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Michael, I think when it comes to the Daily Mail you're dealing with a whole new level of trash and muck-racking. There was a recent controversy involving an article using the death of pop singer Stephen Gateley as damning evidence against civil partnerships. It's remarkably ignorant and bigoted.

Anyway, that aside I think a good fictional example of this is 'Amadeus'. Where Mozart is so spirited and crude, yet is a genius whereas Salieri is tempered and hard-working and never rises above average.

I agree that in an ideal world you would hope people could push the boundaries of their art by normal means but I think it often takes someone who doesn't fit the mould of other members of society. If you're going to perform in front of 200,000 people, you would need extraordinary self confidence.

It's also not solely tied to the arts. Surgeons, army captains etc also need to be highly sure of themselves which results in big egos.

You could look at it as a shame or just one of the many weird and wonderful facets of life. I imagine James Cameron is feared by some and absolutely adored by others who've worked with him. Worth noting - many of the same actors return to work with him again.

“But would a world free of excessive ego also be deprived of "excessive" talent? Would it be a world of mediocrity, of pleasant but uninspired entertainment, of genial but unexciting personalities?”

As long as the world loves action pictures based on violence and drama then he may continue to be a success. As a retired consultant I saw company after company use excessive ego behavior based on fear to motivate their employees to make greater profits.

With that type of ego mentality one wonders what kind of peace he has found in his life. Materialism can appear to be very rewarding but most find that it does not bring them the peace or happiness they are looking for. Tiger has wealth, fame, beautiful wife and that did not seem to meets his ego needs.

Also I have noticed in my research that when we go through a complete life review on the other side we not only get to feel and see the mistakes we have made but we get to see and feel the feelings and emotions of those we have harmed mentality or physically.

This successful director may find his success will have some consequences in some type of Hades conditions in these astral worlds or here on earth not as punishment but as a means to awaken his consciousness to spiritual values. Our character and our love of others and how we treat others appear to count on the other side as well as while we are living the life as a human.

The desire for excitement has its home in boredom. One wonder’s what a loving personality would be like compared to an exciting personality. I think in a very materialistic world his mode of directing is right on target.

From my point of view mediocrity has its home in ego centered behavior not divine love? Check history and discover how many nations have succumbed to ego-centered behavior and have declined to third world status.

I believe there are spiritual or universal laws that exist for not only as an individual but for a nation indeed even the world. Karma does not exist on our timetable. But for this director his personal life appears to be in turmoil.

Worldly success is almost always based on appearance and appearances can be so deceiving. Egotistical behavior has consequences to help us learn from our selfishness. We judge by appearances and we don’t often if ever see the underlying reality of his ego behavior and often the consequences of that selfish behavior.

Here is a quote by Paul Brunton in his book the ego from birth to rebirth.

“Those whose egotism is impenetrable by inspired wisdom or religious injunction must have it punctured by adversity.” P63

I may be a little bias as a film guy, but let me give you my two cents here.

The people who work for Cameron are not forced to work for him. Sure, jobs may be tough, but my profession is a freelance and hired videographer / editor and it can pay decently, so even people who ONLY know this line of work (and can't even wash dishes in a restaurant) can still find ways to make money without being forced to work for someone like Cameron.

I would never sign up as a production assistant for a Cameron / Spielberg / Lucas or Bruckheimer without fully expecting a boot-camp like this.

In other words, it's about free will. If somebody chooses to take the pain and be part of something big: then more power to that person.

I like Cameron's attitude about it. A bootcamp is designed to shape you up, and force you to evolve and become stronger. I'd actually sign up for this level of intensity on a film set. As you pointed out, this is probably what's required to achieve the perfection of the art.

But it's just about free will if you choose to be involved in a process like this or not. And I wouldn't even consider something like this to be based in materialism. If you are putting yourself through hell, or putting others through hell, hoping to gain validation by receiving money and the illusion of status--then you are being corroded by materialism. However, even if Avatar failed at the box---the film would still be made as an artistic vision. A piece of work like building a temple or a spaceship, uniquely the vision of the creators-- and that's a powerful thing to do.

"The director's cut of The Abyss, available on DVD, features an entirely new ending, and is far superior to the original theatrical release."

I TOTALLY agree. I'm a huge fan of movies, and I liked the Abyss until it got to the ending. When I saw the extended version the new ending saved the movie for me. I was amazed at the turnaround by the addition of a few extra scenes.

