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Titanic 3D: A Chance to Relive ‘97
Titanic was momentous and its effect on pop culture was probably bigger than its effect on cinema. There hasn’t been a film since Titanic that has managed to create such a fuss; attracting everybody and their grandmother to the cinema, and dominating everybody’s conversations regardless of age or ethnicity. Even the Harry Potter series, arguably the biggest films of this millennium, have a fan base that maxes out at a certain age. Besides, the Titanic onslaught was also aural; Celine Dion’s theme song was inescapable and remained that way for a few years after. It’s actually a wonder that something so fantastically irritating was so popular, but luckily it seems we’re being spared the musical assault this time around.
In hindsight, Titanic is pretty cheesy. Actually scratch pretty, it’s super cheesy. The dialogue is basically clunker after clunker; one of them in particular: “A woman’s heart is a deep ocean of secrets,” sounds like something out of a bad dating manual. The younger Rose contends with her share of duds where Kate Winslet seems very ill at ease while she delivers them. In fact, she only loosens up somewhat when she starts to fall in love with Jack; it’s the romance that enchanted viewers the first time around that has kept the film culturally relevant and generated it so much goodwill. It’s the epitome of a love story. You have two very attractive leads acting out a forbidden love story between a girl stifled by upper class norms, and a free spirited artist from the wrong side of the tracks. Toss in her stubborn, arrogant fiancé, who she’s being pressured into marrying to save her family from financial ruin, and you have just the right elements of a great forbidden love. The Titanic going down is just window dressing and the only reason we care about the accident is because of its effect on Jack and Rose’s relationship. As a viewer, you spend the length of the film rooting for them to end up together; the iceberg is just one more obstacle keeping them apart. And yes, the part where Rose lets Jack go at the end is still as tear inducing as ever.
It’s interesting to see Leonardo DiCaprio at his teen heartthrob peak. It’s easy to forget now but back in the ‘90s DiCaprio was inescapable; he was to the ‘90s what Zac Efron and Taylor Lautner are to this decade.
The 3D effect adds considerable depth to the picture but like most reissues, the real draw here is seeing the film in the cinema; the 3D doesn’t add enough to warrant another viewing if you’re just lukewarm about the film, or if you’ve already seen it a trillion times on TV. The true experience here is reliving 1997 all over again; in other words, feeling nostalgia. Whether it’s for the days when ‘blockbuster’ wasn’t just a code name for a superhero flick; for when film events weren’t a dime a dozen and managed to capture the general public’s attention for extended periods of time; or for when one film would come along and give everybody something in common to be excited about.
Based on a true story, George Clooney’s World War II set gilm, The Monuments Men – inspired by Robert M. Edsel’s book The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History – tells a tale of heroism and the importance of preserving cultural heritage.
Set in the final stages of World War II, the story follows Frank Stokes (Clooney); an art historian who assembles a team of art specialists to help track down, and retrieve, all of the priceless artefacts stolen by the Nazis during their invasion of Europe.
Eager to participate, the team includes a brittle museum curator, James Granger (Damon), theatre operator, Preston Savitz (Balaban), loopy architect, Richard Campbell (Murray), shabby sculptor, Walter Garfield (Goodman), French art dealer, Jean-Claude Clermont (Dujardin), and Englishman, Donald Jeffries (Bonneville). Arriving in Europe, the team splits into groups to search for clues across Germany and France; however, the leads to the missing treasure are not so easy to find, and with the Germans threatening to destroy all of the stolen artwork, Stokes and his team need to work fast if they are ever to retrieve the precious goods.
The star-studded, multi-Oscar-winning cast appear relatively at ease in their respective roles and emdoy their respective characters well. Murray offers a couple of memorable moments, while his onscreen hostility towards the equally entertaining Balaban is entertaining throughout. The energy between Clooney and Damon, meanwhile, is like seeing to old friends getting back together, following their Ocean’s Eleven days. Unfortunately, Blanchett’s role as the secretive, extremely cautious French museum employee is incredibly underwritten, while the dynamics between Goodman and Dujardin, wh spend much of the film together, feels forced.
The cinematography is impressive and the structure of switching between different chapters of the story is clever; however, with Clooney starring, directing and producing, he may have just given himself too much to do. The overall final execution leaves the film with very little room – or time – for the story or its colourful characters to fully develop.
Riddled with pacing issues, The Monuments Men, is refreshingly bloodless, humorous and touching at times, but ultimately fails to build on either emotion or momentum, leaving Clooney’s message of the significance of a culture’s of history and heritage a little lost.
Created and directed by award-winning animators, Helene Giraud and Thomas Szabo – and based on a popular French animated television series – Minuscule: Valley of the Lost Ants is a story of friendship and courage told entirely without words.
Set in the diminutive world of insects, the film opens with a sprawling and sun-drenched forest landscape setting, where wildlife is at peace.
After witnessing the birth of ladybug triplets, their very-first flying lesson and the ill-fated separation of the youngest offspring, the story brings its focus on an abandoned picnic, left behind by a live-action couple.
It doesn’t take long before a group of animated black ants move in, delighted to get their hands on a tin box of sugar cubes. However, before they can whizz off back to their colony with their newly-found treasure, they discover a ladybug trapped in the box.
Intrigued and fascinated by their discovery, the black ants quickly make friends with the little bug, who – as they will soon learn – is set to play an important role in their quest; their plan is intermitted by an army of evil red ants, who just like everyone else, wish to get their hands on the sugary fortune.
Unlike the more flashy and boisterous Hollywood animated, Minuscule takes a whole different approach to the matter. Simple, undemanding and dialogue-free, with no star-studded cast to fill the void, the story celebrates wildlife, relishing in the glorious beauty of Mother Nature.
Shot in 3D, the visuals are wonderful, but never overbearing. Everything from the cleverly-constructed creepy-crawlies, their boggy eyes and their indistinguishable voices, to the picturesque dense-forest scenery, makes the film a truly unique, unforgettable experience.
Playful and entertaining, Minuscule: Valley of the Lost Ants offers a terrific insight into the world of these hard-working and untiring little soldiers, who – not unlike humans – have their own barriers to cross and battles to conqueror.