James Cameron, secret conservative?

Leigh Scott:

And about the Na’Vi. Like most fifth graders, Cameron endows them with a nobility and honor that he thinks the Native Americans possessed. Fine, whatever. What is important is that he presents an “idealized” society. A society based on respect for the planet and the creatures that inhabit it. In one scene, Neytiri kills some freaky Doberman looking thing and then cries about it later. She had to kill it because it was attacking Jake. To save one life, that she deemed more important, she took another.

The entire Na’Vi society is based on a code of honor and achievement. The members must “prove” themselves to the tribe by accomplishing things like riding dragons. When Jake tames the big mofo dragon, a great accomplishment, he is rewarded by being made the leader of the tribe despite the fact that Tsu’tey was next in line to be chief.

Cameron’s idealized society is one based on individual achievement. When individuals take great risks, they are often rewarded over people who have seniority. Fairness is determined by accomplishments, not by rules. There are winners and there are losers amongst the Na’Vi and they manage to be a happy society. Oh, and when they are forced, they kill to protect themselves and their loved ones, an action that they don’t take lightly. They have honor and nobility. They have strong traditions.

Sounds good to me. In fact, it sounds a lot like the conservative view of what America stands for. I’m in. Hey, Cameron, beers at my house, I TiVo’ed Glenn Beck for you.

Brothers at War

This looks good.

Brothers at War is an intimate portrait of an American family during a turbulent time. Jake Rademacher sets out to understand the experience, sacrifice, and motivation of his two brothers serving in Iraq. The film follows Jake’s exploits as he risks everything–including his life–to tell his brothers’ story.
“Often humorous, but sometimes downright lethal, Brothers at War is a remarkable journey where Jake embeds with four combat units in Iraq. Unprecedented access to US and Iraqi combat units take him behind the camouflage curtain with secret reconnaissance troops on the Syrian border, into sniper ‘hide sites’ in the Sunni Triangle, through raging machine gun battles with the Iraqi Army.
“Ultimately, the film follows his brothers home where separations and life-threatening work ripple through their parents, siblings, wives, and children. Brothers at War is a rare look at the bonds and service of our soldiers on the frontlines and the profound effects their service has on the loved ones they leave behind. For more information please visit – www.brothersatwarmovie.com.”
The film is executive produced by Gary Sinise (CSI: New York, “Lt. Dan” in Forrest Gump), who said, “The media took the 15 people of Abu Ghraib and made them the face of the military. This [movie] is a true portrait of our military and their families.”

Movies 2008

Last year set a new record in terms of movie-viewing. I saw 28 movies in the theater, with 10 more viewed on DVD.
Theater:

  • The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything
  • The Bucket List
  • Juno
  • Rambo
  • Fool’s Gold
  • Semi-Pro
  • Jumper
  • Horton Hears A Who
  • Smart People
  • Forgetting Sarah Marshall
  • Baby Mama
  • Iron Man
  • Speed Racer
  • The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
  • Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
  • Wanted
  • Kung Fu Panda
  • Wall•E (x 2)*
  • Hellboy II: The Golden Army
  • Batman: The Dark Knight (x 3)*
  • War Games (25th anniversary, one night-only showing)
  • Step Brothers
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars (x 2)*
  • Space Chimps
  • Death Race
  • Quantum of Solace
  • Punisher: War Zone
  • Yes Man

* additional viewings not noted in total count
If you observed the multiple viewings, you may have already surmised what my favorite film of 2008 was: Batman: The Dark Knight. Utterly fabulous film. It really captured the grittiness, the criminal ugliness, of the original comic storyline. Batman may be a superhero, but it is his detective skills which serve him just as well against the criminal underworld he fights as anything else.
Batman has always been the non-superhero superhero; by that I mean he doesn’t possess any super powers. He’s simply a man who has trained his body to such a degree that his physical prowess is superior to nearly every opponent he matches up with. His mental prowess is equally strong, and it doesn’t hurt that he’s got his family’s millions to back him up with tools that no one else has.
Batman is the superhero that nearly anyone could be, millions of dollars in backing notwithstanding. That’s what makes the character so great, and so relatable. Like my friend Jeff, I really hope they don’t make a third movie (with Batman Begins being the first). The Dark Knight is such a quintessential Batman film, it would be incredibly difficult to top.
DVD:

  • The Departed
  • Hot Rod
  • Bottle Rocket
  • Heart of Geauxld: The Story of the 2007 LSU Fighting Tigers
  • American Gangster
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark*
  • Eastern Promises
  • 27 Dresses
  • Hellboy
  • Hot Fuzz
  • Casino Royale*
  • Blade Runner: The Final Cut

I didn’t count Raiders and Casino Royale in my DVD total, as they were re-watched in preparation for seeing movies in the theater. I did count Blade Runner as a new selection. The Final Cut is Ridley Scott’s ultimate vision of the film, and I treated it as such, going in with a fresh and open attitude about one of my favorite films.
As for my favorite film viewed on DVD, that’s a tough one. The Departed didn’t live up to any of the hype in my opinion, though I’m looking forward to seeing the Hong Kong original, Infernal Affairs. Likewise, I wasn’t blown away by American Gangster, either. I did enjoy it, but I didn’t think Washington’s or Crowe’s performances were any grander than their previous work.
Hot Rod and Bottle Rocket are among Brent’s favorite movies, and were taken in as an attempt to get to know my friend a little better. I thoroughly enjoyed both. I’m thinking not too many people are going to get Bottle Rocket, but it has an underlying whackiness that may not elicit out-loud laughs, but is very humorous nonetheless.
In the end, I think the DVD favorite goes to Hot Rod. It doesn’t get much better than:
“My safe word will be ‘whiskey’.”
“Why are you saying it like that?”

Taken

Taken is an upcoming film written by Luc Besson and starring Liam Neeson as the dad you don’t want to make mad by hurting his little girl:

Unfortunately, it doesn’t release here in the States until September. Brent, Nathan, this gets a thumbs-up from me.