Saturday, December 25, 2010

Boat, cave, boat.

Finally! Sorry I've been away for a while. I "did" Christmas this year (with my hubs) and I actually ended up making quite a few of the gifts as well, so it became crunch time this last week while I put the finishing touches on felt Gabbas, cross stitches, and this really excellent Twilight Zone thing I made for my brother.

Can I pull off the impossible? It's December 25. Out of the initial list of 39 films (the 39 steps?!) I have watched 14 and added another film. This leaves me 26 films in six days. I don't see it happening, but as with the October list, I'm in it to win it, so I'll finish it even if it takes me well into January, which is a long ass month anyway.


Titanic, 1997. Directed and Written by James Cameron.
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet.

"Fictional romantic tale of a rich girl and poor boy who meet on the ill-fated voyage of the 'unsinkable' ship." (IMDB).

I remember seeing the preview to this film on another rental many months before it actually was released;  what stuck the most was of course one of the final scenes when the ship, vertical, actually sinks with Jack and Rose are clinging to the railing. It gave me goosebumps, for probably an entire day, seeing that. And really, this is a fine example of what the film can do vs. what it does lamely: the action scenes are amazing, the dialogue and love story are merely marginal if not annoying. 

I don't think Kate Winslet deserved to be nominated for an Oscar for this, I think the Academy just gets aroused when Brits sink low enough to do American accents. I thought Rose's scenes were boring, mostly because I never liked her as a character. This is mostly for personal reasons, and I can see how the class differences between the characters were important to the love story, but still I found her distinctly unlikable. Old Rose, Young Rose, they both rubbed me the wrong way from the very first. "They called Titanic the ship of dreams, and it was. It really was." Then, moments later, "To everyone else it was 'the ship of dreams.' But to me it was a slave ship. . ." YEAH, BOO-HOO, ROSE. You want to jump off the back of the ship? BE MY GUEST. Be careful not to damage the beading on your thousand dollar gown on your way over, hmmm? This is a bit reactionary and bitter, but my old man taught me one thing: There is always someone worse off than you. The surest way to earn my disdain (which I'm sure everyone cares loads about) is to be a person who won't see this. Am I really supposed to get behind Rose's eyes with her stupid complaining and having to take a few bitch slaps from Cal when there are hundreds of poor Irish kids who are slated for freezing and drowning? Perspective. (I was *extremely* worldly, empathetic, and intelligent when I was Rose's age, btw.) 

Leo was a little clunky, and far less annoying. But by God Cameron can do action. The real film starts once that iceberg hits, and from there it was a tense, well-driven story. Showing how each level of the ship was affected by the water rushing in? Awesome. The scramble to make it under the water-seal doors as they came down? Awesome. The different ways the characters had to backtrack and swim through dead ends and flooded hallways? Awesome. There were two moments in this film when I cried; 1. the opening, when Horner's instrumental theme came on over the still shots of the ship and 2. when the violinist refuses to leave the deck and reels the rest of the quartet back to play that seriously emotional song (as everyone jumps off, falls, or drowns). The scene of the people desperately hanging on to the priest as he prays also gets me a little weepy, I cannot imagine what an experience like that, chaos and sure death on that wide a scale, would be like; one woman (I think holding onto a child) clung to a structure and just repeated over and over "it will be over soon. it will be over soon." My friend Julie told me when this film was first released that the very worst part for her was seeing the Irish woman telling her children a bedtime story and tucking them in bed, knowing that they would all soon be dead. I didn't have kids at the time like she did, but I do now, and the scene is probably the saddest thing that happens in the film. Heavy. It's not a perfect film, but it's definitely an important one. 11 Oscars, many of them well-deserved. 

The Descent, 2005. Directed and Written by Neil Marshall.
starring: Shauna Macdonald, Natalie Jackson Mendoza.

First off, I don't even know if this was the correct The Descent, there were about three of them listed on IMDB, but it seemed to be ridiculous enough, so I'm going with it (although one of the others did actually star Luke Perry, so that may have been fun, too).

"A caving expedition goes horribly wrong, as the explorers become trapped and ultimately pursued by a strange breed of predators." (IMDB).

Maybe Directors just shouldn't be Writers. Or Vice Versa. This was badly pieced together and didn't have any flow or continuity when it probably could have with a better writer. I was completely caught off guard with how things went, although I thought the film got much more interesting once those creatures started popping up inside the cave. The overall feeling of the film at first seemed to be really lame and Spice Girl-ish (Yey, we're awesome chicks that can raft and explore caves! WOOO! Let's jump up and down and scream!) so when they're suddenly thrust into this weird, dark predator-setting, it seemed a little jarring. The beginning and ending seemed a little forced and random. So it's bad, but (almost) a kind of good, cheesy bad. 

Speed 2: Cruise Control, 1997. Directed by Jan de Bont, Written by Graham Yost.
starring: Sandra Bullock, Jason Patrick, Willem Dafoe.

"A computer hacker breaks into the computer system of the Seabourn Legend cruise liner and sets it speeding on a collision course into a gigantic oil tanker" (IMDB).

Well, this might have been better without the entire first scene and nearly all of Jason and Sandy's dialogue. Willem is marginalized, and while no Bobby Peru, is interesting enough to watch, I guess. Action films need to have clever or comical dialogue. Good examples of this are Tom Arnold/Arnold Schwarzenegger in True Lies:
1. "What kind of a sick bitch takes the ice cube trays out of the freezer?"
2. "The guy is a goddamned used car salesman, this just keeps getting better and better!", or even Keanu and Jeff Daniels in the first Speed film:
3. "I'm gonna go home, have some sex." "Harry, you're gonna go home and puke." "Yeah, well, that'll be fun, too."

The back and forth with Jason and Sandy was painful and uncomfortable because they both suck and they had sucky writing, and the film just kept on giving more and more of this. I'd say the last ten minutes are the only ones worth watching because no one is speaking. And I'm guessing this is no where near the worst I'll be seeing from Ms. Bullock so far as I haven't even approached the chick flicks yet (shudder).


Donald said...

Well, obviously I'm going to have to defend Titanic here. I agree with your criticisms of Rose. She's a wholly unlikable character salvage only by the fact that Kate Winslet is a wonderful actress. But I agree that her performance probably wasn't Oscar Worthy.

And, yeah, the dialogue was insipid in spots, and the entire view that rich people are miserable assholes while the poor are the only people who have fun and know how to enjoy life is just plain dumb. But still, it's an awesome movie all the same. I love it.

Anna said...

If I watch it, I have to start at the iceberg. Everything before that makes me thrash with discomfort. And since I'm slated to be poor for the rest of my life, I'll just go ahead and agree with the plain dumb idea that rich people are miserable assholes and poor people know how to enjoy life. People with money are suspicious. And the ones I know who have it almost always find a way to "sing poor" as if they have a clue about what it's like. I'd like to punch every rich person in America right in the face.

Happy New Year.