thinking big: feminism, media, and pop culture

Posts Tagged ‘melodrama’

“Are you ready to go back to Titanic?”

In Film, gender, Melodrama, Oscars, Uncategorized on April 18, 2012 at 2:55 pm

Sarah S.

Confession: When Titanic first came out I saw it 8 times in the theater. I had a poster on my wall. I not only listened the soundtrack but I bought the album of Gaelic Storm, the band playing at the film’s third class after-party. I was 18 years old and I loooooved it. And I never fully rejected it as the years passed. When friends made fun of my affection, I noted that I had the weight of the Academy behind me. (Titanic was nominated for 14 Oscars, tying All About Eve, and won 11, tying Ben Hur and getting tied itself by LOTR: The Return of the King.) I also found Titanic-hating passé; one didn’t have to love it to acknowledged its solid acting, gorgeous sets and costumes, and stunning effects.

Age certainly tempered my enthusiasm, so I met with trepidation the news that not only was director James Cameron re-releasing the movie (15 years after its debut and right before the 100th anniversary of the ship’s sinking) but also that it was going to be coming right at you in 3-D. I tend to be as blasé about 3-D as Rose Dewitt Bukater is about the ship Titanic, so I fully expected to roll my eyes at this pointless spectacle. Well, I went, I saw, and I’m here to report back not only how Titanic holds up under 3-D technology, but also how my perspective on the underlying symbolism of the story has significantly shifted.

First off, the good: 3-D and Titanic actually work together. Cameron’s obsessive attention to set design and historical detail fit well with the layered look of 3-D cinema. 3-D often lessens lushness but in Titanic it works to emphasize the impressive look of the thing. Speaking of that obsessive attention to detail, the film’s one changed scene, courtesy of Neil deGrasse Tyson, diverges from its predecessor in its emphasis of the milky-way if nothing else. And the things you liked about the movie beyond its beauty, namely the acting and the romance between Rose (Kate Winslet) and Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) hold up.

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“Revenge”: Mwahaha.

In gender on September 22, 2011 at 2:34 pm

Sarah Todd

[Spoilers ahead]

ABC’s soapy new drama Revenge begins with a quote from Confucius: “Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.” That is good advice, Confucius! One for your enemy, one for your other enemy, right? Time-saving.

Oh. Maybe that’s not what he meant.

Revenge takes melodrama very seriously. It is surprising that there’s no straight-up cackling, but maybe next episode. The gist: as an innocent young girl and future sociopath, Amanda vacationed at the Hamptons with her father. There, they had an adorable golden retriever puppy named Sammy. (The dog isn’t a super-important plot point, but Sammy was really cute.) They seemed like a very happy family, and all was well… until the rich family next door, the Graysons—along with some co-conspirators—framed Amanda’s dad for involvement in a terrorist plot.

Some years laters, Amanda (Emily Vancamp) returns to that same house in the Hamptons under the alias Emily Thorne. She knows now that her father was innocent, but he can’t be set free. He died in prison when she was 18. Thanks to her father’s early investment in a tech start-up that’s now worth a bundle, she’s got all the money she needs to fund her mission in life: revenge against the Graysons and everyone else who brought her family down. Just for starters, in the course of the pilot, she exposes an affair, gives a guy a fake heart-attack, gets a secretary who gave false testimony about her dad exiled from the Hamptons, and starts seducing the Grayson son, Daniel. So, she’s pretty busy.

Emily, hard at work on the mortal vindication front

Revenge stories tend to show how all-consuming it is to plot the downfall of other people. This makes total sense to me, because revenge looks like a lot of work. If it’s your main purpose in life, you don’t really have time to hold down a day job or go on a Match date or take a relaxing trip to the country. Read the rest of this entry »