ACF Middlebrow #7: Spielberg


The Middlebrow series of the ACF is back! James Lileks and I talk about Steven Spielberg, who’s bringing out a new movie which looks to be a big hit: Ready Player One. We’re qualifiedly in favor of one last burst of that old black magic Spielberg has treated us since the mid-70s! We talk Jaws and Close Encounters, Indiana Jones and Jurassic Park. (Second half of his career in a future podcast.) We talk about the return of fascination and childish wonder to the American audience, as well as the darkness in his movies; the bias in favor of children, especially endangered children, as well as the manly love of danger and disregard for civilization. Listen, comment, share, and review our podcast, folks!

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Here’s the When The Walls Fell episode of Star Trek: TNG James mentions.

I talk about the return of the Tom Sawyer hero Spielberg often prefers and mention 1941, a very funny, if disheveled comedy. There are two of them in that one. That’s also the movie with the best musical choreography Spielberg has directed (YouTube link) and includes the John Williams swing number I mention in the conversation, reminiscent of “Sing, Sing, Sing.”

Also, James asks the question we should all be asking: Why wasn’t there a Titanic sequel? Listen for more on this important matter.

By the way, here’s the girl-ravished-in-the-ocean (YouTube link) scene from 1941 that parodies the opening of Jaws. Viewer indiscretion advised! The young lady, who was a model in that line of work, is in both movies.

There are 8 comments.

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  1. James Lileks Contributor
    James Lileks

    That was fun to do, and hope it’s as much fun to hear. 

    • #1
  2. Jamie Lockett Inactive
    Jamie Lockett

    @jameslileks I tried to get Titus on board with me about Raiders being Spielbergs finest early film, but alas he was recalcitrant. I listen now in the hopes that at least you agree with me. 

    • #2
  3. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera

    It also put me in the perfect mood to understand the combination of nostalgia & futurism in Ready Player One.

    Thanks a bunch, James, & see you next week!

    • #3
  4. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera

    Jamie Lockett (View Comment):

    @jameslileks I tried to get Titus on board with me about Raiders being Spielbergs finest early film, but alas he was recalcitrant. I listen now in the hopes that at least you agree with me.

    Boy, you really set yourself up for disappointment. Here, all I can do for you: Your man’s Peter Suderman. He loves the set pieces–the car chase above all–more than I do. Dunno about maybe more than you do, but there’s at least a chance.

    I watched the movie again a few days back. Everything everyone knows is wrong with the movie is even wronger than they think. But what Suderman hints at–the set pieces establish character actually–that’s true. If you think about it as a computer game, not a book, it makes a whole lot of sense. I’m coming around to thinking there’s something to the denouement. But I’m never watching it again.

    Of course, the Lockett case for its virtues could persuade me, if you should feel your Ricochet-oats…

    • #4
  5. Larry Koler Inactive
    Larry Koler

    I enjoyed you and James talking together. You work well together. 

    I liked AI better than you guys did, I guess. I found it oddly compelling in that it forced me to look at the very human issues that are enshrined in the movie: existence and identity. It did a great job with showing how a prime directive could be followed at every step, at every juncture of this awakened entity. What is real? I guess I have to fall back on Alan Turing’s general notion that if you can’t tell the difference between real and artificial then you are thrown back on the slight differences that are recognizable — that of the longevity of the hardware (his body) and the personality — and that is not determinative but it is finally a difference.

    The pathos that the film evokes is existential for us in its ability to obtain a purchase into the deeply buried dilemma that we humans constantly endure. I feel convinced that this is what the idea of such beings (?) reflect for us — our own existence and subsidiarily our identity. The Spielberg ending didn’t bother me at all. I was ready by that time to descend back into the cozy comfortable and safe fiction of my life.

    • #5
  6. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera

    I’m ambivalent about AI. But I see a lot of merit in it & it’s pleasant to watch. It’s the ending that made our jaws dropped. Left the mind reeling…

    • #6
  7. tigerlily Member

    Thanks guys – that was fun.

    • #7
  8. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera

    tigerlily (View Comment):

    Thanks guys – that was fun.

    Glad you liked it! Help us if you can–share it on social media, with friends, review us on iTunes, if you can!

    • #8

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