Thursday, October 18, 2012

Question for the Week of Oct. 15-21: Titanic's Cabinet

In 1997, like millions of other people, I went to the theater to see James Cameron's Titanic. I was hesistant to join my friend, Maria G., for the movie - mostly because of the reports that the film was insanely expensive, that the production was riddled with set-backs, and that Cameron described the picture as his $190 Million Chick Flick. I feared that those were bad signs...

The last bit was especially annoying to me, since it sounded kind of glib. I don't give one g-d whether a movie is about or targeted to men or women. I only care if it's a good movie, if it's entertaining, or if it's well-made; preferably all three.

I liked Titanic. It was a well-made pic, even though it had tons and tons of flaws. To be sure, Titanic had

  • a moronic, semi-offensive(?) depiction of the Irish.
  • ham-fisted/OTT/simplistic depictions of "class issues."
  • a ridiculously OTT villain - I may like Billy Zane a lot, but his role has the depth of... cardboard.
And, like so many others, I had a massive issue with the final scenes between Rose and Jack.

I'm used to making sacrifices for people I genuinely care about. I was raised with old-fashioned manners, even if I don't think in old-fashioned ways. And I don't have much of a choice in a situation where I have to sacrifice myself to save someone I love.

BUT - the closing moments between these two lovers just threw me for a loop. I couldn't possibly understand how a woman would have no problem with letting her lover freeze to death in front of her. She's blithely talking away while he's dying.

How in the hell was I supposed to buy a moment where two people find the next best thing to a life-raft, and the man stays in the frigid water while the woman stays comfortably safe? Then he pathetically freezes to death. It's just crazy.

Well, a good 15 years after the fact, James Cameron decided to respond to all the complaints by explaining how a wardrobe wouldn't save both Kate Winslet's Rose and Leonardo DiCaprio's Jack. You can follow the link to read about the reply, or you can just take my word for it - Cameron says that clearly the wardrobe had enough space for both, but it wasn't buoyant enough to hold the two of them.

For my part, I'm not sure if it isn't BS. I know that technology wasn't exactly amazing at the time, but I think even people during the time of the crash knew that staying still in cold water was a great way to go hypothermic. Although Cameron might be right - I'm no scientist - why did Rose keep Jack chatting while he froze?

"Jack - you already got some, and I'm safe, you don't need to keep flirting with me. Go find something to climb on, too!" These simple words could've kept Rose together with her man.

He could've used Kathy Bates' little boat, that's for sure, right? Maybe he would've found it by swimming. Maybe the exercise would've kept him alive longer, even? Or... Jack might've found some other object buoyant enough to hold up his skinny young ass.

In short: screw you anyway, Mr. Cameron! I found the entire thing where Rose: 
  • threw away a fortune to please her own whims (f--k you, charity!);
  • pushed her lover's body into the briny deep (um, burial much?.. did he have family?);
  • and fantasized a heaven where the boat people are still servants or something; and she wasn't going back to the site of a disaster so she could join the loser that she raised a family with, but the two-day fling she had as a kid;
kind of didn't leave me with the best impression of her character, while also curdling my appreciation of this whirlwind romance. I was shocked by Rose's excess and self-obsession, and couldn't begin to imagine getting myself killed over a woman like that. No, not even an attractive and soon-to-be-wealthy red-head.

And that line? The line that Bill Paxton says at the end? I guaran-fing-tee that one will get its own post on this site later. All I'll say now is I've been making fun of those words ever since; it's like defeating Freddy by not being scared of him.

I'm not sure what this week's review is going to be. Most likely another Indie film, but I'm keeping my options open. And, sadly, no time to do a full write-up on Looper yet. Whatever it is that'll close out my posts this week, it'll be good - I promise.

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