Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Reviews from gulag: 2016 almost got away from me, but I was too quick for it

I've been catching up on things I missed while they were in theaters: today, we're looking at Zootopia, Embrace of the Serpent, Eye in the Sky, and Green Room.

ZOOTOPIA (Byron Howard and Rich Moore, 2016)
In a weird world where animals are people, but still kind of like animals, a young rabbit from the sticks named Judy Hops (Ginnifer Goodwin) resolves to become the first bunny police officer in the big city of Zootopia.  Her dreams are realized, but only in the most humiliatingly limited way possible, until she stumbles upon a conspiracy that threatens to break her animal society apart.  With the help of a vulpine confidence trickster and jerkass named Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman), Officer Hops follows her enemies' traces into a labyrinth of despair.  And also into a Godfather reference joke, which is, in its own way, likewise a labyrinth of despair.

Seriously: if you cut out the fucking Godfather reference joke, which is an idea that might have even been rejected by DreamWorks (or at least cut down to a length where you don't want to annihilate your whole family and then turn the gun on yourself), Zootopia is a fantastic film, even a great one.  And if it had the supreme courage to be bleak, like its most obvious influences had a real tendency to be, then it would be able to stand like a titan amongst Disney's greatest masterpieces, as a reflection of the fallen, unfair world all of us out here in audienceland actually have the misfortune of living in.  (Imagine, if you will, that the film just cuts to black, with Hops back on her family farm, about twenty-five minutes before it grinds its gears into a stupid dance party instead.)  Of course, to expect such courage out of corporate family entertainment like this would have been a deeply idiotic thing to do—if it needs to be explicitly said, I did not—and so that's why I don't hold it against Zootopia very strongly that when it circles back to the city, it's not just for some closure, but also for a somewhat tacked-on resolution that won't break your heart.

I'll try to be far briefer than usual, for Zootopia is likely the most talked-about Disney film since good old Frozen, thanks to its engagement with the contentious (but, to my mind, mostly common-sensical) progressive politics of our age; the short version is that Zootopia uses funny animals to allude to all the nasty racial (and gender) disparities that still cleave our own dumbassed animal society in twain.

It's both a smart decision on the film's part, and (I can imagine) a somewhat disappointing one to some viewers, that within Zootopia's multitudes there's just no feasible way at all to map any of those real-life disparities onto these fictional characters in anything like a real, logically consistent, one-to-one manner.  Instead, whatever injustice the film's referring to in any given moment, with one character, is going to apply to another character pretty soon, and you're like, "Wait, I thought that guy was supposed to be white."  Personally, though, I'm going to go absolutely all in on "smart decision": it's a dangerous game to start applying animal characteristics to human ethnicities, and that's why most of the movies that actually do that were made before V-E Day.  Your best case scenario: you end up with something like Maus, a comic book wherein its author, Art Spiegelman, is compelled to break away from the story he's telling about his dad's unlikely Auschwitz survival, in order to explain that he's just now realized that his central visual metaphor makes virtually no sense and has been collapsing in upon itself this entire time.

Anyway, Zootopia's animals are animals—mammals, to be a lot more precise—and while the plot itself may hinge upon their being biologically different from another in a few key ways, the production design and animation embrace these differences with their respective whole hearts.  One of the film's greatest pleasures is in the exploration of a bizarre and wonderful world, where a whole lot of mammals of radically different sizes and functional capabilities have come to live together for no good God damned reason.  Thus is Zootopia is veritable feast for thine eyes—not endlessly inventive, but thrillingly inventive indeed, when it really wants to be.

