Steven Spielberg

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We learned that there are few things in the world that are more dangerous than a 25-foot-long great white shark in Steven Spielberg’s Jaws. Namely, aluminum SCUBA tanks. Why someone would strap on a mini-bomb of such design to their backs is beyond me, but divers do it every day. Of course, they rarely spontaneously explode, most likely because there isn’t a small-town sheriff firing a rifle at them while they dive. As Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) and Chief Brody (Roy Scheider) begin their mission aboard the Orca, one of Hooper’s SCUBA tanks falls over. Hooper immediately explains how dangerous this is and how the compressed air inside the tank could basically ignite the entire ship and wipe out life as we know it on planet earth. Okay, so he maybe doesn’t say those exact words, but the implication is clear: SCUBA tanks are hella dangerous and have the potential to explode. Fast-forward 45 minutes, and we find out that Jaws has sent Hooper fleeing to the continental slope, snacked on Orca captain Quint (Robert Shaw), and left the Orca sinking in a slick of oil and chum. In a last-ditch effort to save the day, Chief Brody climbs to the tilting mast and starts firing a rifle at the charging shark. With one of the best final dispatching lines in movie history (“Smile, you sonofabitch!”), he shoots the SCUBA tank lodged in Jaws’ jaws, and the shark explodes like a trailer park meth lab. So it got us wondering: […]

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What’s the perfect zombie-killing weapon? We settle the question with writer/director Joel Morgan, who may or may not be opening a crowbar store in the near future. And if one Apocalypse isn’t enough, we’ve got another in the form of comments made by Steven Spielberg about the inevitable “meltdown” of the Hollywood studio system. Geoff and I get our hands dirty with that one before appreciating and responding to this screenwriting post by Scott Myers at Go Into the Story. Grab your crowbar and prepare yourself. For more from us on a daily basis, follow Joel Morgan (@joelmorgan23), the show (@brokenprojector), Geoff (@drgmlatulippe) and Scott (@scottmbeggs) on the Twitter. And, as always, we welcome your feedback. Download Episode #21 Directly Or subscribe Through iTunes

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You can tell Man of Steel is the movie of the summer because none of us can stop writing about it. Would it be more or less covered if the Superman movie actually got mostly favorable reviews? It’s hard to say, as much of our and other outlets’ think pieces are a mix of pre-planned stuff on the character in general as well as superhero movies in general and reaction posts both about what the new movie gets wrong and right. All I know is I could have devoted this week’s whole Reject Recap to the ol’ Caped Kryptonian (is that not one of his nicknames?). Let me just point out that it’s deserving. While the official FSR review is fairly negative, I’ll admit that I love it. And it’s definitely worth seeing even if you have problems with much of it. As is clear, there’s so much to talk about. There’s a bunch to discuss on other topics and movies, too. We had two big stories involving the future of Hollywood, thoughts on some older favorites and some other characters’ announced returns, an update on real-life versions of characters from one of this week’s new releases and also a geeky comparison between video game consoles complete with their relevance to movie fans. Before we get to your week in review, here’s some trivia regarding the headline above: all are tied to Superman. Steven Spielberg and Arnold Schwarzenegger were both linked to Superman: The Movie and, well, some interns probably […]

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Hollywood Sign Broken

At a University of Southern California event celebrating their new Interactive Media Building, Steven Spielberg predicted that the studio system will eventually implode or face a “big meltdown” created when the right amount of giant-budget films flop all at once. Also at the event, George Lucas echoed the sentiment, and the two discussed the difficulties of bringing projects like Lincoln and Red Tails to fruition despite being two thoroughly established filmmakers. The Hollywood Reporter recorded some of Spielberg’s other insights, including the possibility of ticket price disparities in the future, but the core claim is still the most powerful. On the one hand, there’s a profundity to it. Spielberg worked hard to get to the view at the top, but it clearly hasn’t blinded him from what’s going on, and what he’s noting is no less than the fundamental alteration of a multi-billion-dollar industry. On the other, there’s also a dime store obviousness to what he’s saying. Of course Hollywood’s current model will eventually bottom out, just as all earlier models have. Sound destroyed silent films; the VCR changed the classic theater distribution model; and now studios are placing increasingly bigger bets on movies that will see global returns while home entertainment improves every minute. When there’s a single point of failure, you’re bound to hear a bubble burst eventually. When a half-dozen blockbusters bust, you’re bound to hear some film execs screaming.

