13 November 2012

Steven Spielberg Top 5

Largely because of my tendency to agree with JR Jones, I tend to read the Chicago Reader film feed pretty regularly. Monday there was an interesting top 5 from a writer named Drew Hunt, whom I've honestly not taken much note of before. It seems to be an installment of his "Monday Top 5" series, which I sort of vaguely recall having read before. This particular list is of Steven Spielberg films, and while I don't necessarily feel the same about all these movies as Hunt does, I was pleased to see that it didn't focus on a lot the Steven Spielberg movies that make him one of my cinematic bĂȘtes noires. I've been more annoyed than anything else by films like Saving Private Ryan, War Horse, the Indiana Jones films, and even The Color Purple (I loved the novel though) . I guess starting even with E.T. as a small child I never seemed to be able to connect with these over the top bourgeois populist entertainments, but there were some exceptions. Hook came out when I was in middle school, and I tended to like that largely because I really liked Julia Roberts at the time. I loved Schindler's List when it came out and I probably still think it's his best film, though I haven't seen Amistad, Lincoln, Munich, or The Terminal.

There's no sense in going in reverse order here, because the best film is obviously Schindler's List, though Drew Hunt seems to disagree because it's not even in his honorable mentions, let alone his top 5. Just to make sure we kill all the suspense here, there's no Jaws or Close Encounters of the Third Kind here because I mostly think those movies are really boring.

1. I'm aware that some people have some problems with Schindler's List (1993), like maybe it's too manipulative or operatic or I don't even know what. It's absurd because these are the criticisms you could throw at almost his entire body of work, but it works in Schindler's List, in contrast to almost all of his other movies.

2. Sugarland Express (1974) found Goldie Hawn at the top of her game. And Steven Spielberg's kitsch was still somewhat restrained by the 1970s aesthetic.

3. Duel (1971) is a classic. I say this without even having seen the last ten minutes or so, but I tell you I saw enough. One day I'll need to find out if I'm right.

4. Minority Report (2002) could have gone either way, but the world is a better place because Samantha Morton has magic powers and her witchcraft made the entire film soar. Well, that's how I remember it anyway.

5. I'm still going to post this thing because hardly anyone reads it anyway, but I'm starting to wonder how all these real writers of content manage to come up with these things all the time. I honestly haven't seen most of these movies in years and years and years. With that said, of all those other movies I haven't seen in years, I'd probably pick Empire of the Sun (1987) as my fifth best Spielberg film, although part of me wonders if it's only because it was the favorite film of my best friend in high school. I don't know, I remember thinking it was a respectable film at the time. Anyway the only other possible contenders I could possibly think of would be AI or Always. Actually, to be honest, I fell asleep once when I saw Munich in the theater. It seemed pretty good, but I was super exhausted. Beyond that, I think Catch Me If You Can was somewhat better than I expected, and I'm hoping Tony Kushner's hand will mean I like Lincoln. So yeah, I guess that's why it's Empire of the Sun, even though it's no The Killing Fields.

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