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The James Cameron Catch-All

post #1 of 90
Thread Starter 

I looked around for a thread like this, but aside from great Aliens and The Abyss discussion there isn't anything about James Cameron's entire career.

 

So I watched The Abyss, the theatrical cut, yesterday for the first time in about a decade. I watched the theatrical cut because the older I get the more I feel more isn't better. I like the crew and feel an instantaneous camaraderie with them, so I didn't need more of it, as I'm in the minority when it comes to "hanging out" in a world. 

 

So this is still a really great movie, and like how I noticed with an Aliens rewatch a few months ago, it's Cameron still flexing with his influences. The man started with FX work on Escape from New York, and has always had the anti-authoritarian streak of Carpenter but the difference is he trusts the military, just not their superiors. After all, Coffey is just following orders, and his comrades are perfectly affable guys by the end. There's also a blue collar, working class hero aspect that very much reminds me of Alien, but Scott is much more cynical. I always felt like the crew there aren't necessarily friends and, especially Brett and Parker, are mostly looking out for number one. There's also a hazy atmosphere and camerawork, especially with the establishing shots, that's very reminiscent of Scott. But mostly this is Cameron in full-on Spielberg mode, with a sense of wonder and sentimentality that isn't perhaps on display again until Avatar

 

I did have a little discussion on Facebook about how Cameron is surprisingly a romantic. I don't know why this didn't click before, but for all the hoopla about him just wanting to play with his tech toys, his movies are mostly love stories. And they plot out an auteur's life. It's passionate early love in The Terminator, but by The Abyss the honeymoon period is over and it's trying to make a real relationship. True Lies is about having kids and getting to middle age trying to rekindle that old flame. And Titanic is coming to the end of your life and mulling over regrets, specifically the one that got away. Very telling for a guy who has been married and divorced like four times.

 

Avatar is whatever.

 

So what's more to be said about Cameron? There was a stretch of years in my youth where it was just accepted that he was one of the greats. But sometime in the last decade there has been not only a surprising backlash against Aliens but Cameron himself. Maybe it's because of his arrogance or that he doesn't work that often, but people have become very dismissive in a way that baffles me. The man has directed only seven movies, but they all range from good to classic.

post #2 of 90

I like to recommend Orson Scott Card's novelization of The Abyss. It'll really improve your enjoyment of the movie.

post #3 of 90
Thread Starter 

Read that in high school, back when I was on a big Ender's Game kick. I remember liking it quite a bit, although it did fill in blanks that weren't really necessary. Like how it turns out the NTIs were floating around outside helping to heal Jammer and Lindsey, as if I can't accept by movie logic that they're okay.

 

I didn't clarify above, but I prefer the theatrical cut's ending. The aliens know about the nuke, they know Bud saved them from it, so they save him. His example, representing all of humanity, is enough to encourage them to reveal themselves to the world. Contrast that against we'll blow everyone up if you don't play nice, and I prefer the former.

post #4 of 90
I will have to agree with your assessment above, Bartleby. Cameron is indeed a romantic at heart. I think that may actually be a huge reason why people turned on him, because there is plenty to say about Avatar feeling disingenuous. Whereas Titantic can be said to have its fair share of sap, you didn't dare question its heart being in the right place. In a lot of ways, the best and most unfiltered he's been in exploring love in his movies would have to be The Terminator and The Abyss. I'd put Titantic in there, but we all know that movie. Protagonists in these films went to the extremes to find it (or refine it in the case of the Abyss). And The Terminator features the most important sex scene in the history of cinema, and that's not hyperbole either.
post #5 of 90
I loooove THE TERMINATOR and have an uneasy relationship with everything that follows it.

I often wonder about what kind of filmmaker Cameron would have become if he wasn't given big budgets, and continually was forced to be as economical as he had to be on TERMINATOR.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Carnotaur3 View Post

And The Terminator features the most important sex scene in the history of cinema, and that's not hyperbole either.
I'm going to have to ask you to defend that claim.
post #6 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by Agentsands77 View Post

I'm going to have to ask you to defend that claim.

Sure, I'll defend it.

The movie tells you that the man who would lead humanity to victory from apocalyptic machines was the son of Sarah Connor. Sarah is an average hard on her luck woman living in 1984 LA. Kyle Reese falls in love with her in the future, comes across time for her. John Connor was aware of this. By fucking, not only did Sarah and Kyle find love finally, but their love was responsible for the paradox that would save everyone - they created John Connor.

The most important sex scene in the history of cinema.
post #7 of 90
Oh, okay. You mean that it's important in the universe of the film.

