even sillier first name suppose to be.

And what's all this talk of Spielberg? He makes movies, so did Roger Corman, so did Russ Meyers, so did A, B, C, and Z. It's not that important. Some people make apple pies with just the right amount of cinnamon, some people don't. But taste is subjective as is adding ice cream to apple pie or having just the correct amount of cinnamon.

Le Misanthrope

Dominic 08-31-2007 04:03 AM

Re: Ranking Spielberg
 
[ QUOTE ]
[ QUOTE ]
[ QUOTE ]
like the comparison of Stephen King as writer and Speilberg as director, I think there's a lot in that (however, I do think King will rank alongside Dickens in terms of stature in the future).



[/ QUOTE ]

No! In thunder.

[/ QUOTE ]

A wiser head prevails - A rarity on this cosmic ball of space vomit. And Oliver Twist needs another bowl of gruel.

Anyway, I wanted to make a comment in this thread so my name could be associated with it; not because I would make any meaningful contribution to it - Sort of like Stephen King's contribution to literature. Poe still rules or even that Italian guy that wrote The Decameron, Boccaccio what's-his-even sillier first name suppose to be.

And what's all this talk of Spielberg? He makes movies, so did Roger Corman, so did Russ Meyers, so did A, B, C, and Z. It's not that important. Some people make apple pies with just the right amount of cinnamon, some people don't. But taste is subjective as is adding ice cream to apple pie or having just the correct amount of cinnamon.

Le Misanthrope

[/ QUOTE ]

as amusing as your post is, I take umbrage: art is important, and debating its merits gives us more to do with our time than eating, crapping and sexing.

DrewDevil 08-31-2007 07:18 AM

Re: Ranking Spielberg
 
I think Spielberg must be listed among the top 2 or 3 directors of all time, and I don't understand the arguments by people who disagree.

Yes, it's true that SPR and a couple of his other movies *could* have been better if this, if that, etc. But taken as they are, they are still stunning works of film. Why is Spielberg denigrated because his superb films aren't perfect? That doesn't mean they aren't incredible. If you evaluate his films as they are, and not what they potentially could have been if directed by God, then you're left with the conclusion that no director has ever made more consistently spectacular movies than Spielberg.

As someone said earlier, when Raiders of the Lost Ark is your 4th best film, you're doing something right.

KDawg 08-31-2007 11:44 AM

Re: Ranking Spielberg
 
I don't think that he's under rated at all. He's rated right where he should be, which is in the top 5% of directors(as certain things can be very arbitrary after directors like Ford, Hitchcock, Lang, and Bu˝uel) of all time. He's prolific and sometimes caters to the studios a bit too much, but that is usually so that he can do a film that he truly wants to do(like him doing teh two jurassic parks so that he could do schinlders list).

He has always been a general model of consistency, but I don't think that he's hit some of the highs that other influential directors have, inversely though, he hasn't missed as badly as godard has on a few films. At TSPDT he is given an 8+ for a director rating, and I've seen him as high as a 9, that speaks for his respect as there are only 4 or 5 directors that have recieved a ten, and some extremely influential directors taht are at an 8 ( Here is the rating guide for a reference point). Now, I'm not saying that TheyShootPictures is the be all end all, but it's one of the few film sites that I go to that I respect as they bring in as much outside data to make their decisions on ranking so that not everything is based on their own two opinions. I'd really challenge people who watch a lot of film to disagree with where his placement is IRT other directors who are ahead of him. I think he is rated very fairly as he is put in the same range as Altman and Kurosawa (and again, this is where he hasn't hit the heights of either two, but didn't reach the lows considering how prolific he is)

KDawg 08-31-2007 11:50 AM

Re: Ranking Spielberg
 
[ QUOTE ]
I think a case could be made for him being the most important person in the history of American cinema.

[/ QUOTE ]


more important then Hitchcock? I'd like to hear this argument

maltaille 08-31-2007 12:18 PM

Re: Ranking Spielberg
 
Underrated . . . nope, I can't go with you on this one. He is technically brilliant, perhaps more so than any other modern director; he is amazingly consistent, again, perhaps more consistent than any of his peers; and he does have as wide a range as any director working today; but he's also weak in the what I think is the most important aspect of a film, storytelling - weak enough that it often overcomes all his capabilities in other areas, and certainly more than weak enough to prevent him from being considered the most important person in American cinema.

You label him a "master storyteller," so perhaps we're using a different meaning for the word, but I think story is where Spielberg consistently lets himself down. His endings are notoriously weak (War of the Worlds, Minority Report, AI, Saving Private Ryan) and his sentimentality can be overwhelming at times (Terminal, AI again, Munich) but more than this, his storytelling just isn't up to the standard set by the rest of his capabilities. Not the stories he wants to tell - his subjects, especially in the last twenty years, are often as meaty as a subject can get, though you can argue that sometimes they're too meaty - but the way he tells those stories: the devices he uses, the scenes chosen to move us along the plot, and the archetypes and underlying symbolism employed. Whether its the middle section of Amistad, or the flatness of the Neverland sections in Hook, most of his films have something that lets them down like this.

Ironically he's pretty good at the thing I always think is the hardest part of storytelling, finding the right vehicle to carry the story - interplanetary invasion to tell the story of American resilience, or the retaliation for the Munich killings to tell the story of how actions determine character even for nations.

