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The Charlotte Observer from Charlotte, North Carolina • Page 80
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The Charlotte Observer from Charlotte, North Carolina • Page 80

Charlotte, North Carolina
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FRIDAY DECEMBER 19 1997 THE CHARLOTTE OBSERVER Gross for the weekend of Dec 12-14 MOV 0 topmovies $392 million Total: $392 million $68 million Total: $587 million Richer or Poorer" $6 million Total: $6 million Alone $51 million Total: $51 million $46 million Total: $46 million Rainmaker" $33 million Total: $392 million MERIE WALLACEParamount Pictures-Twentieth Century Fox Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet are homeless artist Jack Dawson and social climber Rose DeWitt Bukater in stays afloat Weighed down by lack of subtlety film succeeds on small moments Film budgets growing ever more obscene Should it make any difference that the budget for "Titanic" could have sent 10000 underprivileged kids to college on full scholarships? Should we be offended that the same sum could have purchased and staffed hundreds of halfway houses for homeless people andor substance abusers? In one sense I guess not Paramount and Fox which split production costs use any of my money to shoot their sea-disaster epic If it really did cost more than $200 million some estimates range as high as $220 million fans are out of pocket only by $7 or so And if the money hadn't been spent on a movie Fox and Paramount certainly have used it to endow health clinics But by making the studios abandoned 10 small to midsize'projects any of which might have been more emotionally or spiritually satisfying as movies This gross expenditure continues to push the budget envelope If becomes a huge hit other studios will slavishly stumble over themselves to copy the bigger-is-better attitude Soon the most expensive movies will cost as much as the gross national product of a developing country And there something obscene about spending so much money on something so ephemeral so briefly enjoyable and ultimately forgettable? the money go to something like salaries for teachers who might earn 1 percent of the $35 million paid to a director such as James Cameron? A free market economist would say no: Our society thinks teachers worth nearly as much as moviemakers so their pay should be a lot lower As a guy who grew up under a capitalist system used to that argument But every time I hear it my skin crawls Resurrection" $32 million Total: $415 million $3 million Total: $419 million Jackal" $24 million Total: $499 million in the Garden of Good and Evil" $16 million Total: $204 million op rentals in Black" Fifth Element" Powers" Point Blank" and Michele's High School Reunion" Lost World: Jurassic 2: Cruise "Chasing Amy" TITANIC GRADE: B- STARS: Leonardo DiCaprio Kate Winslet Billy Zane WRITER-DIRECTOR: James Cameron RATING: (profanity violence brief nudity and sex) RUNNING TIME: 195 minutes A boatload of videos about the Titanicpage 7E Major Titanic exhibit offers history tragedy and chills at Florida museum Sunday in Travel lainy: Informed that a shortage of lifeboats will mean the deaths of half the people aboard Cal sneers the better Should we be surprised? The marriage of simplistic plots and stylistic excesses is a hallmark of James movies and this is his masterwork for good and ill He wrote directed co-produced with Jon Landau was one of three editors and even drew sketches attributed to character He had no one to say no to him as he spent a worth of production time and (allegedly) more than $220 million Thus did a potential epic become a modestly enjoyable and exciting picture is actually two movies It divides neatly in half like the ship itself after striking an iceberg on a sunless morning in April 1912 The first is the love story between Jack and Rose which drags over 95 minutes opposed by Cal his thuggish manservant (David Warner) and desperate single mother (Frances Fisher) who has been left with her good name and an empty bank account by dissolute father The second is the story of the wreck and the struggle to stay alive as they learn that the liner has been inadequately By LAWRENCE TOPPMAN Movie Writer The most expensive most hyped most anticipated movie of 1997 has sailed into theaters today Guess what? also the most conventional most middlebrow and at 185 minutes plus 10 minutes of credits the most bloated boasts capable special effects a star-confirming performance by Leonardo DiCaprio and a surprising number of quiet moments that bring home the horror of the most famous naval disaster also framed with a device too rare in Hollywood these or any other days: a story narrated by an old woman full of vigor and love a survivor of the sinking who recounts her story 85 years later Yet the script has all the subtlety of a billboard along an interstate Except for a gold rough-and-ready wife all the rich people are snobbish cruel brandy-sipping swine All the poor people by contrast are life-affirming joyful folks who love to dance to Celtic music and drink warm beer The fairy-tale romance between penniless artist Jack Dawson (DiCaprio) and would-be society queen Rose DeWitt Bukater (Kate Winslet) is expressed in cliche after cliche And the man who comes between them steel magnate Cal Hockley (Billy Zane) belongs to the Snidely Whiplash school of vil 4 See TITANICnext page.

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