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Everything Everywhere All At Once

Director – Daniels (Daniel Kwan & Daniel Scheinert) – 2022 – US – Cert. 15 – 139m

*****

Do you know kung fu? A launderette owner in trouble with the IRS is sucked into serial, parallel worlds to defeat the being who threatens to annihilate the multiverse – out in cinemas in the UK Friday, May 13th

You could describe it as a Cubist take on The Matrix. Or a mother-daughter relationship drama. Or a multiverse movie. Or a film about filing taxes with the IRS. Or a (multiple set of) romance(s). Or a Michelle Yeoh action movie. Or a Chinese American movie. Or a film put together unlike any other you’ve ever seen. All these descriptions would be accurate.

Chinese American Evelyn Wang (Michelle Yeoh) runs her own business. A launderette (or laundromat in American parlance). She sits at the table in her apartment which is covered with piles of receipts. She is sorting through them in preparation for an upcoming interview with the IRS. She isn’t sure she’s ready.

This pressing issue aside, her life is not without its challenges. Her husband Waymond (Ke Huy Quan, formerly the kid from Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom, Steven Spielberg, 1983; The Goonies, Richard Donner, 1985) is attempting to file for divorce and wants her to sign the papers.… Read the rest

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West Side Story (2021)

Director – Steven Spielberg – 2021 – US – Cert. 12a – 156m

*****

This reimagining of the landmark 1961 musical feels fresh and completely different, yet strangely familiar at the same time – out in cinemas on Friday, December 10th

The original adaptation of Broadway show West Side Story (Jerome Robbins, Robert Wise, 1961) is widely reckoned one of the great movie musicals. It’s basically Romeo And Juliet reworked with rival houses replaced by rival ethnic gangs, the Jets and the Sharks. From the moment a former member of one gang falls for a young girl from the other ethnic group, their romance is doomed.

As well as remarkable songs (music: Leonard Bernstein, lyrics: Stephen Sondheim), the thing people remember is the incredible, almost otherworldly choreography. If this had not been a musical but a straightforward teenage youth drama, the gangs would have walked or run through the streets in packs. Here, though, they dance and glide as a synchronised group, and the never less than magical result proves highly effective.

So if you’re going to remake West Side Story, you’d better have some pretty good ideas because a carbon copy would be pointless. Enter Steven Spielberg. Like many people, he’s grown up with the 1961 movie and knows it intimately.… Read the rest

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Animation Features Live Action Movies

Ready Player One

Director – Steven Spielberg – 2018 – US – 12a – 140m

*****

Get your game on. Spielberg heads back to the future using Tye Sheridan as his avatar inside a visually lavish virtual world stuffed with 80s pop culture references and dirtylicious resonances – now on Netflix

Spielberg has long been happy to move between big-budget spectaculars like Jurassic Park (1993) which push the boundaries of what’s possible in film and culturally significant stories like Schindler’s List (1993) which rely less on special effects or reshaping the blockbuster medium. Following Bridge Of Spies (2015) and The Post (2017), Spielberg now brings audiences Ready Player One which represents something he’s been trying to make for years – a movie which gets into the heads of gamers.

Among his earlier forays, The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997) felt like a funny mixture of a sequel and an attempt at realising the gamer world (think: racing through fields in vehicles surrounded by numerous running dinosaurs). Subsequent films A.I. (2001) and Minority Report (2002) both boast futuristic environments that might not look out of place in a state of the art video game. Further, the experience of watching The Adventures Of Tintin (2011) recalls the process of actually playing a computer game.Read the rest

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The Post

Director – Steven Spielberg – 2017 – US – 12a – 116m

*****

The White House versus the press. Set in the 1970s, Steven Spielberg’s journalistic epic tells the story of The Washington Post and the Pentagon Papers – available for digital streaming

In 1971, The New York Times broke the story of the Pentagon Papers. These documents detailed how the incumbent Nixon administration and its predecessors had increased the scale of the US involvement in the unwinnable war in Vietnam for political gain rather than the national good. The administration’s response was swift and repressive: within two days, a legal injunction prevented the paper from publishing further details. The Washington Post (often shortened to The Post, as in the film title), at the time more a local paper than a national one, stepped into the breach with its reporters hunting down the New York Times’ source so that it could publish more of the story as it emerged. Having just floated on the New York Stock Exchange, the paper found itself in the tricky situation of being accountable to conservative shareholders who didn’t like the idea of exposing their investment to risks with the potential to close the paper down for good.… Read the rest

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The Lost World: Jurassic Park

Director – Steven Spielberg – 1997 – US – PG – 129m

***

UK PAL laserdisc review.

Originally published on London Calling Internet.

Given the original Jurassic Park (Steven Spielberg, 1993) movie left out some of the best bits of a brilliant book, had a plot so full of holes it was virtually transparent and still elevated itself to the level of technically groundbreaking, cinematic achievement (not to mention making more money than any other movie ever) the quality of any sequel movie was nothing if not uncertain. Michael Crichton’s uninspired follow-up novel, with all the un-Spielberg-y rough edges removed, didn’t bode well and while audiences flocked to see the second film, most critics responded poorly to it. Their main criticism – it has a weak plot. Or scarcely a plot at all.

Basically, having escaped Jurassic Park, chaos theorist Dr. Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), his ideas this time round largely reduced to the repeated phrase “life finds a way”, journeys to the second island to bring back palaeontologist girlfriend Sarah Harding (Julianne Moore), who’s there documenting the dino-wildlife for founding billionaire Hammond (Richard Attenborough) before his nephew Peter Ludlow (Arliss Howard) – who has just wrested control of the InGen company from his uncle – arrives there with an army of men and an arsenal of big game hunting weapons under the command of big game hunter Roland Tembo (Pete Postlethwaite).… Read the rest

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Jurassic Park

(Review originally published in Third Way, May 1993.)

Director – Steven Spielberg – 1993 – US – PG – 127m

*****

A wealthy philanthropist brings dinosaurs to life from preserved fragments of their DNA to populate his island theme park– in cinemas from 16th July 1993

“God creates dinosaurs.

God kills dinosaurs.

God creates man.

Man kills God.

Man creates dinosaurs.”

– Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), chaos theoretician.

“Dinosaurs kill man.

Women take over the world.”

– Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern), palaeobotanist.

“Creation is an act of will: next time, it’ll be flawless.”

– John Hammond (Richard Attenborough), creator of Jurassic Park.

Set to become the biggest grossing movie of all time (if it hasn’t already done so by the time you read this), Steven Spielberg’s latest offering concerns rich industrialist John Hammond’s (Richard Attenborough) theme park built around his dream to delight children with wonders come to life. The wonders are dinosaurs, cloned from dino DNA ingested by prehistoric insects subsequently drowned and preserved in amber. For more on this aspect of the story, read co-screenwriter Michael Crichton’s original (and best-selling) novel; Spielberg, who races through small chunks of plot as quickly as he can, isn’t interested in them half as much as he is in dinosaurs.… Read the rest