263. The Terminator [B-]
THE TERMINATOR: Cameron's debut feature (at least, his debut feature where he had any semblance of creative control) is an outstanding work of exploitation, whether the conditions of shooting (which were very tough) are considered or not. And yet, its grunginess at times gives way to cheapness (besides the stop-motion effects in the finale which don't quite hold up, the Future War sequences often feature over-sized Terminators that look like toys, as well as plenty of unconvincing rear-projection) and there are a pile of side characters who don't amount to anything (basically, any of the cops, including Paul Winfield and Lance Henriksen).
On the other hand, the dark, gritty camera work is excellent and the principal cast are all terrific in their roles. Michael Biehn manages to sell us on a character who fell in love with a photograph, for goodness' sake.
THANK YOU. Finally some fair and objective judgment of this movie. I was getting really sick of all the overpraising of it in the "Terminator and T2" thread. You're exactly right, it has some fine acting and a surprisingly touching love story, but the effects (among other things) are so shoddy that it flabbergasts me how people would hold this movie up as superior to "Terminator 2: Judgment Day"
, which has transcendently more slick effects and a monumentally more epic scope and feel.
I recently saw "Ordinary People"
for the first time. It seems my whole adult life, all I've ever heard about this movie is that it's the one that 'robbed Raging Bull of the Oscar' just like "Shakespeare in Love"
robbed "Saving Private Ryan"
(although in the latter case, I agree). The general consensus seems to be that the Academy are a bunch of pussies who would rather nominate something nice and maudlin over something shocking and gritty (again, in the case of "Shakespeare In Love"
, I agree). I went into "Ordinary People"
expecting to hate it and leave just as outraged as everyone else about its defeat of "Raging Bull"
, but I ended up thinking the right movie won.
I still love "Raging Bull"
and I do think part of the reason this movie won instead of it is because "Raging Bull"
is such an ugly, disturbing film (not ugly in the way it looks, but in terms of subject matter and the main character's personality), but "Ordinary People"
is, in a very different way, also a very powerful movie (at least in my viewing experience). The performances and dialog were superbly heartfelt and convincing, and I really felt for the characters and their suffering, dysfunction, and inability to understand and comfort one another psychologically and emotionally. I was moved to tears several times.
I don't think it stole best picture from "Raging Bull"
, but even thought it was almost as beautifully shot as it was acted and written, the Academy should have at least given Scorsese the award for best director. There's no way any movie nominated that year (including "Ordinary People"
) was shot with as much enthralling flair as "Raging Bull"