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Three-hour lesbian drama Blue is the Warmest Color was announced the winner of the prestigious Palme d’Or at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, a choice that many foresaw as likely but not a sure thing. The jury that awarded the honor was led by Steven Spielberg and also included Nicole Kidman, Ang Lee, Christoph Waltz and Lynne Ramsay. For the second place Grand Prix winner, they picked the latest from the Coen Brothers, Inside Llewyn Davis, while for Jury Prize (considered the third biggest deal) they chose Hirokazu Kore-eda‘s Like Father, Like Son. Like Father, Like Son was also recipient of an honorable mention from the Christian-based Ecumenical Jury, whose top prize went to The Past — the star of which, Bérénice Bejo, was named Best Actress by the main Cannes jury. Blue is the Warmest Color also earned multiple honors from the fest, taking the critic choice FIPRESCI Award for the In Competition category. The biggest surprise of today’s announcement seems to be Spielberg and Co.’s naming of Bruce Dern as Best Actor for the new film from Alexander Payne, Nebraska. After the jump, you can find a full list of main jury winners (from the festival website) and other honorees announced over the weekend accompanied by links to our review of the film where available.

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Like Father, Like Son is a film almost guaranteed to have gone down well with this year’s head of the In Competition jury, Steven Spielberg, what with its shared focus on riveting drama concerning an increasingly destabilising family unit. For all of the visual pizzazz of Spielberg’s blockbusters, his films almost always return to matters of the family, and as such, it’s easy to see how the latest offering from I Wish director Kore-ada Hirokazu would very much appeal to his sensibilities if not also those of the rest of the jury. Nonoyima and Midori are a certifiably middle-upper class couple who have provided a life of privelige for their 6-year-old son, Keita. However, early on they are summoned to the hospital in which he was born and informed that, in fact, Keita is not their son; he was somehow switched with another at birth. They soon enough meet the parents of the other child, the Saikis, who have in effect been raising their biological son for the last 6 years. Inevitably, the question of what to do rears its head: maintain the status quo, or return the sons to their rightful parents?

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Briefly: Well, this is a nice surprise. THR reports that Steven Spielberg has quietly lined up his next directorial outing, a real feat considering the heat the film already has on it. The outlet shares that Spielberg will next helm an adaptation of American Sniper,  the true life tale of U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle that Bradley Cooper has long been developing as producer and star. While the film was already compelling enough when Cooper signed on back in May of last year, with Kyle’s career distinction of  recording more career sniper kills in United States military history than anyone else (160 confirmed kills out of 255 claimed kills), the story toook a decidely tragic turn when Kyle was shot and killed at a shooting range by a fellow veteran back in Februrary of this year.

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Tonight on Movie News After Dark, we start with new images from the HBO Game of Thrones production team, both of which include dragons. Because that’s what you’re in it for, right? Beyond dragons, we’ve also got words of warning for GoT book readers, stories about film criticism and the sounds of Michael Bay’s latest to send you off to the weekend. Okay, here’s one more dragon…

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Jurassic Park

While it’s easy enough to knock films that get a post-production 3D-conversion (err, sorry, G.I. Joe: Retaliation), this week’s Jurassic Park 3D is a true exception to the rule. The difference? Well, starting out with a solidly entertaining crowd-pleaser from Steven Spielberg sure doesn’t hurt. Turns out, Jurassic Park in 3D is still one hell of a ride, and that extra dimension is exactly what it should be – a nice bonus, but not essential to audience enjoyment. Are you ready to journey back to Isla Nubar, now with bonus raptor-popping? You should be. After the break, we eschew the standard review format to talk about Jurassic Park 3D (because, well, this movie came out twenty years ago) and give you eleven big reasons why you should shell out your hard-earned movie-going dollars to see the movie this weekend. Really, spare no expense on this one. Take the kids. Find the most giant screen you can. Get the big popcorn, too – all the better to jump out of your hands when a huge raptor leaps from the screen right into your face.

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You’re going to need some foam core, a few Jeeps and some black-tinted KY jelly. Such is the glamour of the filmmaking business. With Jurassic Park in theaters again, renowned special effects artist Shannon Shea joins us to talk about what it was like building dinosaurs and being on set for the Steven Spielberg picture. He was also nice enough to share some very rare behind-the-scenes pictures (and a dramatic reading of a scripted scene that never made the film). For more from us on a daily basis, follow the show (@brokenprojector), Geoff (@drgmlatulippe) and Scott (@scottmbeggs) on the Twitter. And, as always, we welcome your feedback. Download Episode #13 Directly Or subscribe Through iTunes

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Jurassic Park 4

For some time, the very thought of another entry into the Jurassic Park franchise has seemed like a minor joke being played upon fans. At one point, there was a notion that it would be about weaponizing dinosaurs with lasers. Or something along those lines. In recent years the project has been everything from a few little tidbits from Steven Spielberg to the actual hiring of screenwriters in the middle of last year. But that was so June 2012, they can’t possibly still be working on Jurassic Park 4, can they? They are. And as of today the project has signed on a very interesting choice to direct.

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Stanley Kubrick

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Steven Spielberg will be picking up where Stanley Kubrick left off. Following 2001: A Space Odyssey, Kubrick set out on a compulsive researching mission to make a movie about Napoleon Bonaparte happen. After years of preparing, the filmmaker was turned away from every studio because it would have been a historical epic at a blockbuster price. Turns out that historical fiction wasn’t good business at the time. That the man who just made a hit from Lincoln is picking up Kubrick’s unfinished film and turning it into a television miniseries is a testament to how things can change. The two collaborated once before, with Kubrick creating the concept for Spielberg’s A.I. Artificial Intelligence. Sadly, the iconic director didn’t live to see that film completed either. The world lost him in 1999. It’s a shame that Kubrick never got to make his epic, but there are few names better to take up the torch, craft something astounding and deliver it with fanfare to the biggest crowd possible. At any rate, Spielberg’s working with a script from Kubrick. It doesn’t get much more film geeky than that, even if it’ll never see theaters.

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Best Director

Let’s just get this out of the way right now. The Best Director category at this year’s Academy Awards, regardless of how it turns out, has been tainted by an incredible snub. No, I’m not referring to Kathryn Bigelow’s helming of the controversial Zero Dark Thirty or even Rupert Sanders’ double tap of Snow White and the Huntsman and Kristen Stewart. I’m talking about Ben Mothereffing Affleck. His third film as director, Argo, is nominated for seven Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Script, Best Editing and more, but the man himself did not make the cut. It’s anybody’s guess why, and while it obviously made Benh Zeitlin’s day, the rest of us are left wondering how exactly it happened. But don’t feel too bad for Affleck… not only will his movie take home the Oscar for Best Picture on February 24th but he and the film have been cleaning up elsewhere left and right. But that’s enough about Ben Affleck. Keep reading for a look at all five nominees for Best Director along with my predicted winner in red…

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This weekend, Steven Soderbergh’s Side Effects opened to better-than-okay reviews and less-than-okay box office. With Soderbergh’s prolific output, this release would be altogether unremarkable, yet another strong if not entirely memorable entry by a director who would likely release another film six months later. However, Side Effects is notable as a quiet swan song, the proposed last theatrical film by a director who has reportedly done all he’d like to do in filmmaking. But Soderbergh is simply the latest (and on the younger side) of a group of directors that have made unofficial pronouncements towards making an exit of sorts from the business in which they made their name. George Lucas is currently in the process of overseeing the path of Star Wars’ cinematic future at Disney before officially going into retirement. This is monumental. A filmmaker known for keeping very tight reigns on his creative property is now fully embracing the potential of other directors’ and corporations’ visions toward his subject matter for film. There’s a dynamic shift here that doesn’t end with Lucas or Soderbergh either.

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IntroDirectorCameos

The beauty of being a director is that you can get killer screen time without the hassle of actually knowing how to act. Being a good director, however, is knowing not to haphazardly stick yourself in your films – at least not unless you’re Spike Lee or Woody Allen. Really it’s all about identifying your limitations. So here are some neat ways that a director opted to show up in their film without taking the spotlight at the same time. These are creative little cameos that you might never notice in a million years of watching.

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Alfred Hitchcock Fighting Steven Spielberg

This week on the show, Scott and Geoff discuss Shane Carruth‘s 9-year hiatus as a viable career option, get some thoughts on Upstream Color from Rob Hunter at Sundance and talk to up-and-coming actor Micah Hauptman about his first big break in the movie Parker. Plus, in the main event, short filmmaker Aaron Morgan (No Way Out) and Aint It Cool‘s Eric “Quint” Vespe stop by to discuss the legacy of two titans of filmmaking, asking the all-too-important question: In 50 years, will Steven Spielberg overtake Alfred Hitchcock as the more popular icon of movies?  Download Episode #3

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Gremlins Gizmo

Vulture has a super vague rumor that Warners is attempting to coax Steven Spielberg into giving his blessing for a remake of Gremlins. It’s not the first time, it probably won’t be the last, and so far there’s no reason to believe that this trial balloon will soar where others have failed before it. But if the studio really wants to recapture a bit of Amblin magic, they’re going to need drop the eternal sticking point that kept Joe Dante from making Gremlins 3: the insistence of switching to CGI (a point succinctly argued by Quint in his open letter to Spielberg). Quints main parallel is perfect — how would audiences react if the new Muppets movie was going to feature a CGI Kermit? Regardless of whether technology has made fantastical leaps and bounds, Gizmo and the gang are rooted in that practical puppet look. On the fan side, making them CGI will be heresy. From a business standpoint, if you’re going to trade off the name-recognition of the characters, you have to respect the iconography, or you’re ultimately just launching a new unknown anyway.

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Robopocalypse No More

The idea of the world’s biggest director tackling a film that would feature man vs robot action on a large scale was an exciting one to be sure, but some things just aren’t meant to be apparently. Get ready to taste some conspicuously salty robot tears. Steven Spielberg knows his way around a science fiction film, and no one would argue that he lacks action chops too, but according to the man himself (in a recent 60 Minutes interview) action films no longer appeal to him. That lack of interest may be at least part of the reason why Spielberg has announced that he’s stepping away from what was expected to be his next directorial effort… an adaptation of Daniel H. Wilson‘s bestselling novel, “Robopocalypse.”

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Criterion Files

Since his infamous assassination in Ford Theater was re-imagined for D.W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation, American movies have been just as fascinated by Abraham Lincoln’s image and legacy as American culture at large. Besides the general veneration directed towards his name, there are specific reasons why Lincoln has been a subject of considerable preoccupation in the moving image. Lincoln is an icon ubiquitous in American culture; his face resides on our currency and his larger-than-life status has literally been set in stone by the Lincoln Memorial. But at the same time, Lincoln occupied the Office of the Presidency years before the emergence of mass media as it is recognizable today. Having died several decades before the first images were captured on film, history knows Lincoln only through still portraits. On the one hand, this reality has emboldened the notion that Lincoln was a uniquely authentic President; this Kentucky rail-splitter of modest means and education didn’t have to perform leadership for microphones, mass-distributed newspapers, or television cameras. On the other hand, the pre-cinematic status of real-life Lincoln emboldens curiosity about Lincoln the symbol versus Lincoln the human being. Live action cinema forces a rendering of reality concrete even if its subject matter concerns the mythic and the symbolic; any cinematic rendering of Lincoln may pose answers to a variety of questions, including details as difficult to know certainly as the sound of his voice.

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Culture Warrior

In 1989, two major studios released films about race relations in America that couldn’t be more different. Driving Miss Daisy, Bruce Beresford’s adaptation of Alfred Uhry’s successful off-Broadway play, was a heartwarming tearjerker about a rich, isolated elderly Jewish woman who comes to the astounding revelation that her friendly African-American chauffeur is often subject to discrimination in the South during the 1950s. Do the Right Thing, meanwhile, enshrined Spike Lee’s place on the cinematic map. Its pull-no-punches mosaic of conflicting, negotiating racialized voices in contemporary Bedford-Stuyvesant refused happy endings and clear answers, leaving critics and audiences in a gray area where they couldn’t decide whether the film was a lament over the brick-wall met by post-Civil Rights discourse, a call to violent action, or something else entirely. The relative critical and economic successes of both Driving Miss Daisy and Do the Right Thing paved a crossroads for future representations of African Americans in mainstream American cinema: should they pursue the direction of  affirmation and closure in the face of racism dismissed as a problem solved long ago, or strive for contemporary relevance and a refusal of easy answers to complex questions? Time and again, Hollywood has overwhelmingly preferred to continue in the direction of Driving Miss Daisy. As a retelling of history, Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, which chronicles the hard-won political gymnastics enacted in order to get the 13th Amendment passed and abolish human slavery in the US thereafter, would seem to continue Hollywood’s preference to gaze backwards at race relations […]

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published: 12.23.2014
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