Thursday, December 18, 2008

Don't Like

Here are some recentish movies I don't like:

Untraceable - like Saw for people who are too squeamish for Saw. But what's the point of that, really?

Cloverfield - Lots of imagination/thought went into marketing. Very little went into filmmaking.

Vantage Point - The point of breaking up a movie down by different characters' p.o.v.s is to evoke the sense that no one personal can ever know the complete truth. Here it's just a gimmick to try to trick us into thinking there's more going on here than in your standard episode of 24 (there isn't).

Surfwise - I hate it when documentaries massage their information to make a more conventionally shaped story. In this case, leaving out obviously damning info until the midway point to serve as a dramatic "gotcha".

The King of Kong - I hate it when documentaries massage their information to make a more conventionally shaped story. In this case, altering the facts and the timeline to make someone out as "the bad guy".

Tropic Thunder - No organizing intelligence behind the filmmaking. Plus, Stiller works way too hard at his gags.

21 - Morally and aesthetically repellent. It's ok to betray people to get what you want as long as those people were dicks to you first. WTF?!?! Also - it looks like a beer commercial.

In the Valley of Elah - Earnest and it's heart is in the right place. Unfortunately, the earnestness doesn't mesh well with the pulpy mystery plot.

Atonement - Works really hard to let you know that this isn't Masterpiece Theatre. In the process, defangs the book and turns it into a fairly conventional melodrama/romance.

Juno - Good supporting cast cannot save film from unbelievable central character and unbearable indieverse stylings.

Sweeney Todd - You can't cast someone who can't sing as Sweeney Todd, because you need to be able to sing effortlessly before you can give a performance while singing. Johnny Depp's little voice turns a giant character into a pipsqueak, which drains the horror from the story. Also - awful CGI version of London makes me long for MGM soundstages.

The Transformers - Likable enough, but, really, really badly made. Lots of boneheaded ideas like: two entirely superfluous subplots involving characters who are not Transformers, having the action shot so quickly we can't appreciate any of the robot design work that the filmmakers spent millions of dollars on.

Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters - Like 5 episodes of the TV show stuck together. Unfortunately, though the TV show can be genius, usually it's only genius about once ever three episodes.

Hot Rod - Just what you were waiting for: a bog standard SNL comedy shot in the "quirky" indie style of Napoleon Dynamite. I love to see independent voices get turned into easily marketable fashions. Yay capitalism!

Wild Hogs - A good idea - middle class dudes playing at outlaws - but executed without any guts while making all the easy jokes.

La Vie en rose - Mind boggling stupid. The central performance had 100% more acting than any other performance I've seen in the last year or so.

Evan Almighty - It's not just that there are "getting hit in the balls" jokes. It's that the "getting hit in the balls" jokes are handled in the most lazy-ass way possible. Also - it cost over $100 Million and it looks (in terms of design and cinematography) worse than many movies made for mere tens of thousands of dollars.


Mark said...

I loved "King of Kong", and was curious as to how the time line and facts were massaged - do you have any more info on that?

This could be one of the most interesting movie theories I've heard since "The attack on the Death Star in Star Wars is an elaborate anal sex gag.:

Jon Hastings said...

Here are the basics (from Wikipedia):

For me, the third point is the clincher: if Wiebe had the high score for three years and it reverted back to that score after his video was disputed, then Billy Mitchell becomes just kind of a dick rather than a villain who is actively out to get Wiebe.

Here's the nerdnyc thread where I first became aware of the controversy:

On that thread Luke (abzu) makes the argument that despite the artifice the movie is an accurate depiction of the nasty side of geek posturing. I know what he's saying, but the movie still rubs me the wrong way: I mean, presumably you could get just an accurate picture by telling a more accurate story, right?

If I were Armond White, this is where I would tell you to check out Darkon, a documentary about Live Action RPGing that delves into some of the same geek posturing issues, but is much more complicated in terms of how it presents its subjects. It has a much more complex good guy/bad guy dynamic.