Patrick R

The Ranking Of the films of Steven Spielberg By The Coward Robert Ford

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If I were to re-watch Crystal Skull I'm almost certain I'd find it awful. But when I watched it as a 17 year old I thought it was decent, and I think I gave it more credit than it deserved because I disagreed with other teenagers' arguments for why it was bad. Arguments that boiled down to "aliens were an awful choice" (which I still disagree with) or "the fridge scene was idiotic" (...which it was, but at the time I didn't think that sufficient reason to dismiss the entire movie). 

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I didn't rewatch AI this year, but my memory is that all the really compelling stuff is mostly in the first and last 20 minutes and all the Futuristic Oliver Twist/Pinocchio stuff in the middle is interminable and leans into all of Spielberg's worst tendencies. There's a lot of interesting writing about the dark portrait of humanity AI paints but I've always found the actual act of watching it to be a slog.

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7 minutes ago, Patrick R said:

I didn't rewatch AI this year, but my memory is that all the really compelling stuff is mostly in the first and last 20 minutes and all the Futuristic Oliver Twist/Pinocchio stuff in the middle is interminable and leans into all of Spielberg's worst tendencies. There's a lot of interesting writing about the dark portrait of humanity AI paints but I've always found the actual act of watching it to be a slog.

 

It does feel like three separate movies, all of which come off as longer than they should because Spielberg seems to have forgotten what pacing is and has a "kitchen sink" approach to his worldbuilding.

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See here for more crazy people thinking Crystal Skull was good.

 

I'm surprised people are picking the raptor kitchen scene as an example of bad CG in JP. Can anyone highlight particular shots? As I remember it, it's mostly practical, and the few CG shots (like when the one raptor jumps up onto a surface, I think) blend in really well.

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5 minutes ago, Ben X said:

See here for more crazy people thinking Crystal Skull was good.

 

I'm surprised people are picking the raptor kitchen scene as an example of bad CG in JP. Can anyone highlight particular shots? As I remember it, it's mostly practical, and the few CG shots (like when the one raptor jumps up onto a surface, I think) blend in really well.

 

I agree—at least when I last watched the full movie a year or two ago, I didn't find that scene distracting or poor.

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1 hour ago, Ben X said:

See here for more crazy people thinking Crystal Skull was good.

I'm gratified that the opinion I expressed back then is identical to the one I've expressed now. It makes me feel confident that I'm not making shit up: I actually have a consistent viewpoint over time!

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1 hour ago, Ben X said:

See here for more crazy people thinking Crystal Skull was good.

 

I'm surprised people are picking the raptor kitchen scene as an example of bad CG in JP. Can anyone highlight particular shots? As I remember it, it's mostly practical, and the few CG shots (like when the one raptor jumps up onto a surface, I think) blend in really well.

 

1 hour ago, Chris said:

 

I agree—at least when I last watched the full movie a year or two ago, I didn't find that scene distracting or poor.

 

To me, at least, the raptors look conspicuously washed out because it's one of the few CG scenes done in decent lighting (the Gallimimus herd and the final battle in the atrium are the other two, but both are fast-moving and that makes it less obvious). Also, with so many reflective surfaces, the direction has to work around the practicalities of technology and there are more than a few shots that seem framed primarily to save the CG workload.

 

Like I said, it's an excellent scene in its staging and execution, it's just the low point of the movie's graphical splendor to me.

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Here's a nice vid about JP's use of CGI:

 

 

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The only other film from the Jurassic Park period that has aged as well is Starship Troopers and that is mainly because Verhoeven knew to mix practical with CGI.

 

As for how my list might look:

1. Duel (TV movie)

2. Jurassic Park

3. Raiders of the Lost Ark

4. War of the Worlds

5. The Terminal

6. Catch Me If You Can

7. Saving Private Ryan

8. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

9. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

10. Hook

11. Minority Report

 

In Equal place for films I could not give a fuck about:

 - Close Encounters of the Third Kind

 - Empire of the Sun

  - Schindler's List

 - Jaws

 - The Color Purple

 - 1941

  - ET

 - The Lost World: Jurassic Park

 - Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

 - A.I.

 

The rest I haven't seen. Fucking Spielbergh is terrible

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When you specify "Duel (TV movie)" do you mean you prefer the original 74-minute tv movie cut to the 90 minute theatrical one?

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When you specify you don't give a fuck about Jaws, do you mean you're a crazy person or that you think it's slanderous towards sharks and therefore politically inexcusable? 

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Oh yeah, that also (the rest I can understand even though I think CE3K is great).

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5 hours ago, Patrick R said:

When you specify you don't give a fuck about Jaws, do you mean you're a crazy person or that you think it's slanderous towards sharks and therefore politically inexcusable? 

 

I could see a multiverse version of me that doesn't like Jaws for a chance intersection of a few undesirable elements... but that version of me definitely isn't me, Jaws rules.

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This is making me shamefully aware of how few Spielberg movies I've seen. I was actually just enjoying this video essay on his use and style of long one-shots and thought it belonged here. 

 

I think I have much more fondness for Last Crusade than most because my grandpa taped it off TV and gave me the VHS. It was always around, while Raiders was something I would rent regularly. I wouldn't see Temple till I had already established Indy's universe in that context, and it seemed shockingly ugly, loud, and garish. Which I did find weirdly captivating, it was like an underground comix version of an established favorite.

I find that most of my film tastes were sculpted by my grandfather's obsessive and cheap habit of taping any movie he thought was decent with his unlimited cable plan, then giving tapes to each of his kids. Why did I grow up with a tape that had on it Gold Rush, Modern Times, and City Lights, in that order, while my cousin grew up wearing out a tape of Duel and Close Encounters? I will never know, but I think he was loosely trying to sculpt his grand-kids in different directions, to see how they would play out, taste-wise. 

@Patrick R If you haven't already, I'd love to see your power rankings for Cohen Bros. films. 

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Woah, I just watched that Spielberg Oner yesterday! And it's not like we were both led to it by a forum discussion either  - I was looking at Tor Books, which took me to tor.com which took me to a video about Roger Rabbit, the comments of which took me to Every Frame A Painting. Spooky.

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3 hours ago, Rilen said:

 If you haven't already, I'd love to see your power rankings for Cohen Bros. films. 

 

I could do it (I've seen them all) but I did the Spielberg one after specifically watching a lot of his movies in a year, whereas the last Coen Brothers movie I saw was Hail Caesar when it was in theaters, so it'd be a lot more wishy-washy. Also, A Serious Man would be my Jurassic Park, as far as movies that just don't do it for me go.

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Update: I watched A.I. and would give it a 73.That puts it at #12, bumping Jurassic Park etc. down on my list. I've been listening to the Blank Check Podcast lately, working my way through all their episodes, and soon I'll be getting to Spielberg, so I want to watch those films before I listen to a podcast about them. 

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Finished listening to the Blank Check Spielberg series, which means I also finished watching through all of his latest movies. My new list (compare it to my earlier one for extra fun!) - scores out of 100 as before:

 

1. Raiders of the Lost Ark (100)

2. Jaws (95)

3. Schindler's List (91)

4. Munich (90)

5. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (90)

6. Saving Private Ryan (89)

7. Bridge of Spies (86)

8. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (84)

9. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (83(

10. Catch Me If You Can (81)

11. War of the Worlds (80)

12. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (79)

12. The Adventures of Tintin (79)

14. Minority Report (77)

14. Lincoln (77)

16. Jurassic Park (68)

17. War Horse (64)

18. The Terminal (62)

19. The BFG (60)

19. Amistad (60)

21. The Lost World: Jurassic Park (56)

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On 04/03/2017 at 8:50 PM, Ben X said:

When you specify "Duel (TV movie)" do you mean you prefer the original 74-minute tv movie cut to the 90 minute theatrical one?

I've only seen what people call the TV movie so I always specify that one. If there is a 90 minute theatrical cut I should check that out.

 

As for Jaws, oh man, it holds pride position next to 'The Negotiator' and 'Anti-Christ' as film I have fallen asleep during the most times (I think it is about 5 times).

 

I find Jaws a deeply tedious film to sit through, I don't care about the characters and I find it devoid of any tension. It is framed sort of like a Western and I think that is why I tend to fall asleep during it. My brain switches off when there is the deliberate moment for character exposition and then I am gone until the loud bits.

