5 April 2018 0115
‘BOSSMAN69’ code to READY PLAYER ONE 2018
Home from the movies, the Wednesday tradition (which used to be a Tuesday-night tradition) that turned THIRTY in February 2018. In February of 1988, when my mother died, my father and I made a pact to see each other every week on a certain night, come-what-may. With the exceptions of him going on a holiday or vice versa, we’ve kept that up for between forty-eight and fifty weeks a year for thirty-years.
It used to be that we’d go out to see a new release in a cinema but in the last decade his interest in current films has waned and he’s more-often-than-not happier to watch an old favourite or something he missed which he has an interest in. I’m okay with that because I figure when I turn seventy-five – which was around when this happened to him – my interest in current films will have taken that turn already. Dad’s quotable quote is
‘I’d rather spend two hours watching something old that I want to see again than something new I know I won’t enjoy!’
Tonight was one of those films he was unsure about. ‘Generally’, he said, ‘I like Spielberg films, although I didn’t see the one about the slaves.’
‘Or Bridge of Spies or Warhorse or Lincoln,’ I warned him. ‘But you did love The Post.
‘Ah, The Post, a very important film,’ he said.
‘Well, I’m seeing Ready Player One (2018) the first week it’s in general release so if you want to see it with me we’ll be going next Wednesday night.’ He nodded what I took to be an ‘Okay’.
I’m a Zemeckis fan, a Spielberg fan, a Hitchcock fan, a Wilder fan and a Paul Thomas Anderson fan. There’s probably another fifteen directors I consider important enough to try and see everything they make while it’s still running in a cinema: like Scorsese, Coppola, Almodovar, Besson and J.J.Abrams et. al.
When I went to see The Post I was aware that the truly satisfying Spielberg films were now a thing of the past. I still think he does serious films well, like Lincoln and Bridge of Spies but War Horse had some terribly sentimental moments (in a way that E.T. never miscalculated). Even though those moments consisted of only a few scenes, it’s a misjudgement that he never – or rarely – used to make. The Adventures of Tin Tin felt like another misjudgement and despite the things I liked about The BFG it was still overly schmaltzy. And a film like the fourth Indiana Jones film was a shocker – a complete misfire.
Before The Post, the last two films I thought were excellent were Munich and The Minority Report. The remake of The War of the Worlds was a misfire in too many areas despite the fact I could appreciate, in all of his films, the singular, individual, unique cinematic eye that he brings to almost everything (including 1941 and Always – both of which are agonisingly bad too frequently).
I like it when he is temperate in his choices now on any given film and I feel that the scripts let him down. But it’s not so much because of the author of the scripts but how he wants the scripts to be realised, which seems to be: cloying and sentimental, pulling for tears or tugging at the heart. He never used to do that.
The Post (which some may not have liked given its overt political nature) was his best film in years. And a recent viewing of The Adventures of Tin Tin reminded me how visually brilliantly he conceives any given scene. I also enjoyed it’s humour more second time around. It rose from quite a good film in my estimation to a very good film.
Ready Player One was something I thought I might enjoy parts of, and really dislike other parts. I was scared that it may be like films he executive produced like the pretty bad Eagle Eye (2008) and the really bad Real Steel (2011): both films aimed at teenagers.
Happily, I walked out of the cinema, feeling that Spielberg underplayed most of Ready Player One, and did the most justice to an era of video gaming that I’ve seen so far. If there were moments that worried me a little bit, it was not like the ham-fisted moments of War Horse and Hook. I don’t know that much could have been done to save Hook, but War Horse was very powerful in some of the scenes showing the experiences of the horse. More restraint at the end would have made War Horse a very good film, rather than leaving one with the final feeling, cringe-worthy.
My father said he didn’t understand most of Ready Player One other than the fact that you should be loyal to your friends. Those weren’t his exact words and the phrase he actually used was more sardonic, sarcastic and withering. I didn’t ask if he enjoyed anything about the film. I’d had a nice time and I didn’t want to be abruptly pulled away from that happy experience.
Usually with a Spielberg film, for better or worse, it is A Steven Spielberg Film. Mostly they are completely made from his knowledge of the world, his imagination, and things he’s passionate about. A change began at the moment in time he directed the first film where he decided not to storyboard it all before starting principal photography. I can’t remember which one it was, but I don’t think it was The Color Purple or Empire of the Sun, but it may have been. That’s when I perceived a more embracing filmmaker emerging. Ready Player One is the most thoroughly-realised group-effort of any of his films and one of his crowning achievements.
As for BOSSMAN69, the code of the villain was B055man69. Ben Mendelssohn was born in 1969 which explains what I thought probably had a reason, the #69, but sat up thinking about for three nights. I just googled Mendelssohn’s birth year.
Little known fact: with Ready Player One just seven-days old in Australia, and five-days old in America (at 1.54am Sydney, Australia), only 50,617 people have voted on the IMDB and it has a rating of 8.0. It’s will be interesting to watch if it goes up or down in subsequent weeks. [At 1.59 it had 50,929 votes.]