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Thursday, December 7, 2023

The director who called Steven Spielberg an “asshole”

Very few filmmakers, actors or movie fans would ever go so far as to criticise the great Steven Spielberg. Even if his style of filmmaking isn’t your cup of tea, there’s no denying that he had been integral in the formation of contemporary cinema as we know it, creating such modern classics as Raiders of the Lost Ark, which kicked off the Indiana Jones series, and Jaws, an iconic horror flick starring Roy Scheider.

Yet, this hasn’t stopped many people from criticising the filmmaker anyway. Julia Roberts is one such performer who didn’t particularly like the way she was treated on the set of the 1991 film Hook. Donning the title ‘Tinkerhell’ among the production team, a pun on her character of the fairy Tinkerbell, Speilberg later admitted: “Julia probably went through the most trying times of her life [during filming]. And it was simply bad timing for all of us that she happened to start on Hook at that low point”.

Spielberg isn’t exactly a lover of Hook either, however, with the director later stating: “I want to see Hook again, I still don’t like that movie. I’m hoping someday I’ll see it again and perhaps like some of it”.

Yet, aside from the movies he himself doesn’t like and the actors who criticised him, oddly, one man who seemed to really hate Spielberg was a man who had never worked with him, the French filmmaker Jacques Rivette. A master director behind such classic arthouse flicks as L’Amour fou and Celine and Julie Go Boating, Rivette announced his dislike for Spielberg during an interview with Senses of Cinema from back in 2001.

His criticism came whilst speaking about the 1997 blockbuster Titanic James Cameron, stating: “I agree completely with what Jean-Luc [Godard] said…It’s garbage. Cameron isn’t evil, he’s not an asshole like Spielberg. He wants to be the new [Cecil] De Mille. Unfortunately, he can’t direct his way out of a paper bag”.

Continuing, he says some rather unsavoury comments about Titanic, adding: “On top of which, the actress is awful, unwatchable, the most slovenly girl to appear on the screen in a long, long time. That’s why it’s been such a success with young girls, especially inhibited, slightly plump American girls who see the film over and over as if they were on a pilgrimage: they recognize themselves in her, and dream of falling into the arms of the gorgeous Leonardo”.

Quite why Rivette called Spielberg an “asshole” is unknown, but, truthfully, his comments on both him and Cameron seem rather unfounded.

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