Schindler's List ★★★★★

So - I hadn't seen this before. I'm actually pretty glad! I feel like seeing this in the context of a middle school history class would have dulled its impact from a filmmaking perspective.

A few observations:

1) This is Spielberg's best-looking movie. I love the way Liam Neeson is lit - like a classical Hollywood star. It tells you all you need to know about that character. No one else is lit that way.

2) Ralph Fiennes as Amon Goeth is fucking *terrifying*. A standout sequence for me is the one where he stands, shirtless & just-woken, shooting Jews with a sniper rifle from his balcony. It's part of this really mundane domestic scene, where his wife (girlfriend?) is in bed, annoyed that he's making noise. He asks her to make his morning coffee. It's chilling in that "banality of evil" way. Don't even get me started on the "I pardon you" scene. Ralph Fiennes is *so good* in this movie.

3) I love the respect Spielberg has for labor in this film. He takes the time to show the Jews manufacturing things. There's a scene where Amon Goethe asks a prisoner to make a door hinge, and it's suspenseful on the level of "will his performance be satisfactory enough as to avoid getting murdered?" But it works on another level - you see the craftsmanship that goes into these tasks. Even though these people are suffering, they are still commiting to this work. There are like three instances where Spielberg practically pauses the film to watch an object being made, and I think it's a really reverent/inspired decision.