In the 1980s, a white-haired North American brought the cinema-going world into a vast, fantastical dreamland, imbued with the sort of mythical creature that had terrorized and fascinated the human race for years but was never captured so engrossingly as through this now classic piece of film history. We're talking, of course, about John Lithgow and his unparalleled turn in Harry and the Hendersons.
When Lithgow bade farewell to his sasquatchian houseguest at the conclusion of the heartrending movie, we learned what it was like for a man to part with a piece of his soul — something, living or otherwise, that inspired him thoroughly, challenged him deeply, took him on journeys to new realms. And now, another fair-follicled Hollywood mainstay notable for otherworldly Reagan-era epics of critical stature has just learned this timeless pain: James Cameron has donated his super awesome, record-breaking submarine to science.
RELATED: James Cameron to Shoot 'Avatar' Sequels in 2013
You'll recall, exactly one year prior to the announcement of Cameron's generous bequeathment, the director plunged deeper into the ocean than any man, woman, or non-gender-specific merperson before him in his Deepsea Challenger submersible. On Mar. 26 of 2012, Cameron piloted the craft — designed by himself and his team of well-read Australians — down to the Challenger Deep of the Mariana Trench, the deepest point on the planet Earth. The solo expedition won Cameron a world record, extended Twitter attention, and what one would assume to be a lifelong brotherhood with the brave little vessel that made the mission possible. But this cruel non-Pandora reality in which we live offers one harsh certainty: all things must come to an end.
And now, just as one Mr. Lithgow so graciously did to the Harry he loved dearly, Cameron is setting his friend free, releasing ol' D.C. to roam free through the fields of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute — a nonprofit education facility devoted to the marine sciences, and, more interestingly, Richard Dreyfuss' place of work in Jaws — where it might continue to contribute to advancements in science and technology. A teary-eyed Cameron (we didn't see him, but we're assuming there were tears) even told The New York Times that his pal might well beckon to the call of the sea again someday. We're also assuming those were his exact words, and that he stared off into the horizon while smoking a corncob pipe immediately after.
RELATED: Voyager 1 Leaves the Solar System, 'Star Trek' Predicts It Will Come Back to Kill Us
Of course, even for a salty windjammer like Capt. Cam, a stinging heartbreak is sure to linger long past this separation of companions. But just as the Deepsea Challenger belongs to science, so does the man who built him. In the absence of his metallic consort, Cameron will be called to revisit the folds of his mind, tasked with creating new and exciting developments for our dear human race. He's already done the near impossible with his Challenger Deep mission — what next?
How about a race of robot warriors that can actually travel back in time... oh, wait, no, they'll just go stark crazy and try to wipe out mankind. Dammit, Terminator.
How about an intergalactic spaceship capable of reaching new planets to study other life forms? Actually, those life forms will probably just turn out to be bio-engineered weapons compelled to rip our heads off. Dammit, Aliens.
RELATED: Tilda Swinton Falls Asleep in a Glass Box at the MOMA, Calls It Art
Okay, what if we make sure that we only go to alien planets with relatively nice aliens? And, as an added safety precaution, Cameron invents a machine to make us look exactly like those aliens, so we can just hang out alongside them and ride their dragon pets? ... No, no. People will just get all selfish and mine the peaceful planet for rare minerals. Dammit, Avatar.
Fine, Cameron. Just make another cool, giant boat. We know, we know, Titanic, but have you ever tried good cruiseline shrimp? Worth it.
Follow Michael Arbeiter on Twitter @MichaelArbeiter
[Photo Credit: Buena Vista/Courtesy Everett Collection]
You Might Also Like:15 Oscar-Winning Nude Scenes10 Insane 'Star Wars' Moments You Didn't Notice
Enigmatic and deliberate Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy makes no reservations while unraveling its heady spy story for better or worse. The film based on the bestselling novel by John Le Carre is purposefully perplexing effectively mirroring the central character George Smiley's (Gary Oldman) own mind-bending investigation of the British MI6's mole problem. But the slow burn pacing clinical shooting style and air of intrigue only go so far—Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy sports an incredible cast that can't dramatically translate the movie's impenetrable narrative. Almost from the get go the movie collapses under its own weight.
After a botched mission in Hungary that saw his colleague Jim (Mark Strong) gunned down in the streets Smiley and his boss Control (John Hurt) are released from the "Circus" (codename for England's Secret Intelligence Service). But soon after Smiley is brought back on board as an impartial observer tasked to uncover the possible infiltration of the organization. The former agent already dealing with the crippling of his own marriage attempts to sift through the history and current goings on of the Circus narrowing his hunt down to four colleagues: Percy aka "Tinker" (Toby Jones) Bill aka "Tailor" (Colin Firth) Roy aka "Soldier" (Ciaran Hinds) and Toy aka "Poor Man" (David Dencik). Working with Peter (Benedict Cumberbatch) a conflicted younger member of the service and Ricki (Tom Hardy) a rogue agent who has information of his own Smiley slowly uncovers the muddled truth—occasionally breaking in to his own work place and crossing his own friends to do so.
Describing Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy as dense doesn't seem complicated enough. The first hour of the monster mystery moves at a sloth's pace trickling out information like the tedious drips of a leaky faucet. The talent on display is undeniable but the characters Smiley included are so cold that a connection can never be made. TTSS sporadically jumps around from past to present timelines without any indication: a tactic that proves especially confusing when scenes play out in reoccurring locations. It's not until halfway through that the movie decides to kick into high gear Smiley's search for a culprit finally becoming clear enough to thrill. A film that takes its time is one thing but Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy does so without any edge or hook.
What the movie lacks in coherency it makes up for in style and thespian gravitas. Director Tomas Alfredson has assembled some of the finest British performers working today and they turn the script's inaccessible spy jargon into poetry. Firth stands out as the group's suave slimeball a departure from his usual nice guy roles. Hardy assures us he's the next big thing once again as the agency's resident moppet a lover who breaks down after a romantic fling uncovers horrifying truth. Oldman is given the most difficult task of the bunch turning the reserved contemplative Smiley into a real human. He half succeeds—his observational slant in the beginning feels like an extension of the movie's bigger problems but once gets going in the second half of the film he's quite a bit of fun.
Alfredson constructs Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy like a cinematic architect each frame dripping with perfectly kitschy '70s production design and camera angles that make the spine tingle. He creates paranoia through framing similar to the Coppola's terrifying The Conversation but unlike that film TTSS doesn't have the characters or story to match. The movie strives to withhold information and succeeds—too much so. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy wants us to solve a mystery with George Smiley but it never clues us in to exactly why we should want to.