Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Misfires, Disappointments and Just Plain Shit: Ten of 07's Worst

1. The Fountain: It feels low to pick on a movie that aimed high, that really thought it had a shot at changing the world. But listen, kid: so did Showgirls. Aronovsky’s films have long divided audiences into the cognoscenti and the unappreciative: in the case of The Fountain’s grating, juvenile pop-philosophising, maybe we were united in that we all got it - we just didn’t give a shit.

2. Perfect Creature: Does anything happen in this movie? Anything at all? It’s a mercifully short exercise in one-note style-servitude, one that doesn’t care about actors or dialogue or anything that’s not its Unique Vision. This isn’t actually that unique, but it’s better than the story, a nonsensical hodgepodge of every mediocre vampires-in-latex actioner you’ve ever seen (shamefully, they’re all superior).

3. Hitman: If a person were a clever hipster, one who secretly rather liked irony and sarcasm and revelling in movies “so bad” they were in fact “good”… Well, that person should admit that the 1990s are over, get with the program and enjoy some of today’s earnestly fine cinema. But before doing so, they’d do well to rush to Hitman, which is so fucking terrible it’s awesome.

4. Beowulf: What Beowulf doesn’t seem to realise is that its big story gambit – Grendel’s mum’s a slut and the king’s his dad! – was already done in the eminently forgettable 1999 version, and it sucked there too. What Beowulf also doesn’t realise is that two hours of waxen-skinned, dead-eyed, naked Thunderbirds puppets flying at the screen does not a good movie make.

5. The Invasion: You have to feel bad for this one: originally intended as Downfall director Oliver Hirschbiegel’s English debut, the reins were handed to the increasingly hacky Wachowski siblings, who proceeded to turn out an unpalatable concoction of ridiculous retoolings and heavy-handed thematic proselytising. And Daniel Craig in an hilarious hat.

6. The Last King of Scotland: The downside of our politically-charged age is that every once in a while someone tries to sneak crap like this past. Fact is, this is facile, lazy, Hollywood-on-a-bad-day rubbish, a portrait of one of the c20th’s most fascinating tyrants that can’t think of anything more interesting to say about said tyrant than, “now there’s a guy whose wife you shouldn’t bang!”

7. Surveillance: A tiny release at this year’s Queer Film Festival ensured hardly anyone saw this textbook tutorial in how not to make a film on a small budget. Tugging its tres-topical central conceit raw, it’s amazingly poorly made, sacrificing character for nonsensical plot and plot for heavy-handed sermonising. The Crying Game this ain’t.

8. 1408: You could make the argument that a tiny Sam Jackson in the fridge, an illusory hobo with a claw hammer, and a painting that wants to drown you are no inherently stupider than, say, mysterious twins, psychosis expressed through typewriter abuse, and menacing snow animals. You could make that argument, but if you’d seen 1408, you would never even try.

9. Pan’s Labyrinth: Usually, it’s churlish in the extreme to judge a movie on the basis of its reception. However everything about Pan’s Labyrinth seems calculated to persuade audiences that they’re witnessing magic - the pic’s so busy blowing its own horn that it never actually makes time for the usual business of films: you know, telling a story, buyable effects, any kind of real enchantment.

10. Death Proof: A half-hour of perfectly good action movie (and very little else), preceded by 90 minutes of over-the-shark onanism from the increasingly trying Tarantino. And that’s 90 minutes that could’ve been spent watching flights of fancy from Wright, Rodriguez and Roth. Thanks, international distributors – you’re a peach!

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