TWO GUYS SITTING AROUND EMAILING EACH OTHER ABOUT AVATAR

From: thayer@xxxxxxx.com
Subject: avatar: a heresy
Date: February 11, 2010 1:14:15 PM PST

three words
very expensive garbage
“little big man” / “dances with wolves” in “jurassic park” meet luke, han and the death star on 9-11.
derivative much?
script writer had the easiest job in hollywood, write bathroom sounds for pages on end.

james cameron (“titanic” for those not paying attention) proves two things once again
1. geeks have taken over big-time hollywood
2. he hasn’t had an original thought for 20 years.

thank god for josh and ethan coen

if you haven’t seen it, here’s the set up
earthlings who have left their declining planet encounter a primitive people “out there” who have deep spiritual and cultural ties to their environment. earthlings are driving by commercial expansion. (they are after a substance named ‘unobtainium’. no kidding. blooey. at first i thought the director was trying for a weak joke. now i’m afraid he was serious.)

i digress…earthlings don’t appreciate the pervasive (unsubtle) connections of the primitives to their diety. earthlings offer them a choice of reservations or death….
mayhem folos
there is actually a ‘trail of tears’ scene… bleck!

but this time the primitives (aided by ewoks, oops, sorry, wrong film) win (o really. i’ outta there).

i know, i know, i’m old and cranky…my son in law says i’m a movie snob who thinks everyone should make movies the way i think they should be.
ouch
he’s right.

but why should i pay to watch james cameron play with his toys? i can watch my grandson play with his in the bathtub for free and actually learn something.

i fell in love with movies for the same reason i read short stories, novels, and plays. storytelling.
if civilizations are defined by their myths and joseph campbell says they are, storytelling is the expression of those myths and how civilizations retain their values.

what i don’t need to see in movies is the joseph goebbels and leni riefenstahl principle updated so well…as long as you distract people with eye candy, the masses will absorb whatever crap you’re selling them. (now i’m not accusing cameron of being equal to either of those folks, if he’s got to send a message, reminding folks we are a nation founded on genocide is ok by me). but he’s operating on the same bankrupt goebbels’ principle that distraction enables message. and he’s bought the commercial notion that since people flock to the circus—excuse me—movie, it must be good.

here’s the proof.
avatar is nominated for best picture and 8 other oscars by people who should and do know better. but they’ve left their integrity and principle behind. (just as earthlings are wont to do. i heard that somewhere recently.)

here’s what i know in my gut
in 50 years people will still be watching “gone with the wind”, “chariots of fire”, “fargo”, “pulp fiction”, “remains of the day”, and “no country for old men” because they are great stories (not the story in pulp fiction’s case, it’s the storytelling style).
“titanic” will have sunk below the waves finally for the last unlamented time.
“avatar” will be laughed at like “bwana devil”, if it is not forgotten.
james cameron, whose ego more than anything wants him to be remembered as one of film’s all-time greats, if he is remembered at all, will be designated a potentially talented guy who squandered what gifts he may have had by taking the easy way every time.

now there’s a story…
let’s all remember james steerforth.
he made me so mad i could spit. but at least i learned something

Thayer

From: larry@ait-planetlar.com
Subject: Re: avatar: a heresy
Date: February 11, 2010 2:01:46 PM PST

HERESY’S REBUTTAL

What Hamlet said in irony I now say with conviction: “What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason, how infinite in faculties, in form and moving how express and admirable; in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god!” The fact that your first major complaint with the film is that it is derivative is very nearly reductio ad absurdum what with it being pretty clearly established by the history of human storytelling that there are only two sorts of stories, anyhow: “Stranger comes to town,” and “Just trying to get home.” Taken to that end, *all* stories are derivative. Parenthetically (and one hesitates to light this particular fuse so early in a rebuttal), but your example of the Coen Bros. as a shining beacon of what is honest and true in original modern Hollywood storytelling immediately falls to the mere mention that THE BIG LEBOWSKI owes more to Chandler and Thompson than AVATAR owes to LITTLE BIG MAN and DANCES WITH WOLVES.

Nothing is fucked here, man.

A point-by-point rebuttal of your experience of the film isn’t necessary, because you didn’t see the presentation in the manner in which it was intended. But if you’ll indulge me a bit (and I say this with love): you didn’t just miss the point of the film, but you’re not anywhere near the realm of the intended audience… so that you decrying AVATAR is like me saying Vegemite is disgusting or your daughter blanching at the mere mention of the word “pomegranate.” It’s all just not for us, and that’s OK.

For example, you mention the plot device “unobtanium” and postulate a weak joke but fear a serious message from the director. Not only is that *not* a weak joke, it’s an amazingly rich one. But you have to be fluent in the Hitchcockian MacGuffin story of the two men on the train and the package on the luggage rack as well as the mathematical/engineering thought experiment widget to think that using that name for the Pandoran ore is going to be satisfying. That’s one for the folks who know what a slide rule is *and* who know Captain Kirk’s middle name without thinking twice.

Bringing up Goebbels and Riefenstahl only serves to trip Godwin’s Law, and immediately obviates that line of thought. As to your gut feelings as to what history will make of a movie that’s only been out for seven weeks; there’s no rebutting that. You feel what you feel, and I hope we’re both around in fifty years so we can screen AVATAR at Walker’s place just outside the crater Autolycus in his old-style 3-D viewing room which he and his kids keep just for us when we visit them at their digs on the moon and I’ll shake my cane at you and say I told you so.

But I can’t help but think the total of your experience of the film and its missing your attentions wide can be summed up by Rosencrantz’ reply to the Danish Prince to the bit I quoted up-top: “My lord, there was no such stuff in my thoughts.”

Lar

From: thayer@xxxxxxx.com
Subject: Re: avatar: a heresy
Date: February 11, 2010 2:36:55 PM PST

gee, i didn’t mean to be provocative

From: larry@ait-planetlar.com
Subject: Re: avatar: a heresy
Date: February 11, 2010 2:50:09 PM PST

That’s all you got? I QUOTED SHAKESPEARE!

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