Better yet, a lot of the animal jokes that necessarily arise out of this situation are, against all expectation, actually pretty funny.  (In fact, a lot of Zootopia's plain old jokes are pretty funny, too—most of them are delivered as sarcastic asides by Jason Bateman's dickhead fox in a role that, ingeniously, does not require Bateman to project a brand of physical charisma he doesn't really possess, because the animators can do that for him.  Meanwhile, Bateman's vocal talent effortlessly provides all the character's requisite half-credible half-sleaze, along with the more subtle emotions that he has to shade into his interactions with Ginnifer Goodwin's admirably straightforward performance as an admirably straightforward rabbit cop.  Now, obviously: Bateman was never going to be quite good enough to redeem the name "Nick Wilde," but nobody would be, because "Nick Wilde" is the name you come up with if your character was a man with a half-decade career in VHS-era porn still ahead of him, before he became a born-again Christian; whereas it is emphatically not the name you would ever come up with if your character was a Goddamned fox, because that would just be a little too on-the-nose and dumb, do you not agree?)

But, seriously, I must say this: there's a scene with sloths—let me just get it out there, okay, it's a joke about the sloths that run the DMV.  Here we essentially take a break from that dour race fable entirely—I mean, speaking frankly, it slams into the film at nothing less than a 90-degree angle to its actual message, considering that, essentially, the joke is that this one particular animal species is effectively unable to properly function—but I've got to be real with you here.  The gag's infinitely funnier than it has the slightest right to be, especially when it is neither more nor is it less than the joke you already told yourself in your head, when you heard the premise was "DMV sloths."  But maybe it's funny because the joke actually isn't "DMV sloths," it's "Christ on the cross, this bit is five minutes long already, and we're still not done with it yet!"  It's like those jokes on Family Guy where the point is that they're insanely repetitious and terrifyingly annoying, except, for reasons I can't begin to explain even to myself, it worked for me.  At any rate, it worked a whole lot better than that fucking Godfather parody—which goes on even longer than the sloths, if you can possibly believe it.

Score:  8/10

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

If "the summer's best swarm of CGI" doesn't sound like a pullquote, it's because it shouldn't


STAR TREK BEYOND

Hey, let's fans just be thankful that the Star Trek brand can't actually be killed—I mean, if it could be, six bad movies in a row would probably have done it, and they never would've even made the seventh.

2016
Directed by Justin Lin
Written by Simon Pegg, Doug Jung, Roberto Orci, Patrick McKay, and John D. Payne
With Chris Pine (James T. Kirk), Zachary Quinto (Spock), Karl Urban (Dr. Leonard McCoy), Zoe Saldana (Nyota Uhura), Simon Pegg (Montgomery "Scotty" Scott), John Cho (Sulu), Anton Yelchin (Chekov), Sofia Boutella (Jayla), and Idris Elba (Krall)

Spoiler alert: mild

Saturday, July 23, 2016

The film that J.R. shot (until he was absolutely, positively, 100% sure it was dead)


BEWARE! THE BLOB

Whatever it is, it just isn't my scene.

1972
Directed by Larry Hagman
Written by Jack Woods, Anthony Harris, Richard Clair, and Jack Harris
With Robert Walker Jr. (Bobby Hartford), Gwynne Gilford (Lisa Clark), Godfrey Cambridge (Chester), Richard Stahl (Edward Fazio), Richard Webb (Sheriff Jones), and a few other people you may or may not remember from drunken bouts of watching Nick-at-Nite

Spoiler alert: moderate

Thursday, July 21, 2016

The man, the myth, the surliness


HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE

An ecstatic little sojourn into the bush of New Zealand, Wilderpople turns out to be one of the funniest and most heartfelt comedies of 2016—not to mention the best kid's adventure flick since Wes Anderson made one.  And, for the cherry on top, it's also brought to life by a pair of actors whom we find operating at the very top of their game.

2016
Written and directed by Taika Waititi (based on the book by Barry Crump)
With Julian Dennison (Ricky), Sam Neill (Hector), Rima Te Wiata (Bella), Rachel House (Paula), and Oscar Nightly (Officer Andy)

Spoiler alert: mild

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Code Pink


THE BLOB

If you ever watched the original Blob, and asked yourself, "Yes, but what about all the implied mass death?  Could that be a lot more explicit?"—well, my friend, Chuck Russell has made a movie just for you.  And by "you"?  You know damned good and well I actually mean "me."

