Best Picture Winners. Movie #115: The Apartment (1960)

From now until Oscar Sunday I will be reviewing Best Picture winners. Enjoy!

Director: Billy Wilder

Starring: Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, Fred MacMurray, Ray Walston, Jack Kruschen, David Lewis, Hope Holiday, Joan Shawlee

Academy Awards (1961):

Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Black-and-White: Alexandre Trauner, Edward G. Boyle

Best Director: Billy Wilder

Best Film Editing: Daniel Mandell

Best Picture: Billy Wilder

Best Writing, Story or Screenplay – Written Directly for the Screen: Billy Wilder, I.A.L. Diamond

Academy Award Nominations:

Best Actor in a Leading Role: Jack Lemmon

Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Jack Kruschen

Best Actress in a Leading Role: Shirley MacLaine

Best Cinematography, Black-and-White: Joseph LaShelle

Best Sound: Gordon Sawyer (Samuel Goldwyn SSD)

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Manhattan insurance clerk C.C. Baxter (Lemmon) gains favor with some of his superiors at work by allowing them to use his apartment as a rendezvous for their extramarital affairs.  Things get complicated, though, when Jeff Sheldrake (MacMurray), the company boss, brings Fran Kubelik (MacLaine), an elevator operator who Baxter has fallen in love with, to the apartment.

There are a lot of layers to this story, and they’re intricately woven together and flow smoothly to make for a charming film.  There is the right balance of humor and seriousness, light-heartedness with darker elements.

Jack Lemmon has a certain “it” factor and charm that I’ve always enjoyed.  Most of the films I’ve seen him in have been great showcases of his comedic acting.  However, there always seems to be just enough depth and seriousness with his performances that sets him apart from other exclusively comedic actors.  He’s adds enough serious, meaningful acting to not just be the funnyman.  His performance in The Apartment showcases this balance between funny and serious probably better than any of his other films, at least that I’ve seen.

Shirley MacLaine complements both Lemmon and Fred MacMurray in her given relationship with each man.  She performs her character’s inner conflict very well, and she holds her own with the comedic parts as well.

Jack Kruschen, who earned an Oscar nomination for his part as Baxter’s neighbor Dr. Dreyfuss, carries some of the comedic load of the film and complements the two leads quite well.  Though he plays the irritated neighbor, he also does a great job as a paternal voice of reason.  MacMurray also does a good job as the overbearing womanizer boss type.  It’s interesting to me that My Three Sons started its twelve-year run in 1960.  MacMurray has that 50s/60s “model dad” look to him.  It adds a different dynamic to his performance as Sheldrake.

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The Apartment has an alluring balance of comedy and drama.  Complementary and believable performances by all the major characters really bring this film together.  It’s lighthearted  at times, but serious when it needs to be.  Though the technology and outside cultural influences have become incredibly dated, the core story of the growing love between two people in spite of everything going on around them is still engaging and enjoyable to watch.  Jack Lemmon gives one of his best performances in this film.  I’d definitely recommend this one, and it’ll stay on my radar as one to revisit at some point.

My Rating: 4/5 stars

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Best Picture Winners. Movie #113: Slumdog Millionaire (2008)

From now until Oscar Sunday I will be reviewing Best Picture winners. Enjoy!

Director: Danny Boyle

Starring: Dev Patel, Frieda Pinto, Rubina Ali, Ayush Mahesh Khedekar, Madhur Mittal, Anil Kapoor

Academy Awards (2009):

Best Motion Picture of the Year: Christian Colson

Best Achievement in Cinematography: Anthony Dod Mantle

Best Achievement in Directing: Danny Boyle

Best Achievement in Editing: Chris Dickens

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score: A.R. Rahman

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song: A.R. Rahman (music), Gulzar (lyrics) for the song ‘Jai Ho’

Best Achievement in Sound: Ian Tapp, Richard Pryke, Resul Pookutty

Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published: Simon Beaufoy

Academy Award Nominations:

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song: A.R. Rahman, Maya Arulpragasam for the song ‘O Saya’

Best Achievement in Sound Editing: Tom Sayers, Glenn Freemantle

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Jamal Malik (Patel), an 18-year-old orphan from the streets of Mumbai, finds himself competing on the TV game show Who Wants to be a Millionaire.  His unexpected success leads police to become suspicious and he is arrested for cheating.  During his police interview Malik recounts the story of his life, explaining how he came to know the answer to each question in the quiz. (from 501 Must-See Movies, Revised and Updated Edition)

Slumdog Millionaire has a lot that works.  For having virtual unknowns, at least to American audiences, the acting is decent.  The story, cliché at times, is complex enough and the Indian setting make it unique and enjoyable.

