Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Five Films I Hated the Most in 2013

This isn’t a film of the worst films of 2013 or even the worst films I saw in 2013. There are bad films I enjoy. “Olympus Has Fallen” is not defensible as a piece of art or even coherent narrative. But I still was amused watching it, like a junior high production of “Die Hard”.
And there are many films I knew would bore my or disgust me, so I didn’t take time to watch them. These five films I had hope for, and those hopes were dashed. So I’ll say why I had so hope going in, and went out without pleasure.

5) Trance

Why I had hope – This film was directed by Danny Boyle who directed not only some of my favorite films, but my favorite films in a variety of genres. “28 Days Later” is a great zombie film, “Trainspotting” makes you laugh as well as cry along with heroin addicts, “Millions” is a wonderful children’s film with a rich spiritual message, “Slumdog Millionaire” won the Oscar for best picture….The guy is no slough.
And this film starts well, with a cleverly planned art heist. But then it brings on the plot twists. Questions of identity and guilt and sexuality come fast and furious and then it starts to seem that the screenwriter and the director don’t have the answers to these questions and the whole thing collapses in a big, wet mess. And James McAvoy is annoying, as he often can be.

4) The Heat

Why I had hope – The director, Paul Feig, is a very funny guy. He created the wonderful one season wonder “Freaks and Geeks” and has written some hysterical autobiography. And a number of critics and audiences really liked this Sandra Bolluck/Melissa McCarthy vehicle.
But I found this tale of female odd couple cops boring and obnoxious. Every buddy cop cliché is repeated but without anything fresh added. And it had one trope that never fails to annoy me. Bollock’s character is an uptight FBI agent who doesn’t swear. And obviously, you can’t be a cop if you don’t use foul language. So it’s a big turning point when she finally lets F-bombs fly. Clue to film makers – vulgar language in our society is not a rare thing, and converting someone to its use is not a plus.

3) Redemption

Why I had hope – Jason Stratham bests people up. That’s usually all I require from a film. A bad action film is not a bad thing in my book. This year I watched Sly in “Bullet to the Head” and Arnold in “The Last Stand” and then Sly and Arnold in “The Escape Plan”. Their action films make me laugh. I’m not going to see Sly in “Grudge Match” because when these guys make comedies I don’t laugh. I also enjoyed Stratham in “Parker” and will probably see him in the Sly penned “Homefront”.
But then they had to bring bad politics and religion into my action film. Stratham is another of those soldiers turned by the government into a “killing machine”. Unless he’s drunk, he’s going to kill people, it’s not his fault. He meets and nun and they have a peculiar relationship. He kisses her and feels he needs redemption, which apparently he gets through killing people. Hey writers and directors of JS, just provide fights, chases and shootings. We can get our religion, philosophy and politics elsewhere.

2) Only God Forgives

Why I had hope – Director and writer Nicolas Refn and actor Ryan Gosling had recently teamed up for a fairly good modern noir film – “Drive”.
But this is not “Drive”. Our “hero” is asked by his mother to avenge his brother’s death. His brother was a child molester who was killed by mobsters for his crimes. Stylish, but empty and morally bankrupt. No thank you.

1) Broken City

Why I had hope – Look at that cast… Russell Crowe, Mark Wahberg, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Barry Pepper, Jeffery Wright, surely they wouldn’t sign on if the script was dull, pedestrian and paint the numbers, would they?
They would. A boring political thriller that reminds us that TV does these things so much better these days in shows like “House of Cards” and “Boss”. There is more political insight to be found among campaign managers for 9th grade class president than is found in this film. And yet for some reason I watched the whole stupid thing, hoping it would get better.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that all these films were rated R. Hollywood does a fairly poor job making films for adults these days.

No comments: