Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Pandora's Link

Quiet Earth photos from Peter Weir's next movie The Way Back starring Ed Harris and Colin Farrell. Ah, I love Peter Weir. Can't wait.
Towleroad Speaking of Farrell, he was best man at his gay brother's wedding this summer. Loving families are so awesome. More celebrations in Ireland this weekend
movie marketing The Lovely Bones shifts gears for female fans
Sydney Morning Herald interviews Peter Jackson. There's quite a defensive tone and quotable snark to his response to critics who gripe that he didn't show the story's kick off murder. On this point I agree with the Lord of the Rings auteur, although I wouldn't have phrased it so damningly and I hope he doesn't think that's the extent of the criticism.
art of the title sequence on a few long steadicam openings. Boogie Nights is my all time favorite (in this field) but I thought it was longer than three minutes.

Welcome to Pandora
Cinema Styles plays mental tricks with "a brick wall". It's a thought provoking post.
Loyal Kng compares the actors with their Na'Vi
MNPP Avatar in 150 Words of Less
Mighty God King a conversation after Avatar (spoilers)
and finally you must read...
i09 delivers an insightful article gloriously titled "When Will White People Stop Making Movies Like Avatar?" Oh, the eternal narratives that spring from white privilege/guilt.

18 comments:

Jim T said...

Although I don't have a problem with the murder not being depicted, I find Jackson's reaction, well, wrong.
Did he actually think that the people who would have liked him to show the murder wanted to enjoy the event? And does being an entertainer mean that you don't show ugly things?

Spoiler (I guess)
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Plus, didn't he show something uglier than what is included in the novel near the end? Oh, that was OK because it wasn't on an innocent little girl?
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Nathaniel, I'm glad you are fine with the Avatar criticism even though you loved the film. Or were you being ironic? I think you weren't.

Jim T said...

I just read the article! Yes, how i'd love it if we saw no humans at all! And perhaps Cameron would be kind enough to let Paul Thomas Anderson write the script.

NATHANIEL R said...

Jim T ... many criticisms of the film make a lot of sense but I think, working within the pop idiom, it's kind of masterful. I mean "unobtainium" ... priceless. I think Cameron is fully aware of the cheese. He's churning it up purposefully.

adam k. said...

My main response to the idea that the film shouldn't be from a white male perspective is pretty simple: unfortunately, this film NEEDS to make $300-$400 million and thus needs to appeal to the widest audience possible. Most people in America are white. This film is for them, clearly. But it was made as subversively as possible, I'd argue, within this framework. It's respectful (even reverent) of other cultures. If it comes off as a white-guilt fable, then people will just have to deal. At least it doesn't skirt around the ugly, or make white people feel all self-congratulatory.

I mean, I'll take this over Crash or The Blind Side any day.

adam k. said...

I have a feeling I'll get flamed for that comment, so I'm trying to come up with arguments supporting it as I type...

Janice said...

when I read the article in i09 (and thank you for that) I couldn't help thinking of so many of the other films in other genres in which I've had the same sort of reaction - Dances with Wolves came to mind even before I read the mention in the article, but so does Mississippi Burning and Luhrmann's Australia. I get tired of white people putting themselves at the center of other people's/cultures experiences, whether those are "real" cultures/ethnicities or imagined ones (as in Avatar). It's the old "it's not white culture that's bad it's just a few bad people, but fortunately I'm putting myself on the side of good" even as the people/beings who should be at the center are effectively silenced from telling their own story. It's not much different from the sort of thinking that assumes men can't imagine experience from a "female perspective" or straights can't imagine experience from a "gay/lesbian perspective" - while asking those very folks to constantly shove themselves into the white/male/straight perspective and assuming that is "universal human experience."

Janice said...

Also that article on the Ugly Bones marketing assumed me to no end (not in a good way) and pointed up the cluelessness of the studios. Did they not even bother to investigate who the books readers were? That the book had a built-in audience that only needed to build on? Are the studios really THAT lazy? (And yes, I already know the answers to those questions, sadly.)

The Know Nothing Know It All said...