The visuals in this movie are great.  The integration of color throughout the film works well.  From what little knowledge I have of the Indian film industry, it seems like bright colors are intricately used.  The balance  of colors created a number of aesthetically pleasing sets.

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Even though it still grosses me out thinking about it, the toilet scene was well done.  Sometimes I feel like the dream-esque parts were a little drawn out, like how Jamal has the same flashback of Latika (Pinto) at the train station the first time they tried to be together.

The pacing is slow at times, however, I feel like the payoff in the end makes the build up worth it.  In the end, you kind of have to figure he’d get the girl.   However, there’s that underlying tension throughout as Jamal and Latika cross paths and could be together except for this or that circumstance.

There were quite a few times where I thought, “Hmm, that’s convenient” as far as Jamal knowing the answer to a question.  To have that random assortment of life experiences, apparently happening in the order the questions were given, just seems a little too far-fetched.  The cops were right to be suspicious, though some of the torture they put Jamal through was probably unnecessary.

The biggest issue I have with this film has to do with the hype.  Personally, I think it’s an interesting, drawn out love story set in the slums of Mumbai.  I don’t think it’s as great as people made it out to be when it was released.  The first time I watched this, I was just kind of like “eh” at the end.  At the risk of sounding insensitive, I feel like this film is one of those that gets a Best Picture Oscar because the Academy basically says, “Awww, let’s feel sorry for/about (fill in the blank).”  That year it won against The Curious Case of Benjamin ButtonFrost/NixonThe Reader, and Milk, all films I think would be deserving of the Oscar, but that’s just my own opinion.

This is the only Danny Boyle film I’ve seen, so I can’t compare this to any of his other work.

Is the film good? Yes.

Is it amazing beyond your wildest dreams and there will never be another like it? No.

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Slumdog Millionaire came out of nowhere in 2008 to win 8 Oscars and gained almost instant international acclaim.  I think it’s a decent film, though personally I don’t understand the hype that came with it.  I think it should be seen once, though time will tell whether this film has long-lasting staying power.

My Rating: 3.5/5 stars.

 

Best Picture Winners. Movie #112: Annie Hall (1977)

From now until Oscar Sunday I will be reviewing Best Picture winners. Enjoy!

Director: Woody Allen

Starring: Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, Tony Roberts, Carol Kane, Paul Simon, Shelley Duvall, Janet Margolin, Colleen Dewhurst, Christopher Walken

Academy Awards (1978):

Best Actress in a Leading Role: Diane Keaton

Best Director: Woody Allen

Best Picture: Charles H. Joffe

Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen: Woody Allen, Marshall Brickman

Academy Award Nominations:

Best Actor in a Leading Role: Woody Allen

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Annie Hall is a comical look at the up and down relationship between a New York City TV writer and his aspiring actress/singer girlfriend who’s originally from the Midwest. (from RottenTomatoes.com)

Considered one of Woody Allen’s best movies, Annie Hall was an intriguing film that I went into without any expectations.  It is still the only Woody Allen movie I’ve watched, so I don’t have anything else to compare it to as far as his directing, writing, and producing style. It is a different kind of film, and after watching it a second time I understand its appeal.  Personally, I wasn’t all that crazy about it.

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The main issue I have with Annie Hall is that Allen’s character Alvy Singer is essentially a bantering narcissist who carries on for an hour and a half.  It was a tough film for me to watch because it just seemed to drag on and on.  Forty-five minutes felt like an hour and a half.  I enjoy movies that are primarily dialogue-driven, but when one person dominates the film the way Allen does, it’s just too much for me.

Though Annie Hall has it’s faults, Allen does a great job directing and pushing the directing envelope. I do like how Allen incorporates breaking the fourth wall throughout the film.  After Alvy and Annie break up, I like how he is both talking to the audience and engaging people who are walking down the street.  To his credit, Allen makes these transitions and fourth wall lines flow seamlessly within the film’s story.  The grade school classroom scene and dinner with Annie’s family were two scenes where this was best incorporated.

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Having not seen any other Woody Allen films, Allen’s pairing with Diane Keaton seems, well, odd to say the least.  Allen wrote Annie’s character with Keaton in mind.  It will be interesting to watch some of their other collaborations.

