HBO currently is running a wonderful documentary about Steven Spielberg that is entitled, simply, Spielberg, and if you are a fan of the movies, it is worth your time and attention.

Written and directed by Susan Lacey, Spielberg offers a wide variety of perspectives on the director’s work, both from the artist himself and a variety of actors, writers, producers and film craftspeople with whom he has worked over the years. From the eight-millimeter films he made as a kid to the enormous number of hits he’s made as an adult (Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, ET, Raiders of the Los Ark, Jurassic Park, etc…) Spielberg charts the course he has taken in his career.

Spielberg sometimes is derided as a kind of film populist, more interested in making hits than art. But I’ve always thought that this is unfair and a kind of snobbery, and that there is nothing inherently un-artistic about a work that is popular. Plus, Spielberg has shown a unique versatility in his filmmaking; who would guess, without the aid of credits, that Schindler’s List was made by the same guy who made Sugarland Express? (Plus, he works a lot - his output is prodigious, especially when compared to peers such as Brian DePalma, Francis Ford Coppola, and Martin Scorsese - which means he makes the occasional mistake in terms of choice of material. But, he keeps doing his art, and there’s a lot to be said for that.)

Spielberg shows a filmmaker whose talents and concerns have deepened as he has matured, but who never has lost his boyish love for directing nor his passion for movies in general. Compared with so many young filmmakers today, it ends up that he is a classicist - respectful of the art of scriptwriting, of the actors who serve as his onscreen instruments, and of the unique language of cinema.

Find some time to watch Spielberg on HBO if you can. For me, it was a good reminder of why I love the movies.




The Russian River Brewing Company, based in Santa Rosa, California, makes a beer called Pliny the Elder that is in such short supply that retailers generally only allow customers to buy a couple of bottles at a time. Well, I got lucky yesterday when a friend of mine brought over some Pliny the Elder with which to wash down some barbecue. It was the first time I’d had it, and I must say that it lives up to all the hype - refreshing and balanced and just delicious.




That's it for this week. Have a great weekend, and I'll see you Monday.

Sláinte!!