Dear James Cameron,
By George Rose
November 26, 2009
Hello, my old friend. Remember me? I'm the guy that grew up watching your movies. The special effects in Terminator 2 blew me away when I was six-years-old. I was nine-years0old the last time Arnold Schwarzenegger was in a great movie, and that was True Lies. But you knew that, because you directed him in that movie too! Oh man, isn't reminiscing fun? You know what other movie you made during my youth? I was a very impressionable 12-years-old when you released Titanic. I really liked it. It made me think things like love and your talent were real and everlasting. Do you know what I've learned since the last time I saw one of your movies? I've learned quite a bit between the ages of 12 and 24. Since we haven't spoken in over a decade, I thought I'd write to you and fill you in on a few things.
1) You don't know sh*t about love. Rose and Jack's romance in Titanic is about the most farfetched piece of horse crap I've seen since Disney musicals were relevant. The two barely knew each other before Jack dies, and I'm expected to believe that Rose would die a lifetime later and still be thinking only of some third class hobo she slept with, like, twice when she was in her 20s? You'd HAVE to be a 12-year-old to believe that nonsense. If I saw Titanic for the first time at 24-years-old, I'd say "my old friend, you've clearly never been in love." I mean, you literally start the movie with the knowledge that the old version of Rose went on to marry another sucker and reproduced for him. If she were really in love with Jack, would she ever have moved on enough to remarry and make whoopee with another dude? And if she did, am I really expected to sympathize with her when she's 80 and longing for a one night stand from 60 years prior? Rose is a hoe and deserves to be miserable. I feel terrible for the schmuck she settled for. He deserved to be with a woman who loves him the way Rose loved Jack. I'm sorry, James Cameron, but you could have saved me a lot of awkward growing up in my teenage years if you had been a bit more honest, or informed. People don't love like that, not in the liberal modern day and especially not back when the Titanic sank almost a century ago. I partially blame you for the high divorce rate. You wrongfully raised expectations for what realistic love is like in this world, and now everyone is either in a trance or bitter like me. Thanks. Thanks a lot.
2) You're over rated. I'm going to grade you the way some of my best teachers in college graded me. I'm going to remove your best and worst test scores, which are usually flukes and offset a more accurate average. Averaging everything between is a better measure of your more consistent ability to produce quality. Lucky you, I'll remove Piranha 2 from your resume, which is the only movie I didn't see you reference in the Avatar trailers. I didn't realize you were capable of shame. Unfortunately, I'm also removing Titanic. That leaves a handful of movies that have made between $50-200 million. That's, um, impressive? You're darn right it's impressive. Most directors would kill for that career. But are you so awesome that I should blindly expect Avatar to be amazing, like so many of your mindless followers that I keep encountering? No, you're not that awesome. In fact, I hear you're quite a douche bag and, frankly, I'm a little upset at your cowardice. Did you really not make a movie for over ten years because of the post-Titanic pressure? Dude, that's so lame. Grow a pair. After Titanic, I thought you'd at least be able to afford a more confident set of balls.
3) South Park said it best already: Avatar looks like a crappy Smurfs knock-off. I was watching House, M.D. last week and was rudely interrupted by an entire commercial break being dedicated to a 2.5 minute trailer for Avatar. Is the movie really about a bunch of white people trying to kick blue people off their land because of some valuable resource beneath it? REALLY? Dressing the movie up with motion capture technology, a human-Smurf romance and IMAX 3D is almost as pathetic as your 10 year absence from Hollywood. The novelty will sell a few tickets but the story doesn't seem present enough to sustain a long box office run. And the movie is 2.5 hours long?! Most will probably be spent exploring the new world, which will be visually stimulating but critically irrelevant. If I want to see something pretty, I'll intoxicate myself and watch the X-Box 360 visualizer to the sounds of Owl City. Or I'll watch Planet Earth. I just don't see how you can create an epic STORY about greedy humans taking over some helpless blue aliens without offending viewers. Did you not read the reviews for Pixar's WALL-E? That movie is brilliant, yet people strained to find the flaw in the form of how the final message seemed to comment on the state of society's laziness. Guess what, humans are lazy. I'm lazy. You're lazy, and if you say you're not you're probably a liar. You can always do more than you're doing, and a civilization of fat people on a completely automated spaceship isn't the farthest thing from the imagination. In fact, it's quite funny they took it to that level. People wanted to find a flaw in WALL-E, and because the message hit a little too close to home people started complaining. Hey James, FYI: based on the trailer alone, it appears you're going to spend an entire 2.5 hours telling the audience how greedy and war-hungry they are. You seem to think your audience would slaughter an entire race of aliens (which at least one human deems lovable) for some valuable gold or oil or whatever. The nerve! Ok, fine, whatever, we do that here on our own planet, but we're also lazy here too. We don't like to be reminded of our shortcomings and that's all you seem to want to rub in our faces. I wish I could blindly sit back and pretend your movies are Hollywood's Holy Grail, but I'm not 12-years-old anymore. And I'm personally offended by Avatar. You already owe me my $15 back.
