James Cameron

All this week, Film School Rejects presents a daily dose of our favorite articles from the archive. Originally published in November 2011, David C. Bell explores some of the toughest roads to the big screen for a score of great movies. Most films tend to be technological and logistical nightmares right from the start; clusters of egos working together with complicated equipment in an attempt to capture what is essentially a really elaborate lie tends to be a rather surreal process, so it’s not really surprising to hear that a whole lot of craziness can go down during the making of a movie – however as unsurprising as it may be, it’s still damn entertaining. That’s why DVD documentaries, in my opinion, are like the ultimate kind of reality TV: stick a bunch of millionaire actors, union laborers, and eccentric artists in a room with expensive and possibly life-threatening electrical equipment and you’re surely going to get something worth watching. These are the sets that were no doubt the worst to be party to, and the best to be a fly on the wall for – that is if you happen to be a really sadistic fly.

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James Cameron is probably out there somewhere, cultivating a fully-formed alien ecosystem on Venus for Avatar 8, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t care about his home planet too. In fact, he cares so much about Earth that he’s produced a documentary for Showtime called Years of Living Dangerously, about the damage our civilization is doing to the environment, and what can be done to stop it. But Cameron is also the man who makes films so popular that unborn children and the recently deceased still manage to make it into the theaters; he knows that your average schmuck won’t be paying attention to a pay-cable documentary about the environment. So what does he do? He crams Years of Living Dangerously with every single celebrity who’s ever uttered the words “climate change,” including, but not limited to: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ian Somerhalder, Harrison Ford, Matt Damon, Olivia Munn, Jessica Alba, Don Cheadle, America Ferrera and Michael C. Hall. And Cameron’s not borrowing roughly a third of Hollywood just to plant ‘em in front of a camera either. These celebrities are billed as “celebrity correspondents,” and will be taking their famous faces into the field to get an up close and personal look at how environmental damage affects those who don’t regularly receive multimillion dollar paydays. It may put butts in seats (although who knows, it might not), but on the subject of climate change, I’d rather hear from the scientific community than Dexter and Indiana Jones. Check out the trailer for […]

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The Clone Saga

Here’s a piece of surprising news. Stephen Lang, who portrayed the villainous Colonel Quaritch in James Cameron‘s Avatar, has been confirmed (by Deadline Hollywood) to return for all three Avatar sequels that Cameron is shooting back-to-back-to-back for some reason. It’s surprising, of course, because – and this will be a spoiler if you haven’t seen Avatar, but almost the entirety of Earth’s population saw Avatar four times over so spoilers shouldn’t really be a big deal – we all saw Quaritch snuffed out by a couple of well-placed arrows at the end of the original film. So how exactly will Cameron re-insert his scarfaced villain into the jungles of Pandora? Given that we know next to nothing about Avatars 2-4, almost anything could be possible. He could go the Willem Dafoe in Spider-Man route and for some beyond the grave taunting (although there are no haunted mirrors on Pandora; Quaritch may be relegated to haunted puddles). Or perhaps we’ll see the villain return via flashback.

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cody

Going from screenwriting to directing isn’t an easy transition for most. Some writers have found great success behind the camera, while others have buckled under the pressure. It’s a different job with its own set of demands. With Paradise, Academy Award winner Diablo Cody takes her first crack at directing with the story of a young girl named Lamb (Julianne Hough), who visits Las Vegas after a serious plane crash leaves her with burn scars and a desire to explore places outside of her religious community. Whether we’ll see Cody direct again is a real question mark. Instead of proclaiming how amazing her experience was, Cody expressed to us her problems with the job and the way certain critics respond to her flawed female characters. Here’s what she had to say about those critics, writing women and, of course, her take on Gravity:

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avatar16

Not content simply making a sequel to a successful film, James Cameron has tacked on a third Avatar sequel to the two he already has in development. Deadline reports that all three films will be shot simultaneously in 2014, to be released in December 2014, 2015 and 2016, respectively. Either because of the monumental task ahead of him or because he’s finally learned that screenwriting is not his strong suit, Cameron will be teaming with different writers for each sequel script. Avatar 2 will be co-written by Josh Friedman (War of the Worlds), Avatar 3 by Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver (Rise of the Planet of the Apes), and Avatar 3 by Shane Salerno (Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem). While this makes Cameron seem a little like a crazy person, remember that the Lord of the Rings series was filmed the same way, and Cameron was already planning to do two Avatars back-to-back in the first place. But at the same time, this Avatar-stravaganza is likely to be one of the riskiest moves Hollywood has ever taken. The first Avatar was one of the most expensive films ever made. Presumably shooting three at a time will demolish that record like a bulldozer composed entirely of other people’s money. There’s no doubt that the sequels will pull in lots of cash, but if the public was to suddenly lose their Avatar fever with future Avatars not yet released, this could be disastrous. Of course, that very thing was what analysts said right before […]