 

 

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I just recorded a commentary track on Duel so, to clear things up, there is only one cut, the theatrical cut, currently available. It was shot as a 74 minute TV movie but it turned out so well that immediately after airing they shot four extra scenes to prepare a theatrical version for international audiences. The thing is, for this longer version they didn't just add new scenes, they actually went back and re-cut and tightened a lot of the big sequences that were sloppy due to the rushed post-production schedule. So even a fan-edit of the theatrical cut that cut out those extra scenes wouldn't be the same movie audiences saw on TV in 1971.

 

It's this longer version that then would subsequently re-air on TV in America, so the original TV cut was actually probably seen by much less people than the theatrical one. And, considering this all occurred before the era of VCRs, there aren't even bootlegs of the original TV cut in circulation. It presumably exists somewhere but, given that it's edited sloppier, you can see why they've never included it on a home video release, even though for historical reasons they really should.

 

To further muddy things, the film was obviously shot with TV in mind (aka 1.33:1 ratio) but the extra scenes were shot with the theater in mind (1.85:1 ratio), and when it played in theaters they expanded the whole film to 1.85:1, which added some continuity errors and mistakes at times on those scenes originally shot for 4:3. The DVD release of Duel is 1.33:1 and the blu-ray release is 1.85:1, so as a home viewer you have to choose whether to see the bulk of the film in the "wrong" ratio or the scenes added for theaters in the "wrong" ratio. If I had the hardware necessary I'd construct a fan-edit where the ratio changes like a Christopher Nolan movie.

 

And also probably cut out the school bus scene that stops the film dead.

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Huh, I didn't know about the aspect ratios. That film really needs a CE3K style 'multiple versions' blu-ray release.

 

Tycho, I find your ranking to also be solid, though in this context I'd be rating Crystal Skull and Tintin low-70s and Jurassic Park high 80s.

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18 hours ago, Patrick R said:

I just recorded a commentary track on Duel so, to clear things up, there is only one cut, the theatrical cut, currently available. It was shot as a 74 minute TV movie but it turned out so well that immediately after airing they shot four extra scenes to prepare a theatrical version for international audiences. The thing is, for this longer version they didn't just add new scenes, they actually went back and re-cut and tightened a lot of the big sequences that were sloppy due to the rushed post-production schedule. So even a fan-edit of the theatrical cut that cut out those extra scenes wouldn't be the same movie audiences saw on TV in 1971.

 

It's this longer version that then would subsequently re-air on TV in America, so the original TV cut was actually probably seen by much less people than the theatrical one. And, considering this all occurred before the era of VCRs, there aren't even bootlegs of the original TV cut in circulation. It presumably exists somewhere but, given that it's edited sloppier, you can see why they've never included it on a home video release, even though for historical reasons they really should.

 

To further muddy things, the film was obviously shot with TV in mind (aka 1.33:1 ratio) but the extra scenes were shot with the theater in mind (1.85:1 ratio), and when it played in theaters they expanded the whole film to 1.85:1, which added some continuity errors and mistakes at times on those scenes originally shot for 4:3. The DVD release of Duel is 1.33:1 and the blu-ray release is 1.85:1, so as a home viewer you have to choose whether to see the bulk of the film in the "wrong" ratio or the scenes added for theaters in the "wrong" ratio. If I had the hardware necessary I'd construct a fan-edit where the ratio changes like a Christopher Nolan movie.

 

And also probably cut out the school bus scene that stops the film dead.

 

Weird, I wonder what version I have watched then - everyone referred to it as the TV movie, maybe I have just watched the full version but internalised that it is the TV MOVIE version. Hmm.

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Since last time I posted here I've discovered that the 74 minute TV cut of Duel has played a limited number of times on TV in Europe, so it actually is possible that's what you've seen. Though as far as I know that's not available on video in any region.

 

Updated my list to include The Post, a movie I found massively disappointing. Really cliched and without even the base level story of investigative journalism (the Pentagon papers are literally dropped into the lap of the Washington Post with no work on their part) that makes these kinds of movies so exciting. Between this, The BFG and Ready Player One (which I haven't yet seen but looks awful) most of my interest in Spielberg's late career has gone out the window.

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Top 5 Spielberg films:

 

1. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

2. Jurassic Park

3. Saving Private Ryan

4. Minority Report

5. War of the Worlds

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