Remember my preamble for my number five pick? Yeah, this is where it’s gonna come in handy....
damn it. No, I’m not insane for not making it number one OR for having it on my list at all. So let’s just get past that or the hurling of internet abuse. It’s clear that lots of people feel very strongly about this film one way or the other, no need to be nasty about it, what say? So now I’m just gonna review the film from MY point of view. Feel free to relax and tell yourself, ‘Eh, not everybody is gonna see things the same way’
or, if you’re feeling particularly open-minded this morning, ‘Let’s take the time to consider a different opinion than mine in a even-handed fashion’
. I’m probably hoping for too much there.
is one of the most successful innovators in Hollywood history, probably second only to Steven Spielberg
for having launched as many SERIOUS fandoms. As has become clear in the news lately, with stories of some of the more emotionally stunted cinephiles questioning the worthiness of a life outside of Pandora, his latest film has had just as profound an effect as his previous ones. However, for every unreasonably obsessed fanboy there’s an equally as passionate anti-fan out there. I’ll bet it’s just a matter of time before someone posts proudly their Avatar
with the ‘banned’ crossed-out tattoo on the web. Those famous for decrying its success or even for just flat out hating, like “Ultimate Spider-Man”
writer Brian Michael Bendis
or popular ‘cranky’
critic Devin Faraci
, still can’t seem to stop talking about it. “Avatar”
IS a cultural imperative right now and whether you love it, hate it, or merely enjoyed it for its wildly impressive effects work (and I’m sorry but that part, purely from a technical point of view, is not up for debate), it’s probably what you’re talking about at the water cooler, virtual though it may be.
Obviously I fall on the ‘love’ side, although I’m not painting myself blue anytime soon. Not for any reason that has to do with the movie, anyway. Even while critiques of the script being overly similar to films like “Dances with Wolves”
are clearly not without merit, folks are taking them too seriously. Hell, one critic I know of who hated “Avatar”
, harping especially on that reason, loves the “Friday the 13th”
films. His logical fallacy was not visible to him through the haze of the fire of his unrelenting hatred. The film may borrow heavily from stories that have been told before but it’s hardly the first or even close to the first to be so beloved regardless of it.
isn’t so eminently watchable because of the content of the tale so much as for the world it tells it in. Cameron
and company have fashioned a living, breathing world in Pandora, one which no bio-luminescent stone was left unturned. There’s a depth to the world, a life of its own that is more carefully and lovingly detailed than in practically any film to come before it. So carefully studied is this world, so gorgeously crafted down to the tiniest insect and plant leaf, that the lack of depth to the actual characters is somewhat forgivable. They’re supporting roles to the planet itself and its many and varied inhabitants. Little more than archetypes, they’re downplayed in the way they should be when living in the shadow of what they’re walking through AND the experience of watching it unfold around them especially in the careful way they designed the 3D to work with it. When Cameron
talks of making the film into a trilogy, it seems a no-brainer as this world seems to have many attractive secrets left to reveal.
I’m the first to agree that the strategy in making “Avatar”
especially with it’s must-see 3D version, is more akin to a theme park ride in some ways than a traditional movie, but goddammit if it isn’t a gorgeous work of art within that context. Despite some understandable negative feelings towards a relatively simple and some would say over-used storyline, I liked where it went, the new way it told an old tale. Criticize it for that story or even its occasionally sketchy dialogue you may, but you’ll never be able to take away from me the sense of awe and wonder I felt watching Pandora reveal itself, inch by glowy inch. Plus, I want to ride a dragon. Now. You know what? Screw it, where’s that blue paint?
BEST NEW TV SHOW: MODERN FAMILY
I can admit that I’m more than a little arrogant in my pickiness over TV comedies. Generally speaking, it’s always an hour drama that gets the top spot for any best of the year consideration, but this year, as much as I wanted them to, the hopefuls didn’t measure up. My decision actually came down to the wire between NBC's wickedly funny “Community”
or, the one I settled on, ABC's intelligent, outrageous and occasionally touching “Modern Family”
Filmed in a ‘mockumentary’ style, the show follows the three families that comprise a bigger familial group. Ed O’Neill
, the patriarch of the group, freshly married to Columbian uber-hottie Gloria
) who has brought her old-souled young son Manny
(Rico Rodriguez III
) with her. Jay
’s daughter Claire
) is married with three kids of her own: the typical popularity-obsessed teen Haley
), her younger, smarter and somewhat crueler sister Alex
), and their ‘special’ brother Luke
’s husband Phil
) thinks he’s a ‘cool’ Dad. You can only imagine the horrors that ensue from such a fatherly mind-set. The third group is Jay
’s son Mitchell
(Jesse Tyler Ferguson
) who is married to Cameron
). They have adopted a Vietnamese baby named Lily
who has, despite Mitchell
’s fear of acceptance, has been embraced by the entire clan as their newest member.
is, at turns, alternately silly and at least somewhat serious. It’s packed with a full load of sometimes goofy, sometimes clever gags, but it’s the way the family settles their problems that is the backbone of the show's appeal. The dynamic is realistic, almost so much like a real family that it’ll make you squirm in uncomfortable familiarity at points even while laughing at their foibles. Key to the affection I have for these characters is, while they may have all of their hidden agendas, their little secrets, always, in the end, they come out in support for each other. It’s screwed up but it works; a charming, funny and smart picture of a functioning dysfunctional family. Stand out performers are the always reliable O’Neill
, who is a modern day Archie Bunker
here, and Stonestreet
who slays with every line he delivers. You just want to give him a big hug. He’s the totally lovable and funny gay uncle and he OWNS it. It almost doesn’t seem fair to single out these two though as this is a more than capable ensemble. “Modern Family”
deserves the attention.