March 07, 2013

Wifey Wednesday: TITANIC Live Tweet Extravaganza

"Shut that hole in your face!"

Hey everyone, it's our first recurring feature! YAAAAAAAAY!

(Cue Muppet arms.)

To refresh your memory, I decided at the outset that, since my wife Jamie has been kind enough to indulge my cinematic insanity, I would allow her to select my screening every Wednesday and that I'm not allowed to argue with her choice.  Since she's surely going to get dragged into watching a number of movies that aren't exactly her cup of tea, giving her free reign for one day a week seemed only fair.

To kick things off she chose Titanic, a movie that she (like many of you on Facebook/Twitter) was shocked to discover I had never seen.  As a movie fan, how is it possible that I could have ignored James Cameron's historical masterpiece? It was the highest grossing film of all time by a HUGE margin for over a decade, until Cameron eventually topped himself with 2009's Avatar.  Seemingly everyone alive in 1997 saw Titanic in theaters, most people more than once.  Plus, it's James Cameron, director of Aliens and the  better half of the Terminator franchise.  That guy should have instantly commands my attention.

Well, let's set the Wayback Machine to 1997.  I'm a freshman in high school when Titanic hits theaters and I'm just starting classes at a prestigious new private school.  To give you a bit of background, I'm the oldest of three siblings and, like most parents, I suspect that my parents approached my upbringing with a certain degree of caution that they later abandoned with my brother and sister.  For example, they were VERY strict with me regarding R-rated movies, and the first time I'm able to talk them into letting me see one in a theater is Paul Veerhoeven's incredible Starship Troopers, which was coincidentally released about a month before Titanic.  (It's worth noting that my friends and I convinced my parents that it was only rated R because of explicit violence.  Man, were we wrong.)  My point is that in 1997, I've never seen Aliens, or Terminator, or T2 and I have absolutely no appreciation for James Cameron as a filmmaker.  In fact, I don't even really know who Cameron is in the first place.

At my new school every freshman is required to write a five minute speech about any topic and present that speech to about a third of the class.  Mine ends up being about Monty Python, drawing heavily from a TV interview I recently saw from the Aspen Comedy Festival.  The speech eventually devolves into a one-man performance of the opening to Holy Grail where the knights argue about swallows carrying coconuts.  Most of my classmates' speeches have since faded from memory, except for two: my friend Brendan, who stands 6'7" as a freshman, gives a hilarious dissertation about being tall, and one girl who will remain nameless speaks about the Titanic, and I can say with confidence that this one girl single-handedly kept me from seeing this movie for over 15 years.

To be fair, I do remember her speaking very intelligently about the history of the ship, its captain, and the infamous collision with that iceberg for approximately five minutes.  Unfortunately, she went on to spend the next six minutes talking solely about the movie.  She went through the plot, described the tragic love between Jack and Rose, and even expounded upon the virtues of Celine Dion's iconic musical contribution.  At the time that song was inescapable and it drove me absolutely nuts, as 30 seconds of that overwrought drivel made me want to jab spoons in my eyes.  I think I was on the right side of history here.  This girl was so in love with Titanic that she had seen the movie five times and was still planning to go back for more. Running more than twice the allotted time, it became the speech that would not end.  (I suppose that's somewhat poetic considering the epic running time of the actual film.)

I suppose I unfairly took out my frustration with the speech on the film itself and I flat out refused to see it.  Eventually it became a stubborn point of pride, and I persisted long after James Cameron won me over as a director.  People tried to convince me to see it solely for the ship sinking sequence, which they assured me was incredible.  However, having been raised on effects-laden sci-fi, the mere sinking of a cruise ship seemed like unimpressive achievement, no matter how lifelike the effect

In the end, the movie played much as I expected.  To call it bloated would be a kindness and most of the first half felt like a chore to get through.  The fancy dinner and the party below decks are both excellent scenes, but generally the script is kind of terrible and obvious, with characters constantly stopping in the middle of important action to literally speak the subtext out loud. (The worst is when they suddenly cut back to the present for the first time in almost an hour for no other reason than to remind us that we're actually watching an old woman tell a sex story to strangers.)  In fact, I'm fairly convinced that if we just got Jack saving Rose from falling off the boat, cut to the fancy dinner and Rose partying in steerage, then jumped straight to "Draw me like one of your French girls" and through to the end, it would still come in close to two hours and I would have dug the movie infinitely more.  And while many of the early cruising shots left me cold, once the ship hits the iceberg my enjoyment rose along with the water level.

I decided to live-tweet my viewing, another running feature I want to employ here throughout the next year.  However, I'm still working out the kinks of properly importing my tweets in a way that looks decent, so forgive me for the following copy-and-paste hack job.  Live tweeting was an absolute blast though, so next time I'll try to figure out a way to make the end result a little more asthetically pleasing.  (I'm open to suggestions.)

I'm not sure what Jamie has in store for me next week, but I'm certainly curious.  I can't say whether it'll be better than Titanic, but it has to at least be shorter, right?


Title: Titanic
Director: James Cameron
Starring: Kate Winslet, Leonardo DiCaprio, Billy Zane, David Warner, Victor Garber, Kathy Bates
Year Of Release: 1997
Viewing Method: DVD

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