In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb darkest hour ver3

Darkest Hour

Darkest Hour stands apart from more routine historical dramas.

Thumb man who invented christmas

The Man Who Invented Christmas

Not particularly keen on nuance or subtlety, this is a film in which everything, especially Stevens’ decidedly manic take on Dickens, is pitched as broadly…

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Other Articles
Blog Archives
Primary avt3 thumb 500x279 18088

Face/Off: Avatar

There's a little back-and-forth between me and Glenn Kenny about this Oscar-nominated picture called "Avatar" over at MSN Movies. Good heavens, I wonder, what's all this fuss about? Maybe you're just a fogey, Glenn suggests. I say I wanted to visit a world of awesome mystery and wonder, and all I got was this velvet painting of a movie. Glenn says that he wanted a state-of-the-art "ass-kicking James Cameron science fiction action movie" -- and, for him, "Avatar" delivered on that score.

avt2.jpg

Me: What some see as mythic simplicity, I see as simplistic simplicity. Almost everything in "Avatar" is, as they say in studio development circles, "a little too on-the-nose." Like "The Dark Knight," its most recent popular predecessor, the movie simply announces what it's supposed to be about and then shows it to you. Life on Pandora isn't just interconnected in some metaphorical or metaphysical way; its subterranean neural pathways actually light up when you step on them. The movie accompanies the dialogue like a PowerPoint presentation illustrating a lecture.

Advertisement

Glenn: In Hollywood today, most directors' grasp of action grammar (hell, of film grammar in general) ranges from the crude to the illiterate. The '80s and '90s gave us just a few guys (and at least one woman) who knew how to fill a frame with exciting movement (what us critic types sometimes call "kineticism") and how to cut around and assemble those frames to create stirring, involving action. John McTiernan of the first "Die Hard" picture and "The Hunt for Red October" was one such director, one of the best. Another was Cameron, who added to that talent a flair for comic-book style composition and design. As I've noted before, elsewhere, so many instances in "Aliens" and even the non-sci-fi "Titanic" bring to this viewer's mind the epic double-page spreads of the great comic-book artist Jack Kirby. The sort of thing I still get a jolt from.

Much more here.

Good comments over at Glenn's place, too.

Popular Blog Posts

Why I Stopped Watching Woody Allen Movies

Stop watching movies made by assholes. It'll be OK.

Netflix's Marvel Spin-off "The Punisher" is a Lightweight

A review of Netflix's new Marvel series, "The Punisher."

“Call of Duty” and “Wolfenstein” Redefine the Modern WWII Game

A review of two of the biggest games of 2017, a pair that use World War II in very different ways.

60 Minutes on: "Wonder Woman"

One of the best superhero films, in large part because the title character sincerely believes in values larger than a...

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus