Saw Titanic. So should you.
Before I get into the review, let me once again set up my state of mind when I saw the film.
Titanic... When I woke up this morning I had no idea that a journey that I began over two years ago, would come to an end by the end of the witching hour. Over two years ago I spent a night with Glen (the coaxial guy). He had just found out that his marriage was at the end of it's rope. That love in his life had died for the moment. He was a wreck. I went over on this particular night, all those nights ago, and we found out that Cameron was on some Russian Vessel in the North Atlantic diving and shooting a movie in the wreckage of TITANIC. Glen forgot his problems, as he and I launched into theory after theory of what James Cameron was doing two and a half miles beneath the surface of the Atlantic Ocean. Concepts of monsters and ghouls fighting a treasure hunting team entered our minds. However, the concept of Cameron making THE Titanic movie excited us. The idea of a director who is at the top of the food chain in terms of using technology, soul and film to make stories that take us far away from the here and now. This was his riskiest film.
Over the two years I watched for every word I could find, every whisper reached my ears, and I digested them all like Hershey Chocolates. And believe me I've had ALOT of Hershey Chocolates. I read the script, a couple of drafts. I had spies that were on set, in the board rooms, at the NRG, in theaters. At every point of this film, I had people telling me how it was going. Every single step of the way it said... full steam ahead.
Then the media came in. $200 MILLION DOLLARS, DELAYED FROM SUMMER SPELLS DOOM, MEGALOMANIACAL DIRECTOR INJURING STUNTMEN, LSD SOUP POISONS CREW, etc etc etc. Nothing but negativity, everyone wanting it to fail. In all of it the focus was shifting from the film to the making of the film (but only the negative areas). Then there was that mysterious call alerting me to the top secret screening of TITANIC in Minneapolis/St Paul. Then the focus was on the film. Was it or was it not good? That was the question, and the people writing me said it was.
As the reviews came flooding in, those reviews began changing the way Hollywood looked at me and the site. They began to see how this site can help the movies that deserve it. How we can change the buzz for the better. That we were about more than tearing down Batmans and Speed 2s, but were searching and wanting to help the truly fantastic films as well. Batman and Robin might of made the site visible, Titanic is what made it powerful. And in it all, I just wanted to see the damn movie. I can't voice strongly enough, what it is like to suffer through over 200 ecstatic reviews for 4 months of a film you are dying to see. It's horrible. I hate it. It's enough to make me wanna quit. But not enough.
So it was that today began. I awoke to finish putting the TOMORROW NEVER DIES review up. And I got my LapTop Computer today. I was introduced to Windows 95 (after two years) and the nipple mouse, and a computer that will free me from my room. That will enable me to update on the move. A real advance for me. I had to pick up my tickets to the Austin Film Society showing of JACKIE BROWN with Tarantino coming in for it.
Then I had the CHRONICLE (local cool paper that I sometimes write for) CHRISTMAS PARTY. Tons of food. I make a pig out of myself in honor of CHRIS FARLEY, my fellow man of girth. I have my fill of delicious vegetarian enchiladas, brisket, turkey, sausage, rice and beans, 5 different desserts, and SHINER BOCK!!! I talked with friends and acquaintances that were eating and celebrating in mass. An Omp Pa Pa band was playing old German Polkas from the 1940's, and I felt as if I were on the set of A BOY AND HIS DOG.
Finally, after my belly started making sounds like the hull was cracking, I decided to leave. So Dad, Dannie (my sister, who was asked if she was going to become a model) and I all went home. As soon as I hit my room, I undid my belt to release the belly, kicked off my shoes, and listened to my answering machine.
"Harry this is ________ at the _______ ____ Theater, and if you want to see TITANIC tonight, get here by 9:15." Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep!
ACK!!!! The time on my pocket watch read 9:05. My shoes instantly sprang onto my feet, my belly sucked in, and we were in the van and out of the driveway by 9:06. My father drove like THE WOLF and we arrived at the ________ ____ Theater at 9:09 even though in theory the theater is 12 minutes away. Slobber was gathering. We get to the theater and we are ushered into a completely EMPTY theater. The manager came out and said we would be the test audience for the print. We equals Dad, Dannie and Myself. AMAZING.
As soon as he leaves the lights dim, and the trailers began...
HARD RAIN - a nice trailer, but a terrible terrible title.
And a trailer for the rerelease of GREASE!!! My sister and I begin hitting the arms of our chairs in excitement. COOOOOOOOOOOOOL. OLIVIA NEWTON JOHN!!!!!!! Yeah!!!! Digital Sound, oh baby I'm there!!!
Was my effort and devotion to finding out about the film vindicated. OH YEAH. TITANIC represents the reason why I do what I do. This film took me from the reality of not being able to get the presents I want to give to the ones I love, it takes me from the cynical age I live in, from the glossy world I live in, and placed me on the deck of the most magnificent ship to ever sail.
I was overwhelmed by it. I had read the script, seen the documentaries, and saw it at the end of a very long day with a belly full of food and liquid, and I didn't get up to go to the bathroom. That would be akin to seeing that modern day penny in SOMEWHERE IN TIME. I couldn't move. You see this was an out of body experience.
Roger Ebert has talked about films that he has seen that took him out of his tangible self and transported him to the world on the screen. Where he experienced in a very real way the story. Where he wasn't aware of his "real" surroundings. So was the case with me.
My sister and father disappeared. The lit-up EXIT signs melted away from my world of existence as soon as Rose weaved her story. I had a profound cinema experience. I was blown away.
"HEY IT'S JUST A STORY ABOUT A BOAT THAT SINKS"
Ummmm, no. This is possibly the most amazing thing that Cameron accomplishes with the film... He managed to make me forget about the historic inevitability of the film. I could care less about the boat, I cared about Jack and Rose. About who they were, what their love would bring, what happened next. Now wait a sec, I had read the script, I should have already known the answers to these questions, BUT I was sooo swept up into the story that all knowledge I had about the film melted away. I swear I could smell the ocean air, feel the wind blowing past my cheeks, the feeling of the wood planked deck beneath my feet, the smell of cigars in the state room. I was not in a theater anymore, I was having an experience on a boat that is two and a half miles and some 80 plus years away from where it is today. But I can describe these sensations. An active imagination? You betcha, but this film was my George Pal "Time Machine" to the deck.
When I got home I had a message from a film personality that wanted to go shopping with me tomorrow, but had to postpone till Monday. I gave the person a call back when I returned to the end of 1997 and told them I had seen Titanic. We talked a bit about the film, when all of a sudden He/She asked me, "You think it'll win Best Picture?"
I responded with, "I don't know... If I were voting based on the films I have seen it would. But then I haven't seen AS GOOD AS IT GETS, GOOD WILL HUNTING, JACKIE BROWN, KUNDUN, DECONSTRUCTING HARRY, etc... But I can say this my definition of what makes "the" Best Picture is the film that best makes use of the tools of the medium to entertain, move and leave a lasting classic impression upon the audience that will stand the test of time. Cameron has done that in my opinion. He used every trick in the book to transport me, to tell me a story that could not be told as powerfully in any other form. To me... that's a best picture, that's what filmmaking is about."
I finished the conversation and then I laid here in bed going over the emotions I was given by TITANIC, the images, shots that will never leave my mind. I have been given an experience, an experience, I could never have, that took 3 hours of my life, but gave me a lifetime back.
I have to applaud Bill Mechanic and Tom Rothman for giving Cameron the go ahead for this film. This film is everything that filmmaking represents for me. And if it takes $200 million dollars to deliver a film like this, then dammit make 3 films a year, and cut out the Speed 2s and Batman & Robins and Kull The Conquerors. Be willing to take a chance on the non-sure thing. Produce the good scripts, get behind the solid filmmakers, support their vision.
After a while, I gave the only other person in town I know had seen it, ROBOGEEK. We talked about the film at length, about the experience, about the wind on our cheeks, the sweet salt air, and the puckered toes we had from being in the water soo long. We talked of loving film, and reaffirming our devotion to this art form we love so much. Then he told me of the Golden Globe Nominations. I must of been in a cave today, because I wasn't aware of it. Amazing.
THE GOLDEN GLOBE NOMINATIONS TITANIC EARNED TODAY!
Best Picture Drama - TITANIC - oh yeah, in my opinion this is a given.
Best Actress Drama - Kate Winslet - Well for creating a character whom I fell in love with, not in that superficial "ewwww she's a babe" way, but in the sense that I want to teach her to ride horses, fly in the Grand Canyon with her, to share that grand adventure of life with. (NOTE: This is the character, not Kate herself, I do realize there is a difference.)
Best Actor Drama -Leonardo DiCaprio - Here he became a fave of mine. Why? He's that guy I wish I could be. Reckless, passionate, handsome, and able to roam the world like Kane from Kung Fu.
Best Supporting Actress - Gloria Stuart - Well while I loved her in the film, I do have to say that she wasn't in it enough for my taste. She did do a wonderful job though.
Best Screenplay - James Cameron - He wrote a story that moved me, that made me leave my body and live a life and an experience I'll never have. Was that the script or the power of the entirety of the film. I don't know, but I did fall in love with the script far before I fell in love with the film.
Best Score - James Horner - When I listened to the score on CD, I wouldn't of said yes, but after seeing the film, and hearing how the score worked with the images... well I love it.
Best Song - James Horner - Ummm no. I prefer the K.D.Lang/David Arnold song from Tomorrow Never Dies.
Best Director James Cameron - With out a doubt. Cameron fought every bit of the pressure to deliver this film. He put three years of his life into making this film incredible. And with a clarity of vision and a dogged sense of determination he delivered. He did not shy away from the terror, and answered his critics' punches with style and grace. But most of all he made the best film of the year I've seen.
The words, "And the winner is.... Titanic" should be heard 7 times on January 18th and many more times some time in March. Well if everyone can get past the bean-counting and focus on the wonderfully emotional and involving story he created.
P.S. Make SPIDERMAN next, JAMES!!! PLEASSSSSE!!!!!