Sunday, January 31, 2010

Worst Films of 2009

And now, for the worst of last year.

As I stated, 2009 was a pretty awful year in film. With so many high-profiled fiascos and flops along with the pretentious and the trash, the selection of 10 terrible movies was way too plentiful. I may not have seen all of them or had an urge to, but these selected few really ruined my viewing experiences and/or made me truly angry at the art of filmmaking.


10. THE GIRLFRIEND EXPERIENCE

Steven Soderbergh seems to want to be Godard. The guy may have created a lot of great films, his ever-expanding selfish attitude of filmmaking is causing both Hollywood and myself to lose patience. Case in point, this film released months before his more celebrated THE INFORMANT!. This may have a short running time, but the sheer pretentiousness in every frame overwhelms the viewer. Sure, real-life porn actress Sasha Grey does fit in with the main character and there are some really effective scenes, but the unlikability of all the characters and the constant whining of the now-current economic woes take away all hope. But the direction and cinematography truly are the main culprits. Get ready to view a scene where the foreground characters are out of focus and f-stopped out so we can look at a hanging chandelier. Or, the climax where Sasha argues with her boyfriend but hidden from frame behind a giant couch. Soderbergh, please stop making these stupid pet projects.

9. 12 ROUNDS


The perfect example of bad schlock. This convoulted combined mess of SPEED and DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE has no suspense since it literally follows the same beats as those films. The main villain is absolute stupid as he takes vengeance on a cop for the death of his girlfriend despite the fact that he is more at fault for it. Oh, and his "12 rounds" plan, which results in the massive destruction of New Orleans, is just so he can steal money with a firetruck hose. It gets more stupid if I explain more of it.

8. MY LIFE IN RUINS


Nia Vardalos's career, ladies and gentlemen. One of two projects produced last year, Vardalos desperately tries to recreate success for herself with the abysmal romantic comedy set in Italy. Thrill at the sights of terrible stereotypes and bad characterization. Laugh at a character with the name of "Poopie Cacas." Marvel at how stiff as a board Vardalos is. Instead of the more joyful and bountiful exuberance from her past films, Vardalos commands this feature with everything being forced and no chance for honest laughs.

7. THE INFORMERS

6. GIGANTIC

I'm a big fan of absurdism but this travesty shouldn't be labeled as an example. It is just a very banal and stupid independent film with a plot that is an explosion of annoyingly quirkness. It is a bad Mad Libs creation, as a bed-salesman waits to achieve his dream of getting a Chinese baby while getting attacked by a violent hobo and courting the Maniac Pixie herself Zooey Deschanel. Why are characters randomly in and out of the story? Why is there a scene where men are getting a "happy ending"? Why did I need to see Zooey throwing up? Is it supposed to be hilarious, Mark Aselton? Well, it isn't and you have no sense of making a nonsense film.

5. STREET FIGHTER: THE LEGEND OF CHUN-LI


4. THE BOONDOCK SAINTS II: ALL SAINT'S DAY


3. LAND OF THE LOST

2. THE UGLY TRUTH

1. TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN


The absolute prime example of the shear stupidity of the Hollywood machine. This wasn't the bigger and better sequel to the very mediocre first TRANSFORMERS. It was an endless abyss of bad comedy, offensive stereotypes, and badly constructed action and storytelling. Nothing worked.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Top Films of 2009





Ah, 2009. What a great year in film. It had....



Oh, wait. 2009 was a terrible year in film. Sundance was a joke, Cannes was either pretentious or "look at me" controversial, and the Summer lineup and Oscar month were both mishandled and suffered from a lot of duds. From the piles of disposable celluloid, there rose a select few films that made for great entertainment, interesting artistic direction, and/or brought up issues surrounding the human condition.



I wanted to do a Top 15 list, since I don't like the strict construct of a Top 10 and the expected reactions/opinions of viewers. However, since I couldn't find or didn't see five other worthwhile films for myself, this countdown will just follow the status quo.



First, some Honorable Mentions or films that made me indifferent to include:



INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS had some great scenes and the fine performance of Christoph Waltz, but the possible re-doing of Black Book, the dumb characterization and directional problems ruined my expectations. WATCHMEN suffered heavily from two truly awful lead performances and a perplexing changed ending but the art direction and the acting of Patrick Wilson and Jackie Earle Haley made it a treat for this fan of the comic book. GOMORRAH had a very good cinema verite and some fascinating storylines but the pace was sometimes too slow and two of the plot lines hardly had any reason to be told.





10. AVATAR

9. MOON

When I first saw this in theaters, I was a little conflicted about it. Maybe it was the obvious comparisons to 2001. However, time has helped pave over the problems and it has become one of the best sci-fi films of the year where the science is more important than action. Duncan Jones, who somehow can't be described without including that he is David Bowie's son, created a great debut film for himself thanks to a tight script and good mise en scene. Sam Rockwell pulled off a great performance, making you feel truly care for his character as he faces certain death and a crisis in his personal identity. A special mention also must go out to GERTY, the helper robot voiced by Kevin Spacey who is well constructed and lovable thanks to a smiley interface.

8. NOT QUITE HOLLYWOOD

It might not be for everyone, but this documentary on the history of exploitation film in Australia is highly entertaining and enlightening. Rather than just be an extensive showcase of film clips, the film brings up many issues surrounding the Australian film industry including nationalism, art vs. entertainment, and the casting of Hollywood actors. It's edited very well, except for the constant Flash animation, and has an unbiased attitude towards its interviewees. The Ozploitation may still be hidden from the rest of the world, but this documentary is a giant thank you to the genre filmmakers of Australia.

7. ZOMBIELAND

6. PONYO

5. STAR TREK

4. AWAY WE GO

Many film critics were very harsh against the film upon its release and in the year roundups, declaring it as utter "smug." I do see what might have caused this outlook, but Sam Mendes' latest film was one of my few real treats in theaters this year. It has a very hilarious and bittersweet script from Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida and a great cast.

3. DISTRICT 9

2. THE HURT LOCKER

1. UP