But I can't believe you're not going to see Avatar, MP. Come on! UP told an extraordinary and poignant life story, visually, for the first 10 minutes of the film. It was beautifully cinematic. And it was a cartoon, but a cartoon live action movies could learn a few things from. So what if it was a kid's movie. It was great!

From what I understand about Avatar, the animation was done in real time as the acting was shot using digital cameras, so the expressions and movements of the animated characters are supposed to be much more lifelike and less computer concocted. We'll see. I'll be seeing it this Friday night.

Also, regarding Call Me Joe — not the first time Cameron has been embroiled in such a controversy. In the Mail story I think it mentions that Cameron came up with Terminator in a dream one night. The production company of Terminator also got sued by Harlan Ellison who claimed it was a ripoff of his Outer Limits teleplay, Demon With A Glass Hand. So it might be another case of unconscious plagiarism.

"But I can't believe you're not going to see Avatar, MP."

I'm not exactly the person this film is aiming at. I haven't seen a movie in a theater since 2005. Increasingly, I feel alienated from pop culture.

These days, I would rather watch movies from the Golden Age of Hollywood. I seem to be in a Humphrey Bogart phase at the moment. Recently I've watched Key Largo, They Drive By Night, In a Lonely Place, Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Sirocco, and High Sierra.

I'll take any of those movies (even a lightweight like Sirocco) over a headache-inducing CGI-fest. But I'm sure the target audience will be out in droves. I expect Avatar to be huge for at least its first two or three weeks. Whether it can earn a billion dollars at the box office (which seems to be its breakeven point) remains to be seen. More power to them, if they can pull it off.

"I haven't seen a movie in a theater since 2005...These days, I would rather watch movies from the Golden Age of Hollywood."

Come on Michael, you're not so old, maybe after viewing the trailer, you'll change your mind and will want to see Avatar in a cinema:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cRdxXPV9GNQ

Just kidding.

:-)

Bah humbug. : )

I love the old movies too. Last night I watched It's A Wonderful Life, which never gets old, and The Third Man is one of the best movies ever.

Have you ever seen Peggy Sue Got Married? It's a wonderful Francis Ford Coppola movie that's a throwback to "Golden Age" Hollywood movie making. I love that movie.

I've seen the Avatar trailer. It probably looks good on a big screen, in 3D. On my laptop screen it looks a lot like this:

http://tiny.cc/zksLd

Actually, if I were going to see any movie this holiday season, it would probably be "Up In the Air," the George Clooney comedy-drama. I've read good things about it, and it sounds like a throwback to classic Hollywood films of the type that I prefer.

But I'll probably wait for the video ...

I got to see the advance screening of 'up in the air' and it's the best movie i've seen this year. i was really fed up with most movies of this year and only a few of them really stood out- 'Up,' 'Coraline,' 'Knowning,' and 'Benjamin Button' (really of last year)...

i think you'll really like 'up in the air' and i'm planning to go see it again when it releases.

I look foward to watching these movies:

-Sherlock Holmes (with Robert Downey Jr.):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUQbmFAE5WI

Holmes is my favorite detective, I consider him even better than Columbo (and I'm a big fan of Columbo).

-Final Destination 4 (this is in 3D).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XsL2c2HL0J4

-Halloween 2:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cHslouUNi00

In my opinion, Jason Voorhees (of Friday 13th) is the best movie "serial killer" ever, but Michael Meyer is very good too.

I'm a big fan of terror movies.

Some weeks ago, I saw and enyoyed the movie 2012, it has very good special effects (it has to with with Maya's profecies and the end of the world):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hz86TsGx3fc

"The Third Man is one of the best movies ever."

Yes, that's a very good movie.

I would argue that there are films which aren't just served up for the masses and are more worthy of attention.

I think you may all be interested in 'A Serious Man' by the Coen brothers which is an attempt to explore the meaning of life and suffering. Mysterious but stunning. I'd take one Coen brothers film over twenty Avatars.

Here's a pertinent comment from noted sci-fi author Orson Scott Card. He is asked, "What was it like working with James Cameron on the novelization of 'The Abyss'?"

His reply:

"Hell on wheels. He was very nice to me, because I could afford to walk away. But he made everyone around him miserable, and his unkindness did nothing to improve the film in any way. Nor did it motivate people to work faster or better. And unless he changes his way of working with people, I hope he never directs anything of mine. In fact, now that this is in print, I can fairly guarantee that he will never direct anything of mine. Life is too short to collaborate with selfish, cruel people."

http://tiny.cc/a0d8V

Perhaps one day James Cameron will have to work with Russell Crowe or Christian Bale.