1988
Directed by Chuck Russell
Written by Frank Darabont and Chuck Russell (based on the screenplay by Kay Linaker, Theodore Simonson, and Irvine Millgate)
With Shawnee Smith (Meg Penny), Kevin Dillon (Brian Flagg), Donovan Leitch Jr. (Paul Taylor), Jeffrey DeMunn (Sheriff Herb Geller), Candy Clark (Fran Hewitt), Paul McClane (Deputy Bill Briggs), Art LeFleur (Mr. Penny), Michael Kenworthy (Kevin Penny), Douglas Emerson (Eddie Beckner), Del Close (Rev. Meeker), and Joe Seneca (Dr. Christopher Meddows)

Spoiler alert: high

Friday, July 15, 2016

But at least they didn't bring Harold Ramis back as a CGI ghost, even though you can be completely certain that somebody wanted to


GHOSTBUSTERS

Not the slightest patch on the original, and that's mostly okay, since that's not one of the film's apparent goals, anyway.

2016
Directed by Paul Feig
Written by Katie Dippold and Paul Feig
With Kristen Wiig (Dr. Erin Gilbert), Melissa McCarthy (Dr. Abigail Yates), Kate McKinnon (Dr. Jillian Holtzmann), Leslie Jones (Patty Tolan), Chris Hemsworth (Kevin), Neil Casey (Rowan North), and the principal cast of the original Ghostbusters (Several Obscene, Filmbreaking Cameos)

Spoiler alert: mild

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Cardboard Science: A real piece of the sky


THE BLOB

Very close to being a flawless version of itself, the only thing that separates The Blob from perfection are a smattering of screenwriting hiccups, a reluctance to completely demonstrate its awesome monster's gross lethality onscreen, and (of course) the production's well-known lack of money.  But let's not be overly critical: the thing is exceptional, and has surely earned its enduring reputation as perhaps the best of its particular breed of B-movie.

1958
Directed by Irving S. Yeaworth Jr.
Written by Theodore Simonson, Kay Linaker, and Irvine H. Millgate
With Steve McQueen (Steve Andrews), Aneta Corsaut (Jane Martin), Earl Rowe (Lt. Dave), and John Benson (Sgt. Jim)

Spoiler alert: severe

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

"Be careful driving home—because Christine is out there!"


Sometimes Pittsburgh isn't so bad.  Case in point: Sunday night John Carpenter graced our terrible, economically dysfunctional city with his presence, offering up a live performance that, to the aging director-musician's immense credit, began at 8 o'clock sharp, and boasted a sample of the old and new.  I got to see it, and it was funbilled as a greatest hits retrospective, it didn't disappoint.  (Also present: Cody Carpenter, doing most of the actual work as lead keyboardist and the member of the Carpenter family who isn't very oldthough it should be noted that JC is tremendously sprightly, all things considered, and this made me happy too.  Anyway, Cody certainly did a fine job.)

The set started with the main themes from Escape From New York and Assault on Precinct 13, then dipped into "Vortex" and another Lost Themes track, and continued on in that vein.  I was annoyed, temporarily, that Christine and Prince of Darkness weren't getting any playespecially when the main themes from They Live and In the Mouth of Madness were.  (I remain steadfast in my determination that the score to They Live is perfectly good for the movie, and not of any great account as a musical piece in and of itself; but I will say that Carpenter's reorchestration of the Madness theme has made me better-disposed toward the piece than I had been previously, even if I still think it kind of sucks that that's what he came up with for what is otherwise his finest film.)

Meanwhile, the Halloween theme made its obligatory appearance, and it was fantastic, though the bass-heaviness of the live show did the iconically creepy twinkle of that song absolutely no favors.  It should also surprise no one that the closing credits theme from Village of the Damned didn't show upwhereas Ennio Morricone's opening credits theme from The Thing did, doubtless because this show was designed to trade on JC's status as a director of movies people liked, rather more than his status as a composer who crafted some really great tunes.  (This is clearly how Big Trouble in China wound up in the set.)  But that's a shame, since Carpenter the Composer can stand on his own.  Plus, if he was going to cover other composers' works from movies that he happened to direct, I'd have really loved to have heard what the band would've done with Jack Nitzsche's majestic theme from Starman, which is a far more pleasant piece to listen to on its own.

