I get so thrilled every time I get to compile a top 15 list that’s as great as the one for 2007, but then I roll around to the 10 Worst and remember why people are so pessimistic about the movies. There’s a whole lot of shit out there. This could easily be a 50 Worst; I didn’t see Mr. Woodcock or Are We Done Yet? or Norbit or The Number 23. I didn’t see Who’s Your Caddy or Because I Said So or I Pronounce You Chuck & Larry. Southland Tales, Shrek The Third, Hairspray: I missed ‘em all.
I didn’t see Delta Farce, because it seemed like listening to Dane Cook while having a colonoscopy performed by Dane Cook. (Who, as my brief run-in proved over the summer, would probably be wearing a baseball cap that says…Dane Cook.)
Speaking of, I didn’t see Good Luck Chuck, but I did see Mr. Brooks, which featured only William Hurt’s Mariano Rivera-style performance for the save. On a last note, I did see Snoop Dogg’s Hood of Horrors, but that was awesome.
Unfortunately, I did see all these movies.
10. The Passage / King of the Hill (Go to India with Judy Davis instead.)
Why They’re Here: Both feature vaguely interesting performances that are demolished by pathetic ‘twists’ concocted by people who hate movies and puppies but love The Olive Garden.
See This Film Instead: As much as I hate to say it, Hostel II. If you want torture, just go for it.
How To Make Them Work: Just stop with the ‘unlikely violence’ thing already.
Comments: Just because a movie is in a fancy film festival doesn’t mean it can’t be a big stinking pile of shit. I knew The Passage (about an American tourist who meets an improbably good-looking, nice local girl, goes to the mountains with her and disappears) was terrible five minutes in but stayed to watch out of curiosity. I had to know that the end wasn’t going to be the one I knew was coming. Hated myself for that one. King Of The Hill, which follows an unlikely couple as they’re sniped in rural Spain by what turns out to be a pair of children, is just as banal though, in the final tally, not as xenophobic and overtly hateful as The Passage.
9. Hannibal Rising (Enjoy the one true Lecktor.)
Why It’s Here: Because there’s no excuse.
See This Film Instead: Cannibal Holocaust
How To Make It Work: This is another conceptual failure; there’s nothing interesting about a sympathetic Lector, and no reason to feign otherwise.
Comments: Hannibal was close to a black spot on Ridley Scott’s career (go ahead, hate me for that one), and this unnecessary prequel makes it look like poetry. Gaspard Ulliel wanders like a sick child through this movie, greasily smiling with put-on crazy eyes in a desperate imitation of Anthony Hopkins while Gong Li is fenced into the classic Hollywood ghetto for Asian actresses: she has to play a Japanese woman. They all look the same, right? I quickly realized that I was more likely to grow a third nipple than this movie was to offer up a memorable scene. And it’s true. I’ve forgotten the whole thing, but the hate lingers.
8. The Invasion (Buy a good Daniel Craig movie.)
Why It’s Here: Because the seams are supposed to be hidden.
See This Film Instead: The Puppet Masters, because it’s a similarly failed alien takeover flick that at least has slugs and Sutherland.
How To Make It Work: Give us Oliver Hirschbiegel’s original cut, which might be bad, but could at least be whole.
Comments: I feel exhausted just thinking about this movie; the bile I spilled in one conversation after another this fall has left me with nothing in the tank for this flick. Even the vague memory of Kidman’s gauzy outfit in the first act barely registers. The little kid getting tolchocked in the face barely pushes my pulse up, but then I remember the glaringly obvious reshot inserts, the way Daniel Craig just goes off to craft service (or 007) for most of the movie, and the way the attacking aliens could be invading, or rehearsing an instructional video for how not to use saline sinus rinse.
7. The Summer Blockbusters (Buy the first blockbuster.)
Why They’re Here: These three bloated, boring, stupid movies made me remember what it was like to sit in a theater watching Godzilla in 1998, and for that I want blood.
See This Film Instead: Iron Man. (Don’t make me regret that, Favreau.)
How To Make Them Work: Fewer characters in each script, and more pure character on the screen.
Comments: I’ve spewed plenty of venom about these three already, and I like each one far less now than I did at the time. It’s like having all three Prequels released in a single summer. If the summer of ’08 didn’t promise some actual entertainment, I’d be scared that this wasn’t actually the nadir of vacuous marketing movies. The only positive memory I think I carry from any of these movies is Mary Elizabeth Winstead as John McLane’s daughter, since she got the character more right in five minutes than everyone else could in a combined running time of over five hours.
