James Cameron's Good, Bad and Ugly!

Join Steve, Jon, Gabriel, and Andrew as they deconstruct a new filmmaker's body of work each and every week, as only high-falootin' Canadians can.

James Cameron's Good, Bad and Ugly!

Postby Gabriel Girard » Fri Mar 08, 2013 1:16 pm

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Re: James Cameron's Good, Bad and Ugly!

Postby J.M. Vargas » Sun Mar 10, 2013 1:59 pm

Great podcast, despite the watering-down of the canuck opinion by two yankees. ;-) I was howling like a nut when Jon nicknamed Hitch 'Dickcock' toward the end, which would have been fine except I was in line at the supermarket and everyone looked at me funny. I made it a point to watch "Aliens" (which I'd never seen even though I've seen the other three) before listening and I was vindicated by the fact you guys spent close to an hour fawning over it. My picks (except for "The Abyss" which I haven't seen yet):

The Good: TITANIC. F*** the haters (no offense), the first two hours of "Titanic" are precisely why the last hour and change resonate with such power and emotion. Besides the sweeping romance (in which Jack, Rose and most characters sound/talk not like polished movie creattions but like average people, i.e. 99% of the world without a screenwriter) and powerful social message (hundreds of poor people died and many rich one's lived because of an established and accepted social class system still in effect today under different guise of political social economic redistribution; that's potent shit leading into the 'all hell breaks loose' final act) it's also such a finely acted, finely scored (James Horner's music is the movie's secret weapon that absolutely links, lifts and runs through every aspect of the film from first to last note) and just around near-perfect cinematic experience, in both 2D and 3D! One of you mentioned that the first two hours don't feel like a James Cameron movie at all. Cameron is a Titanic nut and he made sure to get every detail right that he could so we could spend two hours familiarizing ourselves with the boat and its passengers (living there basically, past and then-present) so that the dominoes are set and the chain reaction at the end means something more than gawking at stuntmen and CG men pretend to die. So yeah, first two hours of "Titanic"? As James Cameron movie as they come. God, I love this movie! 8)

The Bad: ALIENS. "True Lies" would have been here if I hadn't seen "Aliens" right before listening to the podcast. My review pretty much covers it, but basically I f***ing hated the space marines' macho posturing and trash talking. "Starship Troopers" and just about every FPS videogame since ("Halo," etc.) has filled my quota, and the fact Cameron makes them as much a centerpiece of the story as the aliens (until Ripley takes over toward the end) is a bad that constantly undermines the effectiveness of "Aliens" as an action-packed tense ride. And yes, this is 40 yr. old me talking, not if-I'd-seen-it-as-a-kid-I'd-have-probably-loved-it 13 yr. old me.

The Ugly: AVATAR. Dull everything except the 3D tech and action scenes, which are rather infrequent in a bloated-beyond-redemption eco message driven story. Now that I've actually seen "Aliens" my opinion of "Avatar" has dropped even lower knowing that Cameron is totally rocking on an old soundtrack he has already played over one too many times.

Off to watch the Assembly Cut version of "Alien 3" and "Benjamin Button" so I can finally listen to the David Fincher podcast. :)
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Re: James Cameron's Good, Bad and Ugly!

Postby mavrach » Tue Mar 12, 2013 11:08 am

J.M. Vargas wrote:The Good: TITANIC. F*** the haters (no offense), the first two hours of "Titanic" are precisely why the last hour and change resonate with such power and emotion. Besides the sweeping romance (in which Jack, Rose and most characters sound/talk not like polished movie creattions but like average people, i.e. 99% of the world without a screenwriter) and powerful social message (hundreds of poor people died and many rich one's lived because of an established and accepted social class system still in effect today under different guise of political social economic redistribution; that's potent shit leading into the 'all hell breaks loose' final act) it's also such a finely acted, finely scored (James Horner's music is the movie's secret weapon that absolutely links, lifts and runs through every aspect of the film from first to last note) and just around near-perfect cinematic experience, in both 2D and 3D! One of you mentioned that the first two hours don't feel like a James Cameron movie at all. Cameron is a Titanic nut and he made sure to get every detail right that he could so we could spend two hours familiarizing ourselves with the boat and its passengers (living there basically, past and then-present) so that the dominoes are set and the chain reaction at the end means something more than gawking at stuntmen and CG men pretend to die. So yeah, first two hours of "Titanic"? As James Cameron movie as they come. God, I love this movie! 8)


See, just about everything about Titanic works. On a technical level, it's perfect; you feel like you're out on the ocean.

