It must be awful to be Kenneth Turan, to live in a world where, as near as I can figure, there hasn’t been a halfway good film released since well before the original version of “The Jazz Singer.” Every Turan review reeks with the distaste he must feel, having to compare all of these sorry films to the utter masterpieces he would have made, if only he weren’t too good for that sort of work.
His review of “Titanic” is not only at odds with my reaction, but those of most of his colleagues (“Captain Cameron’s Solo Voyage,” Dec. 19). As melodramatic as the love story is, it is well-written melodrama, played with great natural conviction by some of our better actors, young and old.
When Turan has the gall to tell James Cameron, the writer-director of “Terminator,” “Terminator 2,” “Aliens” and “The Abyss,” that he needs to find a new creative partner, “preferably someone who can write,” he has descended from the level of critic to that of a cheap-shot artist.
After reading Turan’s negative review of “Titanic” and discovering that he selected “The Sweet Hereafter” as his choice for best film of 1997, I have no intention of reading any future articles or reviews carrying his byline.
“The Sweet Hereafter” is one of the worst films of 1997, a boring, depressing, bleak depiction of people suffering in the aftermath of a school bus tragedy. Anyone who would select that as the year’s best film is not someone whose opinions I am remotely interested in reading.
As someone who’s been fascinated for decades with the true story of the Titanic--and been sorely disappointed by every previous film version except “A Night to Remember"--I went to “Cameron’s folly” expecting to be disappointed once again. Instead, I was entirely engrossed, thoroughly entertained and flat-out astounded by most of what I saw on screen.
If Turan was as unmoved by “Titanic” as his review suggests, perhaps he could be cast in some future telling of the tale . . . as the iceberg!
JOHN JB WILSON
Cameron’s a brilliant screenwriter. Turan must not have the ear to hear it. His screenplays are compassionate, thrilling and literate. All of them. He’s always telling a love story. There is always an infinite heart.
Cameron is that rare species, a complete filmmaker, one of the few who can do it all.
Not only should Cameron bring along “someone who can write,” as Turan suggests, but he should have had a more discerning researcher on board before he sailed.
The story about the band playing “Nearer My God to Thee” as the ship went down is a myth. It might make a good ending for a movie but it’s historically inaccurate.
In the fall of 1912, Col. Archibald Gracie, a heroic survivor, made a speech before the University Club in Washington. A reporter for a New York periodical, the Truth Seeker, wrote: “Colonel Gracie denied that the band showed such bad taste as to play the hymn mentioned, or any other, and the musicians were not quite crazy enough to sit there blowing out psalms till the water flooded their instruments. They played ‘rag-time,’ and laid aside their instruments half an hour before the ship went under.”
Based on his review, Turan mistakenly thought “Titanic” was supposed to be a documentary. Hollywood is entertainment and James Cameron achieved this goal. Three hours later, I was sorry it was over.
Maybe it’s the kid in me, but the simple black hat/white hat theme was beautiful and enjoyable. It appears I am not alone.