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Titanic

Titanic  

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  1. 1. Does "Titanic" belong on the AFI List?

    • Yes
      5
    • No
      10

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  • Poll closed on 03/01/19 at 08:00 AM

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Did anyone else think it was crazy how calm the Norwegians were that they were about to miss the boat? Immediately after Jack wins the tickets, he finds out the the ship is disembarking in 5 minutes! I mean, I assume the Norwegian dudes had a reason for going to America. (When you’re steerage class, you’re not just going for shits-and-giggles, you know?) You’d think they would have been like, “Seriously, guys, we still have to get deloused and settled in our stateroom. We really don’t have time for another hand.” Then again, maybe Cameron was trying to make a statement about gambling addiction. Who knows?

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I don't think James Cameron thought he was making a movie for teenaged girls.

 

I don't think he did either, just that for a time the movie gained a reputation for being one (due to Leo's popularity with that group).

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Dan Engler, I see you rating Titanic 1.5 stars on letterboxd LOL.

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Dan Engler, I see you rating Titanic 1.5 stars on letterboxd LOL.

I've been reluctant to join the conversation for two reasons:

 

1. I try to never broadcast negativity about other people's work on the Internet. There's already more than enough of that in the world.

 

2. Following the French Connection thread, I'm worried about becoming the resident contrarian dick who rains on everyone's parade week after week.

 

So, suffice it to say: I watched Titanic.

 

giphy.gif

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AFI Movies Currently On-sale on iTunes (in HD)!

 

If anyone wants to get their ape on, King Kong is currently $4.99!

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The problem isn’t having affection for a childhood movie.

 

The problem is when you care a lot about a film, and you want to share your love of it with someone else, but because your affection and relationship with the film is coming from an external, subjective experience rather than from the film itself, the people you’re sharing it with never really seem to understand why you like it so much. It just seems, possibly due its ubiquity on cable, like this situation most often occurs with The Goonies.

 

But honestly, “Goonies Conundrum” is just a joke descriptor.

Yeah, I get it, and I like having the joke descriptor for shorthand, I just think it needs a better second word. I think you're really close to something and I like it and want to steal it.

 

Not related to age, but I often see a movie or TV show that I love and I realize that there's no one I can recommend it to because it just ticks all my particular boxes but it's not objectively great.

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I've been reluctant to join the conversation for two reasons:

 

1. I try to never broadcast negativity about other people's work on the Internet. There's already more than enough of that in the world.

 

2. Following the French Connection thread, I'm worried about becoming the resident contrarian dick who rains on everyone's parade week after week.

 

 

I am constantly trying to counter my instinct to come from a negative place, and I have limited success with that. But I also think that it's boring when everyone is being positive. :/ I love The French Connection and it's currently my #1 movie on my list but I will be giving my honest opinion when we get to movies I think are bad or overrated. I'm promising myself to re-watch any movies I haven't seen in the last six months before being negative though. I'll have to sit through Forrest Gump again or remain silent.

 

I'm still enjoying making all these dumb rules for myself, as if this exercise matters. :)

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I am constantly trying to counter my instinct to come from a negative place, and I have limited success with that. But I also think that it's boring when everyone is being positive. :/ I love The French Connection and it's currently my #1 movie on my list but I will be giving my honest opinion when we get to movies I think are bad or overrated. I'm promising myself to re-watch any movies I haven't seen in the last six months before being negative though. I'll have to sit through Forrest Gump again or remain silent.

 

I'm still enjoying making all these dumb rules for myself, as if this exercise matters. :)/>

 

I think you can be critical about a work without necessarily being negative about it. Saying, “This is garbage” doesn’t really encourage conversation or debate, but saying “This movie fails as a romance because XYZ” can promote civil discourse between people with differing viewpoints.

 

That being said, I’m totally going to rip MASH to shreds :)

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I've been reluctant to join the conversation for two reasons:

 

1. I try to never broadcast negativity about other people's work on the Internet. There's already more than enough of that in the world.

 

2. Following the French Connection thread, I'm worried about becoming the resident contrarian dick who rains on everyone's parade week after week.

 

So, suffice it to say: I watched Titanic.

 

1. Do you think constructive criticism is negativity?

2. Don’t worry, you have healthy competition there (see: my response to 1)

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I think you can be critical about a work without necessarily being negative about it. Saying, “This is garbage” doesn’t really encourage conversation or debate, but saying “This movie fails as a romance because XYZ” can promote civil discourse between people with differing viewpoints.

