February 4, 2010

Kathryn Bigelow v. James Cameron

From my new Taki's Magazine column about the ex-spouses who are contending for the Best Director Oscar:
Is it a coincidence that in Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker the name of the hero, a technical genius who loves his job more than his wife, is "James?" Bigelow's great theme over the last two decades is male obsessiveness, and who embodies that more than James Cameron?

Or is it a coincidence that Bigelow rather resembles a real-life version of Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley, that classic nerd’s heroine in Cameron’s 1986 sci-fi film Aliens? Like Weaver (whom Cameron also cast in Avatar), Bigelow is almost six feet tall. (Unsurprisingly, Cameron, to whom too much is never enough, digitally rendered Avatar’s butt-kicking blue babe to be ten feet tall.)

Both Weaver and Bigelow are well bred, lady-like, and attractive, but Bigelow is also an expert at blowing stuff up. When doing publicity for Aliens and Avatar, the actress has had to bluff her way past all the fanboys who hope that Sigourney, who majored in English at Stanford, shares their techy obsessions.

Unlike Weaver, Bigelow is a real Ripley. For example, like the Explosive Ordinance Specialists specialists whom The Hurt Locker portrays, Bigelow disdains typical Hollywood gas fireball explosions. She strove to make her blasts “a very dense, black, thick, almost completely opaque explosion filled with lots of particulate matter and shrapnel.”

Bigelow can talk explosions and lenses all day long. And that’s what The Hurt Locker is: soldiers filmed in Baghdad-like Amman, Jordan through telephoto lenses that deliver the exact opposite of Avatar’s famously immersive 3D.

The telephoto effect compresses the apparent distance between the near and the far. For instance, in this typical street scene, if an Improvised Explosive Device were concealed within that hulk of the car behind the U.S. G.I., would he be within the blast zone? The viewer can’t even guess how far away the car is from the soldier due to the telephoto lens foreshortening distance.

Thus, this art house action flick transpires in a disorientatingly flat and cluttered pictorial space. Bigelow’s telephoto shots keep the viewer from being able to discern what’s safely far away from the three heroes and what’s close enough to kill them, much like the potentially lethal environment confronting the soldiers as they try to disarm IEDs of unknown magnitudes.

Read the whole thing there and comment upon it here.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

55 comments:

Ray Sawhill said...

First-rate! Super-shrewd, too.

The two main things that tend to strike me about Bigelow:

1) What an art school chick she is. For better and for worse.

2) How frank she is about being turned-on by action-oriented, testosterone-driven guys. There aren't many gals around as honest and direct about what makes them feel all raw and hot.

Anonymous said...

Given your normal interest in genetics, I'm surprised you didn't mention Bigelow's. She's 58? She could pass for 35. And yes, I realize she's probably had some work done, but that stuff doesn't really tend to make you look younger. It tends to make you look good for your age. There are just too many signs of age to make yourself look younger by fixing a few of them. She honestly seems to look about 20 years younger than she is (unlike her ex-husband, who looks ten years older than he is).

It's also odd to see a woman that attractive who does something really hard, like making good movies, and sometimes does it really well. The best part of being an attractive woman is that you never have to do anything hard. The worst part of being an attractive woman is that you never learn to do anything well, because people applaud you no matter what you do. That's why it's rare to find a really hot woman with a great personality. The way most of us learn to make ourselves pleasant to others is by watching what behavior attracts and repulses others and then learning to do what attracts others. When you're a really hot woman, no behavior repulses others -- you always have people surrounding you -- so you don't get the feedback you need to learn properly.

Marc B said...

I am a huge fan of both directors films, but I am rooting for Kathryn Bigelow this time. The Cameron films haven't piqued my interest much since T2 came out.

Anonymous said...

Let's not over analyze these things. Sometimes a movie is only a movie, entertainment is only that. Nothing wrong with bread and circuses, although these days we seem to be running short on the bread part.

Steve Sailer said...

Another difference between the man and the woman:

Cameron -- Five marriages.
Bigelow -- One marriage.

Anonymous said...

When you're a really hot woman, no behavior repulses others -- you always have people surrounding you -- so you don't get the feedback you need to learn properly.

Are you saying that physically attractive people are poor in social skills?

josh said...

Yes I noticed looking at a pic yesterday she looks very good...HE on the other hand is ugly as hell. OK by me if she wins a couple of Oscars-tho my sentimental favorite would be the Peter Saarsgard(??) movie,The Education. Its about an older man who is out to seduce a brilliant but naive young girl. I dont think anyone blows up in the movie,but still that sounds interesting. His nude scene in the Kinsey movie haunts me still--lets just say he mightve been nominated for Best Short Film--I might prefer someone a little "cooler" for the role(Mel??). I hope someday to actually see one or two of these movies. As for the Oscarcast itself,I just find it too whitebread,too Republican. Cant they gay it up a bit?

Steve Sailer said...

Cameron is starting to look like the kind of gouty 18th Century country squire you find on Toby mugs.

TCO said...