I thought you meant important in an artistic sense.
post #8 of 90
Well artistically what does it say? The movie is very much a product of nuclear fallout fears - that the way humanity is creates dangerous scenarios for humanity as a whole. Cameron makes that case even clearer in Terminator 2. But the sex scene plays up the analogy that if we just got down to business, loved each other and came together, that love would be enough to save us.
post #9 of 90

Well I'd like to push back on how "Romantic" the "romance" in Terminator was. Kyle sees a picture and has an image in his head of who Sarah Conner was. He never actually knows her, at all. They spend so much time on the run that they never get a chance to learn much about each other. Plus, Kyle's grown up in a world where relationships don't happen what with most people being dead or on the run and all. 

 

Their sex scene is touching in a way that IMO Cameron never really achieved again, even in Titanic. 

 

I think the underlying message of Love (or at least the Life Force procreating) saving Humanity is pretty good, and supports Bartlby's thesis of Cameron being a Romantic (in the literary Lord Byron sense). 

 

But I bet Conner and Reese would have fucking hated each other if they'd spent even a month living together. 

post #10 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cylon Baby View Post

Well I'd like to push back on how "Romantic" the "romance" in Terminator was. Kyle sees a picture and has an image in his head of who Sarah Conner was. He never actually knows her, at all. They spend so much time on the run that they never get a chance to learn much about each other. Plus, Kyle's grown up in a world where relationships don't happen what with most people being dead or on the run and all. 

Their sex scene is touching in a way that IMO Cameron never really achieved again, even in Titanic. 

I think the underlying message of Love (or at least the Life Force procreating) saving Humanity is pretty good, and supports Bartlby's thesis of Cameron being a Romantic (in the literary Lord Byron sense). 

But I bet Conner and Reese would have fucking hated each other if they'd spent even a month living together. 

The movie goes out of its way to describe Sarah as someone men don't ever put up with or commit to, evidence by the answering machine message made to her from her ditching date. And she actually handles it pretty well - this isn't her first road show. On Kyle's side, you have a soldier from a world ravaged by war, scarce food, disease, and constant death. He's in love with Sarah because she's not from that time. She hold a lot of promise. They're both lonely souls reaching for each other. They don't need to get to know each other in a way because they feel each other. The movie gives them the representation of the aware human consciousness. They serve as the potential for a global wake up.

What a great moment it is to see Sarah reach in to kiss him when he suddenly thinks he fucked up for admitting that.

As for where their relationship would go to the next level, who knows. It's almost like that paradox was never meant to last but to serve a purpose.
post #11 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bartleby_Scriven View Post
 

I did have a little discussion on Facebook about how Cameron is surprisingly a romantic. I don't know why this didn't click before, but for all the hoopla about him just wanting to play with his tech toys, his movies are mostly love stories. And they plot out an auteur's life. It's passionate early love in The Terminator, but by The Abyss the honeymoon period is over and it's trying to make a real relationship. True Lies is about having kids and getting to middle age trying to rekindle that old flame. And Titanic is coming to the end of your life and mulling over regrets, specifically the one that got away. Very telling for a guy who has been married and divorced like four times.

 

Avatar is whatever.

 

That's a really interesting thought. Even though I didn't care for Avatar, it also fits in your idea, since originally Cameron was supposed to make it after True Lies. Titanic's end of life / regrets -theme can also be associated to Avatar's ideas of Earth dying because of us and humanity trying to find (and conquer) a new home. I recall there was much more of this in Avatar's treatment from the 90s than in the film we ended up with.

post #12 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by Carnotaur3 View Post


The movie goes out of its way to describe Sarah as someone men don't ever put up with or commit to, evidence by the answering machine message made to her from her ditching date. And she actually handles it pretty well - this isn't her first road show. On Kyle's side, you have a soldier from a world ravaged by war, scarce food, disease, and constant death. He's in love with Sarah because she's not from that time. She hold a lot of promise. They're both lonely souls reaching for each other. They don't need to get to know each other in a way because they feel each other. The movie gives them the representation of the aware human consciousness. They serve as the potential for a global wake up.

What a great moment it is to see Sarah reach in to kiss him when he suddenly thinks he fucked up for admitting that.

As for where their relationship would go to the next level, who knows. It's almost like that paradox was never meant to last but to serve a purpose.

 

Very eloquent and I think you nail Cameron's intentions. I guess it's a case where Real Life is too intrusive for me to totally buy that they had a Love for the Ages. (or I'm just an old cynical bastard).

 

 It was more like a guy in his late 20's pining for that really hot chick he banged one night in High School. Which may be where Cameron was at that time. 

post #13 of 90

AVADAH is so disappointing and kinda trickier... because the movie essentially 'works' but doesn't have the passionate blood/vitality of the younger Cameron of Terminator and The Abyss. 