"Specifically, it's a fantasy about race told from the point of view of white people."

Okay...from whose perspective should James Cameron (a white man) therefore tell this story? I'm a black male and I didn't have a problem with the obvious exoticism of "The Other" that takes place in "Avatar," mostly because it is so masterfully made and so (as Nathaniel said) purposeful.

I'm glad Cameron told it from this perspective. When you get white male directors trying to explore "The Other" from a new perspective, you get "Slumdog Millionaire" and "Memoirs of a Geisha." And...why go there?

Lara said...

Janice, re the Lovely Bones that was something that amazed me too. I don't think it's as much as laziness but sheer stupidity to be "stunned" to find out that a film narrated from the perspective of a teenage girl would actually find its audience in ... teenage girls. Who knew?
I wonder how much money was wasted on the guy and his marketing company who was quoted in the article. (shaking my head here)

BrianZ said...

Yes!! Peter Weir is coming back!

adam k. said...

Wow, good point about Memoirs and Slumdog. Avatar is clearly superior.

Jim T said...

I dosliked the cheese in Avatar but my main problem is that this movie was ambitious emotionally as well as visually. I found no reason to care about the characters or anything that happened in the movie (not that I couldn't predict what would happen). There moments when I was supposed to be moved and I almost was, except, I wasn't. My brain was telling me "this is STUPID". And my heart is in the same body as my brain. The problem was obvious form the beginning but I was trying to ignore it. After a while, it was impossible.

One more problem was that the theater at which I watched the movie was not fully equipped. I'll see it again tommorow at the right theater. (I know... I'm just curious about the visuals)


adam k, you mean we are supposed to relate to the male protagonist?? Oh God, I feel almost offended. I haven't seen anyone like him around me and I certainly don't share anything in common with him besides a penis. I can relate more to Cogsworth from Beuaty and the Beast.

Jim T said...

Well, I wasn't very clear.

"I disliked the cheese in Avatar but my main problem is that this movie was ambitious emotionally as well as visually. "

I mean that, for me, it can't be that cheesy and emotionally involving at the same time. Perhaps it can be, but not in this case. I dunno.

Jim T said...

One more thing. Avatar recieved 4 stars from Ebert, 4 stars from Berdinelli (wow) and an A- from Nathabiel! My expectations were ultra high! I guess it was kind of easy to be disappointed.

Bryan said...

Haha. The white guilt thing is a good point... when I saw the movie with a friend, 20 minutes into the movie he whispered to me, "Oh, so the Na'vi are the Native Americans."

Bryan said...

I completely agree with whoever pointed out that the Na'vi were clearly meant to seem "exotic"-- the chanting and battle cries, the pagan influences, the body painting. I even felt that there was something about Nayteri's (beautiful) smile that looked foreign, or somehow "different from me". So am I right in being sort of put off that virtually all of the Na'vi characters were portrayed by black people, or am I just thinking about this too much?

NATHANIEL R said...

@Janice -- exactly (about the perspectives). It doesn't feel like a stretch at all to me to view a story through perspectives different than my own. Been doing it my whole life.

But maybe it's a skill you learn organically and quickly if you are the "other" yourself... so rather than being aggravated that straight white men can't do it (GROSS GENERALIZATION - SORRY!) i just choose to think of it as they're out of practice with the stretching. They're just never asked to use those particular totally human (non-other) muscles.

i dunno. just blabbering away.

@JimT -- i don't have a problem with cheese being emotionally moving. But i'll admit that it doesn't happen that often.

@BrianZ -- i know!!! i heart.

Glenn Dunks said...

1. What makes everyone so sure that the Na'Vi aren't the "white people" of Pandora?

2. Do the Na'Vi know Jake is white? No they don't.

3. Like Adam said, it'd be all well and good for Cameron to be radical in even more areas, but he has to make money. This argument always surfaces with these sort of movies. It's as if people don't realise that movies are made to make money and in order to do so you can't really shake the applecard in regards to politics/race/gender issues/etc. It's as if people expect arthouse aesthetics and storytelling devices (ambiguous endings, etc) to be replicated in $300mil blockbuster movies.