THL was better than Avatar. (Just saw the latter.) I'm proud of Cameron for developing the camera and the money management and all that. And felt my money was spent fine, watching his movie. But THL was better. And it wasn't perfect either. Actually like District 9 better than either of those. (Despite that Brimelow should have taken DOWN the "satire" sign...we don't need another Robocop movie.)

Dahlia said...

"Cameron is starting to look like the kind of gouty 18th Century country squire you find on Toby mugs."

LOL!! And true! I've wondered who came up with the idea of those awful mugs and why were they so popular? I was just looking through some auction catalogs the other day and contemplating these ubiquitous cups; too ugly to pique my interest.

I know so very little about pop culture that most of the information in your article was new to me. I watched Ms. Bigelow on Colbert's show and she has such a presence and grace. She is the kind of woman that could ruin many quant guys for other women; perfect for them, but ultra-rare.
So, why was she only married to Cameron? Her type of guy doesn't seem to be one to work in Hollywood.

TCO said...

The combo seems very Carly Simonesque. Or like that Mexican artist Frieda. I think we all have this image in our heads of Bigelow as the good girl and Cameron as the dynamic force and not as nice guy. And the marriage disparity just goes with that. I'm already getting my underguy hardon for Kathyryn to kick James's ass at the Oscars.

David said...

Toby mugs generally have happy, jolly faces. Bad taste but not ugly. I feel pretty good in the presence of a Toby mug, but would not buy one.

I'd rather have one than watch Avatar again, though.

ST said...

" She's 58? She could pass for 35."

Yes, once I saw her it made sense that her current boyfriend (Mark Boal, the journalist who wrote the screenplay for The Hurt Locker) is more than 20 years younger than her.

Pity of Whore said...

Bigelow is more Leni(Riefenstahl) than Lina(Wertmuller). Pity.

Anonymous said...

For fans of both directors, here's a music video from 1988 for Bill Paxton's band Martini Ranch, directed by Jim Cameron and starring Kathryn Bigelow (looking eerily unchanged in 22 years) as a sexy cowgirl. Look closely and you'll spot a lot of other actors from Bigelow and Cameron's films as well.

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

jody said...

she has to be the youngest looking, best looking 58 year old woman on earth.

too bad even point break is better than the hurt locker.

near dark was not, though. funny how the critics never talk about her other movies, which would be completely and totally standard for discussing any other director.

near dark was like, 20 years before twilight. they could praise her for that.

Whiskey said...

Bigelow being married only once tends to support the maxim by Roissy that women prefer five minutes of Alpha to five years of beta.

Dahlia said...

"Toby mugs generally have happy, jolly faces. Bad taste but not ugly. I feel pretty good in the presence of a Toby mug, but would not buy one."

They are solely a man's collectible. After posting earlier, I went to see which auction house was selling a lot of them and it was Doyle's. The ages and makers weren't given for one lot of 21 and they only showed about 10 of that lot. I can see why they are charming. They're so thoroughly English and conjure up pipes, pubs, and male friendship; they've been continuously made for about 300 years.

kudzu bob said...

James Cameron has stated that the public will know Avatar made money if a sequel gets made; and now, after poor Whiskey practically gave himself carpal tunnel posting a bunch of blather about how that movie would never so much as break even, Rupert Murdoch has indicated that he does indeed want a follow-up.

Say, who owns the patents on all the new film-making technology that was created for Avatar? How much do they stand to make?

Andrew said...

Second Anonymous: Yes, I'm saying that really attractive women tend to have bad personalities. I'm not positing inverse correlation across the board though. Truly ugly women have bad personalities as well because they don't have the confidence to get out and socialize. Most of the great personality women are in the middle -- think of any female comedian. Really hot women -- and I do mean really hot, not just pretty good looking -- are almost always boring and childish because they never had to learn to suppress all that stuff to get others to hang out with them.

There's no correlation with men because looks just aren't that important to where men stand in the social spectrum. For men, it's the really great athletes who tend to have terrible personalities, because they were going to be popular no matter what. Guys who were clearly going to be rich tend toward the same. Of course, there aren't that many men who grow up knowing they'll inherit huge money (or who can really throw money around in school).

Riches can also make a man's personality get worse, particularly when they come early, when personality isn't all that set. I've never met a likable guy who made more than $10 million in his 20s in anything but sales. All of their whims start getting indulged and that is not good for personality.

fwood1 said...

Kathryn Bigelow is 58?!! Her plastic surgeon deserves an Academy award.

The Ghost of Steve's Past said...

"James Cameron has stated that the public will know Avatar made money if a sequel gets made; and now, after poor Whiskey practically gave himself carpal tunnel posting a bunch of blather about how that movie would never so much as break even, Rupert Murdoch has indicated that he does indeed want a follow-up.

Say, who owns the patents on all the new film-making technology that was created for Avatar? How much do they stand to make?"


Whiskey/testing99/evil neocon is a deranged fellow. Best not to try and bait him by using logic and reason.

After all, when he isn't whining about how all the hot shiksa bitches won't sleep with him, he is ragging on about how "Iran's nuclear-tipped ICBM's are pointed straight at the USA."

