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Entries in Steven Spielberg (46)


RIP: Melissa Mathison (1950 - 2015)

Melissa Mathison, Oscar-nominated screenwriter of E.T., has passed away at 65. 

She gave us the film's iconic "E.T. phone home," but what connects each viewing is her rich understanding of the hearts and minds of children. She got to the part deep within all of us that was afraid of growing up and change, of trying to hold tightly to what would only be taken away from us. Adding this insight with natural and efficient dialogue, she turned uncomplex phrases like "Be good" and "I'll be right here" into primal moments loaded with childhood longing.

A mother of two herself, her grasp of the young mindset was also at play in her adaptations of The Black Stallion and The Indian in the Cupboard, and provided unique insight into the Dalai Lama for Kundun.

A natural fit to the fascinations of Spielberg, her gifts will be greatly missed. Coming in the year ahead, we will luckily have one last collaboration from the pair: the Roald Dahl motion-capture adaptation of The BFG. Material perfectly suited to her skills, it's a chance to celebrate her again.

RIP Melissa Mathison


Posterized: 21st Century Spielberg

Spielberg & his current muse, Tom HanksDepending on whether you count 1971's Duel as Spielberg's debut (it's a TV film but most cinephiles seem to count it where they don't count television features as the debuts of other auteurs) Bridge of Spies, opening today, is Steven Spielberg's 25th or 26th full length feature film. His superstar-making run as an auteur (1975's Jaws through 1985's The Color Purple) is so often discussed and mythologized that for this week's edition of Posterized, let's just look at his output in this new century.

Bridge of Spies, the new cold-war thriller starring Tom Hanks, headlining his 4th Spielberg picture, appears to be divvying people up into two camps from early reviews. Doubters say it's too slow and lacks thrills. Devotees praise it's glorious classical filmmaking. Will there be a Happy Medium crowd that meets in the middle and says, 'a little dull sure but worth it for the glorious classical filmmaking'?  We all have time to decide now that the movie's open.

How many of Spielberg's eleven most recent films have you seen?
All the posters and what's next for Spielberg after the jump...

Click to read more ...


NYFF: Spielberg's frosty Bridge of Spies

Manuel reporting from the New York Film Festival on Steven Spielberg's latest Cold War film.

Bridge of Spies opens with a man working on a self-portrait. There’s a weariness to his features that he’s ably translating from his mirrored reflection onto his canvas. There’s a purpose to every brush stroke he takes. He works methodically. Silently.

Spielberg, long admired for large-scale adventures and expertly crafted action sequences, seems to have entered a quieter phase of his career. While War Horse seemed to play to his strengths, while trying John Ford on for size, the talky Lincoln showed that the director could create a kinetic urgency even in what was, for the most part, a chamber piece about laws and votes. Bridge of Spies pushes further still in this direction. Yes, we’re dealing with spies, and fallen aircrafts, government agents and tense phone calls, but at its heart, this is yet another installment of the Cold War-as-bureaucracy genre. [More...]

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Beauty vs Beast: Fourth Rock From the Sun

Hi there everybody, Jason from MNPP here with this week's edition of "Beauty vs Beast," wherein we ask you to choose your poison -- good against bad, hero versus villain. Well... except this week. We're using the occasion of Ridley Scott's film The Martian, which is out in theaters on Friday, to take a look back at two of my favorite movie visitors from Mars...

And as it turns out they're all positively wicked, the lot of 'em. Whatcha gonna do? Man and movie-kind's been almost always terrified of that red dot in the sky since time immemorial. So I guess think of this week's question this way -- who do you think you'd stand a better chance against? The Tripods from War of the Worlds (you're fine with either version) or the Martians from Tim Burton's Mars Attacks? And tell us why in the comments...

PREVIOUSLY Last week we wandered dreamily around a Tokyo hotel with Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson in Lost in Translation - but who'd we end up bringing back to our room? By the narrowest of margins (less than 2%) it was Bill we wanted whispering in our ears. Said STinG:

"I feel like when a movie that is semi-autobiographical to Sofia Coppola still intellectually favors the Bill Murray character for his unspoken existential pains than her still interesting surrogate in Charlotte. Well, it's no contest for me. Bobs all the way!"


Thoughts I had while staring at that new Bridge of Spies Poster

Manuel here. I had to check but it strikes me that for a film that ranked #8 in TFE’s collective “We Can’t Wait!” list, we haven’t really discussed the upcoming Tom Hanks/Steven Spielberg film, Bridge of Spies. I saw this poster displayed at my local multiplex and well, I had to share some of my thoughts on it.