I just got an image of a bloodied Russell Crowe in torn clothes, screaming while holding up the heads of Cameron and Bale as flashing red and blue lights appear.

ZC: I like your taste in movies. I'm also a big fan of Columbo.

To add to what The Major said, The Daily Mail is a bit a joke here in the UK. It serves up reactionary, sensationalist, hysterical drivel to a [insert last three adjectives] demographic. It's a tabloid, and bourgeois in the worst sense of the word. I think it is one of the most negative forces in our society. Really horrible and nasty.

Psh, obviously you don't care about asylum seeking gypsies making our children gay.

Courtesy of the Daily Mail headline generator. Have fun.

http://www.qwghlm.co.uk/toys/dailymail/

"I'd like to believe that a world without egocentrism and egomania would be a better world. But would a world free of excessive ego also be deprived of "excessive" talent? Would it be a world of mediocrity, of pleasant but uninspired entertainment, of genial but unexciting personalities?"

I don't really have a single, direct answer to the question, but I've had several thoughts about it since I read it earlier before leaving work.

So here are my thoughts:

1. Up until fairly recently in history, many people typically spent 6 days a week working pretty long hours, so if that description of Cameron's work ethic is accurate, I suppose it's not that much more intense than the average working man's work schedule throughout history. Although his ethic may even surpass the intensity of the old world work ethic. It does sound like a bit much to me.

2. If Cameron did half as much work everyday than he normally does, then theoretically, he could still accomplish what he has done, it would just have taken twice as long to do so. I suppose it may be costlier and less profitable that way, but oh well. Wouldn't the world be better off without greed?

3. Do we really need all this entertainment? I was thinking just recently, it's like the 'civilized' world has become a world of big babies. What is with the constant need to have someone else entertain us? It seems to me we'd probably be better off if we all took a little more active role in entertainment choices. Instead of spending so much time watching something, how about doing something? Instead of watching the ball game, how about playing a ball game? As people age, they may not be able to play as well as they used to (or at all), but if they had spent all the time they spent watching sports on TV playing sports instead, most people would probably find they would be able to play and play well for many years. And there's so many other activities people could do during their free time besides watching shows or sports...rock climbing, surfing, spelunking, exploring, road trips, or even just play games or video games (at least you're doing something, even if it doesn't have any real world merit).

And I think if people actually let their creative juices flow instead of just continuously ingesting someone else's creativite juices, they'd probably feel a lot more accomplished or at least more productive. They could paint, draw, write and play music, make their own films, write a blog, or all sorts of other things.

And think of all the money spent on entertainment...why should so few gain so much when there are many other creative people out there that make little to nothing being creative. And what does the wealth do to many of the millionaire (and billionaire) entertainers? Quite a few of them end up misbehaving. Tiger Woods is in the news now for bad behavior, but he is certainly not the first celebrity in the news for bad behavior, and I doubt he's the last.

But...I like to be entertained too. And I like watching movies. I think I will be seeing Avatar. Hopefully it will be good.

It's interesting that studies of present day hunter-gatherers, living in marginal environments, show they spend on average about 2 to 2 and half hours a day gathering enough food to survive for the day. The IKung! bushmen only have to "work" about 2 hours a day to gather enough food per day to live. Same is true for Amazonian Indians and other present day hunter gatherers. There is no reason to suppose that our ancestors in the past, who were not confined to marginal environments, had to spend any more time gathering food. Studies on pre-agricultural fossil skeletons in fact show that our stone age hunter-gatherer ancestors were taller and healthier than their post agricultural descendants.

"To add to what The Major said, The Daily Mail is a bit a joke here in the UK. It serves up reactionary, sensationalist, hysterical drivel to a [insert last three adjectives] demographic. It's a tabloid, and bourgeois in the worst sense of the word. I think it is one of the most negative forces in our society. Really horrible and nasty."

Yes, but is what they say true?

"Studies on pre-agricultural fossil skeletons in fact show that our stone age hunter-gatherer ancestors were taller and healthier than their post agricultural descendants."

But they didn't have the Kardashians, Art. They didn't have the Kardashians.

"And I think if people actually let their creative juices flow instead of just continuously ingesting someone else's creativite juices,"

That's disgusting Jeff.

