But this will not be a post about the tele-genic properties of this or that movie critic -- no!
I would like to simply say that the "theme" of AVATAR is shmaltz, pure shmaltz, and no amount of discussion by a very cool-looking Columbia prof will disguise that fact. No amount of clever technology can disguise that fact. The bones of any good/memorable movie is STORY, and I'm sorry, but the story of "Avatar" is nothing new. In fact, it is a big yawn. (ginseng, response to post, "Stephanie Zacharek talks with Charlie Rose," 4 February 2010)
Re:“The bones of any good/memorable movie is STORY, and I'm sorry, but the story of "Avatar" is nothing new. In fact, it is a big yawn.”
This point gets mentioned a lot. Worth a debate at some point here on Salon (story is a sum of all the experiences you have during the film, much of which is often invisible in simple plot descriptions). I respect that you experienced the film as a yawn, but about it owing to the story not being worthy FOR it not being new -- at least in regards to how others might be expected to react -- consider Morris Dickstein's take on films in the 30s:
Capra's populist simplicity showed up in the way he personalized social problems into Boy Scouts and bosses, heroes and villains. But the same approach enabled him to transform America into a vivid personal myth of archetypal simplicity, affecting humor, and elemental emotional power. Like Chaplin, like Dickens, Capra remained in touch with something raw and vulnerable in himself and his audience, a memory of humiliation, struggle, and inner resolution. The coming of the Depression gave it a more than personal meaning, and helped turn it into a not always comforting social vision. (Dancing in the Dark)
That is, for many people it's not primarily about it being new, but about it being relevant to their lives, to their current emotional needs. Cameron has given them something, though, of the you-didn't-know-this-is-what-you-were-looking-for-until-you-found-it variety, which strikes me as a combination of the already known, yet still completely unexpected. That is, the experienced truth of the matter, is that for many people it FELT new, even if it all it REALLY amounts to is sad/scary primal/populist retreat back to the dissolution-in-the-communal Eywa-tree.
Richard Brody shared a link.Moderator · November 20 at 3:38pm I'm obsessed with Bringing Up Baby, which is on TCM at 6 PM (ET). It's the first film by Howard Hawks that I ever saw, and it opened up several universes to me, cinematic and otherwise. Here's the story. I was seventeen or eighteen; I had never heard of Hawks until I read Godard's enthusiastic mention of him in one of the early critical pieces in "Godard on Godard"—he called Hawks "the greatest American artist," and this piqued my curiosity. So, the next time I was in town (I… I was out of town at college for the most part), I went to see the first Hawks film playing in a revival house, which turned out to be "Bringing Up Baby." I certainly laughed a lot (and, at a few bits, uncontrollably), but that's not all there was to it. I had never read Freud, but I had heard of Freud, and when I saw "Bringing Up Baby," its realm of symbolism made instant sense; it was obviou…
A Polish zoologist and his wife maintain a zoo which is utopia, realized. The people who work there are blissfully satisfied and happy. The caged animals aren't distraught but rather, very satisfied. These animals have been very well attended to, and have developed so healthily for it that they almost seem proud to display what is distinctively excellent about them for viewers to enjoy. But there is a shadow coming--Nazis! The Nazis literally blow apart much of this happy configuration. Many of the animals die. But the zookeeper's wife is a prize any Nazi officer would covet, and the Nazi's chief zoologist is interested in claiming her for his own. So if there can be some pretence that would allow for her and her husband to keep their zoo in piece rather than be destroyed for war supplies, he's willing to concede it.
The zookeeper and his wife want to try and use their zoo to house as many Jews as they can. They approach the stately quarters of Hitler's zoologist …