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IntroDirectorCameos

The beauty of being a director is that you can get killer screen time without the hassle of actually knowing how to act. Being a good director, however, is knowing not to haphazardly stick yourself in your films – at least not unless you’re Spike Lee or Woody Allen. Really it’s all about identifying your limitations. So here are some neat ways that a director opted to show up in their film without taking the spotlight at the same time. These are creative little cameos that you might never notice in a million years of watching.

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Avatar Movie

Joe Letteri, the Oscar-winning visual effects supervisor behind The Hobbit, is currently on an interview tour trying to explain to people who didn’t like 48FPS that they’re probably just too old to give it a chance. The line of thinking seems to be that it isn’t ugly, it’s just that people are so entrenched in their experiences with reliable old 24FPS that their eyes can’t properly attain the beauty. But it turns out that 48FPS isn’t what we need to be worried about. It’s 60FPS. In one of his conversations, Letteri explained that James Cameron was considering using the even higher frame rate for Avatar 2. “That’s closer to where persistence of vision almost disappears,” said Letteri. “In fact, these discussions came out of when we noticed the effect of that in Avatar. And we were brainstorming with Jim on how to fix it — well, this is inherent in the photography and the only thing you can do is go shorter shutter, but that introduces strobing, or you can go higher frame rate. We started experimenting with higher frame rate [from a standpoint of] how do we solve the problem?. . . It looks like something happening live.”

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The Ingredients is a column devoted to breaking down the components of a new film release with some focus on influential movies that came before. As always, these posts look at the entire plots of films and so include SPOILERS.  Even the most visionary and original films can seem derivative, especially to those of us who watch tons of movies on a regular basis. Occasionally it’s intended for the audience to spot certain allusions and apply them to our experience with this new work, as in the case of Holy Motors. Other times it’s not so deliberate, and the fact that new movies trigger memories of older movies (and vice versa depending on when they’re seen) is all on us, yet not totally without reason given how there are really only a few base plots and themes in existence and also given that our comprehension of things, particularly imaginative things, has to be relatable to other things we’ve comprehended previously. That’s why a movie like Avatar can be “like nothing we’ve ever seen before,” but only to an extent. For it to be accessible to a wide audience — let alone be one of the biggest worldwide hits of all time — it has to “unfortunately” resemble other movies. And now Life of Pi can be likened by critics to Avatar for similarly giving us spectacle like nothing we’ve ever seen before. It sounds ironic but it’s not. Even if the magical island in Pi may even further remind us of […]

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James Cameron

First of all, thank goodness. Second of all, duh. Back in May, James Cameron basically informed the world that if a film wasn’t set in the world of his Avatar, he wasn’t interested in making it. At the time, the filmmaker said: “I’m not interested in developing anything. I’m in the Avatar business. Period. That’s it. I’m making Avatar 2, Avatar 3, maybe Avatar 4, and I’m not going to produce other people’s movies for them. I’m not interested in taking scripts…I think within the Avatar landscape I can say everything I need to say that I think needs to be said, in terms of the state of the world and what I think we need to be doing about it. And doing it in an entertaining way. And anything I can’t say in that area, I want to say through documentaries, which I’m continuing.” Turns out, Cameron found something else that he wanted to say, something that will (thankfully) get us the hell off of Pandora. THR reports that the director has snapped up the rights to Taylor Stevens‘ novel “The Informationist,” a feature film version of which Cameron will both produce and direct after he finishes up both Avatar 2 and Avatar 3. So who is said Informationist? Well, she’s a strong lady, one who sounds as if she’ll fit right in to Cameron’s canon.