• Floating head? Noooooo!
• It is a bit of an improvement over that floating head/flag one from a few months back.
• Hanks does give good furrowed brow.
• Red and black and white makes for a clean design and the typography clearly alludes to the film’s Cold War themes but this poster really isn’t helping you figure out the plot other than reminding you that Hanks is (yet again) playing an “honest man." To be fair, from the trailer, it looks like a hard one to boil down to a simple plot synopsis.
• Why isn’t Spielberg’s name more prominently displayed? Even those Daniel Day-Lewis-heavy posters for Lincoln had the “A Steven Spielberg” line a tad more visible.
• No “Academy Award Winner”? (but then Hanks has never been one to brag)
• At least the bottom of the film aims to remind you of that other Hanks/Spielberg’s collaboration, Catch Me If You Can, and its amazing opening titles. Still one of the best Spielbergs and just think of its young actressy roster: Amy Adams, Ellen Pompeo, Jennifer Garner, Elizabeth Banks, even a blink-and-you’ll-miss-her Amy Acker!
• That bottom half is also slightly Hitchcockian (and by that, I mean it’s a Saul Bassian riff on North by Northwest, no?)
• It’s also giving off The International vibes
• Are the red I's… bridges? I’m baffled by that design choice but maybe that’s why I’m not in movie poster designing business since I’d have squeezed in Amy Ryan into this poster and somehow made sure to remind you that Mark Rylance and Billy Magnussen are also in it.

Does this poster boost or dim your excitement?


Beauty vs Beast: When Dinosaurs Ruled The Earth

Jason from MNPP here with this week's "Beauty vs Beast" -- actually it's more of a "Beast vs Beast" this time around, as we're finally tackling the movie franchise sixty-five million and twenty-two years in the making and as much as I love all of the Ellie Sattlers and Ian Malcolms let's not fool ourselves - we go to Jurassic Park movies to see the dinosaurs of our childhood dreams be brought to (terrifying, realistic) life. Jurassic World is out on Friday and as much hyped in the trailers they're giving us a new dinosaur, the Indominus Rex. It's a genetic hybrid, spliced together from blah and blah and didn't they learn anything from the Spinosaurus fizzle in Part III? We know they need new toys to produce but we just want the classics. The originals are, as always, the best. But which is King of the Park?


Before anybody nerds out on me I know that scientists now believe the T-Rex's "movement-based vision" thing is no longer the case but hey, it's what the movie believes, so it's true for this T-Rex. You've got a week to vote! And please, no write-in's for Chris Pratt. Doesn't he have enough already?


E.T.'s Wish Fulfillment Fantasy

National Bike to Work Week. Here's Lynn.

It’s fun to zip around on a bike, but who among us hasn’t dreamed of having a bike that can literally fly?  If The Wizard of Oz engraved the image of a flying bicyclist into our brains as the ultimate nightmare (that moment when the mean neighbor turns into the Wicked Witch of the West still sends chills down the spine), then E.T. replaced it with the ultimate wish-fulfillment fantasy for legions of ’80s kids everywhere.

In a movie filled with memorable images, this one (which Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment would later adopt as its logo) remains the most iconic.  Separated from the film, there’s something haunting, even melancholy, about the sight of that tiny silhouette suspended against the giant, low-lying full moon – a hint, maybe, that E.T. must wane before he waxes again.  Yet the memory it evokes is Elliot’s incredulous joy as E.T. lifts his bike into the night, accompanied by John Williams’ soaring strings.  No matter how many times you’ve seen it, it still feels like the first time.  Never mind that the scene was shot against a blue screen, with cranes, and the footage of the forest and moon added in post-production.  It’s still magic.

The second liftoff comes at a much tenser moment, following an emotionally draining sequence in which E.T. dies and is brought back to life, and a white-knuckle bike chase – a standout scene in itself – in which E.T. and the boys are almost cornered several times by the authorities.  The suspense is surprisingly drawn out, as the viewer knows by now that E.T. has the power of flight at his fingertips and can’t help wondering, What’s he waiting for, why doesn’t he do it?

The moment he finally does, taking the boys with him, brings as much relief as exhilaration.  It also marks a brief return to the joy and wonder of the first half of the film before the imminent four-hankie farewell.  Once again, we have the image, now expanded, of a whole row of bikes against a large bright orb.  This time it’s the sun—a setting sun.  E.T.’s time on earth is drawing to an end.  But we’ll always remember when he made our bikes fly.