Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Where is James Cameron when you need him?

What a bad little blogger I have been. Ten days since my last instalment and not a valid excuse in sight.

I have been having fun. From dinner at The Exchange in Port Melbourne with one of my favourite women to completing and paying my July – Sept quarter BAS and tax (ok, not fun but a sense of dread is removed), and from seeing Avatar to returning to the suburban wasteland of my youth to attend an extremely lovely 60th birthday. If variety is the spice of life, my life has been a whopping big jar of All Spice.


Let’s discuss Avatar because my film studies self found this an absolutely riveting release. We saw the 3-D version. Mr U, the original student of film (he was buying books on the topic before he was 11 or so), said I was witnessing filmic history and this movie represents the kind of jump in technical possibilities that Star Wars did when it was released.

I will take that as gospel but still hate the feeling of the Poindexter glasses increasing my awareness that I am seeing a film rather than being part of something. Truth be told, however, that feeling died down after a half hour into the movie (it’s something like 2.5 hours long) and I stopped pulling the glasses up and down my nose to see what the screen looked like sans specs.

It’s difficult to get one’s head around the role a director plays in a movie like this where so little on screen time is given to bricks and mortar sets and live actors and so much is given to CGI sequences. I would LOVE to see behind the scenes to understand how it is achieved and how James Cameron’s role works.

This movie cost more than two hundred and thirty million (USA) dollars. What could that kind of money do to villages, hospitals and schools in different parts of the world? You just can’t think about it because it is kind of depressing. And, yet, the entertainment that movie brings to all of us with the luxury of time and money to go see it is undeniable. It’s one of those quandaries of modern life, hey?

The computer-generated aspects of this movie are basically magical. In the New Yorker they wrote: The digital elements of “Avatar,” he (Cameron) claims, are so believable that, even when they exist alongside human actors, the audience will lose track of what is real and what is not. “This film integrates my life’s achievements,” he told me. “It’s the most complicated stuff anyone’s ever done.”

[Read more: www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/10/26/091026fa_fact_goodyear#ixzz0cSAll5iQ]

The colours, the textures, the strange mining of all our stereotypes of magical forests, rainforest Amazon type locations, mythical creatures and prehistoric predators combines to create something incredibly original yet intensely familiar. Crazy! The colour is probably what resonates the most. Then there is the classic, stereotypical “hero’s journey” that main character, Jake Sully (AKA the very cute Aussie, Sam Worthington) embarks on. There are weird new age ideas of the noble savage and of modern man’s distruction of the planet and his lack of connection with the natural and spiritual world. I know, it all sounds like a bad mixed pasta from Lygon Street, complete with spaghetti with clams on a plate with curried rigatoni. It’s hard to explain. The thing works. It’s bigger than life and the most perfect advertisement for the real product that Twentieth Century Fox is undoubtedly going to make the real profits on – THE GAME!!! Even me, fat, forty and cyber-proof felt the urge to get out a console and occupy the world of the Na'vi people. Were they pumping drugs into the air of the cinema?

Other things

Book-wise I am still loving My Life in France and really, strangely, feel renewed in the spirit after this dose of Julia C. I can’t really explain it; I think low biorhythms had me off my normal enthusiastic view of life. Could be that, could be all the Christmas and New Year boozing that I am trying to distance myself from now. Could also be the thought of Mrs R and her brood landing on my doorstep soon and making me so, so excited (and busy – Mrs R is the tidiest, cleanest woman in the world. She deserves a dust free guest room!).

Of course I still can’t resist dipping into some crime porn (The Bone Vault by Linda Fairstein) and hit the library for a huge cache of books including The Children's Book by AS Byatt which I am in no way going to finish before it is due back. And, of course, the Mrs Underhill Book Club is meant to be tackling The Brain that Changes Itself AS WE SPEAK. Lordy, I love to read but there are just not enough hours in the day. I need an Avatar who goes to work, washes the clothes and exercises the body while another self sits and gorges on books. Where is James Cameron when you need him?

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