 

That being said, I’m totally going to rip MASH to shreds :)/>

This is my basic stance on things as well.

 

1. If yore gong to say you love a movie, that's all you need to sat in my mind. I might ask for a defense but, if you're being positive, you can just be positive without much explanation.

 

2. If you're negative, you need to explain why. A movie can suck but you can't leave it like that. What are its failures? How could it improve? This unfortunately leads to negative comments being lengthy and seemingly more common and oppressive than positive stuff. But defend your negative opinion or don't waste everyone's time putting it out there.

 

At the very least, give me a different movie that accomplishes what this movie fails to accomplish. That's why I wanted to hear replacements for French Connection. It shouldn't be on the list? What similar movie belongs here? Titanic sucks? What's a period epic or love story set in real events or historical fiction that does?

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I am constantly trying to counter my instinct to come from a negative place, and I have limited success with that. But I also think that it's boring when everyone is being positive. :/ I love The French Connection and it's currently my #1 movie on my list but I will be giving my honest opinion when we get to movies I think are bad or overrated. I'm promising myself to re-watch any movies I haven't seen in the last six months before being negative though. I'll have to sit through Forrest Gump again or remain silent.

 

I'm still enjoying making all these dumb rules for myself, as if this exercise matters. :)/>

I'm not quite making the within 6 months rule, but I'm definitely going to take a back seat for some movies I haven't seen in a while that I don't like. If I've got a clear enough picture in my mind on why a movie like Forest Gump sucks (I do and it does), I'll throw my opinion out there but I might not resist much if I'm outnumbered. I'll not going to make myself suffer through it again if I've seen a movie multiple times.

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1. Do you think constructive criticism is negativity?

There's nothing wrong with constructive criticism, but there wasn't much constructive about the review I posted to Letterboxd and then deleted in shame shortly thereafter.

 

Everything's fine, though. I felt relief when I was able to five-star next week's film.

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At the very least, give me a different movie that accomplishes what this movie fails to accomplish. That's why I wanted to hear replacements for French Connection. It shouldn't be on the list? What similar movie belongs here? Titanic sucks? What's a period epic or love story set in real events or historical fiction that does?

 

The only problem I have with this is that it runs the risk of choosing movies based on genre rather than on quality. Maybe a movie like French Connection doesn’t need to be there at all. Personally, I don't really care if the top 100 films are all gritty, courtroom dramas as long as they are the best films the art form has to offer. I would be more open to choosing another film by the same director than by genre, but then again, that would still be choosing a movie based on something other than the quality of the film itself (e.g. "Blazing Saddles should be on the list because Mel Brooks deserves to be on the list.")

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The only problem I have with this is that it runs the risk of choosing movies based on genre rather than on quality. Maybe a movie like French Connection doesn’t need to be there at all. Personally, I don't really care if the top 100 films are all gritty, courtroom dramas as long as they are the best films the art form has to offer. I would even be more open to choosing another film by the same director than by genre, but then again, that would still be choosing a movie based on something other than the quality of the film itself (e.g. "Blazing Saddles should be on the list because Mel Brooks deserves to be on the list.")

I agree. I'm just speaking generally not about the AFI list specifically. Just a "If X doesn't work, what did X better?" Although I have speculated the AFI did include movies so that all the bases are covered in a way.

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Although I have speculated the AFI did include movies so that all the bases are covered in a way.

 

Oh, 100% :)

 

 

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I've been thinking about the Cal problem a little more these last few days and I think I have the start of something. Given that this story is basically being told by Rose about her point of view on the matter could it be a slight case of unreliable narrator at play? She was so in love with Jack that in her memory she is more positive towards him remembering the good things about him and providing a bit of depth and character to him. While on the other hand she has nothing but bad memories and contempt for Cal so in her memories she just recalls the worse aspects of him thus he is reduced to this cartoonish villain when in reality he might not have been that bad. He might have had layers but we'll never know because this is Rose's story and we only hear what she wants us to hear. The only problem with this is the fact the movie really isn't Rose's story. That's the framing device but as it was pointed out earlier she seemingly knows what's going on in parts of the ship that she wasn't there for. Maybe the story that she's telling Bill Paxton goes "Around this time Jack told me that he and Nucci...." and "I heard many years later as we were running around on the ship an immigrant mother was reading..."

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Maybe the story that she's telling Bill Paxton...

