Amoeblog

Worst Film Crud of 2011

Posted by Charles Reece, January 30, 2012 01:50am | Post a Comment

These are films that I either suffered through, or whose trailers assaulted me while waiting to see something else.


Not So Bad Once You Get to Know Them

   

These are two individuals who made careers out of dehumanizing others. Yet, we're supposed to sympathize with them because one was a repressed gay man and the other a woman who faced off against men and is now suffering from Alzheimer's. Fuck them both. There are many legitimate ways to approach biopics about interestingly evil people (e.g. Downfall), but a liberalized understanding is not one of them. 
 

Monstrous Genetic Mutations

   

I've previously expressed my horror at seeing simple 2D cartoonish figures rendered in photorealistic 3D detail. Who needs to count the black lines in Scooby's iris or see the snot dripping from his nose to get into the plot? But this grotesque disfiguration has really reached its aesthetic nadir with Spielberg's adaptation of the comic famous for its clear line style, Hergé's TinTin. Rather than believe Spielberg can't see how hideous these deformed monsters look, I suspect that this kind of adaptation is really a simulation of a live action adaptation. Ultimately, it's a portent of a later stage of the technological revolution in which actors and much of the old film crew will be out of a job. A perfectly realistic CG star can't join a union. Of course, that'll only happen if they can digitally create the voices, too, which brings me to why the Muppets are dead and should not be brought back as zombies. Maybe Gallagher and Sam Kinison can be safely simulated by a close relative, but there is no muppet without the original muppeteer. Kermit and Fozzie might look the same, but they're obviously defective clones, being revealed as recovering stroke victims upon opening their mouths. (Not that I've ever been much of a fan of the Muppet movies, which tend to identify more with the lame humans than the characters of interest.)
 

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Best and Worst Films of 2010 Addenda

Posted by Charles Reece, January 24, 2011 02:11am | Post a Comment
I just saw these on video, but each should go on my respective lists.

Best of 2010:


Debra Granik's Winter's Bone more or less takes Raymond Chandler's basic story structure for his Philip Marlowe books but sets it in the Ozarks with a teenaged girl as the detective. Ree Dolly goes hunting for her missing father, who's put their house up for his bond. If he doesn't show up for his hearing, the family will be homeless. As with Marlowe, Ree gets the shit kicked out of her, discovers a much more involved plot and it all ends with the initial mystery not being so important. There's plenty of haggard femme fatales, I guess, but Granik doesn't do much with shadows, so I wouldn't exactly call this hillbilly noir. Instead, Granik subtly uses the hardboiled template to tell the story without becoming postmodern pastiche -- i.e., without the winking of, say, Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang or Brick. So this unfortunately knocks Jackass 3D off of my list of 11 films.

Crud:


Jay and Mark Duplass are known for their mumblecore style and are favorites of Sundance, so that should've warned me off from watching this shit, but I gave Cyrus a chance. John is a lonely lump of a man who's been masturbating for the past 7 years since his divorce. His best and only friend is his ex, who makes him come to a party where he gets drunk and acts like an ass. Molly is a chubby-chasing MILF who finds this oaf's idiocy appealing for its authenticity. Granted, its authentic in the sense that the story takes place in L.A., where drunken, loud-mouthed narcissists who want to talk about themselves to anyone standing around are a dime a dozen. But why is this appealing to Molly? Well, because she's got an Oedipal thing going on with her obese, asshole son, Cyrus, so maybe John reminds her of him. If the fantastic message had been if you're not blessed with a beautiful face, you might be lucky enough to have Marisa Tomei as a doting mom, the film might've moved past the low bar set by the standards of Sundance, but the brothers Duplass aren't perverse enough for that. Instead of exploring incest (which is always interesting), they provide wish fulfillment for cloddish types who can't rely on an interesting personality or wit to get them through life. This is, of course, the same terrain mined by Judd Apatow, only with intentionally dull lines and a constantly moving camera to give a patina of realism. Authenticity by rote.

Film Crud of 2010

Posted by Charles Reece, January 9, 2011 11:43pm | Post a Comment

Imagine an alien archeologist in the future trying to understand human culture through our only remaining documents, existentialist literature from the 20th century. This alien might not laugh at Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan.