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Titanic

“I’ll never let go, Jack, I promise,” Kate Winslet tearfully promises Leonardo DiCaprio in James Cameron‘s 1997 blockbuster classic, Titanic. She clutches his hand as they both prepare to meet their maker in the icy waters of the North Atlantic, she huddled up on a giant goddamn wooden door, he clinging to both his beloved and, again, a giant goddamn wooden door. She makes vows, vows to never let go, and then BOOM, she lets go. What the hell, Rose DeWitt Bukater? Since Cameron’s darling-slaying of young DiCaprio, moviegoers have raged and wondered over why Rose and Jack didn’t try just a smidge harder to get both their bodies on that giant goddamn wooden door so that they could have had the happily ever after we all wanted for them. Why?!? It seemed to possible! So touchable! Cameron has recently sounded off on the issue, finally opening up and telling fans that “it’s not a question of room; it’s a question of buoyancy. Jack puts Rose on the raft, then he gets on the raft — He’s not an idiot; he doesn’t want to die — and then the raft sinks. So it’s clear that there’s really only enough buoyancy available for one person. So, he makes a decision to let her be that person.” Whatever. And that whatever was recently echoed by the team over at the Discovery Channel’s Mythbusters, who decided to find out for themselves whether or not Cameron’s buoyancy theory was actually correct. Heads up – […]

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For our 150th episode, we decided to go back to the first show’s conversations, and we discovered something mildly depressing: that the discussions are pretty much the same. In 2012, we’re still talking about the topics of 2009; Transformers (a fourth is on the way), G.I. Joe (a delayed sequel is coming), Avatar (a dozen follow-ups will keep James Cameron busy until he retires), Marvel flicks (which have dominated) and remakes (which have not). Good thing we changed the format of the show a while back. Beyond the great repetition, reviewing the news from 3 years ago reveals a lot about the state of modern filmmaking through the lens of hindsight. Werner Herzog is a highlight, and revisiting the releases (Drag Me To Hell and Up) gives us an idea of what might actually endure. On this week’s show, we re-form the team from that pilot episode – site publisher Neil Miller and associate editor Rob Hunter – to dip ourselves in the cool waters of nostalgia and try to figure out what, if anything, is different about the movie-making landscape after 150 shows. Download Episode #150

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Over Under - Large

Since its original release in 1972, Ronald Neame’s The Poseidon Adventure has gained the reputation of being a modern classic. And, certainly, it’s widely considered as being one of the preeminent disaster movies of all time. Set on a retiring ocean liner making its last voyage, The Poseidon Adventure tells the story of a New Year’s Eve celebration that gets interrupted by the sinking of a ship. It’s got a pretty impressive upside down ballroom set, it prominently features the legendary Gene Hackman, and it tells a high stakes story of survival. So it’s not hard to see why people like it. But it’s also largely just a movie where a group of confused people stumble around in dirty access panels and anonymous hallways for much of its run time. Is it really so great that watching it should be a New Year’s Eve tradition like many have made it out to be? Especially when there are indisputable classics like The Apartment out there that also feature New Year’s Eve party scenes? James Cameron’s Titanic is a sappy, on-the-nose romance set against the maiden voyage (and sinking) of the infamous RMS Titanic. Upon its release in 1997, Titanic won basically every award that was given out, brought in every bit of spare cash that was sitting in anyone’s pocketbooks, and captured the attention of the media machine to the point that, by the time 1998 rolled around, the backlash for the film had almost reached the same levels of fervor […]

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Game of Thrones Behind the Scenes

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly news column that’s struggling on a slow-news Monday. Luckily there’s plenty of poster art to go around. Our evening begins with a behind the scenes shot from the production of Game of Thrones and its sure to be epic third season. It’s not telling us much, but the official production blog kicking into high gear is enough to whet the whistles of many a fan, including yours truly.

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McConaughey on Wall Street

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly column that’s comin’ at ya, so you best be prepared. Our night begins with Matthew McConaughey looking ragged on the set of The Wolf of Wall Street, the film project from up-and-coming director Martin Scorsese. It’s not due in theaters until Christmas of next year, but can you already smell the Oscar buzz for Mr. Alright Alright? I can.

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It’s fair to say Jake Sully isn’t all that fascinating of an accent dropping character. He’s all stock, but the world of Avatar certainly was not. James Cameron apparently gets that, since he already plans on losing Sully for Avatar 4. That’s right, Cameron is already thinking of Avatar 4. After he completes his “thematic” trilogy, he’ll return to Pandora to give us a prequel.

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Well, it’s the beginning of September, and the Summer days of giant robots and even bigger explosions is now behind us. We here at Film School Rejects don’t want the Summer movie season to be over just yet, so we’re going back to one of the biggest Summer movies of our collective childhood for this week’s Commentary Commentary. The master of giant budget films, James Cameron, is just the person to take us back, too. This week, we’re going into Cameron’s mind to see what he has to say about Terminator 2: Judgment Day, not the director’s biggest movie but definitely the blockbuster that put him on the Summer map. Even better, it features Arnold Schwarzenegger in his least expendable role yet. Let’s not forget the quips, either. So say, “Hasta la vista, baby,” to the intro and let’s get into the good stuff. Here they are, all 42 things we learned listening to James Cameron and co-writer William Wisher talk about Terminator 2.