 

All the nice gentle messages of AVADAH don't mean much when the storytelling feels so generic and loosey-goosey.

post #14 of 90

It had to be that way to draw audiences in Nooj! HAD TO!

post #15 of 90

yeh

 

you're right...

post #16 of 90
Great filmmaker!
post #17 of 90

tut tut!

 

great BUSINESSMAN!

post #18 of 90
A romantic businessman!
post #19 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bradito View Post

A romantic businessman!

two_weeks_notice_ver3.jpg

post #20 of 90
All Cameron movies should have posters with the male and female leads standing back to back with their arms folded.
post #21 of 90

oh god, I want that now...

 

As far as I can tell, this is the closest we have!

 

chhpgdem.jpg?v=1456276791 

 

Titanic-GIF-titanic-24871780-500-220.gif

post #22 of 90
Terminator would be the dopest.
post #23 of 90

Kyle and Sarah... arms crossed... back to back.

 

And Arnold with his arms around their shoulders!

 

THE MATCHMAKER

 

Also:

 

LT0063-240px.gif

post #24 of 90

On the next episode of "That's My Sarah!"

 

Sarah Connor blows up a computer factory.  Except it may have been the wrong one!

Kyle Reese hangs in bed but not before revealing his true feelings for clean covers and laundry detergent.

And T-800 enjoys a nice holiday getaway to the alps when he can't find his playmates.

It's all laughs on the next episode of "That's My Sarah!"

post #25 of 90
Thread Starter 

Calling out MichaelM, he said on Facebook that Jamie Lee's striptease in True Lies is incredibly sexist. I argued that the way it's shot has her taking control of the situation, and thus it's actually empowering.

 

Discuss.

post #26 of 90
I think you're both kinda right..
post #27 of 90
Thread Starter 

DISCUSS

post #28 of 90
Ok..

I think it's got a nasty slant to it because it's Harry's way of punishing her and getting proof to satisfy himself that she still loves him after her near/perceived infidelity. He sets it up like something he thinks she's gonna open her eyes and be re-swept off her feet by HIM but she ends up leaving him slack jawed at how sexy he apparently never knew she could be and then when he goes to make HIS move she clocks him with a phone and kicks his ass REALLY proving that she's faithful to him (because she didn't know it was him she was hitting). So yeah...it's a warped set up but she turns it around on him..
post #29 of 90
Thread Starter 

Okay, but I'm just going to throw this out there...and I'm not saying absolute, I'm just putting this nebulous concept out there...

 

Things are different when you're married.

 

Okay, stay with me now because I can't so much put this in words as provide an example. An icky example. When you read the book The World According to Garp, at one point Garp's wife, feeling guilty that she's cheated on him (and she doesn't know he's cheated on her) goes down on him when he's asleep. It's a very Irving moment, complex in its implications. He finishes and she goes to sleep, and he wakes up feeling confused and ashamed.

 

Now that was over 30 years ago, but I feel like if that moment were to happen on a TV show or movie today, it would be discussed in think pieces ad infinitum. Oh my, she raped him!

 

Now I'm not saying rape doesn't happen in marriage. OF COURSE IT DOES. And I'm not defending Harry's actions, and I admit there's a moment where she's shaking when she gets in bed. But if Tia Carrere hadn't shown up to capture them, all secrets would have been revealed and they would have laughed about it and probably had the best sex they'd had in years.

 

Because things are weird when you're married, man. You lie, they lie, sex is weird, but you forgive each other and move on.

 

Cue everyone pouncing on me being problematic.

post #30 of 90
I'm not one to point the MISOGYNISTIC(!!) finger at the drop of a hat because sexuality between ANY people is in the eye of the beholder....if that's the right term (though misogyny isn't always about sexuality). I dated a girl once who, I swear to God, got off by guys just being completely dominating to her and hateful and pushing her around. "Let's have sex." And she'd say "no"...but, 9 times outta 10, NO meant "force me to do it." Now....is that misogyny to treat her that way when she WANTS that? And what about the other 1 time outta 10 when no REALLY means no but you can't tell the difference? Just for the record....I didn't partake in her little games that way. I said "dated" when what I should have said was...went out with her once, found out what she was into and that's not something I can do. But we remained friends (with benefits....ya know, like when she wanted to come over and get right down to it).

