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Losin' It (1983)
Nondescript teen sex comedy from the eighties
I saw this movie in an entirely appropriate place -- as part of an all-night quadruple feature at a cinema in Northern Ontario, which could have been more accurately described as "Four lousy films for the price of one"! (For the record, the other three films were "Ghoulies", "Missing in Action" and "Ninja III - The Domination").
I would say that Losin' It is probably the best of these four films not that that's really saying very much. (It was the concluding feature of a very long night of cinematic mediocrity) . It's not an awful film (particularly compared with some of the other components of this multiple feature), and it has the advantage of having been put together by a crew who knew what they were doing. Rather, it's an assembly line teen film of the period, which is given somewhat more polish than usual by the presence of Shelley Long and the up-and-coming Tom Cruise in the cast.
Two years previously in 1981, Porky's established a profitable template for teen films that many producers are still exploiting today. I see Losin' It as a Porky's knock-off, from a similar time and aimed at a similar audience. Essentially, if you were part of that target audience, you would probably have enjoyed it. I was just passing out of the target demographic when I saw this, so perhaps I'm more blasé about it than I might have been if I had seen it a few years earlier. There's a whole genre of teen sex comedy (which tries to tease the audience while dancing around the fact that they can't really show very much) that loses a lot of its impact once you've actually "lost it" yourself.
Looks great, horribly clichéd plot
It's interesting to see the extreme opinions (pro or con) expressed here about Titanic, ranging from those who feel it's the greatest story ever told to those who feel it's the worst travesty ever produced in Hollywood. I don't agree with either I feel that Titanic is a somewhat run-of-the-mill movie that wasn't worthy of the vast amount of hype it generated, but can still provide an evenings entertainment (albeit with some employment of the fast forward button). I can supplement my review with contemporary impressions from first seeing the movie in 1998, taken from an email cum movie review written to a friend of mine in a distant corner of the world who hadn't seen the movie yet. (Extracts from this email are in quotes).
First, the good stuff. I loved the efforts that Cameron made (either through sets, or through CGI) to reproduce the look of the RMS Titanic, as well as re-enacting the sinking:
"Verdict on Titanic: The staging of the ships interiors and exteriors are stunningly realistic -- damn near perfect is more like it. Obviously, a great deal of effort was made to get things down pat."
It was also very interesting to see the underwater film that Cameron really shot on the wreck of the Titanic much better than the film shot for the Imax documentary Titanica. This underwater film, the interiors, and the digital depictions of the Titanic underway are enough to make the film worth watching all by itself.
Regrettably, with the good comes the bad. I've always felt that the biggest strike against the movie is the cliché love story between the two star-crossed lovers:
"Unfortunately, a good chunk of the film is the so-called 'love story'. This portion of the story, starring this year's pretty boy, is Hollywood cliché from start to finish. 'Poor little rich girl' meets poor but honest travelers/artist aboard the Titanic. She's travelling in 1st class with her beastly fiancée and assorted evil, stuck up, snobbish, rich capitalist/oligarch pigs. He's travelling 3rd class with the salt of the earth immigrants. Think for a few minutes and write up a list of 10 Hollywood clichés that come to mind. I guarantee that 75% of them are in the film.
The real story of the Titanic and its passengers is story enough, in my opinion -- the love story wasn't needed. I assume that it was added to add some uncertainty to the story. Hollywood should have learned from Apollo 13 that just because the audience knows the end of the story doesn't mean you can't make a good movie of it. In any case, the 'love story' adheres so much to cliché that it can be mapped out with uncanny accuracy after ~ five minutes anyway."
The only thing I would retract from my 1998 email is the comment about DiCaprio being " this year's pretty boy" I've subsequently seen some of his other work, and I think that he can be a decent actor. I actually own Titanic on DVD (purchased cheap), and I watch it occasionally. But I do so with ample use of the fast forward button.
I've sometimes wondered what someone could do with a "Phantom Edit" of Titanic could they edit Jack and Rose out of the film almost entirely, and just leave a decent semi-documentary account of the sinking?
Pearl Harbor (2001)
Sappy love story, inaccurate history -- In short, *avoid*
I heard about this film while it was in production. I heard about how they were going to go out of their way to get all the right aircraft to film so things would look right. I heard how they wanted everything to look as authentic as possible. I heard that the movie would somehow encompass the Battle of Britain, Pearl Harbor, and the Doolittle Raid (??? - an early warning sign). I heard that they were going to stage the premiere on an aircraft carrier moored in Pearl Harbor, for an audience of Second World War veterans. They even managed to get one of the veterans attending the premiere to say complimentary things about the movie. I knew that special effects technology had advanced enormously since 1970, allowing the filming of things that would have been impossible in the previous big-budget movie about Pearl Harbor, Tora Tora Tora.
So I thought "Given all this, how bad can it be?".
The answer, unfortunately, is AWFUL. This may not be Hollywood at its worst, but it's pretty close.
I don't know the origin of the phrase "Titanic with bombs" for describing this film, but it's pretty apt. One difference is that Bay and Bruckheimer together don't add up to James Cameron. Both films feature trite, sappy, predictable love stories (with every chestnut in the Hollywood Cliché guide clearly in evidence) layered over a real-life, tragic event. However, although I don't particularly like Titanic, I have some respect for Cameron's success in reproducing the appearance of the RMS Titanic and the events of the Titanic sinking on screen. I am prepared to watch Titanic (while fast-forwarding over the love story bits) just to see the history parts.
Pearl Harbor fails this test. The portion of the film featuring the attack on Pearl Harbor comes off like a video game -- Lots of sound and fury, but no realism whatsoever. The problem here is that this is not only a real event, but an event of pivotal importance in the history of the United States. Worse yet, the event is still within living memory. How will we feel in 2061, when a director decides to make a movie about September 11, 2001, and casually re-arranges the events of that day to make the resulting film "more entertaining/more commercial/more appealing to mass audiences"? Do you feel sick even contemplating that possibility? That's how I suspect that veterans of the actual attack on Pearl Harbor feel about this movie. The late Brigadier General Kenneth Taylor, one of the pilots who did in real life what Ben Affleck and Josh Hartnett portray on screen described the film as "a piece of trash...over-sensationalized and distorted."
Watch Tora Tora Tora instead. It's not perfect, but it's a pretty accurate telling of what really happened at Pearl Harbor. (Tellingly, Tora, Tora, Tora used veterans like General Taylor as advisers to make sure that they got most of the details right). A newer film with improved special effects is not necessarily a better film.