 

Honestly, I can’t believe how patient Paxton was during her whole story. He’s sunk millions of dollars in finding this necklace, it’s his white whale, and she’s sitting there telling him stories about delivering sick Sigmund Freud burns on Bruce Ismay. By the time she got to “And then I said, ‘I’m flying, Jack,’” his character should have been like “Yeah, yeah, that’s all really cute, but where’s the fucking diamond?”

 

 

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Something that really didn’t work for me was how the movie tried to be both realistic and heightened at the same time. You have these romantic, over-the-top characters acting - from time to time - uncharacteristically “real” (e.g. characters lose their way on the ship due to panic) The problem is, for me, that by trying to do both, the movie underserves either approach. I feel like it would have been better had it been either all heightened or all realistic.

 

The scene that sticks out for me is when Jack is handcuffed by Lovejoy (what was that guy’s deal?) and left for dead. Up to that point, Jack has been played as this kind of this seen-it-all, Hemingway-esque, artistic wanderer. So when Rose arrives to rescue him, you would expect him to say something like, “What are you doing here, Rose? Don’t worry about me! Save yourself, Rose!” Instead, his first thought is, “Rose you have to save me! You can’t find the key? Okay, here’s what you’re going to do. Even though things are getting deadlier by the second, and I’m a steerage-class male with absolutely no chance of getting a spot on a lifeboat, you’re going to go get help and come back. Got that, Rose? I’ll be waiting...”

 

Like I’m okay with him being selfless and telling her to save herself (that’s pretty typical for this type of movie), and I’m okay with him being human and scared and desperate to live even though the situation is hopeless (I think showing your protagonist’s fear can be very affecting), but the shift from unflappable, romantic hero to squeaky-voiced kid afraid to die to quipping, smartass just gave me whiplash. For that scene to be effective, I feel like we had to have seen Jack as something more than just this near-perfect, worldly, rogue we’ve been following for an hour and a half.

 

And, yes, perhaps this scene was meant to subvert our expectations or to remove Jack’s mask of self-confidence, but for me, it just doesn’t work. Either show me he’s a person capable of emotions beyond mooning, infatuation or keep him the stoic, romantic hero.

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Honestly, I can’t believe how patient Paxton was during her whole story. He’s sunk millions of dollars in finding this necklace, it’s his white whale, and she’s sitting there telling him stories about delivering sick Sigmund Freud burns on Bruce Ismay. By the time she got to “And then I said, ‘I’m flying, Jack,’” his character should have been like “Yeah, yeah, that’s all really cute, but where’s the fucking diamond?”

Not to mention her probably telling him lots of things he knew already about who was on board and what they did.

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Not to mention her probably telling him lots of things he knew already about who was on board and what they did.

 

"And then I performed this kind of psychic mind-meld so I could eavesdrop on Ismay telling the Captain to go faster. The captain didn't want to, but..."

 

"I KNOW THIS ALREADY! GIVE ME THE DIAMOND!"

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I think I might be in the minority here, but I enjoyed Cal in a hdtgm kind of way. He was such an ott caricature of a dastardly villain - I’m surprised they didn’t give him a mustache to twirl. It was completely unrealistic how he ends up going off the deep end, but the journey was fun to watch.

 

Maybe Rose would’ve gotten to the point has not that grating assistant made her watch a computer simulation of how the Titanic went down. She was there! She didn’t need to watch it again!

 

And I don’t think everything in the movie was part of her story. There were way too many private conversations that Rose wasn’t a part of and she didn’t tell the, the part about her sticking her hand in the coat and finding the necklace.

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The only problem I have with this is that it runs the risk of choosing movies based on genre rather than on quality. Maybe a movie like French Connection doesn’t need to be there at all. Personally, I don't really care if the top 100 films are all gritty, courtroom dramas as long as they are the best films the art form has to offer. I would be more open to choosing another film by the same director than by genre, but then again, that would still be choosing a movie based on something other than the quality of the film itself (e.g. "Blazing Saddles should be on the list because Mel Brooks deserves to be on the list.")

It's Young Frankenstein that should be on the list. Though Madeline Kahn's I'm Tired would be on my list of all time funniest movie scenes.

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Just a couple things to say. I can respect that the hosts liked this movie but I wish they, and critics in general, would refrain from using the word "backlash", which sounds as if you were trying to de-legitimize those who genuinely found the film to be ugly, dull, throat clogging smarm.

 

As with the movie Contact, which came out the same year, Titanic teaches us to have faith, trust our instincts, work off intuition, believe in love--even though there's not an intuitive bone in the film's body. It's entirely mechanical in structure, rhetorical in effect; we're never meant to doubt Rose's self-serving account, despite the myriad details she could not possibly have known about. All this is made worse by the dialog, which appears to be a mix of earnest cutesy modern anachronisms and ersatz BBC Masterpiece Theater, any episode of which is better than Titanic. Cameron provides us with wisdom such as: "A woman's heart is an ocean of deep secrets." as fake explanation for why Rose never ever talked about any of this over the last century. We've seen a garden of these cloying Roses blooming in movies, rich princessi, delicate beauties who turn out to be tough and practical once they come down off their gilded thrones, accept an earthy man's charms and learn to dance with peasants. She's also briliiantly smart, forward thinking. She loves Picasso. At a meal this remarkable seventeen year old makes reference to Freud as is if she were dropping pensees before swine. I'd like to make a pedantic point here, though. Rose tells Jack that the wealthy men on the boat like to congratulate themselves for "being masters of the universe," but this phrase was coined by the late Tom Wolfe in his novel The Bonfire of the Vanities in the 1980s, so could hardly have been a worldly girl's bon mot in 1912. Thankfully the Titanic didn't sink four years later, saving us from Roses's snippy explanation of General Relativity! Everything in Titanic is so on-the-nose you would have thought Cameron would have made the boat hit the iceberg at the same moment Jack and Rose were making love. Cameron's waiting until just after shows great restraint on his part.

 

But what of the beauteous Billy Zane? His character, which our hosts talked nothing about, is the great embarrassment of this film. Lit and made up like an evil homosexual from a 1940s movie, he gives characters who function as mere devices-for-conflict a bad name. We are meant to see right off he's an irredeemable philistine because he doesn't appreciate Picasso the way our heroine does, Eventually he's callously exploiting children to save his own selfish skin, which made me rather like the cad. Outrageously villainous characters can transcend being simple lumps of pulp to become expressions of pure movie pleasure, if they're wittily played and playfully written, but Cameron piles on the wickedness without so much as a wink. Deliberately drawing a character in such crude terms, so that the audience actively roots for him to die and is actually glad when he loses all his money and commits suicide is aesthetically corrupt, artistically immoral; an appeal to the Trump voter in us all. No real artist would write a character like this; even Dickens at his most melodramatically polemical wasn't this idiotically partisan.

 

Titanic not only should not be on the top 100 list of movies, but it ought to be a cautionary example illustrating the questionable taste of mass audiences, as was the case with Forest Gump. Both movies are situated in the same region of Hollywood.

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And I don’t think everything in the movie was part of her story. There were way too many private conversations that Rose wasn’t a part of and she didn’t tell the, the part about her sticking her hand in the coat and finding the necklace.

 

No, and I’m mostly joking, but having a character recall another character’s memories or having perfect recall about situations they weren’t present for is the kind of crap we tease HDTGM movies for. If we make fun of 88 Minutes or Highlander 2 for that kind of sloppiness in storytelling, why should Titanic get off the hook? If I it’s going to included among the greatest American movies of all time, then in my opinion, it invites this kind of scrutiny. None of the other movies that we’ve covered, nor many of the movies to come, have been this careless. Cameron could have easily set it up as more of a dialogue between Rose and Paxton’s character, but every time it cuts to present, we just see everyone hanging on her every word.* I mean, maybe I’m being nitpicky, but I don’t feel like I should be expected to overlook what I feel is a flaw just because other people like the movie and have kindly asked me to ignore them. (btw - I’m not saying this is what you’re doing. I know you liked the movie less than I did ;) )

 

The movie is structured as a first person account of the sinking of the Titanic. Any time the movie strays from that structure, it’s opening itself up for at least a little bit of mockery. For example, this must have happened:

 

Paxton: Wait! What now??

Rose: You heard me.

Paxton: You’re saying the lookout was so busy watching you and Jack make out that he didn’t see the iceberg in time?

Rose: That’s right. We were a couple of hot tamales...

Paxton: But that means...

Rose: We were the reason the Titanic sank? Yes, that’s right. Anyway, Cal was a real jerk....

 

*Just as an aside, it’s a personal pet peeve of mine whenever a writer - James Cameron, in this case - writes a character in their work that is telling a story that is just blowing everyone else’s minds away. I can just imagine James Cameron at his desk writing, “All thoughts of priceless diamonds are driven from their minds as the crew are blanketed in the comforting warmth of Rose’s word magic,” and thinking to himself, “God, I’m good...” I mean, that’s at, like, M. Night Shyamalan’s character in Lady in the Water levels of hubris.

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