I went and saw Avatar this week. One of the few. The proud. I was reluctant to go see it at first having an inverse hype thermometer but on a few solid recommendations I ended up with greasy goggles and a smuggled bottle of Coke in the back of good old Movix Kyoto. There is one definite thing I will say for this movie; I didn't look away once. I didn't talk to Natsuki. I didn't fumble for the bottle cap. Once the goggles were on, I was locked in. Visually, of course it was insanely captivating. I don't think the 3-D worked all the time for me but it came through enough. It wasn't a gimmicky 3-D either. It was practical, if that is the word. I remember 10 or 15 years ago when we were told that in the future there would be complete CGI characters and we would accept them the same as actors. I had trouble picturing it at the time, but I completely forgot that I was not watching performers in this film. I am not one to swoon for effects, or effects based films, but it really is striking. Especially the floating ash. That really seemed to work.
Much has been made about the story being simplistic, and it is. But I wonder why this type of story can be simplistic. Is it that- and I say this choking on the bitterness of James Cameron's ever present douche bag- there is something so fundamentally true that we appreciate about exploitation, especially environmental and native exploitation, forgiving extreme violence? Make no mistake, the violence in this movie is extreme. Me, who found Inglorious Basterds superb, found the bloodshed in Avatar slightly disturbing. The audience seemed to have the opposite reaction. Call it the True Lies effect. True Lies is the one film, alongside Henry Portrait of a Serial Killer, that I cannot condone. I found the wanton killing in it truly disturbing. I have also never seen anyone else remark upon it. Oh well. Back to Avatar, it seems a bit of a quirk to me that the biggest movie in America, for that matter in the world, right now, features indigenous people ambushing and killing U.S. Marines. Or is it former U.S. Marines, that wasn't so clear. If one was to make a political case for the actions in the movie, they might indeed be arrested, if not tarred and feathered. It goes without saying that the movie could have been a little more intelligent, I don't think nature needs to be supernatural to be wondrous, but I do applaud the intelligence put into the technical side of things. It is, as most people are telling you, worth seeing.
Letters From Iwo Jima
This was part of the 100 Yen DVD promotion over New Years at Tsutaya. I rented it at Natsuki's behest and she made it about 20 minutes in. I thought it was amazing. There has been talk lately that Clint Eastwood is overrated as a director. I feel that he has some stronger moments and some weaker, but he is still in my top five. (Keep in mind that The Eiger Sanction is one of my favorite movies ever.) The hard part for me is that the best performance in the movie is given by a little twit that I want to smash with my shoe to clear him from my television screen. I am speaking of course of Ninomiya-kun, the candy-prop pop star of the sugar coated shit boy-band Arashi. Ninomiya, you are forgiven. Your job playing Saigo was absolutely great. Watanbe Ken is so consistently good, I won't even mention him. I will, however, single out Ihara Tsuyoshi as Baron Nishi. 100% good. Watch it. Natsuki's commentary: "It's interesting that America is always fighting wars but their country has never been attacked." Japanese school system, you win again.
Finally saw it. Would have rather seen it in the theater. Loved every second of it.