1997 Movie Review: TITANIC, 1997

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TITANIC, 1997
Movie Review

Directed by James Cameron
Starring: Kate Winslet, Leonardo DiCaprio, Billy Zane, Kathy Bates
Review by Andrew Rowe

SYNOPSIS:

Fictional romantic tale of a rich girl and poor boy who meet on the ill-fated voyage of the ‘unsinkable’ ship.

REVIEW:

He spends twenty minutes setting up the story before we are even introduced to the main characters. Atop of that he spends another hour and twenty minutes before introducing us to that big white block of ice that changed Hollywood forever. This is James Cameron’s film. He wrote it, co-edited it, and directed it. He made the film exactly the way he wanted to, and I would not have it any other way.

Cameron uses every single one of the film’s 194 minutes to tell his story. Every shot is there for a reason, and as long as its running time is, there is no point that boredom creeps in. Cameron uses a great storytelling device, which consists of the film opening and closing in a modern setting. Brock Lovett is a treasure hunter looking for the “Heart of the Ocean” in the wreck of the RMS Titanic. Rose DeWitt Bukater, a survivor of the Titanic sees Lovett on television. She contacts him and is sent with her daughter to his boat. There is a drawing of Rose that was found in a safe on the wreck, it’s a nude portrait of Rose wearing the “Heart of the Ocean”. Rose then begins telling her story of her time on the Titanic.

We’re then transported to 1912; Cameron puts his massive budget to good use with beautiful crane shots that mix dazzling special effects with brilliant art design. One shot in particular is when young Rose, played by Kate Winslet exits her car. The camera cranes down over her large brimmed purple hat to reveal the beautiful actress. It’s just one of the many moments Cameron uses filmmaking magic to bring his story to vivid visual life. He makes it well known that this is a film of epic proportions, and we are in for a treat.

Leonardo DiCaprio’s Jack Dawson is introduced as a penniless artist who travels the globe with the clothes on his back. As compared to Rose who is a first-class socialite, Jack won his ticket on the Titanic through a poker game. The two find themselves meeting at the stern of the boat, where Rose is about to commit suicide. Jack talks her down, and their romance begins.

Jack tries to show Rose how to hawk a “loogie” like boys do, and although this scene may seem unnecessary; it’s just a pit stop on the road to their destination of love. Over the course of an hour and twenty minutes we’ve seen Jack and Rose fall in love, and it feels real. Cameron took his time, but because of his patience and gentle pacing, we’ve fallen just as in love with them as they are with eacthother. Teenagers and adult filmgoers alike cannot deny the chemistry between these two; their love is one for the ages.

When the boat does strike the iceberg it’s not an immediate threat, it’s a casual impending doom. Water slowly fills the lower class section of the boat. The women and children in first class begin loading onto lifeboats, knowing they’re leaving behind people that will never see land again. The sense of panic and intensity builds and builds. Cameron has a great ensemble cast he’s been developing the whole film and has a purposeful fate for each of them. When the boat breaks in half and begins sinking it is the greatest car crash you can’t look away from that has ever been caught on film. With little music, Cameron lets the screams of the passengers falling to their death haunt you. Bodies bounce off propellers and other pieces of the boat, women and children wait in their beds as water surrounds them, thousands of lives are ending before our eyes. The images are horrific, and you’ve never been so happy cuddled up on your warm couch.

You could nit pick at some of the script and its dialogue, just as you can the lyrics in best pop songs of our time. That is essentially what Titanic is, an amazingly crafted film that appeals to everyone, because it has something for everyone. It’s bubblegum pop in film form, a romantic tragedy, a disaster film, and the fact that the event is a part of history allows it to resonate even more. It’s such an experience that even after its initial impact, still delivers what it did a decade ago, popcorn chomping bliss on the greatest scale.

 

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Film Review: COLLATERAL BEAUTY (USA 2016)

collateralbeauty_movie_poster.jpgCOLLATERAL BEAUTY (USA 2016) **
Directed by David Frankel

Starring: Will Smith, Edward Norton, Kate Winslet, Helen Mirren, Michael Peña, Naomie Harris, Keira Knightley

Review by Gilbert Seah

The subject of coping with death has been dealt in dozens of ways in films. In the recent ARRIVAL, the death of Amy Adam’s daughter is tied into the main plot of alien arrival. This worked. In another space film GRAVITY, the Sandra Bullock character is given the grief of a dead child to humanize her character. The ploy did not work and the story looked totally fake. In the recent praised MANCHESTER BY THE SEA, Casey Affleck’s character comes to terns with death in a gut-wrenching emotional tale of redemption. In David Frankel’s COLLATERAL BEAUTY based on a script by Allan Roeb, Will Smith’s character finally accepts his daughter’s death with all the sugar coating of all the Christmas cakes in a pastry shop. Despite attempts to make the story believable, COLLATERAL BEAUTY is plain horrid!

When the trailer for COLLATERAL BEAUTY first appeared on the internet, Guardian Magazine came out with an article heralding the arrival of the worst movie of 2016. And understandably so! The trailer showed Will Smith as a man grieving the death of his daughter by writing letters to Death, Time and Love. Scenes that follow show the personifications of these abstractions with Smith speaking to each of them, played by Helen Mirren, Jacob Latimore and Keira Knightley respectively. The music and mood are sloppy sweet sugary, especially catered for Christmas. Who would want to watch such Hollywood bulls***? There is one word for all this, in the spirit of Ebenezer Scrooge – HUMBUG!

