He’s won the Oscar, has the highest-grossing film in Hollywood history and stands to collect a $100 million bonus.
And yet “Titanic” writer-director James Cameron isn’t completely at peace: He has launched a counter-strike against one of the movie’s most persistent critics, the lead Los Angeles Times film reviewer.
In a letter the Times published on the front page of Saturday’s arts section, Cameron wrote that critic Kenneth Turan’s open dislike of “Titanic” amounts to a condemnation of all of show business.
“It’s not that he doesn’t like some movies, as is a critic’s prerogative,” Cameron wrote. “It’s that he doesn’t like all movies. Simmering in his own bile, year after year, he has become further and further removed from the simple, joyful experience of movie-watching, which, ironically, probably attracted him to the job in the first place.”
Turan has criticized “Titanic” since its December opening, particularly Cameron’s script. He called the screenplay “a hackneyed, completely derivative copy of old Hollywood romances, a movie that reeks of phoniness and lacks even minimal originality.”
“Worse than that,” the critic said, many of the characters “are cliches of such purity they ought to be exhibited in film schools as examples of how not to write for the screen.”
When Academy Award nominations were announced in February and “Titanic” collected a record-tying 14, Turan noted the movie was not nominated for original screenplay by the Academy’s screenwriters.
“It’s not just that the writers did the sane thing by denying a nomination to James Cameron and his cobbled-together ‘Titanic’ script; any child would have no trouble pointing out that piece’s flaws (and some of my acquaintances in fact have),” he wrote.
A few days before the Oscar ceremony, Turan called “Titanic” a “witless counterfeit of Hollywood’s Golden Age.” When it won 11 Oscars, including best picture and director, Turan said Cameron “smiled through it all with the geniality of an old-style politician on a Sunday visit to his favorite ward.”
Turan was not alone in criticizing “Titanic.” Richard Corliss of Time magazine and critics for the Washington Post and the Associated Press were among those who also found the movie flawed.