Tuesday, March 16, 2010

"The Terminator" Was Boring and I Didn't Like It One Bit

James Cameron isn't the sort of director I take the time to learn much about. I know he has a history of making action movies, which is a genre I don't understand and don't want to understand. I'd delve into Cameron's back catalog if I'd be compensated for my time, and as the chances of that happening are like 1 in 4 it doesn't feel like something I'll do. Lucky for me I have a professor who wanted to help me give Cameron a chance. He screened The Terminator in class today. It felt like I was watching the fight sequences in Transformers 2 all over again, shot on older film stock and starring less sympathetic actors.

I'm grateful to Cameron for keeping the first twenty-five minutes mostly dialogue free. If a character opened their mouth to do something other than shout for help I was either holding back laughter, failing to hold back my laughter and chuckling audibly or staring at the screen hoping I could rewrite the speech as it exited their waste holes. Those lines I've been unable to avoid since childhood were nothing like I expected them to be. "I'll be back" and "come with me if you want to live" have the ring of memorable lines when everyone goes around adding their own clever spin, but in the movie they were kinda just there. "Come with me..." was especially poorly delivered, half-squawked and all embarrassing. I assumed people quoted these lines to honor the movie. I forgot people quote for all sorts of irreverent reasons. I wish people would say "I was dreaming about dogs" more often. That one's a winner.

For every last practical reason I would label The Terminator as an action film. There are explosions, guns and chases. All three can be immensely thrilling. I could watch people shooting at an exploding chase all day long and never get bored. I could not watch the way Cameron employs them for more than a few minutes without rolling my terrible eyes and yawning my terrible yawns. Innocent people getting mowed down by a terminator was barely cool the first time it happens, yet it happens over and over. Unstoppable forces aren't exciting unless they have something deeper backing them up, or something that may impossibly stop them to counter. Car chases can be thrilling, too, if people aren't constantly spinning out or slowly scraping against the opposition. That's all that happens, with plenty of exposition on top. And if there are going to be explosions how about showing some damage? I want to know what's at stake when a pipe bomb bursts in a busy tunnel. A frame of reference would be nice.

Linda Hamilton's Sarah Conner was so much the victim in a slasher movie I couldn't agree with her more through all her many, many complaints and cries that she couldn't be the mother of a powerful future rebel leader. Michael Biehn's Kyle Reese was a poor warrior, and a huge creep for falling madly in love with a photograph of a woman living 40 years in his past. The police force had a few interesting characters, and are shot dead, because The Terminator doesn't deal with likability, it deals with mind-numbing line after blah-level action scene.

How The Terminator ranks in as one of anybody's favorite films is a question that makes me verbally angry. I'm verbalizing my anger at this. It doesn't hold up at all if it was even worth watching for effects back in 1984. It's a movie like this that causes me to make sweeping generalizations directed at 80s cinema. What a waste of everyone involved's time, and I hope they all used the money it made to wash away their memories connected to the project. Ugh. Ugh minus.

- Eric T. Voigt, "We use them to spot Terminators/Your world is pretty terrifying." ~ Kyle and Sarah, The Terminator

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

I Wanted To Be Right (But I Was Dead Wrong and You Knew It'd Happen)

I was very, very wrong about the Oscars this year. Back in 2007, when everything about the Oscars was fun, I could have swept house. Last year I didn't even try, because there if ever was an Oscars devoid of fun. Dead Oscars. This Oscars was kind of interesting. Kind of political in the speeches, kind of surprising in the winners. Here's who won, how wrong I was, and what it was like to see it all go down:

Best Picture

I thought it would be Avatar. I was wrong. It was The Hurt Locker.

Now, I really thought it was going to be Avatar. Why wouldn't it be? Well, because it wasn't a very good movie. The voters knew this, and with astounding logic decided The Hurt Locker was the worthy movie. Nah, it wasn't my favorite of the year, but it would have been in top fifteen, so I hold no grudge, and am honestly pleased by the turn of event. Huzzah, young Hurt Locker. Huzzah forever.

Best Director

I thought it would be James Cameron. I was wrong. It was Kathryn Bigelow.

Kathryn Bigelow, you lucky dog! Not only was she the first woman to win the award, she was the first giant to win the award. She is so huge. Full of talent, I guess. She makes her first respectable film, and gets an Oscar. A true Cinderella story. More of a Little Engine That Could, really. I guessed Cameron because I guessed Avatar. I take it he's probably one of societies worst men, so I thank the Academy for keeping the statue out of his grubby grasp.

Best Actor

I thought it would be Colin Firth. I was wrong. It was Jeff Bridges.

After hearing over and over everywhere but in my own head how much of a chance Jeff Bridges had at winning I wanted to change my guess. I stuck with it, and was met with crushing defeat. Colin Firth deserved it. Jeff Bridges deserved it for The Big Lebowski and The Last Picture Show. Congratulations on getting a long overdue award, Jeff Bridges. You're this year's Kate Winslet.

Best Supporting Actor

I thought it would be Christoph Waltz. I was right. It was Christoph Waltz.

His acceptance speech was so humble. It was like a gentle caress. The Academy doesn't deserve that level of sweetness, but if we get more like him it could change us all for the better. I hope his rising star keeps on rising and he blows up in the sun. In a good way. Lets see if The Green Hornet shows him giving us a complete loop away from The Jew Hunter.

Best Actress

I thought it would be Gabourey Sidibe. I was wrong. It was... ugh... it was Sandra Bullock.

She called Gabourey GAH-BOO-RAY! She shouted it just like that. What a speech. What a speech from an undeserving actress who knew she didn't deserve that award. Not that she was up against any greats. Meryl sure, but not for that. Here comes Sandra Bullock, fresh off winning a Razzie of all things, and she gets an Oscar, too? That's the sickest joke you can tell me.

Best Supporting Actress

I thought it would be Mo'Nique. I was right. It was Mo'Nique.

This lady has an open relationship with her third husband. She's never taken advantage of this, but she would in a flash because that's how much she trusts her husband, and that's how much they understand each other. And for another thing: they're childhood sweethearts. Who wouldn't become an actress with that?

Best Animated Feature

I thought it would be Up. I was right. It was Up.

Like anyone thought Fantastic Mr. Fox would win. Like I didn't dream about it. They were the wildest. Even bloggers dream.

Best Art Direction

I thought it would be Nine. I was wrong. It was Avatar.

What a fantasy nerd's love affair. Avatar got all the nerd awards and it knows it. Dorky nerds wanted Avatar to win Best Picture and they seriously thought their respect for it would force it into the winner's circle. I thought it'd win Best Picture because I have no faith in humanity. My pessimism lost for a good reason. Their optimism lost for a good reason they can't understand. Eat your heart out, Avatar. You earned this..

Best Cinematography

I thought it would be The Hurt Locker. I was wrong. It was Avatar.

Winner of the worst win. Computers can't film movies, even if they come from Columbia College.

Best Costume Design

I thought it would be Bright Star. I was wrong. It was The Young Victorian.

How could I know? I feel like Ebert over here, trying to cover my shame for not understanding these categories. I didn't see the movies. I'm sorry. I'll try and adjust that in the coming years. Nah. Probably not. These are movies to see on DVD. This is how I operate.

Best Documentary Feature

I thought it would be The Cove. I was right. It was The Cove.

This weekend I'll watch The Cove, so I can see how enjoyable and/or Oscar deserving it is then. For now I'll stick with assuming the Academy went with the most popular, viewer friendly choice, and be on my cynical way.

Best Documentary Short

I thought it would be Rabbit a la Berlin. I was wrong. It was Music by Prudence.

Who the hell cares? The dumb ol' uplifting movie got the dumb ol' award and the cool black-and-white rabbit short about the Berlin wall got shafted. No big deal. I'll watch it later.

Best Foreign Feature

I thought it would be A Prophet. I was wrong. It was El Secreto de sus Ojos.

I'm no expert on these immigrant pictures, but I know the El Secreto de sus Ojos clips made it look like the worst film nominated. The White Ribbon is great, A Prophet looks as great or better, The Milk of Sorrow looked really cool, and even Ajami looks cutely joy inspiring. None of those got it, and the gross looker did. I'll never see it. I might see it, but I'm not going out of my way to find it. Close-minded maybe. Bitter-minded definitely.

Best Make-Up

I thought it would be The Young Victorian. I was wrong. It was Star Trek.

Hey! That's kind of cool. I thought Star Trek was more fun than most of the other big Summertime movies. I'm glad it got something.

Best Original Score

I thought it would be Michael Giacchino. I was right. It was Michael Giacchino.

Knew it.

Best Original Song

I thought it would be "The Weary Kind." I was right. It was "The Weary Kind."

And I don't care.

Best Animated Short

I thought it would be Logorama. I was right. It was Logorama.

Proving some of my wins were my boldest guesses. Takes the fun out of guessing when your serious bets are wrong.

Best Live-Action Short

I thought it would be Miracle Fish. I was wrong. It was The New Tenants.

It looks really good. I want to see it, myself.

Best Sounding Editing

I thought it would be The Hurt Locker. I was right. It was The Hurt Locker.

Oh, and by the way

Best Sound Mixing

I thought it would be The Hurt Locker. I was right. It was The Hurt Locker.

The only film worth its weight in sounds. Well chosen.

Best Visual Effects

I thought it would be Avatar. I was right. It was Avatar.

Who the hell cares, and I mean it this time.

Best Film Editing

I thought it would be The Hurt Locker. I don't remember covering it earlier, but I thought it would be. I was right. It was The Hurt Locker.

Lockin' things up.

Best Adapted Screenplay

I thought it would be Up in the Air. I was wrong. It was Precious.


Best Original Screenplay

I thought it would be Up. I was wrong. It was The Hurt Locker.

Kinda cool that The Hurt Locker was so full of wins that night. I'm looking forward to next year's Academy Awards, and that freaks me out. Maybe I'll guess with a surer foot. How many did I end up getting? Well, it breaks down like so:

Right: 11. Wrong: 13. There are 24 categories to worry about? Jeez. I lost. Have a good night.

- Eric T. Voigt, She Does Spend a Lot of Time Here