Well, these are minor points: in the encore, he did get to Prince of Darkness (and that was exciting as hell, even if Prince of Darkness, being in many respects an electronic opera, inevitably gets shorted if one merely excerpts it), and, for the final number, the theme from Christine, and this was the most surprising part of the show for me, because my understanding was that Carpenter was at best indifferent toward the film itself.  But you'd never have guessed it from his introduction of the theme, the loving montage playing behind him, and the placement in the show as the finale.  So right on, JC.  I'm glad you've come around to recognizing that your fourth-best movie is amazing.

But it would've been nice, considering the "retrospective" context, if Carpenter had been more eager to credit his collaborators, above all Alan Howarth.  Still, it's not like this is completely out of line.

There was also some new stuff from Lost Themes II, which I enjoy, but not as much as the last album.  So it goes.  Additionally, Tom Atkins was in the audience, since apparently the poor man lives here.  Unlike every other person in attendance, I did not see the necessity in pestering him, though (in fairness) he seemed to enjoy it, so perhaps I should have.

Altogether, it was great, and you should be jealous of me.  I know I am.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Pywokinesis


FIRESTARTER

It turns out it's not actually as easy to make an awesome movie about psychic powers as BDP and Cronenberg made it look.

1984
Directed by Mark Lester
Written by Stanley Mann (based on the novel by Stephen King)
With Drew Barrymore (Charlie McGee), David Keith (Andy McGee), Heather Locklear (Vicky McGee, nee Tomlinson), Martin Sheen (Capt. Hollister), and George C. Scott (John Rainbird)

Spoiler alert: moderate

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Steven Spielberg, part infinity: Steven Spielberg

I. Duel (1971) II. Something Evil  (1972) III. Savage (1973) IV. The Sugarland Express (1974) V. Jaws (1975) VI. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) VII. 1941 (1979) VIII. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) IX. Poltergeist** (1982) X. E.T.: The Extraterrestrial (1982) XI. Twilight Zone: The Movie* (1983) XII. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) XIII. The Goonies*** (1985) XIV. The Color Purple (1985) XV. Empire of the Sun (1987) XVI. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) XVII. Always (1989) XVIII. Arachnophobia*** (1990) XIX. Hook (1991) XX. Jurassic Park (1993) XXI. Schindler's List (1993) XXII. The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997) XXIII. Amistad (1997) XXIV. Saving Private Ryan (1998) A.I.: Artificial Intelligence (2001) XXVI. Minority Report (2002) XXVII. Catch Me If You Can (2002) XXVIII. The Terminal (2004) XXIX. War of the Worlds (2005) XXX. Munich (2005) XXXI. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crytstal Skull (2008) XXXII. The Adventures of Tintin (2011) XXXIII. War Horse (2011) XXXIV. Lincoln (2012) XXXV. Bridge of Spies (2015) XXXVI. The BFG (2016) XXXVII. The Post (2017) XXXVIII. Ready Player One (2018)

What more could I say, that I haven't said already?  Steven Spielberg is, as far as I'm concerned, a living god—hell, at least a living demigod.  He started off with perfection (and on TV, no less!) with Duel, and only got better from there.  Forty-five years later, the man can boast of the best body of work of anyone who ever touched a camera, with fully eight nine straight-up masterpieces, virtually flawless in their construction, standing atop more than a dozen other merely great films.  He's the kind of director that when he releases something that's only good, you're disappointed.  Yeah, he's amazing.  And handsome.  The end.

...Okay, I suppose I could try to unify this retrospective into one easily-digestible essay.  Over the past several months, we've surveyed the evolution of a master: from the peerless purveyor of popular entertainment, who invented the blockbuster with Jaws and co-invented the timeless super-franchise with Indiana Jones, to the serious man who sought to chronicle history, beginning with The Color Purple and Empire of the Sun, and finally arriving in full force with the once-in-a-generation event that was Schindler's List, which maintains its status to this day as the only Holocaust movie that anybody has ever actually wanted to watch.

