Avatar

Finally, AVATAR! Can’t believe that James Cameron finally has a new film out after a long wait from his last movie….that  little film called Titanic. The Director of True Lies and Aliens delivers again. The film follows an ex-marine, Jake Sully, who is wheelchair bound, to Pandora. His twin brother was recently killed and Jake has the same DNA, a necessity to take over his brothers Avatar. The Avatars are used by the marines to attempt to infiltrate the local natives, the Navi. The Navi are living directly above a large deposit of valuable minerals, and Jake’s job is to try to get the Navi to relocate in order to mine the region. Of course once Jake has infiltrated the Navi, he finds himself more a part of the Navi than he realizes.

As far as performances, to me there were no really outstanding performances. Everyone in the film was solid, but nothing that is going to stir up the Academy for an Oscar. Jake Sully is played by Sam Worthington who was in this past summers Terminator Salvation. Sigourney Weaver (Aliens, Death and the Maiden) is once again teamed up with Cameron as Dr. Grace Augustine, the local scientist and expert on the Navi culture. Giovanni Ribisi (Saving Private Ryan) plays company man Parker, and Stephen Lang (Gettysburg, Public Enemies) is the macho-over-the-top kill the natives colonel.

On to the special effects, and yes they were special! My opinion, Oscars all around for the special effects team. The entire film is visually stunning and well worth catching on the big screen. In fact it is a must to catch on the big screen, with such sweeping shots, and panoramic scenes, definitely a must! I might also mention the 3D, well worth seeing it in 3D as well. It never is distracting to the movie, it enhances the film and does not take away at all. It was nice to see this element used in this way, and not have the cheap 3D gags throughout, like a sword being pointed at you or items coming at you for no other reason than to remind you that you are watching a 3D movie.

To sum it all up, this is worth going to see for sure. It has already been nominated for Best Picture at the Golden Globes. Even though I think this is a must see on the big screen, by no means is it a fresh storyline, which I really wanted from Cameron. The movie really played out like Dances With Wolves or The Emerald Forest. And I was even reminded of other Cameron films, the Ribisi character Parker seemed like a company man right out of Aliens with the same agenda. The military ships even reminded me of the landing craft in Aliens. Ok, even the score done by James Horner was even a bit too much reminiscent of Titanic. So by no means is this film perfect in my eyes. It is jawdropping beautiful and it is something like you have never seen before. The only thing I can compare it to is seeing Star Wars for the first time as a boy in grade school. The imagination and creativity put into this film is something to see for sure!

The Verdict

The Verdict

If you enjoy Paul Newman (and who doesn’t enjoy Paul Newman) you need to see this movie. He probably could have won Best Actor but lost out to Ben Kingsly for Gandhi. Newman plays an alcoholic lawyer who drums up his business by going to funeral homes and passing out business cards, claiming to know the deceased. That is until he is handed a sure thing, a case that is supposed to settle out of court with a nice payday. Having a growing conscious after seeing the victim, he views the money as nothing more than being bought off and decides to fight the case.

As always, not to give too much away, this isn’t the absolute best courtroom drama I have ever seen, but Sidney Lumet (12 Angry Men, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead) does get great performances from Mr. Newman, James Mason, and Charlotte Rampling (Swimming Pool). There are no huge plot twists or legal loopholes that act as a payoff here, just tracking down missing witnesses and courtroom testimony. Still, this is a film worth seeing, being Nominated for 5 total Oscars including Best Actor and Best Picture.

Network

Network

Network. I am trying to think of a better over all acted movie, and it is
really hard to do. Every performance in this film is really outstanding.
Both William Holden (Best Actor for Stalag 17) and Peter Finch were both
nominated for Best Actor, of course Peter Finch taking the statue. Both were
just enthralling to watch. Faye Dunaway, won Best Actress for her role. She
is amazing and holds her own against the Hollywood heavyweights Holden and
Duvall. Which brings me to Robert Duvall, who probably should have got a
nomination for supporting actor. Even the small role of Ned Beatty earned
himself a nomination in that category. In fact my favorite line of the movie
isn’t the famous “I’m as mad as hell..” but the Beatty line ” The world is a
business, Mr. Beale. It has been since man crawled out of the slime.”
 Wow, enough about performances. With all the other awards this movie won,
kind of a shame it didn’t go on to win Bets Picture, but lost to Rocky. This
film is a great look at what TV stations will do for ratings. The
exploitation of a screaming madman sends rating through the roof. And comes
full circle as the TV network atcs out what a newsman was originally fired
for to begin with.
 Sydney Lumet is just masterful at pulling performances out of people. He
has been doing great movies for years, from 12 Angry Men in 1957 to Before
the Devil Knows Your Dead
in 2007, and plenty of greatness in between. Even
if you think you may not like this film, everyone should see it once and try
to understand it as it is one of the great movies of all time.

The Caine Mutiny

 

The Caine Mutiny

The Caine Mutiny, nominated for Best Picture in 1954, was a lot more intriguing to watch than I thought it would be. After dismissing the Captain of a minesweeper, Lt. Cmdr. Queeg takes over. Humphrey Bogart does a great job of playing the Captain that starts showing signs of paranoia. Of course his decision making comes into question by the crew and of course, no big secret, mutiny occurs. Although I kept seeing Mr. Douglas (My Three Sons), Fred MacMurray had a great character, who is so sure of himself on what is going on with the captain, then giving second thoughts. Possibly looking out to save his own skin.

I really enjoyed this film because it was challenging. Wondering who was right and who was wrong. Without giving too much away, it seems like justice has prevailed until the final scene, leaving the question who is right and who is wrong….very similar to the dilemma in Crimson Tide. Not sure where I stand on the finality of this movie, but it does make you think and make you ask questions, something I really love in a movie. Worth watching for sure.

The Ox-Bow Incident

The Ox-Bow Incident
Nominated for Best Picture in 1943, and unfortunately came out the same year as the all time classic Casablanca. In any other year, this could have easily won the Oscar for Best Picture. Dealing with issues of justice and the power of mob violence, this a a film that was way ahead of it’s time. Things are not tied up with a happy little bow and all is well….this makes you think what is right and wrong and how one would act, or should act. Henry Fonda is incredible, as you would expect, and a particular nice performance from Dana Andrews. Also look for Margaret Hamilton in an uncredited role. (Wicked Witch of the East/West.) A must see!!!!