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Perhaps it’s time that we all faced facts – this Cleopatra remake just might not happen. In reality, it shouldn’t happen – after all, is anyone really demanding an Angelina Jolie-starring and supposedly more “relatable” take on the Egyptian pharaoh? – but Sony seems bound and determined to keep on with this project, even though no less than three high profile directors have left the project in one way or another. Vulture reports that David Fincher is the latest to jump ship (joining both James Cameron, who was loosely attached back in 2010, and Paul Greengrass, who seemed like a lock in 2011, on the list), after talks with Sony ended. It’s unknown when Fincher left, though he was still talking about the project back in December, and it’s also unclear why Fincher and Sony couldn’t work it out. The outlet does sagely point to the “somewhat cloudy” relationship between the studio and the director, given that Fincher has delivered to them both a huge hit (The Social Network) and a resounding miss (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo). Yet, perhaps this will allow Fincher to sign on for the Dragon Tattoo sequel we’re expecting in 2014 (at the earliest). As for a replacement for Cleopatra? Vulture also reports that the studio is looking to others, including Ang Lee, who has not entered into anything resembling a formal discussion with the studio.

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We’ve known from the very beginning that James Cameron intended on making a sequel to his wildly successful foray into 3D filmmaking, Avatar. We’ve had indication that he might even have plans for several sequels for Avatar, stretching the thing out to encompass an entire trilogy. Word was that the upcoming journeys into the world of Pandora were going to deal heavily with exploring its underwater locations, a prospect that sounded promising, given all of the development of underwater technologies Cameron has done over the years. But when the director started talking about how he might even make three more Avatar sequels, and how he didn’t plan on making movies that weren’t Avatar related ever again…the guy started to sound a little crazy. Well, crazy or not, it indeed looks like that’s going to be the plan. Showbiz 411 has quotes from Avatar actress Sigourney Weaver confirming that Cameron has plans for three more sequels, and that they’re all going to be shot at the same time. This all but confirms that we’ll have to sit through an entire block of films about blue-skinned eco-warriors. Weaver’s comments come with the addendum that she has no idea how long the filming is going to take, how any of it is going to work, and that her job is to “just show up.”

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Aliens Commentary

Who’s to say we can’t break away from the Summer movie season tie-ins for a while? There isn’t much to connect with Rock of Ages. Or That’s My Boy. Does Happy Gilmore even have a commentary track? This week we felt we wanted to stick around the Alien universe a little bit longer. Besides, this Alien Blu-Ray box set is truly a thing of beauty. Scientists are going to be finding this thing centuries from now and think it was something we worshipped. They wouldn’t be too far off. This week, we’re digging into the follow-up to Ridley Scott’s Alien, James Cameron’s Aliens, a film so highly regarded by fans of the series, there are those who claim it’s the only sequel in any franchise to ever surpass its original. That’s another debate for another day. What isn’t arguable, though, is that Cameron’s sequel brings with it as much iconic imagery and memorable moments as the 1979 original. The Alien Vs. Aliens debate will carry on for ions, long after Cameron has built his kingdom by the Mariana Trench and brought the world to its knees with the wave of his fist. Come to think of it, James Cameron would make a good Bond villain.

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Ever since James Cameron’s Avatar made an unheard of amount of money and wowed audiences with its visuals by shooting natively in the 3D format, nearly every big release we’ve seen since has tried to cash in on the craze by offering up a 3D version of itself. This has been going on for a few years though, and in showbiz time that might as well be a century. By all accounts the 3D craze is getting a bit long in the tooth, and it’s probably time for the next big trend to come along and replace it. What will that trend be? If a couple of reports that came out today are any indication, it’s going to be filming portions of your movie with IMAX cameras. The idea of filming select sequences of a film with IMAX cameras and charging customers a premium to experience the scope and clarity of the images on IMAX screens isn’t exactly a new one. Already Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight and Brad Bird’s Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol have used the technique to create unique visuals and score some impressive box office dollars. But, with dueling announcements that two new gigantic franchise films also intend to use this strategy, we might be seeing the birth of a full-on trend.

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published: 04.19.2014
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published: 04.19.2014
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published: 04.18.2014
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published: 04.18.2014
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