Saturday, January 16, 2010

Titanic Vs. Avatar

Picking up steam, Avatar is not dropping down the rankings of the Box Office- as a few boneheads had predicted. It's quite steady and increasing its overall gross. Which begs me to ask the question, does it have the UMPH to beat out Titanic as the highest grossing movie of all time? It's 150 million away and is still at number one- looking at an upcoming weekend gross of (this is my estimate) around 40 million. The reason why this movie is not slowing down must be due to the fact that it is something new and unseen among movie watchers. Here's a movie that demands to be seen on the big screen and has its effect relinquished once seen on the Tele. Add the fact that Cameron is known for going over budget & still producing something essential & spectacular and you get a combo that cannot be fought or dealt with.

My prediction? Avatar will beat Titanic's box office, just in time for the Oscars, where it will be crowned in numerous categories. Best Picture? not sure yet, it's a tough call, especially with this year having 10 nominees, a fabulous George Clooney Vehicle, his ex wife's -Kathryn Bigelow- triumphant war movie The Hurt Locker & the fact that Cameron has already had his moment when Titanic came out 12 years ago. One things for sure, this is gonna be fun times ahead and very interesting to watch as the Box Office and Oscar Noms slowly trickle in during the next few weeks. Let's keep in touch on this.

Friday, January 15, 2010

"Fish Tank" released today

Seek out Andrea Arnold's Cannes winning movie Fish Tank, which I believe comes out today onlin in New York and Los Angeles. I reviewed it last November, here's the REVIEW in case you are curiously minded about this gritty and surprising drama from the UK.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Douglas Sirk and Queer Cinema

Douglas Sirk made All That Heaven Allows in the 50's. It was met as a piece of Hollywood fluff, starring Hollywood handsome man Rock Hudson as gardener Ron that falls for Jane Wyman's Carrie. Forbidden love done with unoriginality and by-the-books flair. At least that's what people thought of the picture and Douglas Sirk 50 years ago.

That perception changed when in the 70's Sirk started giving interviews to the media and started appearing at world film fests promoting his filmography. The press started seeing things in his films that hadn't originally been seen before. For one, his movies -especially All That Heaven Allows- critiqued the bourgeois lifestyle and culture. It also featured Rock Hudson hinting at a homosexuality that bypassed almost everybody in Hollywood except himself. In Heaven there are clues. He claims he 'can't shoot straight' and is asked by his lover what would he think if she 'was a man'.

Those little clues went completely past an audience that was too naive to realize any of the hidden messages Sirk kept inserting into his works The queerness doesn't stop there. Sirk had a love for hiding hiding message with colour and palette. He had the ability to prepare a scenic-like effect and make his performers wear whatever would match the decor. If the scene required steaminess and hot romance, he would make Wyman wear Red and have his lighting shine on her bright- not to mention the red leaves on the trees surrounding her home.

I recently caught up with All That Heaven Allows and was struck by how well put of a Sirkian homage Todd Haynes' Far From Heaven was back in 2002. The similarities were there- instead of a blue collar gardener you had a black gardener & Haynes added a closeted gay husband (Dennis Quaid). More importantly Far From Heaven ended up elaborating on two key things: the world depicted on screen -- although 50 years apart from ours -- bore similarities to the society we currently live in, the bourgeois attitude still present and the homophobia and racism still intact.  It also revealed a trend that was only growing for the past decade - that of the queer auteur.

Haynes gave his best shot with Far From Heaven at reproducing the stylistic flourishes of a Sirk film exprience and, in the process of it all, made us remember one of the forgotten contemporaries of Hollywood's golden age.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


James Cameron's Avatar (4/5) has already made 1.4 Billion dollars in 24 days, that's a record and a sense of the crazed mania happening in theatres these days towards Cameron's latest opus. Does it deserves everything it is getting? considering it is a breakthrough in cinematic visual, I'd say yes. The technological achievements are major and only near the end do they wear thin to an unoriginal plot.

You see, Avatar's story is not very well realized nor is it very involving but watching it in 3D makes it a one of a kind experience that cannot be shaken when you leave the theatre. It is very flawed with its limp dick story but a complete breakthrough with its visual images that pop out at you like nothing else seen before it's release. Especially the scenes that take place in Pandora- home of the Na'avi & glowing with colour and fierce light that crowns a nation of blue. Guess what? as much as the story sucks, there's no denying the breakthrough that Cameron has created here. He basically gives the finger to the industry and sets his own rules as far as to what he can and cannot do. As far as we are concerned we are now living in a post-Avatar industry of movie making, whether that is a pleasant thought or not (It isn't necessarily to me)

It's going to change everything and anything in terms of 3D and movies in general. Deny it all you want but that is basically what it has come down to. Sure, its final 40 minutes start to die down the exuberance of its first 2 hours but there is an incredible adrenaline rush in watching something that is new and completely fresh on screen. Cameron has never been about dialogue, he's always been about visuals. He has a talent to make his movies look great and visually rich. just think of his classic movies (T1, T2, Titanic, Aliens) those movies could easily be watched with a mute button and you could still experience the hell out of it- The images mattered more than the words. He has made a movie that demands to be seen on a big screen with goofy looking 3D glasses, which is one of the reasons why people are actually churning out their hard earned cash instead of just settling for the illegal download or official DVD (whenever that is out)

If there is one movie that I have seen in 2009 that should and will be called groundbreaking in the years to come, this is it. A flashy, flawed, hokey, visionary epic made by a man that was once king of the world and getting back that title as we speak.

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