Dir: James Cameron (Piranha Part Two: The Spawning)
Hello bullet. I'd like you to meet Marcus' molars.
The first in what promises to be a series of irrational prejudices overcome. In this movie, a big boat sinks. And some folks fall in love. The former is way more convincing than the latter. This may be the most bifurcated movie I have seen in a long time.
The first half is trying to be Wharton novel. Rich white girl yearns to escape society. Wharton's books were insightful, clever and complex. This part of Titanic is awful . Every character is a cliche; the poor DiCaprio is so carefree and the evil Zane is so callous as to defy belief. I made a mark of it; 1:13 into the movie do we have any character development that violates the rises above that of a lesser sitcom. Winslet's mother speaks for 16 seconds about the constrictions of being female in society. But that's it. When I am rooting for the bad guy, that's a bad sign for a love story. And the class points are about as subtle as a sledgehammer. Silly, really. Truly laughable (I have empirical first hand knowledge of that).
But then the boat starts to sink. And this movie soars. I mean really hits the mark. The set design is spellbinding. The direction is breathtaking, I was mesmerized. And the writing is revelatory; seeing impending death through about 40 different eyes was a tremendous experience. I am amazed at the tension created over 1 1/2 hours over one event. A true feat of filmmaking. I also found the love story much more satisfying in this part of the film. Count here the kiss (a truly great film kiss), the sketch (a wondefully feminine moment) and the sacrifices (3 or 4 times).
What a tale of two movies. Love and death are the two great themes of art. Cameron has flubbed one, but triumphed on another. Reading love through death redeems the whole film, and earns my recommendation. But Best Picture? I reviewed that year; it was the best of the nominated films, but The Sweet Hereafter deserved much more attention.