He's at his best when someone else is doing the story for him - adapting a novel in Jaws or Schindler's List, or collaborating with a good storyteller in Raiders of the Lost Ark (this is my dream team in modern cinema, Spielberg, the master of technique, and Lucas, poor at technique but masterful at storytelling, working together. Their one collaboration gave us the best adventure film of all time. Can you imagine Star Wars if both shared the helm the same way?). There are exceptions - ET is notably his own story, (though I think even there, while the end result is spectacular, the story is the weakest part of the mix), and Terminal was someone else's story, and it still didn't come out right - but I think the general point holds: most of the time his storytelling is weak enough to offset his technical brilliance.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting he's overrated either (though I would place him a lot higher than the 34th that They Shoot Pictures has him at, notwithstanding that this is the 3rd highest ranking for a currently working director). There are barely a handful of working directors in his league, let alone who could be thought of as better. And that's exactly how I think he's perceived by everyone other than willfully blind film elitists.

KDawg 08-31-2007 12:40 PM

Re: Ranking Spielberg
 
[ QUOTE ]


Don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting he's overrated either (though I would place him a lot higher than the 34th that They Shoot Pictures has him at, notwithstanding that this is the 3rd highest ranking for a currently working director). There are barely a handful of working directors in his league, let alone who could be thought of as better. And that's exactly how I think he's perceived by everyone other than willfully blind film elitists.

[/ QUOTE ]

I also think he should be higher, but that list is more of influential directors rather then all time directors, so his placement can be argued in some ways.

The key also to that list is the fact that many of teh guys are dead, and those that recently died also had major landmark films that happened over 35 years ago, where Spielberg's first landmark film is just slightly over 30 years ago and un fortunetly it brought about the summer blockbuster type film(I'm referring to jaws, which itself is a great film, but the effects of it brought about a ton of crap)

I don't understand the under-rated feeling about him as this is a highly decorated director that has produced at a high level for a very long stretch of time.

CharlieDontSurf 08-31-2007 04:45 PM

Re: Ranking Spielberg
 
Not top 3..not even close Id put him somewhere in the top 5-15...and that is due in large part to SL

Several episodes of BoB were far better as whole than the overall movie of SPR

midnightpulp 08-31-2007 10:15 PM

Re: Ranking Spielberg
 
"Whoever accuses Hitchcock of lack of depth has simply not studied the films outside of "Vertigo" and "Psycho". Even Hitchcock's lesser works are overflowing with psychological nuance and mastery of form. He is a genius, who also happens to be entertaining.

Also, I can't agree when people say that Spielberg is "underrated". He is the most popular director alive!"

I agree. Hitch's works are fascinating; filled with as much social, psychological, and sexual elements as any Bunuel film.

However, I could see how some people would lose those subtleties by only focusing on his technical brilliance.

I think when people says Spielberg is underrated, they're referring to his perceived disrespect in serious, mainly academic, film circles. Ask any 20 year old film theory major what he thinks of him.

midnightpulp 08-31-2007 10:46 PM

Re: Ranking Spielberg
 
[ QUOTE ]
[ QUOTE ]
I 100% agree with you that he is terribly underrated. Not necessarily among main-stream critics, since they seem to appreciate his work, but by elitist cinephiles who pack the arthouses, read Filmmaker religiously, and genuflect at whatever Foreign or Indie director is en vogue.

They really have no legitimate argument of why they hate him. They just know they have to. It's hipster cinesthete law.

Spielberg is definitely one of the world's great filmmakers. His great talent is to take pop formula and transform it into art. Tarantino does the same thing with pulp. Fassbinder, Sirk, and Ray did it with melodrama.

Yet all those directors are relatively respected, but not Spielberg.

It's a shame.

[/ QUOTE ]

how's that critical thinking class going?

http://img133.exs.cx/img133/863/bigle047wf.jpg

[/ QUOTE ]

Have no idea what you're implying.

Guess it's an NVG style insult(?) that goes completely under my head.

sethypooh21 08-31-2007 11:43 PM

Re: Ranking Spielberg
 
Interesting post Dom. I tend to find Speilberg at his best when he doesn't have a point to make. I didn't much care for either Munich or Schindler's List to be honest (I thought they were important films, but you always got the sense THAT HE KNEW EXACTLY HOW IMPORTANT they were and wouldn't let us forget either. For some reason, the seminal example of this for me is the girl in the red dress in SL...)

That said, when he is just telling a story, it's wonderful, and this alone qualifies him as one of the greats. But then, I think that a move as 'pure entertainment' is an underrated art form.

Zeno 09-01-2007 01:31 AM

Re: Ranking Spielberg
 
[ QUOTE ]
I take umbrage: art is important, and debating its merits gives us more to do with our time than eating, crapping and sexing.

[/ QUOTE ]

Umbrage? Are you Bertie Wooster?

And where Spielberg ranks in some list of filmmakers is unimportant, to me anyway. Obviously others can and will have a different take on it all. But whatever anyone's personal ranking; Raiders of the Lost Ark is a ball of fun and so is Jaws.

And eating, crapping, and sexing is the main occupation of the majority of mankind. Art is overrated; sex is not.

Tommy Hobbes said something about this and he is right.

Le Misanthrope

diamonddawg 09-01-2007 01:38 AM

Re: Ranking Spielberg
 
[ QUOTE ]
As strange as it may sound, I believe Steven Spielberg to be an underrated tyrant.

[/ QUOTE ]
FYP
FWIW, and this of course has little to do with his ability as an artist and much more to do with general persona (in our tabloid inflamed culture), I can tell you from hands on experience over several films that working with him is 24/7 tension convention.
Be that as it may, he has made some ++ flicks; Indie4 should be v exciting from what I hear from the trenches.


All times are GMT -4. The time now is 12:19 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.11
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, vBulletin Solutions Inc.