Tag: James Cameron

MOVIE REVIEW | ***AFI WEEKEND*** #83. Titanic (1997)

“The American Film Institute’s list of the 100 Greatest Movies was selected by AFI’s blue-ribbon panel of more than 1,500 leaders of the American movie community to commemorate 100 Years of Movies”. Every weekend(ish) during 2015, I’ll review two(ish), counting them down from 100 to 1.


“I mean, I got everything I need right here with me. I got air in my lungs, a few blank sheets of paper.”

Titanic plays a pretty important role in my development as a movie nerd.  It came out when I was about 16, and like everyone else alive at the time, I saw it in the cinema.  It was important because it was the first time I was really consciously aware that big budget, prestige movie making didn’t make a movie exempt from predictable clichés and lazy story telling.  Before that time, I’d recognised predictability and familiar structure in cheap comedies and bad horror.  But for some reason, I thought movies like this were above it.

Then I spent three hours in a cinema with Titanic refusing to surprise me in any way.  I haven’t watched it since, hoping and assuming that I never would have to.  Then I decided to do this AFI countdown, and shot myself in the foot.  So, almost two decades later, does Titanic still live down to my huge disappointment? (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | True Lies (1994)

True Lies

“So your life’s in the crapper. So your wife’s banging a used car salesman. It’s humiliating, I know. But goddamnit, Harry, take it like a man!”

There was a time in the early to mid 90s when the careers of James Cameroon and Arnold Schwarzenegger crossed at the perfect point for both of them. With Terminator 2, Arnie was without a doubt the biggest action star in the world.  At that same time, Cameron was at the top of his game as a special effects innovator and amazing action storyteller.  In just a few short years, Schwarzenegger would become a punch line as he tried to be a family comedy star, while James Cameroon disappeared further and further up his own ass, making faux-prestige syrup like Titanic, before being lost forever in his green screen monstrosity, Avatar. But after T2, and before their respective slides into shititude, they had one last kick ass collaboration in them, True Lies.

Breaking through the iced surface of a frozen lake, Harry Tasker quickly changes into a tuxedo before effortlessly infiltrating a swanky party. With Albert (Tom Arnold) watching on from a surveillance van, Harry is guided through the party via an earpiece, on the lookout for something (I don’t remember what). He meets high end art dealer Tia Carrere as Juno Skinner, and realises she might be a link to the big bad he’s chasing. Things go tits up, there are explosions, chases through snow via skis and snow mobiles, shoot outs and mayhem. Just a few hours later, Albert is dropping Harry off at his quaint, suburban home, where his quaint, suburban wife, Helen (Jamie Lee Curtis), and rebellious, suburban daughter, Dana (Eliza Dushku) think he’s a boring salesman. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | ***DIRECTOR DEBUT WEEK*** Bigelow: The Loveless (1981)

It probably says something about Hollywood, that the only woman to ever win an Academy Award for Best Director, makes such masculine movies.  With an Oscar win for The Hurt Locker and a nomination for Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow is no stranger to making tough as nails movies about tough as nails characters.  And with Point Break, she has a genuine action movie hit to her name, that seems to be more and more beloved as time passes and nostalgia grows.  So even though I knew absolutely nothing about her debut before I started watching it, it was no surprise to see that there’s a bubbling pool of testosterone at the core of The Loveless.

In some ways an update of The Wild One, The Loveless begins with a gang of bikers descending on a small town.  Well, it’s not even really a town, it’s just a roadhouse diner and motel. And it’s not really a gang, it’s a few leather clad greasers, lead by Willam Dafoe as Vance.

Stuck there for a couple of days while they repair one of their bikes, Dafoe and his guys alternate from trying to lay low, to openly antagonising the locals to banging one of their daughters to full blown aggression.  All the while, the town is so small, this hand full of bikers almost outnumbers the residents.

Willam Dafoe nails it in the central role.  And even as the main character, he might have the least amount of dialogue in the entire movie.  But that’s fine, even three decades ago, Dafoe had an amazingly craggy, worn, expressive face that can say so much with juts the slightest look.

Not just Dafoe though, the entire movie has a really restrained, minimal, almost noir look and feel.  No one ever says a single superfluous word, and no big flashy moments are resorted to if the same point can be made with a quick exchange of looks.  Until all that restraint boils over into the big climax of The Loveless that is the biggest indicator of where Bigelow was headed as a director.

Based on the cars, I guess The Loveless set in the 50s or 60s, but I also get the feeling Bigelow is keeping the era deliberately ambiguous.  Usually, in any period piece, references to the specific time are usually shoehorned into exposition, but that never happens here.  I’m probably reading too much into it, but to me, it almost felt like a timeless parallel universe.  It could have been set in a weird version of present day when it was made in 1981, it could be set in a weird version of present day when I watched it in 2013.

Watching The Loveless and thinking about Bigelow’s more recent movies, like The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, the only conclusion I can come to, is that being married to James Cameron turns people into ice cold, hard assed bitches who make awesome, yet ice cold, hard assed movies.

The Loveless
Directed By – Kathryn Bigelow
Written By – Kathryn Bigelow, Monty Montgomery