Spielberg the Entertainer came from an innocent and unfettered place, where instinct combined with rarefied technical skills, and he turned dreams into celluloid with nothing lost in the translation.  It is my contention, and I think you might agree, that the less thoughtful and less mature Spielberg was, the better he was; before he was struck with self-knowledge, his films were purer in their raw spectacle and even rawer emotionalism.  He latched like a lamprey upon his two favorite themes, supernatural wonderment and the breakdown of families, especially the breakdown of relationships between fathers and sons, and virtually every movie he ever made was just one more attempt to solve his own personal issues within a seemingly endless series of mind-blowing fantasies.  The wave crested with Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, which is still the most perfect distillation of Spielberg's father issues ever made—indeed, maybe the most perfect vehicle for filial emotion ever devised, so that despite the fact that Last Crusade is one of Spielberg's stupidest, most senseless narratives, it is also his most tear-jerking, which, for my purposes, is an easy enough synonym for "profound."  (On that note, could any director have been luckier than Spielberg, when he found his single most important collaborator, composer John Williams, whose ability to dominate human emotions with sound has been equaled only by Spielberg's ability to do it with sight?  I mean, not so much lately, but you know, back in the day, when he was coining iconic themes left and right, like normal folks change their socks.)

But then, something happened: Spielberg realized what he was doing, and self-consciousness seeped into his work.  More often, he toned himself down; or, when he did intend to manipulate your feelings, you could now tell that he was doing it completely and 100% on purpose.  The last time, I think, that Spielberg hit our screens, without a filter, must have been the ending of Schindler's List.  And, yes, Schindler's melodramatic breakdown is what turned a great movie into a perfect one; and don't let anybody tell you otherwise.

Maudlin sentimentality still marks his work.  Only now, it tends to be cut with a whole lot of grown-up cynicism.  A.I. is rightly considered the turning point, and that one is a bleak and unforgiving movie—indeed, its ending is made moderately dysfunctional by Spielberg's apparent unwillingness to own up to just how bleak and unforgiving his story was.  Later, he'd arrive with weepies like The Terminal and War Horse, and they would work—Spielberg's too good for them not to work—but you could see his hand, right there, earnestly trying to poke you right in the fucking eye.

Sometimes, the added thoughtfulness backfired; he's never been a thoughtful filmmaker by nature, and overthinking things (alongside a compulsion to put some kind of emotional satisfaction into everything he made) perhaps led to that idiosyncratic condition, known as the "Spielberg Ending," where things either fall apart as a logical construct, or just keep freaking going, despite the fact that a conclusion was reached forty minutes ago.  For examples of the former, see The Lost World: Jurassic Park, A.I., The Terminal, War of the Worlds, and, according to most commentators, though not yours truly, Saving Private Ryan.  For the latter, see Catch Me If You Can, Lincoln, and even, to some degree, the otherwise bodacious Adventures of Tintin.  (And The BFG is a special case: the ending certainly makes sense, but you'd almost prefer it if it were just plain broken, if only it were also satisfying.)  It all began, however, with The Color Purple—notably the first "Serious Spielberg" film there was, and which marches on long past the point where it needed to have stopped.

But note well that this isn't to dismiss the even more numerous Spielberg movies that end like glittering flawless diamonds: Duel; The Sugarland Express; Jaws; every Indy movie, even the one no one likes, but especially the first three; Close Encounters; E.T.; Empire of the Sun; the aforementioned List; Amistad; SPR; War Horse; Munich.  (In fact, if you want to get technical, Munich has a Spielberg Ending that goes on for like a whole damned hour, and has a potentially-filmbreaking attempt to shoehorn in the director's usual melodramatic fixations, albeit in a very unusual way—sex!—but Munich actually uses its longeurs to say something for once, rather than just indifferently wind down a narrative that the director didn't know how to finish.  And that's one reason why Munich is so damned great.)  Oh, but lest we forget: if you wanted, you could add 1941 to both lists of terrible Spielberg endings; hell, you might even have to.  If you asked me, however, that movie collapses in upon itself like a black hole due to the Zemeckian factor, not the Spielbergian one.

