Directed by: James Cameron
Written by: James Cameron
Starring: Kate Winslet, Leonardo DiCaprio, Billy Zane and Kathy Bates

Looking back 15 years to when Titanic first came out brings back nothing for me except being left with a babysitter while my parents went and saw it.  That’s just it, though.  In 1997, Titanic was the movie worth getting a babysitter for; a cultural touchstone that became almost as famous as the disaster it depicted.  My first experience with the movie was on my first airplane flight, though the humor of showing a disaster movie in that scenario never struck me until a few years later.

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SPOTLIGHT: Leonardo DiCaprio

One of the biggest box office cash-ins in Hollywood today is also one of the boldest talents.  The career of Leonardo DiCaprio has had many growing pains, but now that he’s grown up and knows exactly what he wants out of his career, he appears unstoppable.  His gift is to take us inside the often harrowing mind of the male psyche by manipulating and subverting the things that make people sympathize with it.  He often yearns for connection in his films, whether it be from an unrequited love (Inception, Shutter Island) or just a human to be normal around (The Departed), he takes us to these places with ferocious skill and unbreakable humanity.  Rarely does he crack a smile these days, but that makes them all the more meaningful when he does.  If there is any hope that the art house can continue to have a big budget, it’s because stars like him appreciate the art they work in, and not just the huge salary it gives them.

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5 Manipulative Movie Deaths

When you watch a lot of movies, you tend to see a lot of characters meet unfortunate ends.  That’s just how it works.  Some characters come and go as quickly as a gunshot, but some directors like to linger on those deaths and really milk the tears.  Here are our picks for the 5 movie deaths that will either have you balling your eyes out, or rolling them up into your head.  (Note: Nicolas Sparks’ movies have been disqualified because they would take up the entire list.)

Marley and Me- This whole movie is ultimately built on the destruction of this dog.  It teaches the owners valuable life lessons, and then once they’ve learned them (and replaced the dog with kids) it’s time to die.  Owen Wilson takes Marley to the vet to be put down, and without skipping a beat we’re right there beside him for one of the most manipulative movie endings of the past 10 years.

Bambi- Perhaps the most definitive Disney Parent Death, you don’t actually get to see Bambi’s mother meet her end from a hunter’s gun.  Instead, you’re left with a fawn wandering through the woods completely uncertain of why his mom isn’t following him.  That is enough to hit it home, even before his father storms onto the screen to explain death to him.  Something tells me it doesn’t deter many hunters from going out anyway.

Armageddon- Michael Bay rarely stops for emotional moments in his movies, mostly because he’s not good at it.  Here, he milks Bruce Willis’ sacrifice for every melodramatic outburst.  He’s saving the world!  He’s replacing his son-in-law who he’s finally come to accept!  He… can’t cry very well.

Top Gun- As if Top Gun weren’t cliche ridden enough, throwing in an unwarranted character death to make an emotional appeal is the very definition of laying it on thick.  By the time Tom Cruise’s wingman Goose meets his unfortunate end, I was hoping there’d be a couple more flying errors just to make the movie end.

Titanic– I’m sure James Cameron had his reasons for why Jack and Rose couldn’t share the wooden door, but the only one I can think of is so he could kill one of them off.   Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet act this scene out beautifully, but it doesn’t change the fact that their romance could’ve kept going even if the ship sank.  It was one of the few times a modern movie romance had earned a happy ending with characters that had actually struggled, but I guess I’ll have to let that one go.


Directed by: James Cameron
Written by: James Cameron
Starring: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana and Sigourney Weaver

Once upon a time, famed sci-fi director James Cameron made a little film known as Titanic. Made with a record $200 million, the picture earned a record $1.8 billion at the worldwide box office, won a record 11 Oscars (Ben-Hur and Return of the King are the only other two films to do this) and ignited the Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet to become the most sought after talent today.

That was over a decade ago. Now Cameron is back with another next big budget saga, to once again defend his self-claimed title as “King of the World.” Mission accomplished. The film has already broken most of Titanic’s records, earning a staggering $2.4 billion worldwide. And with critical praise, nine Oscar nominations, and his 3D technology reshaping the industry, it looks like Cameron may need an avatar of his own just to share his great success.

But records, innovations and box office aside, how does good is Avatar? Continue reading