You Can’t Spell “Naive” Without “Na’Vi”

... and to your left, you'll see Kevin Costner contacting his attorneysWelcome to Avatar Day, people. You’ve seen the TV spots, you’ve read the stories; this is the movie that changes everything forever. Except that it won’t. Because, ultimately, it’s just one of several movies opening this week, each with its own special place in the megaplex …

Avatar“: Twelve years after “Titanic”, James Cameron returns to Great Big Event Movie Filmmaking with … a massive sci-fi version of “Dances with Wolves”. It’s kind of silly, metaphorically muddled and awfully long — except in the last 45 minutes, when everything comes together with such pure movie power that you’ll forget why you ever doubted his talent. And then the robot man pulls out a big knife, and you remember, but you go with it anyway.

“Big River Man”: Unchecked megalomania has never seemed quite so endearing as it does in John Maringouin’s ramshackle documentary about Slovenian swimmer Martin Strel, who plans to swim the length of Amazon in order to raise awareness about deforestation, but also because he’s sort of nuts. Rad explains.

“Broken Embraces”: Now that he’s been declared a master filmmaker, Pedro Almodovar can recycle his own scripts without fear of being called out; why develop new ideas when you can just staple chunks of “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown” into the body of “Bad Education”? Not that the result — a moody, time-shifting melodrama — is a disappointment, exactly; indeed, it’s perfectly serviceable. But I thought we were supposed to expect more from master filmmakers than cromulence. Susan and Jason were similarly let down.

Did You Hear About the Morgans?“: In which we finally discover just how bad a Sandra Bullock romantic comedy has to be for Sandra Bullock to pass on it. Hugh Grant looks miserable even before he sprays himself in the face with bear repellent, and Sarah Jessica Parker looks distressingly like a live-action Gollum. Just plain awful, on every level.

The Young Victoria“: Jean-Marc Vallee’s period romance may come wrapped in the gaudy Oscar-baiting opulence perfected by Miramax back in the “Shakespeare in Love” era, but you know what they say about books and covers. Having gone back for a second look, I found it s a deeper and more affecting look at power and maturation than I first gave it credit for, built around finely honed performances by Emily Blunt and Rupert Friend as the untested queen and her supportive consort. Do give it a look.

And that’s everything for today. Which is good, because this week was flat-out insane. Don’t believe me? Check out my rather breathless appearance on CTV News Channel yesterday afternoon, arranged less than an hour beforehand … and nearly aborted when I got to the studio “just in time” to discover my watch was running about five minutes slow.

Good times, good times.

2 thoughts on “You Can’t Spell “Naive” Without “Na’Vi””

  1. Burned off my last vacation day of the year and checked out Avatar at the Scotiabank Theatre. For some reason, I thought the 11:45am IMAX show wasn’t sold out. But it sure was and probably the entire weekend of showings by now.

    So, settled for a regular theatre. Having been forewarned it was a little new-agey, I think my lowered expectations allowed me to really enjoy Avatar.

    It played pretty quickly for me and I spent much of the movie forgetting I was watching CGI. Then remembering and then marveling at how good it was. The ads on TV just do not play the same way. Technically, it really is stunning. The 3D was used mainly to create depth, not poke my eyes out with a stick. The characters seemed to be effected by gravity and move through their environment with weight. Several times I thought “Dam, that giant blue cat woman with the beguiling eyes can act!” Zemeckis is probably tearing his hair out right now in jealousy.

    Two thoughts – It’s a lot easier to make you believe in the CGI reality of giant blue feral cat people than a regular ol’ human. The 3D works much better in CGI than it does live action.

    This may be another phenom-flick. People clapped at the end, which is something you only usually see at TIFF screenings. The 12 noon showing was 75% full and the line up for the next show was heading to the escalators.

  2. Am I the only one out there who is actually enjoying Almodóvar’s self-referencing? I love a light day off from a master. But, then again, I really like “Existenz” and “Lost Highway”, so take that for what it’s worth.

    As for “Avatar”, I still can’t give much of a shit about it. Ephemera, go forth and make your money while you can!

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