"That's disgusting Jeff."

Thread winner!

Oh you're dirty dm...lol.

Off topic:
Anyone seen this?
http://dispatchesfromthefuture.com/

All set to change the world, starting next year? Or some sort of weird scam? If the latter, why would an apparently respectable company lay themselves open to the immense abuse that orthodox believers in the second law of thermodynamics will undoubtedly heap upon them?

Inspired by Ben's off topic, I'll add my own off topic:

Have you seen the TV serie "Saved by the Bell"? One of the cast members, Dustin Diamond (who played the nerd "Screech") has just published the book "Behind the Bell", which is trash-talking about that program and his cast mates.

Read this interview with "Screech" on his book:

http://www.popeater.com/2009/09/29/dustin-diamond-behind-the-bell-book-interview/

In this video "Screech" read an extract of his book:

http://www.popeater.com/2009/09/30/dustin-diamond-book-reading/

I perceive a certain envy and resentiment in "Screech"'s attitude, presumibly due to the professional success of some of his former cast mates and due to his own failings.

Only one of the "victims" of Screech's book, Tiffany Amber Thiessen, has replied (kindly) to him:

http://www.nationalledger.com/artman/publish/article_272628587.shtml?ref=rss

Maybe my comment is not off topic after all because Michael's reflection seems to apply here too "I'd like to believe that a world without egocentrism and egomania would be a better world. But would a world free of excessive ego also be deprived of "excessive" talent? Would it be a world of mediocrity, of pleasant but uninspired entertainment, of genial but unexciting personalities?"

Enough of gossips for today... :-)

" http://dispatchesfromthefuture.com/ "

I'd never heard of those folks before. It certainly sounds flaky, especially since they keep pushing back the date when they will reveal their technology to a breathless world. Reminds me a little of those cold-fusion venture capitalists who are always saying they are just months away from going public with their groundbreaking tech. But it never seems to happen.

We'll see what develops in this case.

In the same category is a reported breakthrough in ultracapacitor technology which would enable a car to go hundreds of miles on a single electric charge and recharge in minutes.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EEStor

I remember reading an article about Cameron in which a former crewmember of his said: "The thing you have to realize about Jim is that he doesn't have an ego at all. But his movies do have an ego, a big one."

Michael,

After seeing the trailer, I too thought it looked like a "big noisy mess" and would suck, but I saw Avatar last night and it was quite good. Don't let your dislike of Cameron get in the way of a really good movie.

I saw Avatar last night, and while it was a good movie, the best 3D movie I've ever seen, it did not blow me away as a movie. And I'm skeptical of the use of 3D now. I think it actually is more of a distraction from the drama, which is the real payoff of watching a movie. The 3D is so amazing that I found myself always going WOW no matter what was happening, so, for instance, during some of the scenes of tragic destruction, I wasn't as sad as I was amazed by what I was seeing, so the 3D effect actually made the film miss the emotions it should have been evoking in me.

Technically a groundbreaking movie. That is obvious. But not the best movie ever made. Much better movies have been made without such a huge budget and without 3D — much better movies have been made without COLOR, in fact.

So I'm actually not that impressed with 3D as "the future of movies." Actually, I hope that is NOT the future of movies, because while it is amazing, it doesn't seem to have an emotional payoff.

"The 3D is so amazing that I found myself always going WOW no matter what was happening, so, for instance, during some of the scenes of tragic destruction"

This give me a another good reason to watch that movie.

I'm not wainting for the best movie ever, just for some fun or something different.

Final Destination 4 is in 3D too, so Dmduncan if you can watch it, let me know your opinion.

ZC: If you love movies as I do, you HAVE to see Avatar. It's a groundbreaking movie, so yes, it is definitely something different, and there is plenty to go "wow" at.

Comparing it to the season's other big SF movie, Star Trek, it wasn't as fun or emotional. 10 minutes into Star Trek and I was weeping like a baby.

I don't think Final Destination 4 is in theaters any longer, but I'm curious to see it now after Avatar.

If I ever were to see "Avatar" in 3D, I can guarantee it would be the best 3D movie I've ever seen. That's because I've never seen a 3D movie.

However, the whole thing looks like so much tripe to me. Kinda like the Endor battle in "Return of the Jedi," only longer and louder.

Glad some people are enjoying it, but I'll stick to my current obsession with older movies. Saw "The African Queen" on TCM the other night ...

