Monday, March 20, 2017

1026. Avatar

Directed by James Cameron

I am taking a break briefly from my Best Picture series, as I haven't had time to watch Spotlight (or really the desire, as I know it will be beyond depressing).  I have had a lot of writing projects lately, so I apologize for taking so long to update this and  respond to comments.  I do read my comments daily and they always make me smile, even if they point out when I'm an idiot.  Anyway, I wanted to write about a movie I have seen before to save time, so I chose Avatar.

The year is 2154 and humans have depleted the world of its resources.  The Resources Development Administration mines for unobtanium on Pandora, a lush planet populated by sexy blue creatures who are peaceful and deeply connected to nature.  The atmosphere of Pandora is poisonous to humans, so the scientists create avatars that look like Na'vi but can be controlled by humans.  One of the operators is Jake Sully, a paraplegic ex Marine.  Jake, of course, falls in love with one of the Na'vi and decides to help the Na'vi defend themselves against the white invaders.

So, once again, we get a very tired concept.  White people invade a land inhabited by peaceful, nature loving people.  One especially hot white guy falls in love with native girl and sees the beauty in their culture, mastering and surpassing the natives in the skills they value.  Then the white guy defends the natives (who are entirely powerless without him) against the other greedy white people.  At least Pocahontas had good songs.

Obviously, this movie is a breakthrough in cinematic technology and was beautiful to look at.  I don't really watch films for the effects; I value unique stories and characters more.  I keep rewriting this part, as I don't want to sound like a snob (that ship might have sailed a long time ago).   I guess I am trying to say that I get the appeal of this movie, but it didn't really cater to my personal taste.

God, I need a writing break *pulls up short story to work on*.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

James Cameron has said he got the idea for the Avatar from watching Disney's Pocahontas.

60% CGI.

Cameron insisted the Na'vi have breasts so the audience would think they were hot.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

1025. Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

We now come to perhaps the most pretentious film on the entire List.  It's a big claim and in the comments section you will probably prove me wrong.  But come on.  Deal with that title for a moment.

Riggan Thomson is an actor famous for portraying Birdman, an iconic superhero.  He decides to reinvent himself by writing, directing, and starring in a Broadway play based on a Raymond Carver short story.  Riggan's daughter, Sam, a recovering drug addict, works as his assistant.  He frequently clashes with Mike Shiner, his method actor costar.  Oh yeah, and he is kind of going insane.

Basically, this film just rubbed me the wrong way.  I get that it was supposed to be a homage to Godard, but did Godard ever seem this affected and self-indulgent?  If he did, I don't remember.  Even the in-joke that St. James' theatre being crummy, when it is actually a really nice venue (get it?  How droll) prove that this film was not meant to be accessible to the average movie-goer.

I did enjoy a few scenes; I thought Edward Norton and Emma Stone had great chemistry.  But overall, I thought this movie was too snobby, even for me.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

Contains only sixteen visible cuts.

The ending apparently came to the director in a dream.  I'm going to throw my neck out if they keep making me roll my eyes this hard.