Poor fellow. I just don't have the heart to tell him that Israel is not part of the USA.

jody said...

rupert murdoch said the avatar DVD would be out BEFORE june 30. what a ruthless dollar monger! LOL.

holy heck. they don't want even the best selling movie of all-time to have even 6 months in the theater. they're going straight for the DVD sales money as soon as possible.

it really shows you what a different era this is for movies. every movie moves through a tightly defined cycle. box office runs like star wars or titanic could never happen today. those movies would have been yanked long before record sales.

Electric Bigelow said...

"Bigelow, however, has long been an honorary old boy, at least since Cameron executive-produced her boggling 1991 action flick about surfing bankrobbers, Point Break, which starred Keanu Reeves, Patrick Swayze, and Gary Busey. As that cast suggests, Bigelow, who was trained in modern art theory, is intellectually rigorous about keeping her films non-intellectual."

What is 'modern art theory' but a bundle of intellectual posturing and mannerisms? It's more about becoming 'intellectually' fashionable and hip than caring about real art or developing real intellect.
If anything, the problem with her movies is they are all versions of modern art theories. As Sailer suggests, the very lack of intellectualism is really a form of intellectualism--a bogus one in my opinion.

Bigelow is not like Hemingway who possessed intellect but a powerfully simple style. Hemingway tackled complex subjects--war, love, alienation, meaning of life, etc--and pared them down to essentials. His was not the crude sensational simplicity of Mickey Spillance but a kind of purity arrived at through mastery of prose.

I haven't seen Hurt Locker--perhaps Bigelow finally redeemed herself--, but I have seen Near Dark, and Blue Steel, Strange Days. Near Dark and Blue Steel reveal a reasonably competent director with personal conceit than style.
Instead of paring down complexity into a gem of deceptive simplicity, she inflates trashy simplicity into 'modern art theory'. It's Hollywood genre film as installation art. There is always an air of contemporary art museum in her films.

So, we can't just enjoy NEAR DARK as trash horror; there is an annoying intimation that it's trying to convey something.
Blue Steel is another dumb movie that pretends to be more. Bigelow considers herself too cool, smart, and aloof to spell things out, but I sense she really has nothing to say except "I'm too cool, smart, and aloof to spell things out."

Btw, Near Dark has its moments but is an ugly sadistic piece of work. Like Cameron, she has this thing for sending killers into a honkey tonk bars and hurting them real good. In Terminator 2, Arnold maimed half the people in some biker bar in a ha-ha sadistic manner. In Near Dark, the vampire gang commit horrible acts in a bar, and it's all done in a cool-hip-detached way. SICK!

I have a feeling that neither Bigelow nor Cameron knows real suffering or pain. They are essentially privileged kids whose view of reality came from movies and fancy schooling. Thus, both of them--but especially Bigelow--dish out populism from an elitist distance.
There is something of the fox-hunting mindset in Bigelow. A brutal and barbaric sport fit for savages but done with much dash, snobbery, and aloofness by the British upper crust.
Similarly, Bigelow works in trash cinema but atop her high horse and with unruffled hair. Like a British aristocrat on horseback coldly looking down at hounds ripping a fox to shreds, Bigelow's 'toughness' has an air of detachment and superiority. Ripley in Alien got into the thick of things, but we never sense this with Bigelow.

I don't sense a real connection between Bigelow and her protean subject matter. She's not a Walter Hill nor Sam Fuller. She's a child of privilege who doesn't know real people nor real reality but only learned her lessons through movies, college, cocktail parties, and fancy theories. It shows.

Harry Baldwin said...

>>Andrew said... Yes, I'm saying that really attractive women tend to have bad personalities.>>

I understand the logic and used to think it made sense until I had a job at an ad agency where a lot of hot women worked and noticed that the hot ones were at least as nice as anyone else, often more so. I fell in love several times a day.

>>Most of the great personality women are in the middle -- think of any female comedian.>>

Are comedians regarded as having good personalities? They mostly seemed to be consumed with rage. That's why they're funny.

No Fate said...

Hit movies are generally about characters Learning Important Lessons that Will Change Their Lives Forever. The Hurt Locker, on the other hand, is about a man, a reckless but brilliant Explosive Ordnance Disposal technician, finding out what he already knows: that he doesn’t want to change his life, even if it will kill him.

Are most hit movies about people learning some life-changing lesson? I dunno know about this. What did Rocky Balboa learn in Rocky III that he didn't already in Rocky I and II? What did James Bond ever learn? Or Indiana Jones or the Ford character in all those Tom Clancy movies?

Most hit action movies are about tough, cool, or obsessed guys in the thick of things, and Hurt Locker pretty much fits the mold. The character doesn't need to seek change since the possibility of change is always right in front of him. At any instant, he can change from a living person to a 1000 pieces of blown-up flesh. He's constantly in Evel Knievel mode.

