Don’t worry, dear readers, I thought of you fondly while I was lounging in the pool, being pummeled by my progeny, wondering if they would drown me.
Yet, I survived! And long enough to see Janie completely explode Adam’s head. Oh, what a glorious day.
Let’s see if I can’t add some fuel to the fire, get those embers flying, work Adam up into a firestorm that can only be doused by Richard Dreyfus’ ghost. Because, y’see, while I agree that Spielberg has been a prolific and entertaining movie-maker; I found myself hard pressed to find three movies to fill this list. “E.T.” is schmaltzy treacle. The Raiders series ground on far too long. “Jurassic Park” is nothing but “JAWS” with a T-Rex and less subtlety. Still. There are a few films where Spielberg manages to transcend and overcome his penchant for heavy-handedness.
3) “Saving Private Ryan” – This affected me deeply the first time I saw it; to the point where I wasn’t sure if I could watch the entire thing. It was gut wrenching and visceral and totally unlike the popcorn flicks that I associated with Spielberg. That said, I have watched it twice, and twice only, and I likely won’t watch it again. I’m OK with that – It’s one of the rawest portrayals of World War II that I have seen. When you strip the Hollywood out of war, it shouldn’t be something you casually queue up on a Sunday afternoon.
2) “Raiders of the Lost Ark” -By far one of the most iconic adventure movies of all time. It’s reverberated throughout pop culture to the point where cartoons like “My Little Pony” are riffing on it (I know you’ve been just waiting for me to name-drop the show, Adam. There you are). Harrison Ford is brilliant as the world-weary adventurer and brings to Indy more than just the swashbuckling tomb raider of the early pulp fiction cliffhangers. Ford and Spielberg infuse Indiana Jones with a modern cynicism that makes him resonate with the audience. While later movies stumbled (to the point where it was reported that Spielberg had made Indy 3 to apologize for “Temple of Doom”), “Raiders” simply owns the audience from the opening scenes and doesn’t let go until the opening of the Ark at the end.
1) “JAWS” – I absolutely love “JAWS.” I first saw it when I was about twelve and to say it affected me deeply is an understatement. I still hum “Farewell and Adieu” whenever I get on a boat. I still think twice about getting in the water after dark. “JAWS” didn’t just scare me. It terrified me. But it was so much more than the shark. Here were grown men, men like my father, confident and cocksure that they could outsmart a fish. Except they couldn’t. The happy ending was the very definition of a pyrrhic victory, to the point where I was certain Brody would never make it to shore.
And revisiting “JAWS” years later, I could see that the terror of the shark was more allegorical than anything else. This was a town on the brink of economic collapse. There wasn’t just fear of the water, there was fear that their livelihoods would be destroyed. That the shark’s impact would reverberate far onshore and take not just the lives of a few horny teenagers; but of an entire town. The hiring of Quint isn’t just the foolhardy bravado of men who believe that there is no creature they can’t overpower; it’s a desperate Hail Mary pass upon which every character’s fate rests. “JAWS” is inarguably Spielberg at his best.