Annie Hall is a unique film that has received wide acclaim.  Though it wasn’t my favorite to watch, I can appreciate its unique feel and look.  I feel like I could watch this again after watching some of Allen’s other films and have a better understanding.  It’s certainly not a top priority, but it is something I’ll get to eventually.

Decent film, just not my type of film, for now.

My Rating: 2.5/5 stars.

The Artist (2011)

Director: Michel Hazanavicius

Starring: Jean Dujardin, Berenice Bejo, John Goodman, James Cromwell, and Penelope Ann Miller

Academy Awards (2012):

Best Picture: Thomas Langmann

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role: Jean Dujardin

Best Achievement in Directing: Michel Hazanavicius

Best Achievement in Costume Design: Mark Bridges

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score: Ludovic Bource

Academy Award Nominations:

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role: Berenice Bejo

Best Writing, Original Screenplay: Michel Hazanavicius

Best Achievement in Cinematography: Guillaume Schiffman

Best Achievement in Film Editing: Laurence Bennett, Robert Gould

Best Achievement in Film Editing: Anne-Sophie Bion, Michel Hazanavicius

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The Artist follows the careers of George Valentin (Dujardin) and Peppy Miller (Bejo) from 1927 through 1932.  Valentin, a champion of the silent film era, sees his star fall while Miller becomes the big star with the invention of the ‘talkie.’

Filmed as a black-and-white silent film, The Artist is both unoriginal and distinctly unique at the same time.  Michel Hazanavicius has made one of the only silent films since the silent film era.  I feel like this would be the result if Singin’ in the Rain and A Star is Born had a child.  It deals with the transition from silent to sound films, and also maps the rise of a young actress alongside the fall of a legendary actor of his time.  Though it very well could have come out of the silent film era, the fact that it was released in 2011 makes it unique as a significant contrast to virtually everything that’s made these days.

I’ve always been skeptical, and a bit puzzled as to why this film had such critical acclaim.

I get it now.

The story is a bit predictable and cliché, but Hazanavicius has created a story that’s engaging and entertaining.  Though it was frustrating at times when I couldn’t read the actors and actresses lips, Hazanavicius gives the audience enough to get the basic gist of the plot.  Two strong leading performances also help make this an entertaining film.

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Both Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo turn in fantastic performances.  Though neither has had very much exposure to American audiences (Bejo was in A Knight’s Tale), they more than hold their own in a unique to 2011 type of film.  Without being able to be heard, the body language and facial expressions play a much more central role in showing how their characters are coping with the changes that go on throughout the film.  George is dismissive of the talkie, sure of himself that silent films would always be on top, and falls deeper into depression and despair as his fame fades.  Peppy embraces the new era of filmmaking, but still cares for George in a truly genuine way.  Each was rightfully nominated for an acting Oscar, Dujardin winning for Best Actor.

John Goodman works well as the blustering studio executive who is at the mercy of his stars at times, but still willing to assert his authority.  James Cromwell also does well as George and later Peppy’s chauffeur.  He brings that older wise person element to the film.  It’s also noteworthy that Malcolm McDowell (A Clockwork Orange and Sprint commercials with James Earl Jones, among others) had a small part as The Butler, a fellow actor/extra that Peppy meets on her first day.

The only thing that really bothered me about The Artist was that it seemed to drag at times.  The first 45 minutes or so seemed like 2 hours.  Sometimes there are movies that I have to watch in phases, but usually that’s only if it’s 3 and a half hours long or longer.  Though I didn’t take any breaks with this one, it sure felt like I would need it.  Maybe it’s because the only sound for most of the film came from background music.

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The Artist is a film I’ve always had my doubts about.  A silent, black and white film in 2011 with as much critical acclaim and commercial success as this one had just didn’t make sense.  Michel Hazanavicius pays wonderful tribute to the silent film era with a true gem that could have easily come straight out of the time period.  Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo work well together on screen and bring this film to life.  While it’s not one I’m going to go out and buy tomorrow, it’s one I would definitely recommend watching at least once.  I may even watch it again in the near future.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Movie #92: The English Patient (1996)

Director: Anthony Minghella

Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Juliette Binoche, Willem Dafoe, Kristin Scott Thomas, Naveen Andrews, Colin Firth, Julian Wadham, Jurgen Prochnow

Academy Awards (1997):