   

I have not seen Sofia Coppola's Somewhere, but did see Tom Hooper's The King's Speech thanks to a free screening. The latter makes King George VI relatable to us commoners by showing the difficulty he had in public speaking (a requisite of kings) due to his stuttering. Being a monarch on the dole isn't as easy as it looks, the film says. Coppola suggested in her last film, Marie Antoinette, that royalty might even like the same indy rock bands as the hoi polloi if given the chance. Poor Marie didn't get that chance; her crippling privilege led to an early beheading. King George couldn't retreat into the background and go face the Nazis on the battlefield. Instead, he had to endure years of speech therapy in order to give a speech to all the boys who were to face death against the Axis. My inner class conflict has trouble finding this story inspirational, but I, along with all the middle aged women who read classic literature, can't deny the charm of Colin Firth. As an example of creative writing's write what you know, Somewhere is about privileged Hollywood types contemplating their up-and-out existence at the Chateau Marmont. Stephen Dorff plays the kind of guy who spends a lot of money on looking dirty and hip. There are a lot of his type in Hollywood, and now they have a movie about their plight. Dorff's not as dreamy as Firth, but has better abs.


That poster kind of says it all, a bleached blonde white queen, i.e., cheap and phony. It's interesting that when a film version of some dark fable comes up, Tim Burton springs to mind. Of course, he had to be the one to direct this film, I heard many people say. Yet, he only fucks them up: Sleepy Hollow, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Sweeney Todd. Sure, he's got a unique design sense, but he's an unimaginative storyteller, turning everything into the most rudimentary action plot. The best he could do with the headless horseman is to treat him as a supervillain. Alice in Wonderland shoehorns Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings into Lewis Carroll's world. Instead of mindgames with perverse creatures, Alice is a warrior who's brought back to Wonderland to face off against the tyranny of the Red Queen and to slay the Jabberwocky. That sounds like a well-worn joke about producer interference from The Player, but it's not.


Peter Bogdanovich likes to retell this bit where, in response to a comment he made about Greta Garbo only making two great films, Orson Welles said, "you only need one." It helps to keep that in mind when watching Martin Scorsese's films of the past 20 years. For example, Shutter Island.


"Charms audiences into a state of enlightenment" -- that's one of the poster's blurbs. If you're a bigot, then you're not going to see a film about two lesbians raising well-adjusted kids. So who's going to be charmed by this film? Liberal types already accepting the message of the film, but who like to be patted on the back for their tolerant attitude. Which renders the point perfunctory, at best, like arguing against spousal abuse in front of Oprah's audience. No, I didn't see The Kids Are All Right, but the trailer gives away the whole story: sperm-donating wastrel dad returns, shakes things up, everyone loves each other a little more by the end. Nothing offends me quite like earnest pablum, congratulating people on not acting like idiots. Can we set the bar any lower? Jonathan Rosenbaum recently commented how sick he is of American revenge plots. I disagree. Think how much better this film would be had the father returned, kidnapped the kids, been hunted down and tortured by the mothers proclaiming masculinity to be an infection in need of a cure. That's the kind of view I don't mind being patted on the back for having.


Should someone object that it's not fair to judge a film based on the trailer (as if blunt empiricism is always preferable to a well-honed rationalism when assessing something like a Star Trek/X-men crossover novel), I watched TRON Legacy, even though the trailer looked terrible. The movie was, indeed, terrible. 

Dishonorable mentions: Iron Man 2, Monsters, anything starring one of the Affleck brothers and whatever Clint Eastwood's last film was.

BEST, WORST & MOST OVERRATED FILMS OF 2008

Posted by Charles Reece, December 28, 2008 07:35pm | Post a Comment
~ THE BEST ~

If You Disagree On These Two, You'd Be Wrong


For Some Realism


For Some Comedy


For Some (More) Fantasy


~ YOU KIDDIN' ME? ~


~ LOW FIBER STOOL CONTENT ~


~ MOST SOUL-DRAINING TRAILERS ~


~ MASTERFULLY FULFILLED WORTHLESS INTENTION ~