Thursday, December 15, 2011

500 Films, The Worst of the Worst

Having had watched 500 movies this past year, I can honestly say that a lot of them were not very good. Usually, I tried to pick films that were supposed to be good, but on some days I had very limited choices and had to watch what my friends were watching. And that almost never turns out good.

And so, while it would be terribly easy to make a bottom ten made entirely out of films that my friends made me watch, I'm not going to do that. Instead, my bottom ten is composed mostly of movies that are either supposed to be good or that are by directors that I usually enjoy. So, for the most part, these are movies that I had hopes for that utterly failed to meet my expectations.


#10 - The Green Hornet - dir. Michel Gondry - 2011
I figured since this was a list of the worst movies, Seth Rogen should probably be on it somewhere. And while this was a movie that my friends had me watch, I at least had held on to a little bit of hope that with a director like Michel Gondry (who did the fantastic Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), that perhaps this movie wouldn't be all bad. Instead, I just got two hours of Seth Rogen playing Seth Rogen in a mask, which is not a very pleasant experience.
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#9 - Dogtooth - dir. Giorgos Lanthimos - 2009
Dogtooth was nominated for the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 2010, which is really fucking weird. Because Dogtooth is fucking weird. And not in a cool David Lynch sort of way.


It's a rather uncomfortable film to watch, about three near-adult siblings who have grown-up confined to their parent's home and teachings, and as a result their actions and behavior are completely alien from how normal people act. They've been taught the wrong names for various objects. They believe cats are dangerous monsters. And while this can be amusing at first, it becomes something far more perverse as the movie progresses.
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#8 - Big - dir. Penny Marshall - 1988
The list of 1001 Movies to See Before You Die told me that I needed to watch Big. I rather wish it hadn't.

I remember watching Big when I was younger; or rather, I remembered watching parts of it, which is why I felt I needed to re-watch it before I crossed it off my list. The thing is, I seem to remember not liking it back then, and upon re-watching, that feeling hasn't changed. I suppose it might be because I'm not much of a Tom Hanks fan, and seeing him act childish through a full movie doesn't exactly make me warm up to him. And it probably doesn't help that I never had any of the cool toys that he got to have when I was a child. But, in all, I simply didn't find this movie very fun, which it seemed like it was trying so hard to be.
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#7 - Tideland - dir. Terry Gilliam - 2005


I'm a big fan of Terry Gilliam, and he has a lot of movies that I like a whole lot, but Tideland isn't among them. In short, Tideland is a terribly uncomfortable film to watch, mostly because a lot of unpleasant things happen to and around a young girl. For instance, she regularly prepares heroin injections for her father, who proceeds to die and then decompose as the movie progresses, though the girl doesn't notice as she is lost in her grotesquely fantastical imagination. And then she has a bizarre relationship with an older, mentally handicapped man. And that doesn't sound like it would make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, does it? None of it is very fun to watch... but the film is very much a Gilliam film - in fact, it is probably Gilliam at his most unfiltered - so for those who like his work, I would assume that there would be some who would quite like Tideland. I, however, felt like taking a shower by the time it was done.
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#6 - The Beach - dir. Danny Boyle - 2000
Danny Boyle is a pretty fantastic director. He's the man behind Slumdog Millionaire, Shallow Grave, Trainspotting, 127 Hours, Sunshine, and 28 Days Later, which is why The Beach came as such a disappointment. 


I won't deny that the cinematography is wonderful. But beyond that, the film is a mess, as it tries to balance too many genres, turning it in to some sort of romantic-action-mystery-thriller that fails to come through on any of the many, many ideas it sets up. Though I will say that Robert Carlyle was quite fun in it. Sadly, he's only in it for a couple of minutes.
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#5 - Hellraiser - dir. Clive Barker - 1987
When I asked people for horror movie recommendations for my month-long October horror movie marathon, I'm sure I was told Hellraiser half a dozen times, so I decided to watch it.


Hellraiser is an unpleasant movie. It is often violent, gory, and disgusting, and I have no problem with any of that, so long as it helps to make a movie good. But, truly, that savage imagery is all that Hellraiser is. The rest of the plot is simply unlikable characters making stupid decisions. The film is very dark, but entirely witless. The gory effects are well done, but the movie lacks any real style. 


If you want cool, stylish, brutal horror (with an amazing score to boot), watch this instead... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VwRG2qpEwl4
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#4 - Event Horizon - dir. Paul W.S. Anderson - 1997
There were three movies that I saw when I was much younger that I remembered certain images from, but had no idea what they were, and I struggled for years to figure out what they were. The first I have since learned was the movie The Radioland Murders. The second was Event Horizon. And the third I have yet to figure out, but it involves a chainsaw cutting through the roof of a car, and a man sitting behind a fire. It's been bothering me for years.


I have yet to re-watch The Radioland Murders, but I did get to see Event Horizon. And it was upsetting to realize that the movie I had spent so much time thinking about for the last ten years was, frankly, an awful movie. I wasn't exactly surprised... as soon as I figured out what it was, I looked it up online and learned that it was directed by Paul W.S. Anderson, which is never a good sign.


So I finally watched it. And here it sits, in my bottom five. The movie is highly nonsensical, with plenty of plot-points left unresolved or poorly explained, the characters are dislikable, and it often feels like a gory-knockoff of Solaris (a far superior film involving hallucinations of family members on a isolated spaceship).


If only it had been directed by the other Paul Anderson. What a difference two letters can make...
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#3 - Sucker Punch - dir. Zack Snyder - 2011
I didn't hate this movie when I first saw it. It's not that it was good... no, it was still quite terrible. But it seemed harmless at the time, and I felt no need to let my mind linger on its many, many flaws, because that would be giving director Zack Snyder far too much credit. I've come to accept that he's not a good director, after having seen both 300 and Watchmen (though his 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead actually was fairly good).


So I didn't hate this movie at first. But then I discovered that a handful of my friends absolutely loved it, and they kept telling me how much they loved it, about how it's a wonderful film about female-empowerment, and that I was crazy for not liking it. Well, the thing is, Sucker Punch is not empowering; what it is is shallow, one-dimensional, and filled with some absolutely terrible dialogue. I could write an entire essay on just how not-empowering Sucker Punch truly is, but I would far rather spend my time writing about things that are far less obvious. 


If you want to go watch something violent and empowering, go watch Kill Bill, or Aliens. Because if I even have to hear the name Sucker Punch one more time, I'm afraid I can't be held responsible for what it will make me do.
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#2 - Cannibal Holocaust - dir. Ruggero Deodato - 1980
They scalp a monkey! A real one! In the film! That's just wrong. Many other animals were killed for the creation of this movie as well...


I suppose Cannibal Holocaust does achieve its purpose. It's shocking and brutal, and has a fairly interesting social commentary in showing how people can be far more brutal and vile than the cannibals mentioned in the title. The story behind it is rather fascinating as well, as the director was originally accused of having murdered his cast members (he didn't. But he did kill the monkeys). So it is also terribly unethical, and quite a disturbing watch, so I certainly never plan to watch it again.
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#1 - Crash - dir. Paul Haggis - 2005
I should have just watched the Cronenberg film instead...


Crash won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 2005. Which means it's a good movie, right? I have been working my way through every best picture winner and nominee, so I figured it was time to give it a watch.


There are a lot of movies that aren't very good, and most of these movies seem to know that. Sometimes, that makes these movies enjoyable. There are times when I simply enjoy watching them for mindless entertainment. And then there are the really good movies. Those are the ones that I like the most. But then there are the bad movies that think they are good movies. Movies like Forrest Gump or E.T. or Shrek. And, of course, Crash.


Crash is a movie about racism, and it tries to say a whole lot about it. The movie follows a large ensemble of characters over a couple of days as there lives coincide through a series of unlikely coincidences. And the entire time, everything they do is about race. Every line spoken. Every action and interaction. It's ridiculously implausible. People don't talk like that. The language often seems as if it is  trying to be shocking, but it wears thin extremely quickly. The characters themselves are little more than racial stereotypes.


So if you can't tell, I have a major problem with how the screenplay was written. I hated the dialogue, and I hated just how forced the coincidences are.


I especially hate how a movie like this could win an Oscar for Best Picture. And that helps ensure it as my #1 worst for this year.
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My bottom ten is finally done! Which means I can get a start on my top ten! I promise there will be a lot less hating in that part of it. Hopefully, it will be posted by early next week.





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