The main character is like a degenerate gambler obsessed not only with bombs with the idea of fate. In this sense, there may be something Cameronian here. In Terminator 2, Sarah Connors etches 'no fate but what we make of ourselves'. Though the future is ordained and cannot be changed, she still tries to change it by going after the scientist dude. It is this mad courage and commitment which give her meaning in a doomed world.
She becomes monomaniacally obsessed with ONE idea--end of the world--and spends every minute of her life thinking about ways to undo 'the fate'.
In Hurt Locker, the character faces a Russian-roulette-like series of situations where his chance of getting killed became near certain. Yet, he's obsessed about bombs as Connors is obsessed about The Bomb. Connors will dare Fate and do everything to reverse it. Her whole meaning of life is invested in that goal and nothing else.
For some reason, the dude in Hurt Locker seems similarly obsessed with bombs. Pride? Some childhood trauma? A degenerate gambler or dare-devil? An idealist humanitarian? A selfless patriot? Who knows. He sees the whole universe in the bomb, like Bobby Fisher saw the whole universe on a chessboard. A bomb is a perfect metaphorical paradox. It is a higly intricate mechanical device, like a Swiss watch. It symbolizes the constructive genius of man. Yet, its purpose is savage destruction. One could say the relationship between man and universe is much the same. We recognize the universe as a thing of intricate design, beauty, and genius. We want to master it. Yet, it's also so unstable. After all, it came to being through the big bang and who knows how it will end--suddenly?

In a way, the hero is like the kicker on the football team. He doesn't do the main fighting, but he must execute the PERFECT SKILL when he's called into service. A quarterback and running back can mess up quite a lot. The kicker is expected to nail it 99% of the time.

Maybe, we identify with this guy because we too are fascinated with the bomb. The political bomb, demographic bomb, the cultural bomb, the environmental bomb, etc. Many of us are gloom-and-doom about the future but something in us tell us 'no fate but what we make of ourselves'.

Or, maybe there is some solace to be found in his line of work. As nerve-wracking as it is, it is something that requires 100% of his concentration and focus. It permits him to zone everything else out. Thus, unlike other people in the Iraq War, he doesn't have to worry about anything but the bomb. Let others worry about the complicated mess of policy, winnable-or-unwinnable, what strategy is best, Sunni-Shia tensions, etc. His speciality is pure. It is an almost abstract science requiring
Zen concentration. It's like a mind game.

Btw, wasn't there a nerve wracking bomb defusing scene near the end of Abyss, the underwater movie? And, Bigelow too made an underwater movie--K 19.

Anonymous said...

Great comment, Electric Bigelow. But why don't you stick with Middletown Girl or some other consistent nick?

daveg said...

Camera nerds.

I never understood 'til I bought my 5D.

Yeah, I had a good film camera, but the freedom of taking unlimited pictures with no cost is another thing entirely. And HD video!

Addictive doesn't begin to describe it.

Meet the Lokkers said...

Though HURT LOCKER is a war movie, it has a sci-fi feel. Though AVATAR is a sci-fi movie, it says something about our current wars.

Hurt Locker features Man vs. Machine, and this reminds me of David Bowman vs Hal in 2001. In a way, Bowman is like a bomb-defuser in the famous scene where he matches wits with Hal. Of course, the bomb that may go off is himself(unless he closes the pod bay door in time). When Bowman enters the spaceship, there is a long fascinating scene where he defuses all of Hal(who turned out to be lethal time bomb for the rest of the crew).

In Hurt Locker, there is no sci-fi stuff per se, but the guy in the bomb squad suit looks like an astronaut and Iraq looks like some alien planet in an Heinlein novel.
It's like Iraqship Troopers.
The hero has to deal with very sophisticated pieces of machinery.

To be a master of suspense means to be the master of time. Hitchcock for instance. Suspense arises because time is crucially limited. In the final scene of NEAR DARK, the vampires must race against time--sunrise--to prevent themselves from blowing up. (SPOILER ALERT!) And the hero, like a time-bomb-defuser, must work with just the right blend of chemicals against time to save a vampire girl and turn her human again. Interesting that both Near Dark and Hurt Locker take place in hot arid places where it seems the heat is on the verge of setting the whole world on fire.

Though I don't respect Bigelow as a filmmaker, she seems to be subtler or a bit more nuanced and comtemplative than Cameron. With Cameron, everything is cops and robbers, good guys vs bad guys.

There are shades of grey--even verging on nihilism--in Near Dark.

Just consider the machines in their works. In Terminator movies, machines are bad, humans are good. In Avatar, machines are bad, nature is good. In Titanic, arrogant man-made machine meets its match in nature.
(To be sure, Cameron loves machines as private fantasy toys. Cameron is the sort of person who wishes only enlightened people like himself had access to technology--as his kind would only use it for higher purposes--while the rest of humanity was strictly limited to frugality or non-existence. I suspect a subconscious part of him may even relish the idea of nuclear--or at least a neutron bomb--apocalypse to clear the world of most of humanity. And, there is a kind of 'you greedy humans deserve it' thrill in the mayhem in Titanic. And, in the director's cut of the Abyss, Cameron plays the vengeful God via the underwater creatures who almost engulf the entire world under water--like the Noah's ark story--but then decide against it upon witnessing the noble selflessness of Ed Harris character in a James Cameron movie!! It's almost like Cameron patting himself on the back for saving all of humanity. If ever space aliens come to destroy Earth, let us screen AVATAR for them. We may be spared! Funnily enough, the underwater creatures' negative view of man had been formed by watching too much CNN and Hollywood movies.)

