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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.
Shot in only nineteen days, there is a lot to be said about Chazelle’s mesmerizing Whiplash – the director’s second-feature after 2009 film Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench – but dull, quiet and uninteresting are certainly none of them.
Based on the director’s eighteen-minute short of the same name, Whiplash is set in New York City and tells the story of Andrew Neyman (Teller); an aspiring nineteen-year old jazz drummer and student at the elite Shaffer Conservatory in Manhattan who dreams of one day becoming the next Buddy Rich.
So, when he’s approached by one of Shaffer’s most prestigious and respected conductors, Terence Fletcher (Simmons), and offered the chance to be the new drum alternate in his jazz orchestra, Andrew doesn’t know whether to be excited or absolutely petrified at what awaits him in the days and months to come.
Eager to get started and throw himself into the music, Andrew quickly learns that Fletcher’ teaching methods are not the most conventional ones, with his tenacious drive for perfection often resulting in both verbal and physical abuse of his students. With very little option at his disposal, Andrew – who quickly dissolves any romantic entanglement with his near-girlfriend, Nicole (Benoist) in order to completely devote to the music – pushes himself to the absolute limits and tries his best to meet Fletcher’s almost impossible standards.
One of the first things you will notice about Whiplash is how Chazelle has freed the picture from any unnecessary clutter – the focus is clear. Music is the central core of Whiplash; the energy is electrifying from the beginning and the tension - which is at times almost palpable – is compelling all the way throughout its pulsating minutes. While this is a film that can comfortably be considered as a coming-of-age story, it’s the obsession buried deep into every artist’s psyche that forces them to achieve absolute greatness that serves to be the film’s underlying exploration.
In what is probably one of his most riveting performances to date, J.K Simmons is absolutely captivating as a fearful, talented and downright frightening jazz conductor who uses fear and bullying as the main motivator in his pursuit for perfection. The veteran actor crafts his character with great complexity, though young Miles Teller deserves similar plaudits.
Ferocious and unforgiving, Whiplash never skips a beat; it will entertain, shock and enthral – a must see.
Hollywood just can’t seem to get enough of Liam Neeson, and the 64 year-old Irish actor is reunites with Taken, Unknown and Non-Stop director, Jaume Collet-Serra, in the oddly enjoyable revenge-thriller, Run All Night.
On the surface, the film comes across as a typical Hollywood action set in the grimy underworld of criminals. But there’s much more at play and family and loyalty are the key themes behind the flawed, yet surprisingly moving and thrilling, script. Written by Brad Ingelsby, the story is centered on Jimmy Conlon (Neeson); a notorious ex-hit man who no longer works the trade of killing, but is still very much linked to his childhood-friend-turned-crime-boss, Shawn Maguire (Harris); a relationship that the tenacious Detective Harding (D’Onofrio) keeps a close eye on.
Things start to go awry for the regretful Jimmy when his estranged, aspiring boxer son, Mike (Kinnaman), witnesses Shawn’s son, Danny, commit a murder. Determined to eliminate any possibility of being found out, Danny goes after Mike and loyalties between the two fathers are tested.
Set in New York City, this is not just another Neeson’s special-set-of-skills affair; there is a genuine story here and a substantial amount of character development. Few actors can embody regret and emotional self-torture like Neeson and, though the film bears all the hallmarks of modern action flick , it gives it depth. Additionally, the film’s action segments are equally entertaining, if a little low on production values and Serra manages to make much use of the NYC backdrop by filling it with exciting chase sequences and ferocious shootouts
There’s an intangible electricity that sparks every now and again through the film – something that is owed almost entirely to the two leads. There’s something mesmerising about watching Neeson and the criminally underrated Ed Harris working opposite one another in their very-first onscreen appearance together. The two veterans share a fair amount of screen-time and a decent dose of chemistry, while D’Onofrio plays his part as a dedicated cop. And so despite a lack of any real originality, these elements all add up to give Run All Night all the gravitas it needs to keep its viewers happy and satisfied, if not intellectually challenged.