I'm not sure why I got off into that anecdote but anyway...back to True Lies. I love the movie. I'd buy the blu if they'd ever fucking make one. But one problem I've always had with the film....that the film itself sugarcoats BIG TIME is, in Harry's profession, how many times has he had to sleep with someone to keep from blowing his cover and then goes home and climbs into bed with his WIFE. You shouldn't HAVE a wife if that's what you do. At least an unsuspecting one anyway. Yes the movies a comedy and it's not anything approaching reality so they never raise that issue really. But at least Casino Royale (for example) had the sense to show Bond KNOWING he was gonna have to give that life up if he was gonna stay with Vesper. And Bonds are as fantasy as anything else..
post #31 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bartleby_Scriven View Post
 

Calling out MichaelM

 

I just found this thread! Response in the works, and want to make sure Fraid didn't steal my thunder.

post #32 of 90

I'm OK with declaring Cameron a romantic. A lot of people are romantics. But I think the view of love promulgated by his films is deeply immature and shallow, Bart's reading of Titanic notwithstanding. Ironically, True Lies might be the exception, despite the thorough ickiness of the hotel dance scene. Which we'll get to.

 

In Terminator and Titanic, we see young or younger people "fall in love" in a matter of hours, fueled by heightened danger and secrecy. It's completely situational, attraction built on outward appearances and internal mythologizing/idealizing, not on actually knowing the person and building a deep, reality-based relationship. We see people falling in love during siege conditions....which is interesting, given Cameron's four (!) marriages and other relationships, all to people he worked with on difficult, demanding projects.

 

True Lies even comes back to this: Harry and Helen save their relationship by becoming partners in risky, dangerous projects rather than learning how to be there fully for each other during the more realistic routine of every day life.

 

The Abyss seems to be an outlier for this, since Bud and Lindsay are older, already divorced, and with a deep knowledge of each other. But what saves them? Extreme, intense circumstances. Lindsay is the one with the arc here, and while I don't doubt that the change is real, I don't think the film makes a good case for Bud and Lindsay making it together long term, once the immediate intensity of their reconciliation fades. That may just be my cynicism from almost 50 years of life, but having a deep sea experience with aliens doesn't solve the problem of your spouse driving you batfuck insane by doing that one thing yet again today. That said, I absolutely love Lindsay's handling of Bud's dive. Produces watery eyes every time I see it, and I believe each character is having a real, raw emotional experience that can ultimately heal them as persons...but it won't necessarily mean they're going to make it as a couple.

 

What we see time and time again in Cameron's films are men and women drawn together by intensity and danger, by the heightened emotions of extreme situations. We don't see people dealing with real, daily issues and struggles, and we don't see mature, deep love at work.

 

 

Since there's no fucking way I'm searching for or watching that True Lies dance scene on a company-provided network, my remarks on that will have to wait until I can watch it safely.

post #33 of 90
Thread Starter 

I've always found it intriguing that Cameron's big addition to Ripley's backstory is not just a daughter but an implied husband. He doesn't get a mention, so I think we can safely assume they've been long-divorced. Which totally makes sense, considering it's Cameron and that was kind of this growing, but still taboo, thing in the '80s.

post #34 of 90

I can buy that. They're more like "heat in the moment" loves. But whereas The Terminator has to deal with very little time have them grow (let's not forget Sarah does get to know Kyle a little bit, she asks him about his life), The Abyss also deals with loss at every angle. Both Bud and Lindsay had at some point given up a bit of each other. Especially toward the end when Bud knows he's not coming back and Lindsay at point feels it too... only for that to be somewhat confounded. Hard to say, but since right now I'm dealing with my own breakup with my girlfriend, I've been realizing how attachment pretty much ruins all relationships.

 

Random thoughts in my head, sorry.

post #35 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by Carnotaur3 View Post
 

I can buy that. They're more like "heat in the moment" loves. But whereas The Terminator has to deal with very little time have them grow (let's not forget Sarah does get to know Kyle a little bit, she asks him about his life), The Abyss also deals with loss at every angle. Both Bud and Lindsay had at some point given up a bit of each other. Especially toward the end when Bud knows he's not coming back and Lindsay at point feels it too... only for that to be somewhat confounded. Hard to say, but since right now I'm dealing with my own breakup with my girlfriend, I've been realizing how attachment pretty much ruins all relationships.

 

Random thoughts in my head, sorry.

