Jaws ★★★★½

Most of my original 'encounters' with Steven Spielberg's work came at a much younger age. I suppose there are two major exceptions: I had the pleasure of catching Close Encounters of the Third Kind in a recent-ish theatrical run, and uhh Jaws, which up until now has been an easy "list of shame" choice alongside Mike Nichols' The Graduate. Halloween gave me an excuse to finally check this one off the list. The Graduate remains, as does Spielberg's own Catch Me If You Can.

The biggest takeaway for me, above all else, is that Steven Spielberg has to be one of the greatest, if not the greatest, blockbuster Hollywood directors in creating and maintaining atmosphere. The only times it loses momentum are comfortable and deliberate, its characters are complicated and memorable, he is just as dedicated as a director to minor detail as he is to the wider premise, he's a constant showman as far as imagery is concerned, and most of all, its iconography makes it easy to forget how reserved and subtle he is with arriving at and delivering his biggest moments. His countless imitators really try to hit these great exclamations with a smirk and a hackneyed upgrade in technical ability. But Spielberg is a gradual and persistent force of burrowing brilliance that can make silence as significance as its most famous lines, music stings, or reveals.

Some of the canonical American masterpieces can seem a little like vessels for Simpsons references and theater bathroom wallpaper. For all that oversaturation, I'm glad that the power that made such a legacy is a power still extraordinary today.

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