Zemeckis is a lot like Speilberg or Ron Howard where they can do great popcorn movies but lack the confidence or depth to pull off real drama. When I think of films like Contact, Castaway or Gump, they ask nothing of the audience. You leave the theatre as you came in. Sometimes, like with Gump, you think you might have seen something profound only to see it again to realize that it was empty. He is a terrific craftsman but lacks either courage or depth. A great filmmaker should have the courage to bore the audience a bit. It doesn't have to be all razzle dazzle if, in the end, you take the audience somewhere interesting, profound or real.
I haven't read 'Harrow Alley'. In fact, I hadn't even heard of it. I know what you mean about Scenario Magazine - my friend Jim leant me the issue with the Conversation script and it too was reformatted. In the issue they did a bit on 'Enemy of the State' and 'The Conversation'. I thought it was a ripe topic to compare hollywood shtick to more personal art films but the issue was never even raised. It would be comical to put those two films in a DVD package together!
There is a tv show from britain called 'Peep Show'. They pull off the first person very well. Comedic of course.