Titanic (1997)

Image result for titanic

My only fond memory of Titanic is from a student exchange trip to Russia, when I saw a middle-aged Russian man rocking a Titanic-themed t-shirt plastered with Leonardo DiCaprio’s face.

Back when I was in high school, and this movie was all the rage, and Celine Dion was inescapable, and I was cynical of anything pop culture, I vowed to myself that I would never watch Titanic.  And until now, I’ve been able to keep that promise.

I knew the obvious plot points, of course – the boat sinking, the doomed love story, something about a naked drawing, old lady framing device.  I recognized some other random moments thanks to various parodies or references in other media, such as the Irish jig replicated in Battlestar Galactica or that episode of Futurama, or that other episode of Futurama.  But I finally had to see the whole film to truly appreciate how stupid it is.

You would think that a movie about a massive ship sinking would carry enough drama and gravitas on its own, but no:  this movie also has to add a ridiculous MacGuffin to explain why some guy would be sending submersibles to search the wreckage, and why a little old lady would travel by helicopter to the middle of the ocean to tell her granddaughter and a bunch of strangers about the time she lost her virginity.  What happened to the giant valuable diamond?  Who cares, because its existence and disposal is completely meaningless!

Right around the time a normal movie would be wrapping it up in time for the closing credits, the iceberg finally strikes.  Trivia point:  both in real life and on film, the impact took 37 seconds, which happens also to be the 37 seconds that I stopped paying attention.  I actually liked the way people mostly didn’t really get the severity of the situation for a while; that felt genuine based on every disaster I’ve been witness to.

But what didn’t feel genuine was the way Jack and Rose decide to go traipsing back and forth through flooded sections of the ship, completely impervious to the cold temperatures.  And the absurd gun fight when Billy Zane decides he’d much rather shoot Jack than hop in the lifeboat.  When the stern splits off from the bow and slams back into the ocean, the people on deck suffer little more than a faint shudder, because physics.  While I’m complaining about inanities, I’d also like to point out how stupid it is that a charcoal drawing survived 80 years in a waterlogged safe.

Did cold-hearted Bridget get emotional watching this film?  Okay, I’ll admit that I did – but it was when they showed all the second- and third-class passengers who clearly weren’t going to make it out alive, not when Jack was cheerfully turning himself into an icicle.

At least Rose finally gets to share her story of lost love.  “He exists only in my memory, which is why I like to imagine him looking like Leonardo DiCaprio.”

Thank God I took on this project, because otherwise I never would have experienced the pure face-palming that is Titanic.  And with that, gentle readers, I’m finished!  Next week, I’ll do a summary post or two, along with a ranking (of either the whole list, or maybe only part, depending on how lazy/busy I am.  Thanks for joining me on this journey!


Theme:  On a Boat

First Time Watching?  Yes

Final Verdict:  I have a sinking feeling…


The Departed (2006)

Just recently, I heard “I’m Shippin’ Up to Boston” for the first time in ages.  It was one of those ubiquitous songs back when this movie came out, especially in Boston.  People crap their pants when they hear the name of their city in popular culture.  I don’t know why.  City names are pretty much interchangeable.  I’m shippin’ up to Juneau WHOA-OH-OA!

So, yeah.  In case you didn’t realize, this movie takes place in Boston.  Some of the characters seem a little uncertain about whether they’re from Boston or not, based on their curious relationship with the letter R.  I found the variability of accents rather interesting as a Boston transplant, because it was years before I actually began interacting with people with local accents on a regular basis, and this film makes it seem like every resident of Boston has to make an attempt at it.  In reality, there are so many people like me who came as students that it feels like a different place entirely from the gang-driven world of The Departed.  I mean, not that I’m complaining.

I’m going to spoil this movie here, but everybody dies by the end.  Everybody.  It’s like the end of Hamlet, where you kind of wonder who the hell is going to run Denmark now, but you’re never going to find out because it’s all over.  To be fair, the title of the movie kind of gives it away.  Apparently nobody is dearly departed, but they’re dead nonetheless.

Most of this movie was really enjoyable.  It was full of tension and humor, with the sort of skillful dramatic irony to keep it interesting, and a few extra secrets kept until the end.  But it’s the final half-hour or so that frustrated me.  Unlike in Shakespeare’s tragedies, I couldn’t really see the point to it all once everyone kicked it. As a result, nothing was left ambiguous or open-ended.  Maybe you can feel satisfied that whoever you hated got his comeuppance, but that’s tempered by the realization that nobody came out a victor, either.  Except maybe the shrink.  She slept with not one, but two, of her patients and probably didn’t even lose her license or anything.

Leo finally got his Oscar.  Whitey Bulger finally got caught and sent to jail.  They’ve stopped playing the Dropkick Murphys song constantly.  All is well in Boston.


Theme:  undercover

First Time Watching?  Yes

Final Verdict:  Hot psychiatrist pick-up line:  “Have I seen you…professionally?”