Saturday, December 19, 2009

Dec 17: Do Santa's Work for Him, Open First Present

So, one of my Christmas presents this year was going to see a midnight screening of Avatar, the latest film by James Cameron. I must preface this by saying that I grew up a big fan of James Cameron's movies and the worlds he created. The Abyss was the first film of his that I saw when my brothers rented a VCR and we went movie crazy during Christmas vacation in 1991--I was blown away (other films we watched that I adored were Beetlejuice and The Witches, so you can see my early tastes leaned more towards the other worldly). Cameron is among the directors that I appreciated viscerally even before I began to more deeply understand the art of filmmaking (other directors that had this visceral effect on me though I didn't always know who they were: Wilder, Burton, Hitchcock, Zemeckis, Kubrick...).

A month ago a friend of mine from Columbia bought several tickets to the midnight premiere of Avatar in IMAX 3D and he offered me one of the coveted slots. What an amazingly immersive and unprecedented experience. I thought the story was rather simple, and straightforward, which I am not opposed to, but there definitely wasn't a feeling of an entire mythology welling up beneath the surface as can be found in other epic sci-fi/fantasy films (even those by Cameron). Many of the characters were quite one-dimensional, especially the villains--but in terms of the world, there was nothing one dimensional about it. I admire the efforts that went into shaping the world, the previous films by Cameron that he used as research opportunities to develop technologies that would enhance this experience such as Ghosts of the Abyss and Aliens of the Deep, not to mention the cutting edge technologies paired with engaging stories in his mind-blowing sci-fi/action films of the 80s and early 90s. In short, this isn't an official review, simply my reaction, and love it or hate it, it was like nothing I have ever seen or experienced, and it was incredibly beautiful to behold. I also appreciated that the driving force behind the hero's mission was a combination of unyielding courage, a respect for science, and reverence for a unifying sacred power that was rooted in the transcendent connection with ancestors.

I won't say that it changes movies forever, because that is reducing all films to a single type and style, but it does changes THIS type of movie forever, if those who produce such work have enough money to keep doing it. And they will. Somehow. Don't ask me where all this money comes from, I don't begin to know.

Now, on to the Santa's work part. This is the first time we are really putting on the whole Santa show for Reuben (we did stockings last year, but there wasn't a solid hope of that one thing from Santa or a desire to leave out milk and cookies until now). I find this Santa business challenging and exhilarating all at once. Now that Reuben is old enough we can't just sneak things into the cart with him around--it has to be done completely under the radar. So I trekked up to the new Target at the Gateway Center in the Bronx sans Reuben and Brecken (and the babe of course) after my writing work. Wow--I have forgotten what mega spacious shopping centers with parking garages are like--wait, I have never been to one with a parking garage, except in Brasil. It was a hike and a half just to get to the store within the complex, and once there I spent, get this, three hours finding stuff. Don't get me wrong, it was enjoyable, but my brain turns to mush when confronted with all of these crazy options and imagining all of the cool fun things I could surprise the family with. I also happen to be a big kid when it comes to all this magical holiday stuff (I refused to believe that Santa WASN'T a real live guy until I was 9 years old, and even then it was a sad day for me to hear the truth from my older sister)--so, I did make it out of there after picking out several items, putting them back, picking out more, swapping them out, and on and on. I was proud of my self-control, and even though I went a little crazy with some things (like chocolate), I was quite the wise shopper. When I finally got out of there, though, I dreaded lugging it all back to the 2 train home, and a man stopped me asking if I needed a Taxi. I thought, yeah right, to Upper Upper Westside Manhattan, it'll be like 40 bucks. No--only 12, and he wasn't even a real Yellow Cab guy. "Here comes Santa Clause, Here comes Santa Clause, right down Santa Clause Lane..." (and if a part of you thinks of National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation when you hum the tune, we're on the same page)


Tammy Lorna said...

Justin! When will you be 'getting around to this' :)

You have impatient fans waiting for an entry you know!

lol :)

xo Tammy

Lark said...

Santa is real. As a child I asked my dad and he told me "there is really a Santa." As I grew I recognized the truth in his answer. As a parent I could not dough because I had become the Santa who loved my children enough to really be Santa. I see you have become the Santa my dad told me about.

Tammy Lorna said...

Hey Justin (aka Santa),
I can't believe you've never been to a big shopping centre with a parking garage! Seriously?! Where did you grow up?!
Oh, that's right... :)
I LOVE Christmas shopping, and the more people and choices and options the better, because really, it's just the whole 'everyone out and about shopping together with Christmas Carols and Decorations' that I totally love! (I suspect you and I differ on that one Brecken! :))
And glad you enjoyed the movie! I really haven't been fussed about seeing it at all, but I'm sure I'll get there. Mostly, I'm interested in it from a technical point of view. I've had several yarns with various DPs I work with about the new technology that was developed for the movie, and I know a couple of 'friends of people who worked on the film', so it's been interesting to hear about the production and post processes... but I'm not really a Sci-Fi person :) If the world is as complete and interesting as you say though, I'll have to go take a look.
(And yes, the amount of money they spent just on technological developments and improvments is staggering - let alone on producing the film!)
Isn't Christmas wonderful?!
xo Tammy

Twinmomwv said...

All of a sudden I have a greater appreciation for the small town with limited resources that I live in. Wal-Mart and are my best friends and I couldn't have made Christmas happen without them.

I hope Reuben got everything his little heart desired and that his first year of Santa was a great one!

Merry Christmas!