4) Last, but not least, nothing you do at this point will matter. You were afraid of your first post-Titanic film so much that you pushed away your fans for a decade, so that no matter how good your next movie was (though I expected it would suck), you'd have a scapegoat for the lackluster performance. That's just my bitterness speaking. Okay, fine, I have a personal vendetta against Cameron. My brother, on the other hand, does not. In fact, he thinks Avatar is going to be awesome and great and blah blah blah. I stopped listening my brother ramble on with blind devotion because I had to listen to the news on TV. Guess what was reported? The Twilight Saga's New Moon made $142 million this weekend. Now THAT is a blockbuster performance. James, you may still have fans, but they are a dying breed. The people have spoken: we want the fairy tale love you speak of but we need to know it's unrealistic. Vampires and humans? Vamps don't exist, so you can make them have whatever weird romance triangles you want. You, James, are just a flat out liar. You lied to me in Titanic and now I don't trust Avatar. You want my trust and love back? Earn it. I'll forgive the Avatar love story in advance because it's a human and a Smurf, which is unrealistic (and thus acceptable) like Twilight. But if people could pick on WALL-E, I can pick on you for your blatant attack on humankind's greed and war mongering. I like to think I'd be friends with the Smurfs and ask them nicely for their resources. Don't you know what bartering is? I'd also like to think I can move on and enjoy the James Cameron name again, but it looks like I'll have to wait for the post-Avatar release. The trailer is a disappointment, the story is a disappointment and, after New Moon's success, its box office is going to be a disappointment. There's only one way to enjoy Avatar: intoxicated at the sold out midnight show premier. Guess how I'll be seeing the movie?
Well, James, it's been fun catching up. In 12 years I've only gotten better. I'm glad to see you've spent your time growing as well. It would be great if I could write to you again and apologize for being wrong, but I'm not sure that's the likely outcome here. I'm sure I'll be confirming all my thoughts after Avatar's December 18th release. Until then, keep working on its final cut. Oh, and enjoy the holidays! Thanksgiving is going to be mmm-mmm-good! If you're wondering where I'll be up until your release, well, I'll probably be seeing New Moon for the second, third and fourth time. It may have been only a mediocre movie and a slight disappointment, but at least it wasn't a giant middle finger in my direction.
Your old friend,
P.S. – If you have some free time in your busy final days before Avatar, you should check out one of the following five movies. They aren't the greatest films ever and aren't for everyone, but I personally enjoyed them. Hopefully, you'll watch them and think of me.
P.S. 2: Judgment Day – By the way, New Moon called. They told me to pass along a message: "HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!" That sure was rude of them.
True Lies (1994)
After that rant, I owe James Cameron a recommendation. I just like to rag on him because of how devoted his following is. It isn't natural for someone to be so worshipped. I mean, I blindly follow certain actors/actresses/directors, but even I am willing to admit their flaws. New Moon was a disappointment, a bit long, and wasn't a whole lot different from the first Twilight. Taylor Lautner can't act and, I swear to God, if I hear Robert Pattinson say "you're the only reason I live" or "I can't imagine a life without you" or some sappy crap like that again, I might put a power drill to my temple. But I love New Moon. See how that's done everyone? I love New Moon, but it's flawed. Now can I get a James Cameron fan to volunteer and say the same thing? Didn't think so.
To show I'm the bigger man, I'll let you sit in silence and tell you about this James Cameron movie I loved growing up, and still love to this day. True Lies is about a secret agent (Schwarzenegger) and his unaware suburban family. His family gets involved with his latest mission, tearing his worlds apart as they clash together. Though this simple version of the plot may seem serious, the action film is actually quite funny. Schwarzenegger's right hand man is played by Tom Arnold, full of one liners and comedic support. While hilarious, he isn't really necessary; Schwarzenegger's relationship with Curtis spirals out of control with laughter once she becomes involved her own secret affairs, which helps makes you care about them enough to be affected by the real troubles that stem once she discovers the truth about her husband. To round out the already awesome cast is Eliza Dushku as their daughter, before she became tarnished with age and appearances in... well... basically her entire resume, sans Brings It On and Buffy. After True Lies, the entire cast seems to have given up on making quality films but True Lies will forever remain a reminder of the great work that contributes to certain celebrities becoming overrated.