But the film is not all that bad. The reason that Death, Time and Love are in the story, actors playing the parts, is to fool Howard Inlet (Smith) so that he can be deemed mentally unfit to hold on to his shares and thus prevent his firm from being sold. So three employees, who have worked with Howard since the incident of his daughter’s death, Whit (Edward Norton), Simon (Michael Pena) and Claire (Kate Winslet) plot the scheme. But this not not mean that the film is all that good either.

Director Frankel who directed THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA knows how to set up scenes. The first 10 minutes of PRADA when Meryl Streep, the no-nonsense head of the Prada office strides in – to the total disarray of all the other scattering employees is one unforgettable, beautifully executed scene. There are a few of these in COLLATERAL BEAUTY, like the confrontation scene between Howard and Time on the subway train, but the individual set-ups do not work on the whole. The metaphor of the falling dominoes is used to the maximum of a ridiculous three times. The film eventually settles to boredom as it is hard to care for characters made so unbelievable.

It is a complete waste to see Oscar Winners Winslet and Mirren in this silly story. Mirren does bring a bit of dignity into this nonsense but she must be laughing her head off, off screen.

The film partly works when it pokes fun at the credibly of the story. When Howard looks shocked at the sudden appearance of Death, Time and Love, the shock looks genuine – probably because of genuine disbelief. The film is the worst when Howard pines over his dead daughter – the worst of the worst has him watching a video of him playing with her, when she was still alive in a park, and shouting… “Daddy, daddy!” If this scene was not so obviously manipulative, it might have jerked a tear or two from a few of an innocent audience.

There is a twist in the plot at the end which makes no sense to the whole story of what Howard is going through.

Christmas brings along good films – Oscar contenders. But it also brings the worst of Hollywood films – COLLATERAL BEAUTY being one of them.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=isQ5Ycie73U

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Happy Birthday: Kate Winslet

katewinslet.jpgKate Winslet

Born: October 5, 1975 in Reading, Berkshire, England, UK

Married to: Ned Rocknroll (5 December 2012 – present) (1 child)
Sam Mendes (24 May 2003 – 3 October 2010) (divorced) (1 child)
Jim Threapleton (22 November 1998 – 13 December 2001) (divorced) (1 child)

After Titanic (1997), it would have been completely foolish for me to go and try and top that. I’m an English girl, I’ve always loved England, I’ve never felt the desire to leave it for any particular reason. And whilst I’m ambitious and care very much about what I do, I’m not competitive. I also don’t want to act every day of my life. … So it was important to me after Titanic (1997) to just remind myself of why it was that I was acting in the first place, which is of course because I love it.

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Movie Review: TRIPLE 9 (2016) ****

triple_9.jpgTRIPLE 9 (USA/UK 2015) ****
Directed by John Hillocoat

Starring: Casey Affleck, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Anthony Mackie, Gal Godot, Kate Winset, Aaron Paul, Teresa Palmer, Michael Kenneth Williams

Review by Gilbert Seah

No stranger to violent films, director John Hillcoat’s (LAWLESS, THE ROAD and his best film THE PROPOSITION) latest entry into gangster genre proves himself apt at serious comic book sensibility. TRIPLE 9, the code for ‘officer down’, plays like a ‘real’ serious adult comic book version of DEADPOOL.

It takes a while for the film to settle on its bearings. The script by first time writer, Matt Cook is clever enough not to reveal all the plot points, but keeps the audience always one step behind what is happening. An example is the bank heist. Who are the robbers working for? What is their aim? One point is a bank officer removing a safety deposit box from the vault. As far as I now, it requires two keys, one from the officer and the other from the customer to open a box. It is a good tactic. For example, the audience is aware that one officer is going down, but never sure which one or for what reason. The characters are also individually distinct and eccentric all aided by superlative performances from a eclectic cast.

The key performance comes from Casey Effleck (brother of Ben) who has proven his acting mettle in previous films like THE TOWN. His character is the only uncorrupt one, and the key one that puts the whole story into prospective. The good must always prevail. The script contains a few too many close calls for his character. As for the ambiguous baddies, there are too many too count. Interesting enough, many do good for the wrong reasons. The true baddie appears to be the Russian moll, Irina played by Kate Winslet , complete with Russian accent and is barely recognizable in her makeup.. She is also doing bad for a good reason, to aid her crooked husband escape.

Hillcoat keeps the action and fury fast and furious and nonstop. Be prepared to be glued to your seats! The film alternates between highly charged action and drama sequences. For the action segments, the bank heist at the film’s start is hard to beat. The robbers show no mercy and show they mean business. They do not shout warnings. They fire and beat up the victims, and talk later. All this makes the heist even more gripping. Hillcoat also realizes that the devil is in the details. On the highway, a robber points his rifle at a car, only to have it rammed from behind and the robber moving backwards to avoid being hit. The camerawork is excellent, the best example being the one where the camera pulls back during a car chase showing where each in on the maze of highways in the city.

Hillcoat does not skimp on the violence as evident by showing a bag of bloodied teeth at another point in the film. The characters are always angry, screaming at each other but not without reason. Every character is desperate. Every character is ready to kill.

Stay for the end credits. The 1980’s song ‘Pigs” (called so for obvious reasons) by Cypress Hill is inventive, catchy, hilarious and totally appropriate. The song can also be played on YouTube.