Spielberg (2017)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Spielberg</strong> (2017)

(On Cable TV, December 2018) There’s a plethora of documentaries about famous directors these days, and it seemed strange not to have one about Steven Spielberg’s career. Spielberg’s two-and-a-half-hour running time certainly reflects the amount of material available for discussion: Not only does Spielberg have a forty-year career at this point, there is also a fascinating dramatic arc to a filmography in which, as he himself will admit, he grew up and matured behind the camera as audiences were watching. Spielberg went from pure pop entertainment to some of the most acclaimed dramatic movies in recent Hollywood history, and this progression does end up forming much of the native backbone to this HBO documentary. Numerous interviews with well-chosen subject help flesh out commentary from Spielberg himself. This being an authorized biography, do expect a sympathetic overview of his wok—while some reviewers ding a few obvious items in the Spielberg filmography, much of it reflects the consensus opinion with a few illustrative details. Not every Spielberg film gets equal treatment—there’s deservedly a lot to say about Schindler’s List, and almost no mention of Always. Alas, the film is already a reflection of its time—the material coming from the end of 2016, it talks about Lincoln but not about the Ready Player One/The Post early-2018 one-two punch echoing Spielberg’s 1993 annus mirabilis. Still, there are a few revelations here for casual Spielberg fans—I knew the broad outlines of what led to the character-defining divorce of his parents, for instance, but did not know that they had reconciled in the past few years. Because of carefully chosen details such as those, Spielberg remains an entertaining and well-structured overview of a big and important career.

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