Two Weeks Notice (2002)
Majors props to Sandra Bullock for having another smash hit in the year 2009. The Blind Side opened this past weekend and, once again, was Sandra's biggest opening weekend ever. Does this prove she's consistently bankable again? Or does this prove The Proposal was a fluke hit and she's really best suited for the holiday season? I'm not sure, but I remember one of her past holiday films fondly
Two Weeks notice is about an executive assistant named Lucy (Bullock) who has given two weeks notice to her boss (Hugh Grant) and must help him find a replacement. Given the situation, it's not hard to guess that he's extremely needy and she's extremely quirky and lovable. Their relationship is hectic and they banter constantly, which might be less appealing if it were coming any other stars than Grant and Bullock. They are both pros in the romantic comedy field and their collaboration produced nothing less than a great viewing experience. Had the film not opened around the same time as Jennifer Lopez's Maid in Manhattan, I expect it would have been a bigger hit. Though it didn't cross $100 million, it made almost that much, proving that America really does want Bullock to succeed. It took a few years before we, as an audience, could give her the attention she deserves, but she's more than earned it in 2009. If you aren't sure what all her hype is about, check out Two Weeks Notice.
Panic Room (2002)
Most young stars burn out quickly. Because of one role early on, they skyrocket to fame and can't handle the pressure. For an example, see Lindsay Lohan. Ignoring the obvious Parent Trap, her first real role as a developing star was in Mean Girls. Then came drug addiction, a lesbian affair and several critical and commercial flops. After playing a skanky high school girl poser, did you really expect anything less? However, some young stars are so great in their first role that you are positive they will go on to many years of acclaim. My personal favorite example is... Dakota Fanning! If you saw her in I Am Sam, then you know what I'm talking about. There was no doubt her career was only going up. Yet there was a time I rooted for another young actress, though I seemed to be one of few. Her name, as you now all know, is Kristen Stewart.
In Panic Room, Stewart and her on screen mother, Jodie Foster, have moved into a new home. Shortly after settling in, three burglars arrive (including Jared Leto and Forest Whitaker) and begin searching for millions of dollars in hidden bonds. Luckily, the house was fully equipped with a panic room, which is where the mother-daughter pair decide to take refuge. Go figure, that's exactly where the hidden money is! The men try and break in while the women stay locked up safe, that is until Stewart's character requires an insulin shot for her diabetes. The premise is simple, the cast is small and the locations are limited but I was hooked from the very first trailer. As it turned out, I considered the movie just as good. I love Jodie Foster, so that might have helped. Or maybe it was David Fincher's unique style of directing. Or maybe, just maybe, I knew Stewart's great performance was a sign of things to come. Though I followed her career after that, she never really lived up to the hype I'd given, not until Twilight. Now, I'm proud to have noticed her talent so early on and see she didn't go the Lindsay Lohan route. And what better way to reward my devotion to her than by starring alongside Dakota Fanning herself in New Moon.
The Carter (2009)
Those of you who are not as obsessed with New Moon as I am must be really tired of all the Twilight talk. We all know the feeling, when a product or person is so overhyped that it can never live up to expectations and ultimately ends up feeling like a major nuisance (for some, this means New Moon; for me, this means James Cameron). This concept also works in the music industry. No matter how great I think Lady GaGa is, I want to rip my hair out when I hear the same song of hers playing on two different radio stations. This happens a lot, since she has several singles floating around the airwaves. But this movie recommendation is targeting one artist in particular, and that's Lil Wayne. Okay, fine, he's one of the greatest rappers of all time, but his fame makes me resent him. His music is moderately entertaining, at best, to a gay white boy like me, but I'm not given the chance to fully appreciate or desire his music when he has a new single out every two weeks and his music is cluttering the radio stations. Unfortunately, my good friend is obsessed with him. Lil Wayne is all he plays on his computer and he forces me to listen to it during every car ride. Really, though, it's not fair, because I couldn't pay him to go see New Moon with me.