(And that's a good a segue as any for a minor point: over the years, Spielberg also produced 150 or so motion pictures, via both Amblin Entertainment and DreamWorks SKG.  Hey, you don't become a triple billionaire by just directing things, you know.  We have taken a look at some of his most important productions—or, at least, his best—notably in our Robert Zemeckis retrospective, for it was Spielberg who united the Back to the Future Trilogy with money, and the rest is history.  We likewise took a glance at a few of his other productions during this retrospective, taking aim at Poltergeist, The Goonies, and Arachnophobia.  Should we have reviewed An American Tail, too?  Almost certainly!  But, honestly, An American Tail kind of sucks, and I really, really didn't want to watch it twice in a single calendar year.  So please accept DreamWorks' attempt to step on Disney's feet, The Prince of Egypt, as a consolation prize; since at least that piece of Greater Spielberg is actually awesome.)

Anyway: Spielberg's growing cynicism, fueled by the new political climate after September 11th, hit its peak with Munich—his last masterpiece, and by far his most adult motion picture of all.  But even as the old, child-sized tools went unused, new frontiers beckoned to Spielberg, and at least since 1993, an experimental bent, and a renewed love for formalism, has increasingly defined a director who was once (and to a huge degree remains) a committed populist: and so we have, in order, List, a black-and-white movie with radically different shooting styles, depending upon which character is in focus; Jurassic Park, one of the first examples of a CGI-driven cinema of attractions; Saving Private Ryan, a war-is-hell exercise that does its level best to make you puke on your living room floor; Minority Report, a bleach-bypass antiseptic dystopia; Munich, a paranoid thriller that could have been made right alongside the terrible events it depicts; Tintin, proof that Spielberg could make one hell of a bitchin' cartoon, and also that mo-cap animation could work (take that, Zemeckis!); and War Horse, which is so classicist in its influences that, in the context of 2011, it honestly feels experimental.

That leaves us with his Late Period work, where the new thoughtfulness of the Serious Filmmaker has threatened to overwhelm the instinctive Entertainer; indeed, it's only here that the Two Spielbergs actually seem to diverge, since even Spielberg's very dourest films (List, Amistad, SPR) were all still intended to be compelling.  But, in 2012 and 2015, Spielberg set himself to the creation of a pair of edifying historical bores, Lincoln and especially Bridge of Spies, adequate films that still have the power to moderately entertain—but could thrill no one.  Meanwhile, The BFG, his latest film, simply feels fatigued; though at least it's fun (not to mention actually attractive, for the first time in a while in a Spielberg joint).

Does that mean what you think it does?  Of course: we couldn't close a Spielberg retrospective without once again mentioning the muse who led him into the second half of his career, good old Janusz Kaminski, Spielberg's cinematographer on virtually everything he's done since Schindler (the only exception was the cartoon).  So: Christ, Janusz Kaminski, what is your deal?  You can be amazing one movie, and wretched the next.  Schindler remains the DP's greatest achievement, and that's certainly not nothing; indeed, any man who could shoot such disparate films as A.I., Minority Report, The Terminal, and Munich can only be called "genius."  But as Spielberg visibly disengaged from aesthetics in 2012, in his zeal to deliver history without special adornment, at least beyond the essential "movieness" of all of Spielberg's films, what he and Kaminski actually did was simply default to their basic aesthetic—and their basic aesthetic is obnoxious and awful.  (See also, Catch Me If You Can, a near-waste of its time period.)  The BFG, whatever its flaws, at least represents a recognition that if you have a cinematographer like Kaminski, he must be given concrete tasks.  Do that, and he is amazing; do nothing, and what you get is merely a shaft of light, stamping on a human face forever.