6. Hitman / Frontiere(s) (Just buy the freakin’ game.)
Why They’re Here: Both are loud, stupid, dull and creatively bankrupt.
See This Film Instead: For far more entertaining and
horrific French gore, go straight to Inside. For more of Olga Kurylenko,
How To Make Them Work: Both need to stray from the source. Frontiere(s) from Texas Chainsaw, Hitman from video games.
Comments: Timothy Olyphant might be able to play off his lack of charisma as a script deficiency, but new director Xavier Gens has no excuse. This ‘next big thing’ isn’t even a flash in the pan. Frontiere(s) needed to have concession stands selling amy nitrate and novocaine poppers instead of popcorn. Hitman’s best moments were all straight cops from the video game. As soon as it veered off into anything like new territory it limped on stereotype crutches: the intuitive cop, the backstabbing politician, the hot Russian babe. OK, the last one is fine by me. Hope Gens likes the bargain bin.
5. The Brave One (Donate to Obama’s campaign.)
Why It’s Here: Vanity pictures aren’t usually quite this ugly.
See This Film Instead: Just go to the classics: Death Wish.
How To Make It Work: Rewriting the last ten minutes would be a great start.
Comments: When did Neil Jordan forget everything he knows about movies? Everyone involved with this flick understands nothing about how to make a revenge movie work. Then there’s the voice-over, as spoken by Jodie Foster’s supposed NYC DJ. When she talks about walking the streets at night, the audience goes right out the window. And in the last ten minutes it goes farther off the rails than any other studio picture this year, with a conclusion that excuses inept cops and gives a lousy vigilante license to run riot. Vote left in 2008!
4. Mother of Tears (Wipe your eyes, you baby.)
Why It’s Here: Because when you throw stuff at the screen to see what sticks, the stuff that does is usually shit.
See This Film Instead: Suspiria. I don’t care if it’s the 40th time.
How To Make It Work: Get Dario Argento to stop casting with his dick. Yes, that applies to hiring his daughter.
Comments: Confirmation that Dario Argento has been inhabited by the spirit of Scott Halloran; only someone who hates and misunderstands movies would make this hair metal video as a follow-up to Suspiria. Dance party refugees run half-naked through the streets of Rome and we laugh, laugh, laugh. Udo Kier delivers a possible career-low phone-in, roughly on par with that platter of woe released in Wal Mart by The Eagles.
3. Pathfinder (Buy the graphic novel if you must.)
Why It’s Here: I still can’t quite believe that two rich, storied cultures were smashed together into such pap.
See This Film Instead: Erik The Viking
How To Make It Work: Try keeping the camera still for a moment, and hand the editing bay over to one of the chimpanzees that doesn’t have nerve-damaged fingers.
Comments: I’d rather mix mead and the sand of Norway’s beaches, pass an eagle feather over the resulting sludge and then grind it into my eyes than see this movie again.
2. Halloween (Buy a real DVD in high-def instead.)
Why It’s Here: Because I still beleive in Rob Zombie.
See This Film Instead: The Devil’s Rejects
How To Make It Work: Focus on the few ideas that were even cautiously new and jettison all the shot for shot remake crap.
Comments: I don’t care about the changes and additions to the Michael Meyers mythology — if Carpenter’s original is strong enough to withstand some of the sequels it can stand up to Rob Zombie — but I do lament that this was such an obvious, uninspired and one-note experiment from a filmmaker I believe has far better movies in him. Most of this movie was so dark and dreary that I could have spent 90 minutes sniffing dusbunnies in my grandparents’ basement for roughly the same effect.
1. Lions For Lambs (Purchase something cuddly for the kids.)
Why It’s Here: For being a total failure, on a fundamental, conceptual level.
See This Film Instead: Charlie Wilson’s War
How To Make It Work: Starting with this script? Ain’t gonna happen.
Comments: Not only the biggest waste of talent in 2007, but one of the biggest disasters on levels of concept and talent since Ishtar. Robert Redford seemingly followed Matthew Carnahan’s didactic, trite script to the letter to create a lecture that doesn’t just pander to the left — it spoons out soft-serve political tripe like Alpo to a hungry puppy. I’d rather bury my nose in a can of dog food.