"If you love movies as I do, you HAVE to see Avatar"

Yes, I'm... I'll watch that movie today or tomorrow. I hope so...

"I don't think Final Destination 4 is in theaters any longer, but I'm curious to see it now after Avatar."

You're right. It seems at least in USA, that movie is not the theaters any longer. Is there some way to watch it in 3D in DVD?

I guess that part of the atraction of it is, precisely, that it's in 3D (if you watched the trailer, you had to have realized that scenes are made for 3D wacthing, for instance, movements towards to face of the public)

In any case, be in 3D or not, I think it's worth watching even in DVD. I liked the previous ones.

"If I ever were to see "Avatar" in 3D, I can guarantee it would be the best 3D movie I've ever seen. That's because I've never seen a 3D movie."

Very funny, Michael.

I think one of the movies of "Jaws" (maybe, JAWS 3) was in 3D, according to the testimony of my mom... (I was just a baby in that time)

So Michael, it seems your reluctance to watch movies in theathers is not a product of age ;), but it's part of your personality!

I guess even 90+something years old Zerdini is going to watch that movie in theaters.

Just kidding :-)

PS.
On TCM, I like to watch the Incredible Hulk with Lou Ferrigno and Bill Bixby.

Micahel you couldn't be more wrong. I feel sorry for you if you don't go see this movie based on your erroneous pre-judgement. I've seen it twice now, once in 3D and once in 2D, both versions were spectacular. The movie is getting a bad wrap thanks to marketing. The fact is, I haven't seen a more romantic action flick since TItanic, which was also a Cameron vehicle. The movie has already been nominated for best picture and best director for a Golden Globe and for good reason. It will pick up many more nominations before it's over. This movie had me and my adult girlfriends crying throughout. Some of the most tender emotional scenes I have seen all year. It doesn't compare with other oscar nominations like Up In The Air in that capacity but it certainly blows away any other film in its category, like Star Trek which had previously been getting a lot of buzz and now which is all but forgotten. The question is now will the Oscars break new ground by awarding a Sci-Fi action film an Oscar, since the only other film in this category to ever be nominated was Star Wars. Or will they decide Cameron has already gotten enough from the academy? I'm not sure the other films that will likely be up for consideration this year measure up to last years entries and I certainly do not think Inglorious Bastards deserves to win.

Avatar's story is basically Ferngully in space, if you ever saw that one. But the 3D works really well (and the new glasses have the added effect of making you look like you're from the future of the 1980s), the action is exciting and the scenery really is breathtaking. So I can definately see what the hype was all about.

The best part of Avatar was Stephen Lang as Colonel Quaritch. He made an outstanding bad guy. And he wasn't an expensive special effect.

And I can totally do without the corny Titanic style sentimentality. I wasn't moved to tears at all.

Star Trek was a better movie. So was The Hurt Locker. So were any of the three Lord of the Rings movies, which is the nearest thing you can compare the scope of Avatar to, only Avatar is better in the effects department.

I mean, it's great to see new stuff and tremendous scope, but those alone do not make a film great. And if this film's effects were not as good as they are, no one would be raving about it for other reasons. Take away the 3D and make the effects no better than the last few Star Wars movies, and people would be forced to look at how corny the plot was. I'm not kidding. If I had to compare it to anything dramatically, it would be to either of the Twilight movies.

After all is said and done. It's just a movie. My life was not changed on Friday night. And I hope this is not what all movies strive to be from now on. That would be a tragedy for the art form. 3D is fun, but it's not like looking out a window into a story in some real world, because the language of film in 3D is the same as it's been since Eisenstein and Welles, and 3D doesn't do anything essential. It's more of a gimmick to fill seats.

OMG, I can't believe you referenced Star Trek and The Hurt Locker in the same thought. No argument about Hurt Locker, it is in a different class altogether. But it is a different kind of film, which can't compete with Avatar on a number of levels. I am no Star Trek fan, but my boyfriend took me to his second viewing and I really had a good time. It was a great Summer popcorn movie, but that's it. Had Avatar come out the same weekend, I'm not sure Star Trek would have gotten the attention it did. And that Chris Pine is some sexy hunk! ;-) But in term of story, Star Trek was not even as deep as Avatar, and Avatar blows everything else about it away. I also can't agree about Avatar being some kind of 3D "gimmick". I've seen it twice, the second time on a 2D screen and I'm here to tell you, the film is just as powerful the second time on a regular Cineplex movie screen. You might as well get used to 3D because it IS the future of entertainment. My boyfriend said he heard even Star Trek is being considered for 3D. I suspect the Titanic-like success of Avatar will seal that deal too. Your view of 2D films in narrow in my opinion. Film evolves as an art form. For 20 years it was silent. I believe there were many critics who said sound would ruin the medium. Huh. There will come a time when 2D films will be as much an oddity as making a black & white film today. And no argument about Stephen Lang. Really demonstrated the shortcomings of the villain in Star Trek, who played that? Oh yeah, Eric "Banal". And I have yet to see a movie that has changed my life. Movies are entertainment, sometimes moving and sometimes informative, but nothing about them is life-changing.

"I am no Star Trek fan...Had Avatar come out the same weekend, I'm not sure Star Trek would have gotten the attention it did"

I agree ElectroChick.

I'm no a Star Trek fan either, but I consider the last ST movie a good one.

However I enjoyed Avatar much more.

"There will come a time when 2D films will be as much an oddity as making a black & white film today"

It seems a lot of upcoming movies will be in 3D.

I'd like to see Ironman 2 in 3D, it would be great.

"Movies are entertainment, sometimes moving and sometimes informative, but nothing about them is life-changing"

I guess some movies are life-changing for some people.

For instance, classical martial (Kung Fu) movies have been positively life-changing for so many young people who have become martial artists after watching Bruce Lee movies. They have produced an impact in certain people.

Maybe after we become adults, it's harder to find some movie that will affect our life dramatically.

There are some inspirational movies that will touch our spiritual sensibilities (if we're receptive to it), but these kind of movies are not very commercial. Most of them are made for TV or DVD, not for cinemas.

All of you you haven't seen Avatar should definately see it, the visuals are undeniably amazing and although the story isn't the best or the most interesting, the acting is fantastic, and there are a few spiritualistic themes that I think would interest you MP.

"I suspect the Titanic-like success of Avatar will seal that deal too."

Way too early to know. Avatar has actually underperformed expectations at the box office in its first five days, grossing only $105 million. Compare this to Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, which made almost $200 million in its first five days, or New Moon, the second Twilight movie, which made $143 million in its opening weekend. (All figures are domestic: U.S. and Canada.)

Avatar had only the 6th best opening weekend of this year, and the 28th best of all time. Adjust ticket prices for inflation, and it fares much worse, of course.

The film's unusual tactic of opening in almost all major countries (except Japan and China) on the same weekend resulted in a big global haul. But all this means is that revenues that would normally be spread out over a few weeks are concentrated into one weekend.

If Avatar follows the pattern of the second Transformers film, it will be strong for the first two weeks and then fade. On the other hand, if it has legs, it could still turn a profit. At the moment it's on track to gross about $500 million worldwide, which is well short of the estimated one billion dollars needed to break even.

To me, Michael, though they might seem the same, there's a subtle distinction between the ego and a capacity for unrelenting self conviction.

Conviction is: I, Vincent Van Gogh, believe myself an artist, even though no one else does; and until the day I die I'll continue painting pictures in my own particular unfashionable style, even though no one wants them - if only because I can do no different.

Ego is: I, *insert name of suitable candidate*, demand to be recognized and worshipped as a genius at whatever I do, and I'll keep changing my style as a painter/musician/writer/whatever, for however long it takes for me to finally come into fashion; and once I do, woe betide any of the little people who dared - or dare - to get in my way!

To me, the ego is always concerned with doubt - doubt about itself, or in inducing doubt in others - hence it's vulnerability to even the falsest of flattery, its fury at criticism, and its unrelenting largesse when it comes to dishing out scathing if not downright scurrilous criticisms of its own, while all the time being utterly unwilling to ever accept the negative consequences of any of its own actions.

Like the rest of us, James Cameron's probably an admixture of the two, especially given how he clung to the idea of making Avatar long before he ever dreamed up Titanic.

Zetetic chick, you are absolutely right. I think as we age, we begin to become more cynical and jaded and movies definitely tend to lose their life-changing power over us, if for no other reason than we have already seen just about every parable ever told. I am being too harsh with my global statement in that movies don't have the power to change us. They certainly do. "Up In The Air" affected me, as did the "Hurt Locker". Though, they were more a re-visiting of things I needed to be reminded of. But nothing in Star Trek, or Avatar for that matter really was life-changing ... I've seen it all before. For a kid with fresh eyes, I think Avatar might be life-chaniging. Star Trek on the other hand offers nothing of substance and is mostly just a thrill ride with the message you can slack-off and still come out on top if it's your destiny. I suppose that's life-changing, as it does not always have to be a positive change.

