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'Spielberg by Haskell' dwells on the director's underappreciated work

To ring in Molly Haskell's new book on the legend, the Metrograph screens "Empire of the Sun," "A.I." and more.

A.I. Artificial Intelligence

Steven Spielberg lords over the set of 2001's "A.I. Artificial Intelligence," starWarner Bros. Pictures/Photofest

Spielberg by Haskell
The Metrograph

2016 was so bad that a Steven Spielberg film bombed. No one much saw “The BFG,” which is a shame because it was lovely — and further proof, if required, that his movies are more than mere cash cows. Further proof still can be found in the new book “Steven Spielberg: A Life in Films,” in which Molly Haskell, god among film critics and author of the groundbreaking “From Reverence to Rape: How Hollywood Treats Women,” trains her uncommonly perceptive gaze on his CV.

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Haskell’s tome is reason enough to fire up some Spielbergs. Five of them grace the screens at LES’ Metrograph, and not the obvious faves. They tend to either be a little too young to be considered classics (“Minority Report,” “Catch Me If You Can”) or still awaiting reappraisal. “The Lost World,” his propulsive “Jurassic Park” sequel, was profitable yet maligned, which qualifies it as underrated, while some of us always adored “A.I. Artificial Intelligence.” “Empire of the Sun,” whose Saturday show Haskell will intro, finds the eternal optimist tackling eternal pessimist J.G. Ballard, and revealing Spielberg’s maybe not so sunny after all.

"Spielberg by Haskell" runs from Jan. 14 through Jan. 18 at the Metrograph, 7 Ludlow St. Visit the site for showtimes and tickets.

 

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