Best Picture: Saul Zaentz

Best Director: Anthony Minghella

Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Juliette Binoche

Best Art Direction-Set Direction: Stuart Craig, Stephanie McMillan

Best Cinematography: John Seale

Best Costume Design: Ann Rother

Best Film Editing: Walter Murch

Best Music, Original Dramatic Score: Gabriel Yared

Best Sound: Walter Murch, Mark Berger, David Parker, Christopher Newman

Academy Award Nominations:

Best Actor in a Leading Role: Ralph Fiennes

Best Actress in a Leading Role: Kristin Scott Thomas

Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium: Anthony Minghella

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“Every night I cut out my heart. But in the morning it was full again.”

On a more personal note: this film has special significance to me.  When I first started this project, it was simply to watch all 501 movies.  I had seen between 80 and 90 previously, but The English Patient was one of the first films I watched as part of this project.  For that reason, I’ve looked forward to reviewing this one more than most of the others.

Plot Summary: “A burn victim, a nurse, a thief, and a sapper find themselves in each others company in an old Italian villa close to the end of World War II. Through flashbacks, we see the life of the burn victim, whose passionate love of a woman and choices he made for her ultimately change the lives of one other person in the villa. Not only is this film a search for the identity of the English patient, but a search for the identities of all the people in the quiet old villa.” via IMDB.com

I had originally planned on making this the final review for Valentine’s, but it just didn’t happen.  It works though since I was going to review Best Picture winners until the Oscars on March 2.

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There are a lot of levels to this movie, and though I think it could have been shortened up, it still works for me.  Moving from the current time, where Count Laszlo de Almasy (Fiennes) is severely burned and under the care of nurse Hanna (Binoche), back to Laszlo’s affair with Katharine Clifton.  Hanna has taken a romantic interest in one of the soldiers.  David Caravaggio (Dafoe), a Canadian soldier who lost his thumbs in Cairo, blames Almasy of betraying the Allies and helping the Germans by giving them maps of the region.   The first time I watched The English Patient, I was a bit confused with everything that was going on.  This time around, I’ve been able to appreciate the complexity of the story though.

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I appreciated how there was a good balance of flashback and present-day screen time.  Once Laszlo and Katharine’s (Thomas) affair started, I felt like that part of the story stagnated until the final half hour or so of the film.  The burn victim makeup on Ralph Fiennes was very well done.  There’s just enough of Laszlo in the look and mannerisms to know who he is, but at the same time being a completely different person.

Juliette Binoche is fantastic in this film.  Though we see her lose people close to her, she still conveys a strong demeanor.  She balances the passion yet reservation Hanna feels for Kip (Andrews), the strength to stand up and be taken seriously, and her devotion to taking care of Laszlo.  One of my favorite scenes was when Kip took her to see the paintings in the church was a really good way for her character to open up.

Others considered for Caravaggio: Sean Connery, Richard Dreyfuss, Bruce Willis, John Goodman and Danny DeVito

Others considered for Caravaggio: Sean Connery, Richard Dreyfuss, Bruce Willis, John Goodman and Danny DeVito.

 It goes without saying that I enjoyed Willem Dafoe’s performance here.  He exhibits just enough rage without being too over the top.  Also, he comes to realize and appreciate Laszlo’s plight and gets the facts straight on why Laszlo gave the Germans the maps.

The love story between Laszlo and Katharine was nice throughout the film, but what made it great was the final half hour or so when Geoffrey Clifton (Firth) crashes his plane and mortally wounds Katharine.  The aftermath and the great passion that both Fiennes and Thomas show when Laszlo goes to leave, Katharine writes out the final journal entry, and Laszlo carrying her out to the plane lift this love story above the rest.

The English Patient benefited from what I think was a pretty weak Academy Award field.  I don’t think it would have won as many Academy Awards in another year.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great film, I just don’t think it had much competition.

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Revisiting The English Patient has been enjoyable for me.  I don’t know if I would watch this film again, perhaps if I could watch the first 20 minutes then skip to the last hour.  The passion and love shown both in the flashback and present day scenes is touching, and Anthony Minghella created a nice gem of a romantic film.

