I’ve finally figured something out, and I’m about 15 years late on coming up with it but it isn’t due to lack of intelligence, it’s only because I never paid enough attention or cared to figure it out.
Steven Spielberg doesn’t make art, he makes things that make money.
While others are creating movies that challenge and delight, Spielberg is busy making things a five year old can understand, so he can reach the greatest number of people (read: and get their admiration and ticket money). He clearly does this at the expense of art. And it’s not a harmless thing, when he bookended Saving Private Ryan with 5 pointless opening minutes and 5 even more pointless closing minutes (so he could make his point with a sledgehammer), he killed any sense of imagination or enlightenment on the part of the viewer, he destroyed the artistic integrity and blemished otherwise fine acting performances.
I came to this conclusion watching A.I. yesterday, when the extraneous third act flashed up on screen for the last 30 minutes. All I could think the entire time was “why are they showing this to us? why couldn’t we figure it out on our own or come up with our own ‘ending’?” A.I. would have been pretty good if it ended on the bottom of the ocean, but instead we get all sorts of wacky explanations handed to us as baby food — no chewing necessary, easy to digest and forget.
Last night I had a dream Spielberg did a remake of The Usual Suspects, but instead of ending when Kevin Spacey’s Verbal Kint character walks out of the police station and gets into a car, the camera follows Agent Dave Kujan back into the station, where for ten minutes a conversation like this takes place:
(Chaz Palminteri’s character) Kujan: Dammit, he got away!
(Dan Hedaya’s character) Rabin: What are you talking about?
Kujan: Well, you see, our man Verbal Kint? He made up the whole Kaiser Soze thing up!
Rabin: Really? How?
Kujan: Look around your office, see the stuff on the bulletin board? He created a fake past of several stories based on the snips of paper and words on this board, do you understand now?
Rabin: I’m starting to get it, go on, please.
Kujan: Yeah, so it’s possible that Verbal is Kaiser Soze, and the disabled thing is an act too.
Rabin: I think I have it, could you possibly draw for me some charts and graphs explaining it again?
Kujan: (drawing) see, first this happened, then this, then this other thing, make sense now?
Rabin: Wow, I would have never put all that together, thanks Dave.
Kujan: No problem, too bad we let someone that is evil, pure, pure evil get away though.
(Fade to black, run credits)