From the preview I feared it might be unwatchable, but it far exceeded expectations. This story of Spielberg’s own childhood life (a risky premise for a sentimentalist!) is one of the best Spielberg movies, one of the best movies about America “back then,” and one of the best movies about the power of cinema itself.
It shows the corniness and earnestness of the 1950s and 1960s, and how that awfulness also fed into a uniquely American form of creativity and productivity. (It also supports my notion that “no one back then really was funny.”) It is a very good movie about families. And a very good movie about different parts of America, namely New Jersey, Arizona, and California.
It is fun to look for all the visual references to other Spielberg films, such as the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan, which by the way is one of his finest achievements.
The performances and cinematography are excellent, even for a Spielberg movie.
The worst Spielberg movies are the big grossers, such as E.T., Jurassic Park, and the Indiana Jones Temple of Doom take. Jaws is here an exception. The best Spielberg movies are the oddball nutters, such as A.I., Duel, Sugarland Express, Minority Report, and the Director’s Cut of Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
Spielberg is now close to commercially irrelevant, and I am pleased to see he is using that to his advantage. Recommended.
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