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Valentine’s 2014. Movie #91: An Affair to Remember (1957)

Director: Leo McCarey

Starring: Cary Grant, Deborah Kerr, Richard Denning, Neva Patterson, Cathleen Nesbitt, Robert Q. Lewis, Charles Watts, Fortunio Bonanova, and George Winslow

Academy Award Nominations (1958):

Best Cinematography: Milton R. Krasner

Best Costume Design: Charles Le Maire

Best Music, Original Song: Harry Warren (music), Harold Adamson (lyrics), Leo McCarey (lyrics) for the song ‘An Affair to Remember’

Best Music, Scoring: Hugo Friedhofer

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“If you can paint, I can walk; anything can happen, don’t you think?”

Plot Synopsis: Charming handsome Nicky Ferrante (Grant) and glamorous nightclub singer Terry McKay (Kerr) are on the same cruise from Europe to New York where they will both be meeting up with their fiances.  However, it’s love at first sight for Nicky and Terry.  They spend every wonderful moment together and, when they stop off in the south of France, Terry even visit’s Nicky’s grandmother Janou (Nesbitt) with him.  Before they reach their destination, they decide to test their love.  They will meet at the top of the Empire State Building in six months time and, if they are still in love, they will get married.  However, fate stops Terry getting there on time.

This was Leo McCarey’s second go around with this story, as he had originally made it as Love Story in 1939.  I haven’t seen that version, but from what I’ve read it’s fairly similar.  An Affair to Remember has been remade a number of times, and there are elements of the story that have been replicated in other films.  Love Affair (1994) is a retelling of the story with Warren Beatty, Annette Bening, and Kathatine Hepburn.  Mann (1999) is also a Bollywood remake.  The Muppets spoofed this film in the Muppets Take Manhattan (1984).

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What is it about this film that makes it so appealing?  Though the story itself by today’s standards is pretty typical of a romance film, An Affair to Remember is original and unique in the time it was originally released.  Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr set a golden standard for these two types of characters.  Each of their acting abilities are undeniable: Grant had that strong swagger and had complemented the likes of Katharine Hepburn, Grace Kelly, and many others throughout his career, and Kerr had already been nominated for 3 of her 6 Leading Actress Oscars by this point.  Of all the films I’ve seen Cary Grant in, I think this one is his best performance.  Though he’s certainly a great actor, most of what I’ve seen him in has been screwball comedies, which for whatever reason I just haven’t been able to get into or enjoy.

There is a good balance of story and settings in this film.  There’s just the right amount on the boat, visiting Nicky’s grandmother, and then in New York.  There is also a certain amount of realism in this film after each character parts ways with their original fiance.  Nicky wants to be a painter, and ends up having to do commercial billboard paintings to pay the bills.  Likewise, Terry returns to singing in a nightclub in Boston after breaking up with her rich fiance.  The romantic appeal of meeting at the top of the Empire State Building, and how Terry wasn’t paying attention and got into her accident, makes sense in a way.

An-Affair-to-Remember-1  Some of the most powerful parts of this film, in my opinion, took place at Nicky’s grandmother’s house.  The romantic connection, though perceived to this point, is really brought to light, and in a way I’m a bit surprised that Cathleen Nesbitt wasn’t nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar.  I like the characters who act as a voice of reason and a respected outside observer adding that layer of perception and discernment.

The final scene when Nicky realizes why Terry didn’t make it to the Empire State Building, is very touching and well done.  It’s not too drawn out, and though the audience knows everything, and can probably see where the story will go, Grant and Kerr complement each other nicely.

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An Affair to Remember does a great job of making a somewhat predictable story seem interesting.  Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr complement each other well, and keep the story interesting without making it too sappy.  I’d probably watch this every once in a while, and I’d definitely recommend it.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

And just as another layer of influence this film has had, compare An Affair to Remember‘s poster with Sleepless in Seattle:

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Valentine’s 2014. Movie #90: Titanic (1997)

Director: James Cameron

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane, Kathy Bates, Bill Paxton, Gloria Stuart, Frances Fisher, Bernard Hill, Jonathan Hyde, David Warner, Victor Garber, and Ioan Gruffudd

Academy Awards (1998):

Best Art Director – Set Decoration: Peter Lamont (art director) Michael Ford (set director)

Best Cinematography: Russel Carpenter

Best Costume Design: Deborah Lynn Scott

Best Director: James Cameron

Best Effects, Sound Effects Editing: Tom Bellfort, Christopher Boyes

Best Effects, Visual Effects: Robert Legato, Mark A. Lasoff, Thomas L. Fisher, Michael Kanfer

