One of the benefits of working where I do is being able to watch many movies for free. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t get the urge to shove forks into my eyes and bamboo sticks into my ears whenever I have to endure films like the following pieces of shit:
10. Fay Grim
Hal Hartley’s cult rep through the movie Henry Fool is a little overboard. It’s a good, but not great movie. This sequel, however, drove me up the wall. Parker Posey is a good actress, but here she just comes across as an annoying itchy-twitchy bundle of nerves with no real compelling reason, in my opinion, to get involved with the CIA to find some important notes written by former lover Henry Fool. It veers implausibly from comedy to drama as she has to finally meet up with Henry, and the very last scenes are among the least gratifying in any movie this year. Grim’s final reactions to Henry are inexplicable and stupid. I really felt like throwing things at the screen.
Alternative: Watch Henry Fool and consider the story finished.
I give my congratulations to Roland Joffe (director of The Killing Fields and The Mission). You’ve done what no other filmmaker has been able to do with me: give his movie a spot on my ten worst list after only viewing ten minutes of it. The scene: an unknown woman is bound to a table, a funnel placed into her mouth and is force fed the puree of body parts run through a blender. Where do you fucking go from there? Writer Larry Cohen has written and directed much, much better and I would think he knows it.
Alternative: Starve your pet pit bull for a week and then walk into his pen with a steak taped to your face.
8. Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon
Young man decides he’s going to be the next great serial killer, a la Jason or Freddie, and has a documentary filmmaker tag along so she can record it all. Nathan Baesel plays the would-be killer, but I didn’t believe for a second he could cut it as even a potential criminal. The only crime he could commit is living in his parents’ basement long after they’ve told him to take his Screaming Yello Zonkers and Mountain Dew and hit the road. Angela Goethals also sucks as the documentary filmmaker. Ugh!
Alternative: Watch Man Bites Dog. It’s the same damn idea anyway.
Jesus, another horror film that sucks like a Hoover. Admittedly, the idea of a boy who just might be a little too eccentric for safety’s sake is a good one. However, the movie becomes completely bogged down with way too much melodrama and crises–one after another after another. The cumulative effect of all this was to, ironically, take the focus away from the boy. I found myself laughing derisively out loud after awhile–a sure sign of a thriller killer.
Alternative: Rosemary’s Baby. The Omen. The Other. Get your tubes tied.
6. Blood and Chocolate
Truly ridiculous modern-day werewolf movie in which Vivian, a young female wolf in human skin, is called back to her pack, but falls for a mortal (and completely clueless) cartoonist who has an interest in the night creatures. Agnes Bruckner as Vivian has to be one of the least charismatic actors this year, delivering her lines in a monotone that rings of “what the hell am I doing here?” The CGI is awful and check out an early bar scene where everyone is dancing to a rock band in unison. Did Twyla Tharpe give lessons? Finally, I’ve still not been able to figure out what about this film is chocolatey.
Alternative: Find out which of your friends is indeed a werewolf by checking for the single eyebrow running across the forehead. Have your silver handy.
5a, b, & c. Loser Documentaries
It’s one thing to have a documentary about persons who possess strange ways of expressing themselves in art forms however accidental. In the Realms of the Unreal, Tarnation and The Devil and Daniel Johnston come to mind. It’s something else altogether when you have to spend time with people you would never want to know in the first place. The following three docs are representative of the latter and, unfortunately, reflect one of the worst trends in art house cinema right now–documentaries about uninteresting losers.
a. Air Guitar Nation
Remember when your brother looked like a dork pretending to jam on a guitar in his bedroom while listening to metal? Now multiply that image several more times. Now imagine they all gather together to choose which one is the dorkiest. Now imagine there’s a film you can watch about this. Now imagine your wallet $10 lighter because you fucked up and paid to watch it. Had enough?
b. Czech Dream
Two Czech film students decide to build a fake superstore to prove a point. Funded by the government, they create fake fliers and saturate billboards and the electronic media with promises of the big opening day, and then are so clueless, they believe the residents of a former communist country would not show up. Two incredibly stupid mistakes are made here: first, the viewer is told right off the bat this would be a hoax, eliminating any element of surprise. The second (and more egregious) error was to follow up at the end with watery and unconvincing reasons for why they perpetrated this prank, basically making them look like inarticulate assholes. This is probably the only movie I’ve ever seen where I really rooted for a lynching.
c. The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters
A clinically depressed man spends his days playing Donkey Kong and breaks the game’s world record. This sets off a major challenge between the new champ (Clinically Depressed Man) and the current record holder and icon of the game, a manager made to look like a cocky bastard in the film (Cocky Bastard). Since this is for the world record, we have to delve deeply into WeenieWorld and spend time with guys who come out of their moms’ basements just long enough to ogle at these marathon games instead of dating women. Oh great, let’s spend an entire feature length film with the socially retarded, but Donkey Kong-gifted. Register this as a form of torture with Amnesty International.
Alternative: If you watch a fun and informative doc like What Would Jesus Buy?, you’ll not only get humorous and interesting folks, but also a much more profound statement about consumerism and overconsumption.
4. Delta Farce
Why does Larry the Cable Guy still have a job appearing on camera anywhere? This dreadful “comedy” is supposed to be about 3 shithouse-rat stupid guys who think they’re headed to Iraq for combat, but instead get sent to Mexico. What it’s really about is stuffing in as many homophobic and xenophobic jokes into one movie as possible. Gee, thanks guys. Our military is having a tough enough time overseas without movies like this making them look worse. Where’s the right-wing outrage over this?
Alternative: Watch No End in Sight, stop voting Republican and stop supporting movies like this.
3. Evan Almighty
Steve Carell digs a hole for himself by agreeing to appear in this cloying and incredibly annoying comedy sequel to Bruce Almighty about a man who’s asked by God (Morgan Freeman, unnecessarily picking up a paycheck here) to build an ark and save the exclusive residential valley he’s just moved into. Yes, this is the retelling of the story of Noah, but in the original Genesis, Noah is a virtuous man. Here, we have in the Carell character, a newly elected wealthy Washington politician–can anyone say “rewrite?” This is a PG rated film, which means of course, that a lot of you parents out there are going to think this is quality family entertainment. Bullshit. Learn and learn fast: many PG films are as bad for your kids as the worst R-rated ones. Don’t fail me by having your kids come to the video store I work in and request junk based on the nonsense you’ve weaned them on. Please.
Alternative: Go to an indie video store and search out good family films you’ve not seen. Or play a board game with your kids. When was the last time you did that?
2. Knocked Up
Memo to Hollywood: if this is the type of movie you think will be the new face of comedy, you deserve to have your box office receipts plummet. Fat, stoner loser (see 5a,b,c) somehow gets into a swanky club with his dorky friends (apparently they deal drugs to security guards) and is able to make chit chat with a hot, young woman just promoted to become an on-camera reporter for E! Entertainment, the most crass network in all television. Only problem is she’s sweet, so how the fuck did that happen? Well, gee Lew, this is only supposed to be a fantasy, right? Oh and speaking of fantasy, they hop in the sack and she gets pregnant, which means of course, I have to spend more time with these stupid people–over 2 hours more on DVD! What the fuck is this, Lawrence of Arabia?! Good God, just get the abortion and we’ve got a 15 minute short. Just save me from this shit.
Alternative: Watch Grandma’s Boy. Yes, I’m serious. It’s a much funnier movie. If not, then fuck soberly with proper protection and with the lights on. If you don’t take the precautions, then don’t tell anyone, so no aspiring screenwriter gets any further non-bright ideas.
1. I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry
I’m through with Adam Sandler comedies. Finished. Kaput. Se A Cabo. This horrendous “comedy” about New York firefighters feigning gay to receive insurance benefits tries to have it both ways and fails each and every time. Of course, in an attempt to not seem like it’s picking on gays, it’s also racist, sexist and makes vicious fun of the obese. Nice way to “honor” New York firefighters, guys. To this day, I’ve still not met a single straight guy who would ever, ever, EVER pretend to be gay for anything, so this trend of gay-faking comedies is getting very stale very fast. If you’re going to make a homophobic movie, just do it, and stop pretending you mean otherwise. The final third of the movie is the most shallow and patronizing attempt to pander to the gay community I’ve ever seen. Also, stop stealing from better movies like In & Out and Victor/Victoria. Note to director Dennis Dugan: you’ve been in a horrible gay-themed movie before (Norman, Is That You?). You should know how to not make these films.
Alternative: Watch Whole New Thing, the best new movie I’ve seen about the coming out process this year, or For the Bible Tells Me So to find out the real source of ongoing homophobia.
Damn, I feel good now. Time for a beer.