Monday, December 28, 2009

the cold

not again. it feels like my cold, the one i had last month, is creeping back with a sore throat and a sour cough. gadzooks! enough of that shit. as samuel l. jackson said in the movie snakes on a plane [2006], 'i hate these motherfucking colds on this motherfucking train,' or something to that effect.

wonderful holiday. if you have a chance to see christmas even partly thru a five-year-old's eyes then do so. the world can be still a magical place.

watched a lot of movies. my brother and i saw avatar [2009] in 3d yesterday and i was just whelmed. the movie is visually spectacular but the movie felt a bit bloated and the set pieces were too slow to engage as stricly an action flick. mind you, i like much of james cameron's previous movies, and this film takes 3d to the first intensity, yet the pace of the pic and the obviousness of its message, noble as that message is, was a bit of a let-down. however, actor sam worthington is a pleasure to watch even if i've only seen him in this pic and the newest entry of an old cameron franchise which i shall call the dreadful movie-we-don't-speak-its-name. seriously, the man responsible for that turd, mcg, couldn't direct a soup spoon from the bowl to his own mouth.

james cameron is a very gifted movie-maker. there are powerful moments, to be sure, in avatar still it seemed like so much pulp. i'm in a list-making mood so here are in no order my favorite cameron flicks.

the terminator [1984]
oh for the glory days of the mom & pop video stores. our neighborhood shop was called the jazzbird, owned by a professional poker player who had invested some of his winnings in a large poker tournament and opened this video shop. i recall the owner also published a how-to-win-at-poker guidebook that he sold at the counter. the movies were kept behind the counter where the clerk would retrieve them for you. you chose your movies from racks, the same racks that were used to display and sell comic books. the sleeve of the video was put in laminated plastic and you took this sleeve to the counter. choices were made by the lurid artwork, especially so for genre movies. i recall my friends found the sleeve for this flick. nothing special about it and i didn't expect much from the movie itself. but wow man, did this movie blow our minds. dark, unrelenting and beautifully bleak cameron made a low-budget flick, with the help of fx wizard stan winston, look like a multi-million dollar epic. a real classic.

aliens [1986]
i can't recall when and where i saw this flick for the first time. i'm a bonafide hardcore original ridley scott alien [1979] freak. i can tell where i was when i saw the original for the first time. i can even tell you where i watched the teaser trailer for it that i think was released a year earlier. what i can't tell you was how i managed to catch the sequel and if i had reservations about making a sequel to a beloved film my reservations evaporated on the first reel. much of the fx, especially the military hardware created by cameron and co. for avatar was field tested in this outing. the marines here are a salty group and their weapons and equipment looks used and worse for wear which heightens the verisimilutude. cameron also achieves something like pure dread when we watch the aliens attack the marines from their video cameras mounted to their helmets. such a scene is a work of genius and a testament to cameron's power as a movie-maker.

the abyss [1989]
to me this is cameron's magnum opus, a work of art that manages to remain pulpy and still rises to metaphysics. this flick gets at what i think cameron is trying to achieve with avatar but with so-so success. aliens who are better in tune to the natural world and gives us humans an object lesson in humility and frailty, how were are all connected, are examined in this flick. the titular abyss contains mysteries which are in the end not so easily believed. yet the commanding roles of the domestic as portrayed by ed harris and mary elizabeth mastrantonio as estranged spouses and the cutting edge fx marry up to a gorgeous examination of our being. far out and so desperately familiar this flick is all that avatar is attempting to achieve but is unable to make the sounds for all the notes. the abyss hits all these notes so perfectly well.

as you can see i hold cameron in this highest regard. i can't wait for what his latest project might be. hell, it might even be in 3d. which is by the way a fantastic way to see movies and the technology for 3d is lightyears more advanced than it used to be. now i need to get out of this cold.


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