In my one last effort to find a reason to appreciate Lil Wayne, I let my friend convince me to watch his documentary, The Carter. Since Lil Wayne is a big fan of giving his products away for free, my friend had no problem downloading the movie. Yes, I know, I should have paid like a good viewer. But if my friend won't let me pay for him to see New Moon so I won't have to see it alone, I'll be damned if I spend even $1 on Lil Wayne. Much to my surprise, the movie was quite good, which explains its presence at the Sundance Film Festival. There really isn't much of a plot, it's just Lil Wayne abusing mind-altering substances and showing the world how he freestyles his music. And since it's much easier to understand what he's saying when he's not speed-rapping and talks at a slower pace (by slower pace, I mean stoned out of his mind and drinking soda full of cough syrup). It really is interesting to see how this man shuts down his brain, connects to the music matrix via drugs, and projects whatever comes to his mind through the mic. I have a newfound appreciation for the man himself, but I remain firm in my position that his music is overplayed and only diehard fans who listen to it on repeat can understand the words enough to relate. As far as I'm concerned, The Carter is the best thing Wayne's name is attached to (though I do like Jay Sean's Down, which Wayne is featured on).
On a side note, the movie begins with a message to the viewers. It claims that the documentary started with Wayne's blessing, but after filming was completed he withdrew his support. It might be because of how he is presented, as a raging pot head and syrup addict. Or maybe it's because The Carter isn't something the radio can overplay and make you hate. Either way, with or without his support, The Carter is a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at an eccentric true life we'll never get to live for ourselves.
Not all life stories need to be true to be moving. Anyone who has heard Oprah or Tyler Perry talk about their new film, Precious, knows that. Heck, anyone who has read a review of the movie knows that. Precious has been getting a ton of pre-Oscar buzz, for its stars and the overall film. This past weekend, I didn't just see New Moon. A friend of mine wanted to take me to the movies, and because The Blind Side wasn't playing at the time we needed (which upset me, because I really, really love Sandy B) and he hadn't yet seen the first Twilight, we decided to see Precious. Since there are now ten openings available for Best Picture nominations, I knew I should probably start watching the eventual nominees now. I guess Hollywood's marketing ploy to attract more people to more movies just worked. I'm such a sucker for marketing.
As you probably know at this point, Precious is about a 16-year-old girl nicknamed Precious, who is uneducated and pregnant with her second child... conceived by her father! If you think that's bad, you have a small imagination. The movie recounts a year in the life of Precious and is unrestrained in showing the abuse by her mother (both verbal and physical) and the rape forced upon her. If it wasn't for the cut-scenes of Precious' lively and fame filled dreams, the movie would be utterly depressing. Seriously, aside from those flashes, the movie is one giant knife to the heart. Making the pain bearable are stellar performances from newcomer Gabourey Sidibe and Mo'Nique as her mother. Since Sidibe is so new, it's hard to tell how much of her acting is range and how much is her normal personality, though the difference between her beaten teenager and imaginary celebrity is enough to know she does have talent. Mo'Nique, on the other hand, is known for her stand-up, in-your-face comedy. I was blown away watching her throw a TV at her daughter and lie to the authorities about her welfare and parental standing. While I'm pretty sure Precious will be nominated for Best Picture, I have no doubts whatsoever that Mo'Nique will get a Best Supporting Actress nod, if not the win. Heck, if Jennifer Hudson can win an Oscar for doing what she already did on American Idol, then Mo'Nique should be getting a lifetime achievement award for her broad talent across many mediums.
When asked by my brother which movie I liked better, Precious or Slumdog Millionaire, I chose Slumdog. It didn't matter how depressing that movie got, because in the end the guy wins the game show and gets the girl. In Precious, there is no happy ending. Just when things start to turn around for her, after educating herself in an alternative school (which, because of her classmates, is the only location in the film with laughs) and breaking away from her household, one more massive bomb is dropped. Right before the credits. I can hear Oprah saying, "Thanks for coming everyone! Now go on about your day feeling like absolute crap, where the only way to feel better is to watch my show." While everything about Precious screams acclaim and moves you completely (though usually to sadness), I was left in a funk the rest of the day. You feel bad for Precious, you feel bad that you ever complain about your own life, and you feel bad she isn't real enough to help. At this point, the only thing that will make me feel better is if it DOES win some Oscars, but I have a feeling that's what Oprah and Perry had in mind when they made it. It wouldn't be the first time a movie won for pulling at some broken heart strings. Oh well, as long as James Cameron doesn't win another Best King of the World Oscar, I'll be happy.