Sunny Days in Heaven
Spiritual/Political/Philosophical Blog on the Nature of Truth and Falsehood and Heaven

Saturday, June 26, 2004  

Put another nickel in the nickelodeon

Barbara Nicolosi has some pithy things to say about Speilberg's essential problem as a director vis a vis his new movie Terminal.

. . . Speilberg can't seem to buy the ticket for the one thing he wants most: To be a great cinematic master - an artist more than a populist. And what separates the craftsman from the artist? Theme. Spielberg wants desperately to say something original and important, but he doesn't seem to have it in him. Even Shindler's List failed in this. It was horrific, compelling, memorable -- but also devastatingly obvious.

How else to explain the cinematic meandering that Spielberg is engaged with in his last couple of cute little movies? Catch Me if You Can and The Terminal are both over-produced little stories that have elements of sweetness and light, but which ultimately feel hollow. There just isn't any there, there.

The director has desperately tried to make himself a brilliant reputation with films like AI, (Pathetic attempt to appropriate Kubrick's spiritual distortion. On Spielberg it just felt embarrassingly pretentious.) Minority Report (Fun film. Too bad the real minorities here were the deep insights.) and Saving Private Ryan (The battle scenes are amazing. The insight into men at arms was awol.) All of these faltered under Speilberg's facile gremlin. Borrowing from Flannery O'Connor, Speilberg just can't seem to give up finding cause and effect solutions for every human problem. He has no comfort with mystery - and so his movies all end up feeling pretty pat.

Speilberg is a good enough director to know when he isn't hitting the marks, so there are smatterings of atttempts to generate conflict by creating a contrived villain, and to heighten the stakes by suggesting a love-story -- but ultimately, the film fails because it never becomes what it is essentially about. That is, it should have been about being a man without a country, but these issues are skirted over completely. (There was a cool movie, Man Without a Country that I saw in high school. Made a huge impression on me.) It was like Jurassic Park never really got to the issue of "When Man Tries to Be God, He Ends Up Making Monsters." Or, in AI, the movie never gets deep into what should have been its fundamental question: "So, What Makes a Human Soul?!"

posted by Mark Butterworth | 1:33 AM |