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Filmism.net Dispatch May 30, 2013

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I watched a very low quality but very interesting video recently, recorded back in 1999 when the venerable James Lipton of The Actor's Studio interviewed Steven Spielberg. Watch it here.

During the 90 minute talk, Lipton goes right back into the director's past, all the way to the home movies he shot on his parents 16mm camera in a Midwest airport and everything since.

Every time Lipton says, in his rumbling, Welles-like tones 'then we come to...' the applause gets wilder for each subsequent game-changing hit. It ends with the pair talking about Schindler's List, which had been recently released at the time.

But it wasn't until afterward I realised a conspicuous absence in 1941, regarded as the closest Spielberg has come to a flop and the film that posed a real threat to his future in Hollywood as it careened out of control both creatively and financially.

Lipton and that 1999 audience were, appropriately, in awe of everything the 66-year-old had done. If any career deserved a free pass after missteps, surely Spielberg's is it.

But I couldn't get words like 'censorship' and 'whitewashing' out of my head. Spielberg has always had an aw-shucks, all family guy public persona, but was it possible he put a diva-like ban on all discussion of 1941, a condition of his taking part? We'll probably never know, but I regretted it. Creative geniuses can teach us as much from their failures as their successes.

In the last few weeks I finally got a chance to see a movie that's been on my list forever, David Cronenberg's Crash. I don't know if I expected to love it, but I wasn't prepared for the boring psychosexual tosh I endured that looked like it had been put together by a 17-year-old emo art student who knew as much about the emotional mechanics of sex as I know about credit default swaps.

I recommend Rubber much more, a layered, post-modern comment on the modern relationship between an audience and the screen that's a funny as hell in the bargain.

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