The performances are excellent. At the time, Dicaprio was more known for his looks before he started being known for his acting ability. But I remember at the time being an insecure high schooler who couldn't beleive he was at a movie with scads of teenage girls swooning over their Leo. Now that I'm over that I can accept the performance moreso.

But I feel all of the work is undone by the writing. Yes, there's something important to be said about the rich hogging the lifeboats and making space on them, and also of the arrogance of building an unsinkable ship and not stocking enough lifeboats to save everybody in an emergency.

But the love story is so damn trite and manipulative. It's designed to pull you in different directions, the rich girl who doesn't care about money, engaged to a rich asshole, her mother forcing her to keep their success, then she meets the dreamy poor guy who shows her that you don't need money to live. While I'm watching all of this, all the talent that went into the movie otherwise was wasted on me. If I weren't watching the movie for the podcast, I would'nt have made it past the first hour. Remember my old signature, "never underestimate the power of the infatuation of two physically attractive people who just met."

Oh and if James Cameron really beleives that you don't need money to live a wholesome life, how about not making the biggest movies ever??
+1. this is very interesting.
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Re: James Cameron's Good, Bad and Ugly!

Postby mavrach » Tue Mar 12, 2013 11:16 am

Oh and I mentioned on the podcast that Titanic's manipulative love story is even more frustrating when you realize that it was written by the same guy who brought us The Abyss.

It's exceptionally rare that I find a moving love story in a movie. Typically I find them shoehorned into movies that don't need them, pretty much as a marketing effort to somehow capture a female audience. I sound like I don't like a love story, but I do. I just don't like phony stories.

The drowning/resuscitation scene in The Abyss in heart wrenching. And it's not a story of two people who just started dating, it was about a couple who really loved each other but couldn't make it work. How about Bud throwing away his wedding ring early on, having to reach into the toilet to get it, and his arm is stained blue for the rest of the movie as a remainder to us??
+1. this is very interesting.
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Re: James Cameron's Good, Bad and Ugly!

Postby Dan Mancini » Mon Mar 18, 2013 1:05 pm

J.M. Vargas wrote:The Bad: ALIENS. "True Lies" would have been here if I hadn't seen "Aliens" right before listening to the podcast. My review pretty much covers it, but basically I f***ing hated the space marines' macho posturing and trash talking. "Starship Troopers" and just about every FPS videogame since ("Halo," etc.) has filled my quota, and the fact Cameron makes them as much a centerpiece of the story as the aliens (until Ripley takes over toward the end) is a bad that constantly undermines the effectiveness of "Aliens" as an action-packed tense ride. And yes, this is 40 yr. old me talking, not if-I'd-seen-it-as-a-kid-I'd-have-probably-loved-it 13 yr. old me.

If you think we're supposed to view the marines (except for Hicks) with anything other than contempt, then you haven't been paying attention to the way Cameron makes movies. I agree that the posturing is irritating. But only because it reduces the marines to moronic incompetents, when in truth they'd be the ones to have the tactical training to play defense and offense against the aliens. In Alien, Ripley survives because she's the pragmatist of the group. In Aliens, her maternal instincts miraculously transform her from a simple commercial pilot into an instinctive alien-killing machine. It's ridiculous . . . yet I thoroughly enjoy it . . . except for Newt, who should've been shot the first time she mouthed off to a marine.
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Re: James Cameron's Good, Bad and Ugly!

Postby J.M. Vargas » Tue Mar 19, 2013 9:35 am

^^^ But isn't Newt's fate at the start of "Alien 3" so much more satisfying.
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Re: James Cameron's Good, Bad and Ugly!

Postby Dan Mancini » Thu Mar 21, 2013 11:03 am

J.M. Vargas wrote:^^^ But isn't Newt's fate at the start of "Alien 3" so much more satisfying.

Not really. The beginning of Alien 3 is basically an acknowledgement that Newt and Hicks were narrative dead-ends.
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