Best Film Editing: Conrad Buff IV, James Cameron, Richard A. Harris

Best Music, Original Dramatic Score: James Horner

Best Music, Original Song: James Horner (music), Will Jennings (lyrics) for the song ‘My Heart Will Go On” performed by Celine Dion

Best Picture: James Cameron

Best Sound: Gary Rydstrom, Tom Johnson, Gary Summers, Mark Ulano

Academy Award Nomination:

Best Actress in a Leading Role: Kate Winslet

Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Gloria Stuart

Best Makeup: Tina Earnshaw, Greg Cannom, Simon Thompson

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Treasure hunter Brock Lovett (Paxton) finds a drawing of a young Rose (Winslet) while searching for ‘The Heart of the Ocean,’ a diamond that supposedly sank with the RMS Titanic on April 15th, 1912.  Rose Dawson Calvert (Stuart) is flown out to Lovett’s boat and proceeds to tell her story on the doom maiden voyage of the Titanic.

17 at the time of Titanic’s voyage, Rose DeWitt Bukater is a young socialite engaged to Cal Hockley (Zane).  Feeling trapped by a controlling mother, and seeing her life as a prisoner within, Rose considers jumping off the back of Titanic and committing suicide.  Jack Dawson (DiCaprio), a third-class passenger who won his ticket in a poker game, stops her, and the two fall in love.  Their love blossoms and is described throughout the fateful iceberg crash and sinking of the doomed ship.

titanicjackroseThe story of Titanic’s sinking is one that has been told time and time again.  What is it about this movie that launched it into the record books as the highest grossing film of all time (until Avatar of course), tying Ben Hur for the most Academy Awards with 11 wins?  Though this isn’t something I’ve lost sleep over, it’s a question I’ve asked myself a few times over the years.  I must admit that it’s been a long time since I’ve watched Titanic, possibly a decade, and I think this viewing of it helped me understand why this movie was as successful as it was.

At its core, this is a love story told through the backdrop of Titanic’s tragedy.  I don’t think I was able to appreciate that at a younger age.  The romantic elements of this film were cheesy in my opinion.  Both DiCaprio, 23, and Winslet, 22, were young when this film was released, and seeing them in more grown up roles has helped me appreciate their acting talents.

James Cameron has created a true masterpiece with Titanic.  Investing his own money and having a passion for shipwrecks, Cameron brings the audience into the state rooms, dining rooms, cabins, the engine rooms and helps create a complete picture of this boat for the audience.  And then it sinks.  The combination of build up and the following detail as the ship slowing approaching its fateful plunge to the ocean floor.

Telling a story like this, and adding the love story between Jack and Rose, requires acting leads that work well together and come off as believable, albeit unlikely lovers.  DiCaprio and Winslet pull this off flawlessly.  Though I used to see this part of the film as cheesy, their quick progression as lovers with deep passion for life and adventure is both believable and endearing.  The only problem with doing a film like Titanic is that you get the sense that these two could never work together again.  I watched Revolutionary Road a few years ago, and it just felt like Jack and Rose Married with Children rather than its own movie apart from Titanic.

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Though DiCaprio and Winslet carry this film, there’s a lot to be said about the supporting cast.  Kathy Bates has always been hit or miss for me.  She nailed Molly Brown in this film.  Her quick wit and strong will make her memorable and enjoyable.  Billy Zane portrays the jealous and overly confident Cal to perfection.

A number of the crew members do great, but two stick out in my mind.  Bernard Hill’s portrayal of Captain Edward James Smith is one of tragedy as this competent capable leader tries his best to maintain order as the ship sinks.  Though it was a small role, I enjoyed Ioan Gruffudd’s portrayal of Fifth Officer Harold Lowe.  It’s not that Gruffudd was far superior to the other crew members, it’s more that I didn’t realize he was in this until my most recent viewing.  It also helps that he was the only one who went back to try to save the passengers in the water.

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As I said before, Titanic is at its core, a love story set in the tragedy of Titanic’s maiden voyage.  James Cameron’s attention to detail in bringing the audience into the ship and bringing out the emotional connection as the ship sinks make this film great.  Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet’s chemistry create that emotional romantic connection that can appeal to a wide audience.  Titanic is a film that I could watch every once in a while, possibly another decade like it’s been before this viewing.  I think it’s once that anyone who hasn’t seen it should at least see it once.

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

Here’s a funny video that sums up this movie in 5 seconds: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OuSdU8tbcHY