Sunday, January 06, 2008

The 2007 Cinema Hall Of Shame


There were many films vying for the top spot on this list, but Next is in a class all its own. The goodwill that Nicolas Cage amassed in Leaving Las Vegas has long since run out (he's been running on empty, pretty much, since Windtalkers) and casting 12 year old Jessica Biel as his love interest is really truly the final nail in his coffin. But more pressing, what the hell is Julianne Moore doing here? Can NONE of these people read? A stupid premise, a horrible script and the worst "Bobby Ewing in the shower" cop out ending since Identity this is an embarrassment for everyone concerned.


I have already had my say about this travesty.


And this one.


Wow, this was bad. A punishing running time (just 12 minutes shy of THREE HOURS), an incomprehensible plot that was, literally, all over the place, some horrible horrible horrible jokes and some equally poor performances. Please god there won't be another installment.


A statement I could repeat here. The first installment was actually enjoyable, or at least I thought it was. I was looking forward to this sequel, the trailer was all dark and exciting and the interviews from the director leading up to the release acknowledged that the first one had its shortcomings, not least that it was pitched at slightly too young a crowd, errors that would be addressed this time around. And a lot of the reviews noted that this was an improvement on 2005's freshman effort. Well all that did was set up a Galactus sized disappointment. If anything, this film was pitched even younger, with atrocious fart gag level humour and an offensively simplistic plot. A mercifully short running time of just 92 minutes felt so so so much longer.


While we're on the subject of short films that feel much longer, this little baby clocks in at a mere 86 minutes. Felt like a lifetime. How could it go so wrong? Well, let's start with Harold fucking Pinter who delivered the most inelegant, cloth eared, blunt edged travesty of a screenplay. And then move on to Branagh whose solution to shooting a two hander with one set was to have about 800 different camera angles for each scene, some of them provided by CCTV. Oooh, how up to date. Then there's the oversights like Michael Caine apparently being able to control every whizzy gizmo in his painfully modern house with the remote control that comes with the Apple iBook (there's even a close up with the Apple logo visible just to ensure there's no remaining doubt). I haven't even gotten to the performances yet. How Michael Caine has been getting away with for over 50 years now is a real mystery to me. And dear Jude Law, how you had it all for the taking after Talented Mr Ripley. And how you buggered it all up.


One of two films that has received almost universal acclaim to open this year that I feel like I missed the point of (the other, which didn't make either list, is Todd Haynes's I'm Not There which I sporadically enjoyed but it is nowhere near the masterpiece it thinks it is). I should have learned my lesson after Elephant. I should have listened to my friend Lottie who warned me this film was bad. But I still went into it thinking that surely all the good reviews must count for something. Ha! A non professional cast recruited from MySpace (none of whom can actually act, something that a lot of reviewers found "endearing", while I would opt for "embarrassing" and "painful to watch"), it's frustrating that it takes what could have been an interesting film and buries it in pretentious tedious wank. Apparently, Gus Van Sant was too busy indulging himself to notice one of the worst continuity errors I have ever seen. There's big fat spoilers coming up for anyone who wants to see the movie and hasn't yet. So in the pivotal sequence where Alex causes the accidental death of the security guard, he pushes him and he falls on his back, his torso on the train tracks, his legs hanging off the tracks. The train comes along and severs him in two. In the next shot, a horrified Alex looks on as the severed top half of the guard drags itself, belly down, leaves his legs ON THE TRAIN TRACKS, as it pulls itself towards Alex. Well, he was not alone in being horrified. I was slack jawed with disbelief at just how terrible this scene was that I burst out laughing. Not the reaction Van Sant was hoping for, I'm sure.


The best thing about Hannibal Lecter was that so little was known about him before he makes his first appearance in the fiction world, in Red Dragon. There were hints here and there and hopefully like all good authors, Thomas Harris knew the back story of how one of literature's most memorable monsters came to be. And really, that should have been enough. He didn't need to share it with the world, and he certainly didn't need to do it in such a poorly written piece of crap like Hannibal Rising. So it's no surprise that the inevitable film adaptation (the script was written pretty much in tandem with the novel) would also be a big pile of suck too. Harris wrote them both so he only has himself to blame. Every last drop of creativity has now been wrung out of the Lecter franchise. I hope.


In which Jim Carrey took the career points he'd earned with Eternal Sunshine and pissed them up a wall, while Joel Schumacher showed once again that Tigerland really was a fluke. An initially intriguing idea, this just doesn't know where to go with it and flounders around in a quagmire of ridiculousness before finally collapsing in on itself with a laughable third act. Almost as laughable as casting the not very good Rhona Mitra, who is 32 and looks every day of it, as someone almost a decade younger than that.


This sounds like it could be the most relentlessly terrifying movie ever. A bunch of vicious vampires descend on an Alaskan town and have a whole month of darkness to play with. But sadly, the terror never comes. A lack of back story for everyone except Josh Hartnett and Melissa George meant I didn't care who ended up with their claret all over the lino. More of an issue was that I found George so irritating I found myself wishing for her to find herself on the wrong end of a bloodletting. Quickfire editing continually destroyed what should have been unbearable tension until the film became just so much gore. And gore is a whole different matter. It's not scary, it's just bloody. And the ending felt tacked on out of nowhere to boot. A gigantic missed opportunity.

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