Bigelow's films are more nuanced about man's relation to machines. She might feel that way about her relations to men also. Can't live with them, can't live without them.

enebe said...

"In Near Dark, the vampire gang commit horrible acts in a bar, and it's all done in a cool-hip-detached way. SICK! "

I thought it was done in a very Eighties way... You are aware that the vampire gang are the bad guys right? You really weren't supposed to like them. I should think the detachment you perceive would make perfect sense considering the killings were inflicted by a gang of inhuman monsters. I've only watched Near Dark once so it's not as if I've made a thorough analysis of the film, but I thought it was a decent enough film, better than all the various vampire related crap that is being churned out at the moment.

"I don't sense a real connection between Bigelow and her protean subject matter. She's not a Walter Hill nor Sam Fuller. She's a child of privilege who doesn't know real people nor real reality but only learned her lessons through movies, college, cocktail parties, and fancy theories. It shows."

Yeah if only she'd met some real vampires or something... Films are not about 'real people' or 'real reality' (as opposed to?) even when they are. They are make believe and actually you can meet 'real people' at college and at cocktail parties. I won't bother to commentate on your ridicuolous fox hunting relating gibberish.

Ray Sawhill said...

Cameron and his ladies, as viewed by Linda Hamilton:

http://bit.ly/c71ZNK

Electric Bigelow said...

"Yeah if only she'd met some real vampires or something... Films are not about 'real people' or 'real reality' (as opposed to?) even when they are."

Of course vampires aren't real.(Except on Wall Street.)

Anyway, my point was there is a pretense of 'higher truth' in movies like Near Dark. It's not satisfied to be mere fantasy but goes for a degree of stark realism and social satire. Ultimately about what, I dunno.

If filmmakers wanna give us fantasy, they should go easy on the realism. If they wanna splatter the screen with gruesome realism, they better have a good moral excuse. Spielberg, for example, knows the difference between entertainment violence in Raiders AND realistic violence in Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan. What puts me off about films like Near Dark--and Tarantino films after Reservoir--is they serve up gruesome realism for fun. It's like watching Schindler's List or Platoon done for laughs and thrills.
Only people who don't know real pain and suffering can make stuff like this--or people who've seen so much real-life violence that they've become utterly desensitized. I doubt if Bigelow has experienced much real violence. I feel the same way about Cameron.
Their one-two punch as top oscar contenders of 2009 reminds me of the movie Bonnie and Clyde, the brilliant but morally offensive movie about a glamorous duo of nihilistic killers. (Of course, I'm judging Bigelow by her past movies.) What is the message of Bonnie & Clyde? Since Warren and Faye are handsome and dashing, it's cool and sexy for them to trample all over the plain-faced, ordinary, dull, and dreary victims--most of us. Even more offensive is the sham-revolutionary pretense that the murderous duo are for the poor people against the evil bankers. I see the same shtick with Cameron. He is a ruthless Hollywood shark hungry for more fame and fortune, yet he's always acting like he's for the little guy against the big guy. And, we are dumb enough to fall for this BS just like so many down-n-out people back in the 30s thought Bonnie and Clyde were heroes--or like counterculture idiots of the 60s thought Beatty and Faye were soooo cool as Mr. and Mrs. Che Guevara. In this age of narcissism, self-promotion, and slick violence, Bigelow and Cameron seem like the glam duo of Hollywood.

It's obvious from NEAR DARK that Bigelow has ambition--or pretends to. She offers more than thrills. She made the film edgier with charged violence and grim atmosphere. As with Strange Days, she's clearly trying to say something about society and humanity. The central character is a good loyal son who is seduced by forces of hedonism, nomadism, nihilimsm, amoral freedom, and so on. (Oddly enough, this rootless gang seems to be very close-knit, like a band of gypsies. Even in rejection of societ, they have a kind of family values of their own.) So, the movie is a kind of parable about America teetering between the old ways--the world of fading hierarchy and worn values--and new ways--the world of anarchy and disaster. It's kinda like No Country for Old Men with vamps. The vampire thing could be allegory about AIDS, drug epidemic, or whatever that's come to corrupt even smalltown America.

At any rate, the movie is too intensely gory for what has to morally offer. It doesn't make us care one iota about the victims in the bar. I suppose one could argue that Bigelow was tempting us to join in the bloody merriment, to make us feel implicated in the violence, as if to say there is a killer-thug in all of us. In the hands of a true master like Imamura of VENGEANCE OF MINE, this can be powerful and harrowing. Bigelow is too much of a glam queen to make us really feel anything.

"But why don't you stick with Middletown Girl"

Aint me.

Mummy than Mommy said...

What a vapid age we live in that so many of nerdy guys here are salivating about how the 58 yr old Bigelow still looks only 30.

What does this say about Bigelow? She's a vapid, shallow, narcissistic, plastic surgeried, botoxified glam queen. This woman cannot make peace with nature. She wants to be like a vampire that doesn't age, a robot that's forever perfect, a screen image that is eternally young. If she were an actress, this would be more understandable. She is a freaking directoress, yet she acts like Elizabeth Taylor or Nancy Pelosi.

Even the ultra-narcissitic Leni Riefenstahl didn't go to such extremes to preserve her youth. This Bigelow woman acts like she's Ripley in Alien movies, traveling at near speed of light across the universe(often through hibernation), aging slowly while the rest of humanity grows old and dies. Or, she's like a Terminatoress.

This is why she lacks a human touch and true human understanding. Like the bomb defuser dude in the movie, she relates better to cold mechanical things than to humans. She's like the tin man except worse. At least the tin man wanted a living heart. Bigelow, like Blondie, seems content with a heart of glass.

Despite their evil nature, Bigelow identifies more with the immortal vampires in Near Dark than with the mortals who age and die as all humans do.
Just look at pictures of Bigelow and she puts on that Queen Nefertiti demeanor.
What a faker.

Queen James said...

I just came upon an interesting piece of info at imdb. The screenplay for STRANGE DAYS was by Cameron, which makes me hate him more and hate Bigelow less.

STRANGE DAYS is one of the most odious films ever made, all the more because it's clearly a work of talent and some brilliant ideas. Sad to see talent wasted. It goes to show what a pompous ignormous clod Cameron is despite his skills as scenarist and filmmaker. It was clearly meant as a post-LA Riots movie, yet how does it treat the subject of urban decay and mayhem? In the most sensational, ridiculous, ludicrous, and obnoxious manner. Now, what kind of mentality exploits a national tragedy for self-righteous thrill-making?

And, there is a rather odd hierarchy of human worth in the movie. Mexicans, Asians, and Arabs are virtually non-existent or secondary--subhuman Nibelungen types. The cool, beautiful, and noble people are the blacks(except for a few rotten apples) and some decent white people. The overall style of the movie is like a pornographic remake of Gilliam's Brazil.

Anyway, elements in Strange Days help us focus on the running themes and motifs in Cameron movies. There is the weak male who peddles and lives vicariously through virtual reality. This is revived in Avatar with the crippled white guy going under the skin of a Navi.

There is the fantasy of the big strong beautiful woman. The black woman in SD and the blue tart in Avatar both have corn-rows and have superhuman strength. In both cases, a white guy's love interest is a woman of another race.
Here, I see Cameron's psychological identification with the Other. As a kid, he was bullied by white kids. Thus, his impressionable mind came to associate evil with alpha white males. Like so many white kids bullied by white kids, Cameron came to idealize and identify with non-white 'victims' of white power. In his silly mind, blacks are noble and beautiful victim-resisters of white corruption and abuse. Since noble blacks fight back against evil whites--at least according to pop culture and education--, Cameron probably saw blacks as fellow comrades and/or champions against his white tormenters.

As a young boy, Cameron couldn't have attracted much female attention since he was a nerd bullied by others. In high school, top girls go with alpha males. Since Cameron couldn't attract the prized females, he idealized them into goddesses more powerful than even the males. Since his idealized females are magnificent, they feel no compunction to go with alpha males; they are better than alpha males. As goddesses, they either belong to no one or feel a maternal affection for the nerd-geek who worships them--like the Ralph Fiennes character in Strange Days(or like James Cameron).

There's nothing wrong with fun and fantasy, and if Strange Days was merely sci-fi escapism, no problem. But, it puts on airs of social significance as a commentary on LA during the riots. I don't mind seeing Ripley rip things up in outerspace, Angelina Jolie play some videogame character, or some hong kong kung fu babe beat up a 100 guys. But, when so much trashy entertainment formula is laid over what happened in LA during the riots, it sickens my stomach. Maybe I can't be impartial because I knew some biker friends who got hurt in the melee.
But then, Cameron and Bigelow seem to relish directing scenes where white blue collar biker types get hurt. I don't get it. In movies like Terminator 2, Camerons relishes working-class bikers getting beat up for no good reason. Not much sympathy for cops or hospital staff either. But, in Titanic, he pretends to be for the poor against the rich.

Oddly enough, the bad white guys in Strange Days are the ordinary cops while the good white guy is the powerful mayor or some top official--perhaps Cameron's political alter ego, as if to say "If I ran things, peace and justice will reign..."
What a self-satisfied narcissistic jerk who's still living out his grammar school grudges through bloated movies.

David said...

Hot chicks sometimes suffer disadvantages. I worked in a corporate enviro where one of the temps was a very attractive college girl. Her personality was fine, and she did her work well...but all the men in the department made frequent stops at her desk to chat and flirt with her endlessly. As many as three fellows were at her desk competing for her attention at one time. Bees at the flower. The female manager (yes - an old battle ax) pulled us all from the floor one morning and announced in a voice of iron that the girl would not be coming back. Afterward, routine returned to normal, our blood cooled, and productivity resumed its formerly high level. But that poor, sweet, doe-eyed slip of a twentysomething was out of a job.

David said...

>I never understood 'til I bought my 5D.<

But part of you is kicking yourself that you didn't wait for an Epic, admit it. (Just joking.)

>Camera nerds.<

Yup.

josh said...

Whiskey,will there be a 'Precious II'? "She's back...and pissed!"

Anonymous said...

'Hurt locker' sounds like
'Urlacher', the famous football player. In a way, the movie is like war as football, with some guy trying to tackle the bomb.

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

Templar said...

The telephoto effect compresses the apparent distance between the near and the far. For instance, in this typical street scene, if an Improvised Explosive Device were concealed [Photo]within that hulk of the car behind the U.S. G.I., would he be within the blast zone?

I believe that's actually an Iraqi soldier, judging by the Kalashnikov and US six-colour "chocolate chip" camouflage uniform.

Mark said...

Well some toby jugs are awesome.

how low can you bigelow? said...

James Cameron, Ridley Scott, Tony Scott, Michael Mann, etc.

They all inflate simple ideas into grandiose monstrosities.

Bigelow reminds me a bit of Julie Taymore, another over-educated tart who goes for sensationalistic populist-intellectualism. Both are good looking though, rare for directors(who didn't arrive at the profession through acting)whether female or male.

Maybe that is the problem with Taymore and Bigelow. They might have been better directors had they been ugly. Anger, resentment, envy, chip-on-their-shoulder, and other strong emotions and complexes could have served as fuel for creativity. Instead, self-satisfied ease oozes from the films of Taymore and Bigelow. Sontag got worse as she became less insecure and more narcissistic. After the 60s, she was more into her self-image than her ideas. Taymore and Bigelow may feel too self-satisfied to want to get even with the world.
Hitchcock's films would have been less interesting had they been made by good looking woman. The fact that a fat old man obsessed with female beauty made them made all the difference.

Victoria said...

The commentaries about their appearances are weird. I don't know what you're looking at, but in this photo I see a handsome, distinguished man and a dowdy housewife. Huh?
here

Anonymous said...

The minds at Movieline are reeling today after a tipster sent us a collaboration between Oscar-nominated exes James Cameron and Kathryn Bigelow that we never knew existed: a 1988 music video called “Reach” that Cameron directed for Bill Paxton’s short-lived rock band Martini Ranch (!), in which he cast imminent wife and future Hurt Locker director Bigelow as a sexy, Wild West gunslinger. Look, we know that description alone is enough to whet your appetite, so do you need me to say that this INCREDIBLY, DELICIOUSLY 80’s music video also features “credited whistler” Judge Reinhold, lady-bodybuilder beefcake, a capuchin monkey, anachronistic computers for some reason, and cameos from Lance Henriksen, Paul Reiser, Jenette Goldstein, and Adrian Pasdar? Just watch and be blown away:

http://www.movieline.com/2010/02/watch-james-camerons-long-lost-video-starring-kathryn-bigelow-as-sexy-cowgirl.php

Trotta said...

While we're on the topic of female directors, Margarethe von Trotta deserves a mention. Uneven director--former wife of famous director Volker Schondorff--but "Marianne and Julianne"(aka German Sisters)is unforgettable. Heard good things about "Rosa Luxembourg" too.

Deto said...

It's worth speculating what feminists might make of Bigelow. Of course, there are different kinds of feminists: socialist ones opposed to 'patriarchal' capitalism, corporate ones hungry for economic power, intellectual ones disdainful of popular culture, populist ones who regard rock music and even porn as forms of empowerment. Many 60s feminists were allied to other agendas and trends of the time: civil rights, anti-war, youth rebellion, etc. The 70s saw the rise of feminism as an Identity Ideology, often at odds even with other leftist causes. For a time, it was about being a FREE WOMAN looking for FREE LOVE. Then came the Big Sister feminism dominated by Marxist Lesbian Puritanicals who came to control NOW.

But then, Reagan and the new patriotism happened along with the new populism of Madonna and MTV. The NOW gang initially blasted Madonna as a capitalist whore, a role model closer to Marilyn Monroe than Betty Friedan. But, there was nothing they could do about the pop culture and the new patriotism around prosperity and hedonism. Also, a new generation of girls in the 80s and 90s were tired of hearing the puritanical naggings of their radical boomer mothers. So, a backlash happened led by Camille Paglia. As much as the feminists hated Paglia, they appropriated many of her ideas, and Naomi Wolf, the authoress of 'Beauty Myth' came out with a book that sounded rather Paglian. Wolf was of the new breed who had been a dutiful dog of Big Sister but then changed her tune to be relevant in the world of post-feminist feminism. Soon, even feminists were praising Madonna as an icon of female independence and power. (It also helped that her sexual predilections were 'progressive', thus inspiring many more white women to run off to black men.)

Now, Bigelow. My guess is Bigelow is a very independent woman, and for this reason, cannot be a Big Sister feminist. She doesn't want to be told what to think, feel, or do--even by other women who claim to speak for female-power. If most feminists have a collective or communal mentality(Oprah, Martha Stewart, the Piew, etc), Bigelow--like Paglia--likes to be her own woman. She wants power and freedom but for herself(as a free artist and entertainer)than as a SISTER.

Also, her interests are rather atypical among women. Though feminists always balk about how there should be more opportunities for women in male-dominated professions, most of them still have little interest in stuff like heavy machinery, war, and sports.

Bigelow, on the other hand, seems to have made a war movie that is respected not only by liberals but by conservatives. There have been several movies about Middle East wars, but hers may be the most manly and admiring of tough guys. She's like those women who have a fascination for boxing or football, not just as spectator sport but as an art and philosophy.

I recall the radical feminist Amy Taubin highly praised BLUE STEEL as a feminist movie, but there may be more to Bigelow than 'sisterhood is powerful.' She's more into 'power is masterful'. Since most wham-bam powerful things in life are male-dominated, that's what fascinates her. Since she's tall and good-looking, she was probably treated like royalty by men in their own realm(plus the fact that she grew up in privilege), thus explaining why she lacks the kind of bitter rage that drove women like fat, short, and ugly Andrea Dworkin to feminism OR the kind of mousiness that drove less dazzling women to communal feel-good Oprah-ism.

Anonymous said...

She's like those women who have a fascination for boxing or football, not just as spectator sport but as an art and philosophy.

If Komment Kontrol will be so kind as to allow me to channel my inner Roissy: Chicks dig boxing [and martial arts and UFC] because it makes them wet between their legs.

Anonymous said...

I believe that's actually an Iraqi soldier, judging by the Kalashnikov and US six-colour "chocolate chip" camouflage uniform.

Im going to channel my inner war nerd here.

I can't tell from that pic whether its choc chip or not and Ive news footage of US troops carrying AK-47s. Not whole units but the occaisional guy here and there.

You're probably correct though.

Templar said...

I can't tell from that pic whether its choc chip or not and Ive news footage of US troops carrying AK-47s. Not whole units but the occaisional guy here and there.

It's chocolate chip. 3-Colour DCUs aren't brown like that. Additionally, the rather haphazard nature of the rest of the soldier's costume; non-descript black body armour, old-style, uncovered olive drab PASGT helmet, etc, etc, also strongly indicates post-invasion Iraqi army.

gumbic jones said...

Ever see TWILIGHT OF THE COCKROACHES? If AVATAR romanticizes big blue aliens, TWILIGHT romanticizes small brown insects. AVATAR shows the world of the Navis threatened by corporate imperialism while the roaches in TWILIGHT are attacked by two giant humans representing imperialist US and USSR.
TWILIGHT takes a rather funny look at WWII, with Japanese and Germans(fellow roaches) as the underdogs crushed by the giant powers of the Soviets(woman) and America(man).

Oddly enough, the movie is based on WWII and fueled by post-cold war paranoid fantasy.
As in WWII, the German and Japanese roaches unite against MAN(America) and WOMAN(Russia).

But, there is also the fear on the part of the Japanese roaches that Man and Woman might reunite, thus ending the Cold War. No more Cold War means the two white powers--US and USSR--will be friends again and join to crush the Japanese.

Not a particularly good movie but revealing of Japanese political mindset in the 80s.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4MFg2tg274w

Tubic Fro said...

"If Komment Kontrol will be so kind as to allow me to channel my inner Roissy: Chicks dig boxing [and martial arts and UFC] because it makes them wet between their legs."

Bigelow is more like Cameron Diaz character in ANY GIVEN SUNDAY. She thinks she intellectually owns show than is emotionally owned by it.

Glockin said...

I wonder if Cameron is a BLADE RUNNER junkie. His most elaborate script, STRANGE DAYS, sounds like DANGEROUS DAYS, the original title for Blade Runner.

I watched Strange Days again last night--found it even more odious--but if Cameron ever made an artistic, moral, and philosophical statement on what he's all about, his script for SD is it. As Bigelow's direction is not particularly striking nor flavorful, I'm inclined to see it as more a Cameron than a Bigelow movie.

The main character's obsession with 'wire tripping' is like Cameron's 10 yr obsession to create a 'more real than real' virtual 3D technology. The technology can be abused but it can also be used for good. Maybe Cameron thinks that if we ever arrive at perfect virtual technology, we won't have to waste so much of our resources for personal fulfilment. No need to burn fossil fuel to travel to other places if we can just tune into virtuality.

Strange Days has some good ideas but it's too hysterical and hyperbolic to be effective. It makes The Warriors and Streets of Fire look subtle by comparison.
Cronberg's eXistenz, which works on a similar theme, is much more effective.

Anonymous said...

It seems like both Cameron and Bigelow are nothing more than psychopaths.

They took different routes. Cameron is more the "victim turned arch-bully", cynically exploiting the glamor of psychopathy to make best-selling movies; while Bigelow is more the born bully. Had Bigelow been male and from the same home town as Cameron, she/he could vahe easily been one of his tormentors.

Anonymous said...

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

Bigelow on Hurt Locker.

G said...

"It seems like both Cameron and Bigelow are nothing more than psychopaths.

They took different routes. Cameron is more the "victim turned arch-bully", cynically exploiting the glamor of psychopathy to make best-selling movies; while Bigelow is more the born bully"

??? Some of the comments in this thread are so over the top, I wonder if they are all written by the same deeply angry individual. Jason Reitman, is that you?

Hummer said...

Just saw K-19. The last 1/3 of the movie is about men trying to fix the core of nuclear generator on a submarine that might otherwise blow up. So much like Hurt Locker.
Bigelow obviously loves stuff like this. If Cameron prefers things blowing up, it seems like Bigelow is more interested in stopping things from blowing up.