Wake up. Time to die.
It’s about 9:00p Pacific Time, on Friday, June the 29th, 2001. I have had 8 hours sleep in the last 72 hours of conscious thought. I have been busy working on this site and personal projects. I have just got back from seeing “AI.” You will now stand trial for crimes against film. High treason. Sabotage. The court will read the order of the charges. May Savant have mercy on your damning soul.
Therefore, I say this, on total stream-of-consciousness: DAMN YOU! DAMN YOU ALL TO HELL! DAMN YOU! I say that with as much goddamn damning hatred as I can muster, I say it with all the black crap that’s still being scraped off my soul, I say it with all the sincerity and spit I can tolerate, Damn You, Goddamn you, DAMN YOU. Damn you for almost ruining one of the greatest experiences of my life!
EXHIBIT “A”: NON-SPOILER REVIEW/COMMENTARY OF “AI”
This is, without doubt, one of the greatest films I have ever seen. It is vintage Kubrick, and it is vintage Spielberg. I posted a rant a few weeks ago about my fears (and your stupid running amok) about the potential conflicts between a dark, cold Kubrickian vision and Spielberg’s warmy-lovey-dovey manipulation. This is Kubrick’s vision through Spielberg’s manipulation, it is a perfect damning marriage. Spielberg is afforded an opportunity to go to some truly nasty places with the material, and he takes full advantage of it, up until the very last frame. More on this to follow.
The problem is, the great majority of you (as proven by the overwhelming majority of critics) will not understand what is actually being said. Spielberg films have never, not EVER, had this much depth to them. Let’s face it, Kubrick’s films have not ever had this much depth to them, not clearly. After reading so many reviews, both from fans and legit critics, I am convinced that everyone has completely missed the entire point of the exercise. And Kubrick wins again, you’ve all been snaked.
Now, for those of you who know me, you know that my favorite films are the dark mystical ones… films like Gilliam’s “12 Monkeys” and Tarkovsky’s “Solaris” top my list, followed by Kurosawa’s “Ran” and some others. This film, “AI,” belongs with them. Now listen up… what does this tell you about the actual tone of the filmr The actual ending of the filmr
Let me say this only once: I cannot cry during a film, and I cannot be scared during a film. This film did not accomplish either of those two, but something better, something I have never felt before: there are scenes in “AI” that made my damning blood run COLD.
Haley Joel Osment’s performance is heartbreaking, topping even Christian Bale’s “Empire of the Sun” work. I can’t believe they got this stuff out of a child actor. Everyone else is fine, but no one comes close to Osment’s work here. Give the boy an Oscar, he’s earned it.
I think I owe Steven Spielberg an apology… I have never given him enough credit. I thought “Amistad” was crap. I thought “Saving Private Ryan” was a masterpiece of directing augmented by one of the laziest and stupidest scripts in existence, next to “American Beauty.” I want to take a damning bat to ET’s little head. Of Spielberg’s films, only Schindler’s List approaches a level of greatness, and while technically flawless, the film is kept on the surface. Ambitious it is, young Jedi, but it is not that deep a thought pool, just a stunning, haunting reflection. This film, though, my God… it’s so devious you’d swear Kubrick himself was behind the camera.
Stanley Kubrickr He would be proud. I totally understand now why he wanted Spielberg to direct this film. There is hope in this film, there is warmth in it. But there is dark, damp coldness under it. Kubrick could not have made this film. Spielberg could not have made this film. Kubrick running pre-production and letting Steven focus on the execution… think about the Indiana Jones series and how Lucas and Spielberg merged their visions there… the result is jaw-dropping. At least for those who understand what they’re seeing.
Why does this film workr Because Steven has finally grown up. The camera is all Kubrick’s block and all Kaminsky’s lighting — not Spielberg’s. John Williams, oh damn, he comes up with a score that is so far beyond driven… so far beyond anything he’s done in the past for film… it’s his, he has the control. Steven guided the vision, Kubrick’s vision, Kaminsky’s photography, Williams’ score, Osment’s performance, Khan’s editing. Thank you Steven for learning when to not interfere. Thank you for this movie.
EXHIBIT “B”: WHY EXHIBIT “A” ALMOST DID NOT EXIST
Again, damn you. You all gave your opinions. Your two or three stars. Your polite criticisms. Your acknowledgements and pity. Your wish for old Steve. Your wish for new Steve. Your wish for Stanley. Damn you, a million times, damn you. And God help me, I almost believed you. I went in expecting to be disappointed, waiting to fail. I started to look for flaws while watching the film. I resisted, because I felt where it was going. Only a lack of sleep forced my conscious mind to let go and watch the artificial reality in front of me.
Damn you for not understanding this movie. I respect your opinions guys, but I’m in a state of shock that so little… if any… of you actually picked it up, got under the skin of the movie. I fear this film is headed for a fate worse than 2001. Worse than Blade Runner, a film that is absolute and total pablum yet you geeks claim to keep seeing something special in it. And you know what, in today’s information age, I am saving your reviews, all of them. Don’t even think about altering your reviews if this film ends up, by miracles, becoming a classic.
EXHIBIT “C”: THE LAST 30 MINUTES OF AI (NON-SPOILER)
Critics have smacked down the final act of “AI” almost universally. It is, without a doubt, the heart and soul of the film, and the very best part. No, it is not 2001-esque in its mystery and presentation… it is, in fact, crystal clear. It feels like 100% Spielberg in its tone, but I swear it’s 100% Kubrick in its design, its execution, its meaning. The film has an ending that seems almost too Disney. Look closer, I dare you. I double damning dare you.
EXHIBIT “D”: KUBRICK v. SPIELBERG
I have reached a verdict on this… it is Kubrick as channelled by Spielberg, and successfully. Everything, down to the mattes and the camera blocking, has Kubrick’s late fingerprints on them. Spielberg lets the camera move a little more, actually gets real performances out of his actors, and controls the effects. Utterly perfect. Kubrick had more than 15 years to develop the entire template for Steven to take and run with. He does just that. Congratulations.
FINAL JUDGMENT: DARK SAVANT SENTENCED
I am one critic who will bestow this film upon my best of all time. There are maybe five of you who know how picky, how ruthless, how cruel I am to films. The rest of you don’t know me well enough to understand how impressed I have to be with a film to even acknowledge its existence. And I’ve read all your critics’ reviews… I stand alone to tell you that they are all missing the pieces. They are not wrong, but they have not seen the same film I have. And that is a damn shame. I can’t really recommend the film, because I doubt you’ll side with me, I doubt you’ll see what I saw, what Spielberg saw. It’s just that, this once, I wish you could.
And damn you, Steven Spielberg, for making a masterpiece that no one may ever know about.
This rant is wild, it’s unfocused, and its from the heart. I thank you for reading up to this point, and I will try and be more concise in the future when I am more coherent. In the meantime, extract from the above mess as you will.