And Michael, I don't know what to say. Avatar was a slow starter because it had no pre-existing fanbase and opened the week before Christmas. Word of mouth is quickly fueling this film like The Hangover and it is raking in tens of millions of dollars every day (over $400 million to yesterday alone). $500 million total global box office? Try $500 million by next week. This movie has already made back its budget and with nothing else really opening against it until February, it'll easily make Transformers' money with some of the best reviews of the year. Comparing it to the openings of Twilight and Transformers is just ridiculous as they were both sequels which brought a ravenous group of fans with them. I simply cannot understand how anyone can think this film as anything less than a critical and box office success, especially when they haven't even seen it.

"This movie has already made back its budget"

Well, no. The film's cost is estimated at $500 million. Avatar must earn a billion dollars at the box office to break even, because the studio splits ticket revenues 50/50 with the exhibitors.

I agree it will make more than $500 million worldwide, because it's having a strong second weekend. How much more it makes depends on whether it has legs. Who knows? Probably it will be profitable eventually, at least once other income streams (DVDs, TV rights, merchandise) are factored in.

I'm not passing any aesthetic judgment. I've enjoyed James Cameron's other movies. The concept of this one doesn't appeal to me, but that's a personal thing.

"But in term of story, Star Trek was not even as deep as Avatar,"

Heavy-handed instead of "deep" is the term I would've used. Avatar was clumsy in its portrayal of the issues. The story of Avatar was the area where the skill exhibited in the rest of the movie really collapsed into mediocrity. But you can tolerate it because there's so much pretty stuff to gawk at.

Regarding Star Trek, I couldn't disagree with you more. It was much more than a thrill ride, but it was not heavy handed, which is perhaps what some people need to get them to notice certain aspects of the movie. You get out of the movie what you put into it; Star Trek made me think deeply about issues of self sacrifice and the cyclical nature of the universe, whereas Avatar was so preachy I wasn't inspired to think about anything for myself at all. Not that I didn't agree with the message of Avatar, but I'm already in the choir, whereas Star Trek gave me something new to think about. I actually shed tears in the first ten minutes of Star Trek, and didn't shed any at all during Avatar.

"I also can't agree about Avatar being some kind of 3D "gimmick". I've seen it twice, the second time on a 2D screen and I'm here to tell you, the film is just as powerful the second time on a regular Cineplex movie screen. You might as well get used to 3D because it IS the future of entertainment. My boyfriend said he heard even Star Trek is being considered for 3D. I suspect the Titanic-like success of Avatar will seal that deal too. Your view of 2D films in narrow in my opinion. Film evolves as an art form. For 20 years it was silent. I believe there were many critics who said sound would ruin the medium. Huh. There will come a time when 2D films will be as much an oddity as making a black & white film today."

You don't have to preach to me about that. I've actually studied film in school, and took NYU's summer intensive for credit back when I was preparing to become a film maker (a goal I never reached due to being lost along the way in philosophy), so I'm well aware of the history and evolution of the art form. And your comparison between the shift from black and white to color and the (predicted) shift from 2D to 3D is inapplicable. Color added a new expressive tool to the medium, whereas the value of 3D, particularly given the higher ticket price, is negligible in most cases. Is "Up in the Air" going to be more spectacular in 3D? Of course not. How about "The Proposal" or "PS I Love You"?

A film like Avatar will benefit from the gimmick, but most films made will not benefit from it, so the evolution here is species specific, not a benefit for the entire medium. Spectacular films may see some benefit from 3D technology, but not all films made are spectacular. In fact, when you say "I've seen it twice, the second time on a 2D screen and I'm here to tell you, the film is just as powerful the second time on a regular Cineplex movie screen", you are yourself undercutting the importance of 3D when you say that.

I mean, how can it be just as "powerful" in 2D as it was in 3D unless the importance of that 3rd dimension was negligible? That seems to confirm my idea that 3D is more of a gimmick than anything else.

"And I have yet to see a movie that has changed my life. Movies are entertainment, sometimes moving and sometimes informative, but nothing about them is life-changing."

I totally disagree with you. When I first saw "2001: A Space Odyssey" it changed my life. I decided I wanted to make movies after that film (and although I only made a bunch of short films, I did expend a lot of energy for years in that direction because of that one movie). "Blade Runner" is another film that changed me. It was deep without being ham handed in the way that Avatar is.

So movies have changed me, because they are not just entertainment, they can also be great pieces of art. Avatar didn't change me. It was fun. I was slack jawed the entire movie, and I am now a fan of Stephen Lang. But it did not make me think of things the way other movies — even Star Trek — did.

Finally, the only thing that 3D really does is add a "wow" factor. And that's a cool emotion, but it is obviously not appropriate to have in all movies, or even at all times during the same movie. So there's a real danger of 3D adding too much of one good thing and not enough of other good things (different emotions) for the same movie. This goes back to what I was saying earlier about 3D not really changing the language of the art since Eisenstein and Welles, which is why I also called it a gimmick.

There may be ways to use 3D to change the language, but Avatar hasn't come up with any.

By the way, if anyone is wondering about the high prices of movie snacks, it's because that's where theaters make their money. They don't make much on the actual ticket sales. Without popcorn the theaters would go out of business.

ZC: "For instance, classical martial (Kung Fu) movies have been positively life-changing for so many young people who have become martial artists after watching Bruce Lee movies. They have produced an impact in certain people."

Lol. Yup! Bruce Lee got me interested in martial arts when I was a kid, which got me into Tae Kwon Do and, later, Aikido.

MP: "the studio splits ticket revenues 50/50 with the exhibitors."

I'm not sure what the split is anymore, but when I spoke with a theater owner he told me the owners get fleeced in the cost of what they have to pay the studios to show the movie so they don't typically make much on ticket sales, and that if it weren't for high concession prices they would be doomed.

dmduncan, you obviously have formed your opinion and I have formed mine, but opinions can change. ;-) I also feel you may have gone into Avatar with a bias against 3D that prevented you from really opening yourself up and enjoying the film. If you're a film school grad. You should know just as color ads a dimension to movie making, so too does 3D. Filmmakers resisted making movies in color because they felt it distracted from the story and the artistry. And don't twist my words, my point is that the story in Avatar is just as powerful with or without 3D. The film is better in 3D because it adds a dimension to the reality, just like color, and it adds to the artistry, but the story holds its power either way. My point about 3D is that just like color, people will naturally want to see things that are more life-like. Lots of movies didn't need to be made in color when the technology became available, but that's what audiences wanted: more realism. And movies have gotten so much more realistic in general, CGI more sophisticated and audiences want to see everything in excruciating detail. 3D is inevitable for that reason, but only once they can lose the corny glasses, don't really care for them myself – and that day is coming: 3D eventually on the evening news. Disagree if you want, but you have to open your mind to change, even if you don't feel it offers anything significant to your life.

But I guarantee you, "The Hurt Locker" would have been so much more powerful in 3D. The story however, didn't need any help. And I don't disagree with you, 3D is in its infancy, just like early color it hasn't really been used to its full effect as an added dimension (no pun intended). I think the depth of the world Cameron created with it was a very effective use ... it doesn't have to hit you over the head to be an effective tool, and using it definitely doesn't necessarily make it a gimmick.

As for Star Trek, I definitely did not have the same reaction you did in the first 10 minutes. I was definitely affected by the emotion of it, but it also felt heavy handed and manipulating, I was feeling a bit dirty afterwards. Besides, 5 minutes of emotion does not a movie make. Jaws is a great film, but nothing particularly Earth shaking, except for that one 5 minute sequence when Quinn tells his story about the Indianapolis – powerful stuff, and I would not put Star Trek's 5 minutes of emotion in the same category. Not sure what it gave you to think about, or this work you had to put in, but that sounds more personal than universal. Can't argue with that. I expect the next Star Trek to be in 3D for all kinds of reasons.

And Michael, I'm glad to hear you just dislike the genre and are not boycotting the movie because of negative preconceptions. Avatar's up to $615 million as of today, and given that it beat Sherlock Holmes this weekend, I'm not really worried about it making its money back.

Yes, given Avatar's sterling performance this weekend, it is well on its way to breaking even. I imagine the corporate honchos at Fox are breathing easier.

I expected a quick fade, but apparently a lot of people want to see this movie. Evidently I'm even more out of touch with pop culture than I thought!

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