 

No reason to be sorry. I think The Abyss is Cameron's most grown up love story. I think Lindsay and Bud really do love each other, and I think the extreme situation helps them both heal and change. And yeah, Bud's volunteering to die to save Lindsay and possibly a lot of other people is moving, as are Lindsay's self revelations. I just have a hard time imagining them being happy together five years down the road.

post #36 of 90
The Terminator to me is the one exception to all of this. It's not a "love story" per se (and especially not a MATURE one in a realistic sense) ...it's more a realization of one's destiny. Yes she DID fall for Reese but hey, they could die at any time...and what late teen/early 20s girl WOULDN'T grow attached very quickly to a guy who came to save her from some unstoppable horror. The unspoken thing is that (at least in my opinion) they both come to realize where John has to come from to exist. It's touching in a corny way.

The theme of The Abyss is "Love saves them" and in the director's cut..."Love saves the world." LOVE YOU....WIFE.

Aliens? I don't see much romanticism there. More like two clashing versions of motherhood. Her growing attached to Hicks not withstanding.

True Lies is a lark. And I have no problem taking it as such. I think the overriding theme of True Lies (light as it is) is honesty. Harry's living a lie and his life is unravelling. His wife's seeing a car salesman jerk on the side....his daughters drifting away. It isn't until all secrets are revealed that it all comes back together for him. What daughter wouldn't have newfound respect for her parents after she just witnessed them fight off a bunch of terrorists to save her and a city. Again...it's silly. But it's fun and it gets it's point across. And I think the movie at least has the right view of the dance scene and all the deception around it with Tom Arnold of all people telling Harry what a scuzzball he is for doing what he's doing. And the movie is ultimately Jamie Lee's. The film sides with her. She gets to kick Arnold's ass twice for what he does.

Titanic? That's just soap opera melodrama with a disaster back drop..
post #37 of 90
Encountering death and aliens might not be a normal thing but I guess if you give the alternate ending credence I don't think it's hard to say there's been a change of attitude with Bud.
post #38 of 90

Also, Bart's completely, hopelessly wrong in preferring the theatrical cut of The Abyss. The DC is a much better, more thematically coherent film.

 

The Aliens theatrical cut, OTOH, is clearly the superior version.

 

I'm on the fence about T2. It's been a long while since I've watched it.

post #39 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelM View Post

Also, Bart's completely, hopelessly wrong in preferring the theatrical cut of The Abyss. The DC is a much better, more thematically coherent film.

The Aliens theatrical cut, OTOH, is clearly the superior version.

I'm on the fence about T2. It's been a long while since I've watched it.
See...that's strange. I'm the opposite. I prefer the Aliens DC but like the theatrical of T2.

I have my reasons!

But you have my sword on The Abyss DC, Michael. That's the way movie should've always been..
post #40 of 90
TERMINATOR 2 is two very different movies awkwardly sandwiched together.

I like one of them, the Carpenter-esque nightmare film about a woman who has nearly been driven mad about the dark future only she knows about and believes in.
post #41 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by Agentsands77 View Post

TERMINATOR 2 is two very different movies awkwardly sandwiched together.

I like one of them, the Carpenter-esque nightmare film about a woman who has nearly been driven mad about the dark future only she knows about and believes in.
So it's the "ET-esque a boy and his robot" part that irks your tater, I presume?
post #42 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fraid uh noman View Post

So it's the "ET-esque a boy and his robot" part that irks your tater, I presume?
Yep.
post #43 of 90

The DC of Aliens is fine, but all the restored footage does is tell us stuff that we find out later anyway. 

 

My goal this week: to find a way to use Bradito's "blowing mud" and Fraid's "irk your tater" in the same sentence.

post #44 of 90
T2 is one of the quinessential movies of my childhood so, I'll NEVER be able to dislike it. It remains an action juggernaut that shames many a blockbuster since for pure spectacle.

But.....being 35 now instead of 12...The Terminator is EASILY the better movie and, it is in fact my vote for Cameron's best overall..
post #45 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelM View Post

The DC of Aliens is fine, but all the restored footage does is tell us stuff that we find out later anyway. 
And at the expense of pacing, to boot.

That lean, mean theatrical cut has pitch-perfect build-up.
post #46 of 90
I'll have to rewatch the Aliens theatrical. But truthfully, I've never been bored by those extra scenes. I like the sentry gun scene quite a lot actually. I get that it throws the pacing out of whack a bit.

I'll come back to this thread after I've watched it, I promise!
post #47 of 90
The extra scenes aren't boring. They're pretty good. But the way the film builds without them is beyond pretty good. It's fucking great.
post #48 of 90
It's funny how little we're talking about Avatar. I like it (because I'm me lol)...but I don't think it has anything going on inside it's blue melon other than what you see. It's about as deep as a wading pool..
post #49 of 90
I love "Avatar." Anyone who doesn't is a fuddy duddy, probably a serial killer.
post #50 of 90
You can't be a Fuddy Duddy AND a serial killer.

Can you?
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