WSWS has posted a Titanic review from 1998 -- unsigned -- reposted, maybe it was by David Walsh who writes an intro to the repost:? Here's the opening:
There are few excuses for those critics who are singing the praises of James Cameron’s Titanic. It is a bad piece of work—poorly scripted, poorly acted, poorly directed. If it weren’t for the hundreds of millions of dollars involved in its production and distribution, and the accompanying media hoopla, one could safely ignore the film.
I took my grandmother to see this film, the last one she saw (she died shortly after) and I took two nephews. They all wanted to see it so we went (I believe on Christmas Day if that's when it opened -- we saw the noon showing on opening day).
The place was packed and all that body heat made it to warm in there. I dozed off for ten minutes (after Leo sketches Kate Winslet). Both nephews slept soundly through it (and they wanted to see it). My grandmother made it through the whole thing.
And the verdict?
If you think I'm mean in my reviews, let me offer my grandmother's review of the film:
That's the sort of movie you sit through thinking, "What this movie needs is more Kathy Bates!" And what kind of a movie ever needs more Kathy Bates!
I'm sorry I laughed at that. (I love Kathy Bates' acting but I couldn't stop laughing at that.)
Kathy Bates has a small role in Titanic as Molly Brown (who was the main character in the Debbie Reynolds film The Unsinkable Molly Brown).
My own thoughts were (a) too long, (b) way too long and (c) the only truly marketable thing about the film was that damn Celine Dion song and you didn't even get to hear the whole thing -- it plays at the end during the credits but I'm not remembering it playing all the way through. I could be wrong on that because I've only seen the film that once.
Unlike a lot of people seeing Cameron's film when it opened, I had already seen Titanic. That probably was why I judged it so poorly.
Are you confused?
I saw the film Titanic when I was a child -- the 1953 film starring Barbara Stanwyck, Robert Wagner, Thelma Ritter and others. And it was scary to me as a child. I hid under the couch while it was on TV and had nightmares -- screaming nightmares -- that night. But I saw it again when I was about 18 (maybe 20) and those amazing special effects now looked hokey (technology had moved on) and the piece just seemed hollow.
Cameron's film relied a lot on special effects and I felt the rest of it was hollow.
Unlike WSWS, I do think Cameron is a great director. I wouldn't have given him the Oscar for that film. I could see him getting it for The Abyss, Terminator 2 and Aliens with no problem. I could even give it to him for Avatar or True Lies (on the latter film, the real special effect is Jamie Lee Curtis' amazing performance!). But Titanic left me cold. I tried to watch it a few months after I saw it at the theaters.
I was having an affair with a guy named Griffin and we would meet up at a hotel (he wasn't married but he was engaged). And one day we had ice cream and nothing else -- we were staying the whole week and were probably at the mid-way point -- because we'd sent everything out to be cleaned (clothes). We hadn't packed for a long stay so we decided we'd get them to get ice cream for us and send off our clothes in the morning and get them back that night. So we're sexing up our hotel room and ready for ice cream.
And Griffin turns on the TV and looks for some porn (porn has never turned me on, guys might want to ask if they're trying to turn a woman on because a lot of us aren't into porn) and doesn't find anything that he thinks 'we'll' enjoy so he goes to movies and says, "Oh, this is romantic." And I'm in the kitchen (we were at a Marriot, I think Residence Inn, and it was a studio with an upstairs and downstairs and a fully equipped kitchen) scooping ice cream into bowls for us. I say, "Oh good."
I'm carrying the ice cream to the bed now, I look over and Leo's playing poor working class boy desperate to win his way onto the Titanic. I said, "I think I'd rather watch porn with water sports than suffer through Titanic again."
(Should disclose: I know James Cameron via C.I. Cameron's a very good friend of C.I.'s. He's also a very funny guy and I wish he'd be more unscripted in interviews because he really does have a great sense of humor.)
Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"