So let us celebrate the man, despite his late-career slip!  (I guess that's why he's only a demigod, right?)  If we're lucky, he'll be with us for years to come, and his next films are already announced: The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara (another chronicle, which at least promises to be less narratively and emotionally dry than Bridge of Spies) and Ready Player One (which I assume will be kind of like Pixels, except not psychotically terrible).  (ETA: And that is not exactly what Ready Player One was--it's more like A.I.: But Fun--but I guess Pixels Except Not Psychotically Terrible does capture a lot of it.  Meanwhile, there's The Post, which just kind of snuck up on us, but proved that Spielberg's ability to chronicle history has not permanently atrophied.)

In the spirit of celebration, then, you will find below a ranked list of all of Spielberg's movies, from Duel to The BFG The Post Ready Player One and damned near everything in between (regrettably, Spielberg's third TV movie, Savage, is not available in any form I'm aware of; it is the sole omission).  What I want to direct your attention to is not just how many are great, but also how few of them are actually bad.  How many filmmakers can say that, in forty-seven years and thirty-one theatrically-released films, they only made three crappy ones, plus one lousy TV movie?  The answer, of course, is "nobody."

33. SOMETHING EVIL  (3/10)
31. ALWAYS (5/10)
30. 1941 (5.01/10)
29. BRIDGE OF SPIES  (6/10)
28. CATCH ME IF YOU CAN  (6/10)
27. HOOK  (6/10)
26. LINCOLN  (6/10)
25. THE SUGARLAND EXPRESS  (6/10)
24. THE COLOR PURPLE  (7/10)
23. THE BFG (7/10)
22. WAR OF THE WORLDS  (7/10)
20. WAR HORSE  (8/10)
19. THE POST (8/10)
18. CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND  (8/10)
17a. TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE*  (8/10)
17. EMPIRE OF THE SUN (9/10)
16. SAVING PRIVATE RYAN  (9/10)
14. AMISTAD  (9/10)
12. THE TERMINAL  (9/10)
11. A.I.: ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE  (9/10)
10. JURASSIC PARK  (9/10)
9b. POLTERGEIST**  (9/10)
9a. THE GOONIES***  (9/10)
9. MINORITY REPORT (10/10)
8a. ARACHNOPHOBIA*** (10/10)
8. MUNICH  (10/10)
7. DUEL  (10/10)
6. READY PLAYER ONE (10/10)
5.  SCHINDLER'S LIST  (10/10)
4.  JAWS  (10/10)

Films marked with one asterisk (*) indicate anthology films which Spielberg directed one segment of, but since the specific anthology film I'm referring to is Twilight Zone: The Movie, and Spielberg's segment kinda blows, I don't feel comfortable treating it like a Spielberg flick.  Maybe if this were a Joe Dante or George Miller retrospective, I'd be willing to attribute the ownership—but not so much here.
Films marked with two asterisks (**) indicate films "directed" by Tobe Hooper, but actually directed by Steven Spielberg.  Maybe.
Films marked with three asterisks (***) indicate films which Spielberg produced, and had a real hand in, but did not direct.

Steven Spielberg, part XXXVI: Clearly, snozzcumbers do not offer adequate nutrition for the growing giant


THE BFG

Spielberg comes back to the kid's adventure, and the severity of the disappointment quite naturally overshadows the modesty of the achievement.

2016
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Written by Melissa Mathison (based on the novel by Roald Dahl)
With Ruby Barnhill (Sophie), Mark Rylance (The BFG), Penelope Wilton (Queen Elizabeth II Windsor), and Jermaine Clement (Fleshlumpeater)

Spoiler alert: moderate

Monday, July 4, 2016

F.T.: The Flatulent Terrestrial


SWISS ARMY MAN

Well, there might be weirder movies out there, but very, very few wear their weirdness this well.

2016
Written and directed by Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert
With Paul Dano (Hank), Daniel Radcliffe (Manny), and Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Sarah)

Spoiler alert: moderate