Monday, July 9, 2007

July 9th Log

2007, Richard Schickel, United States
1st Viewing, Turner Classic Movies

Richard Schickel is well renowed for his intimate documentaries in which he puts the subject front and center. Schickel has made countless documentaries on Hollywood legends (including Woody Allen, Elia Kazan, James Cganey, Barbara Stanwyck, Frank Capra, Gary Cooper, among others) and this most recent addition completes what can be viewed as a trilogy of sorts (followed by Scorsese on Scorsese and Eastwood on Eastwood). Here Schickel lets Spielberg do all the talking, and what we get is eharing him comment on nearly every film he has made throughout his career (a career that has made him the most commercially successful filmmaker in the history of films). There is nothing incredibly revealing or informative, Spielberg does not do commentaries on his work, so it was nice to see him comment on his films. Of course the extensive clips throughout the filmography really made for a fun viewing experience.

1975, Steven Spielberg, United States
Repeat Viewing, Turner Classic Movies

After watching the enjoyable Spielberg on Spielberg documentary, Turner Classic Movies followed it up with one of my favorite Spielberg films, Jaws. I have seen this many times, but it really never gets old. Steven Spielberg’s 1975 film Jaws is a landmark of American film. For betters (or in some cases for worse) Jaws changed Hollywood filmmaking with the dawn of “the blockbuster”. It’s impact falls lies even more intimate then the commercial revolution of Hollywood (forever changing movies, particularly summer movies). Jaws also managed to change the way people look at the water, and that impact still remains today as well. Jaws remains as terrifying today as ever, particularly because of the unforgettable opening sequence (heightened by John Williams brilliant Bernard Hermaann-esque score, which has become an icon within itself). In Hitchcock fashion, Spielberg creates a masterful level of suspense by leaving details to the viewers imagination, which ultimately can be far more frightening and suspenseful. Jaws was Spielberg’s third feature film and really the film that gave him creative freedom and control throughout the rest of his career. I think it is a masterful film on both a technical level and emotional level, capturing Spielberg’s excellent storytelling and visual skills. There are so many memorable scenes (beit the opening, or Robert Shaw's "star" entrance via the chalkboard, the first visual appearance of the shark, or Shaw's powerful USS-Indianapolis monologue). Jaws may be formula, but it is top-notch formula in every way, and in many ways a film that propelled the formula into countless imitators. I think Spielberg may have made more definitive or personal films after this, but to me Jaws stands as one of his very greatest achievements. An iconic landmark achievement, and a masterpiece of filmmaking, Jaws remains as relevant today as it did in 1975.


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