He's very successful. Are there any directors more successful? He can put together a blockbuster like few others. His love of the movies is obvious. He had Schindler's and Jurassic up the same year.
He was Lucas's henchman for the making of the Indiana Jones movies. He met his future wife on movie #2. He's considered one of the most powerful names in Hollywood.
But I do not like his writing; I do not think his directing is good; and I am not impressed with his own story lines. Jaws was a very big nothing to me, and so is this one.
Close Encounters, forgive me, is not science fiction - it is speculation, speculation in contemporary surroundings. There's a whale of a difference. Both Jaws and Close Encounters lack the one thing Lucas brought to the movies Spielberg made for him: fantasy. It is this fantasy which is the essence of science fiction, and Close Encounters has no fantasy.
Some people like this kind of movie; I don't. I find this type of movie exploitative, preying on human fears and weaknesses. This type of movie gives us nothing - it only 'takes' - which isn't exactly right, as the dude already got the price of admission, half a billion dollars, and should do more than that - such as truly entertain.
Ingemar Bergman once said that the ultimate test of a good director was the ability to 'kill one's darlings': to be able to scrap a particularly favourite scene, no matter how cool, if it destroys the whole. Bergman, as many other European directors and a smattering of US ones, is considered an 'auteur'.
Spielberg is no auteur. He can hardly direct. He can put together blockbuster productions and make them work, pull off the most amazing F/X scenes, but directing involves a whole lot more than that.
And Spielberg will go so far as to rewrite a movie, irrevocably alter its contents and portent, to squeeze one putrid dirty scene in there that he just can't let go of. That is not professional directing.
He's made money; he's a success like few others; most people regard him in the same breath they mention the George Lucas of old, and I really liked at least one of the Indiana Jones movies; but none of this means Spielbergs own efforts are going to be good.
The box office may say otherwise, but I say: 'no'. This is not good; don't waste your time.
PS. John Williams may have written a couple of memorable themes for the Star Wars series, but take him out of his Sousa study and he's worthless. There are few composers who delve to the nadirs this luckless person can drop to. His music for Jaws is regarded as 'so good'; I think that's malarky. Likewise his music for this 'opus'.
Spielberg was the one who supposedly recommended Williams to Lucas for the Star Wars movies, and that turned out OK. But Williams was supposed to write a love theme for Star Wars Episode II, and how did that turn out?
The man has no gamete glands whatsoever. None. His 'filler music' is notorious and unfortunately his style (or lack thereof) has been copied by others, notably David Arnold in ID4. Some of those scenes would do well with no music at all; this is a kind of thinking lesser gifted people cannot achieve.
Listen to the music of Maurice Jarre in The Year of Living Dangerously - or rather do not listen to it. If you know the movie you will know what's behind that comment. People like Jarre have passion; they can create; people like Williams, I am sorry to say, have no passion and cannot create: they can only scribble meaningless notes across a page.
More or less how Spielberg sketches a movie he's about to author and direct.
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