Previously in the Year in Review we visited Snow White and the Overrated, Misjudged, Miscast Tomorrow the joyous positivity starts but until then, we purge. Let's rush through this final bout of negativity.
WORST FOREVER-TREND: BAD MOVIE POSTERS
Now I know how the vampires of True Blood feel whey they cry... My eyes! My eyes!
These three posters for To Rome With Love, Quartet and Marvel's The Avengers probably do not represent the absolute worst movie advertisements of the year but they are indicative of three subspecies of Horribilus Posterus: To Rome With Love shoves its cast into multiple little boxes, a common technique that is nearly always hideous on posters but that never stops designers from trying. To make matters worse they've selected color palette so bland that it seems to be advertising air-conditioned nap time, oatmeal breakfast at a theater near you, and A Film By Nancy Meyers all at the same time; Quartet represents the Indecisive Nonsensical brand of bad poster since its retro 80s color blocking suggests period comedy romp (No, sort of, and no) and then it's like oh "every diva deserves an encore" but the movie actually fights against this (I shan't spoil it if you're inclined to suffer through); The Avengers is appropriately colorful but belongs to the most populated subspecies of bad poster, the No One on This Poster Was Ever in The Same Room Together disconnect. Photoshop has become such a crutch for everyone that marketing departments seem to believe that no one values authentic connection in imagery anymore and I absolutely don't believe that's the case. You're paying stars millions of dollars to appear in a movie but you can't require in their contract that they pose together for promotional materials?
Worst Miscellania and 5 Worst Movies of the Year after the jump
5 WORST OF...OH, NEVER MIND
I thought about complaining about indulgent running times, and weirdly extraneous subplots both of which belong together and should have been wiped out long ago by the existence of the internet and DVD bonus features, the appropriate places for scenes that don't really add to the film in question (to cite just one of several examples: that porn set scene in Flight? Why? Lift that entire scene out and you have the exact same movie only more focused). I thought about bemoaning the mandatory Overly Chaotic Climax to all animated movies but that won't get me anywhere since it must be mandatory for a reason. But it still pisses me off. Live Action Movies have several varieties of endings and climaxes so why doesn't animation, which should be more of a medium than a genre, have the same flexibility? I considered making fun of inept moments (to cite just one example: Marion Cotillard's Death Scene in The Dark Knight Rises) but I decided against it. Ultimately I just have to get to the next list so I can move on to the joy that cinema brings each year.
WORST OF THE YEAR
I almost listed Premium Rush as #5 because it's stoopid but at the same time I remember smiling while watching it like it might secretly be a brilliant excavation of a lost 80s movie found in a VHS bargain bin. I'm reasonably sure that's what Michael Shannon was thinking every time he let loose that nervous tic giggle which became, by film's end, practically an 80s era catch phrase. I hereby christen it "The Definitely Worst Movie I Saw This Year That I Also Enjoyed."
05 THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN
Spider-Man 4 is not, as it appears here numerically, the fifth worst film I saw this year. But, I had to subtract points for listing purposes. You see, it's literally the only movie I saw all year that had approximately zero reason for existing beyond the making of money. Worse still, it couldn't even think up a single additional raison d'etre in the entirety of its 136 minute running time. Before you say "Untold Story" think of how uncomfortable it is to be laughed at by hundreds of millions of people around the Globe who can recite the Spider-Man origin -- barely altered here -- from heart. Before you say "But Emma & Andrew Individually ! And Together !! Onscreen !!!!" stop to think of the multiple ways in which they could have co-starred that didn't involve a boring retread of a movie we've already seen and loved ten years ago in which Kirsten & Tobey were just adorable (forget for a moment that your nose just wrinkled up in disgust reading that -- you thought so too! Don't confuse your 2002 child-like wonder with your 2007 'Over it!' superiority). And if you're still hanging on to "But Emma and/or Andrew" think about the way this movie and its possible sequels will hog their or his movie-making time for years to come. Stop and think of all of that and weep for your $13 dollars and your own complicity in making the multiplex worse for everyone by encouraging this one and thus other future joyless redundancies. [I wrote this to myself. I paid money. I am ashamed.]
So, that's why they were hiding it! Not that it isn't itself lost in a game of hide and seek without the seeking part whilst forgetting where it hid. The film as I recall it...
Hour 1: Billy Connolly flirts inappropriately with women ⅓ his age.
Hour 2: Pauline Collins flits about nervously certain she's lost something (the script? her career? a reason to be here?)
Hour 3: Tom Courtenay is bitter -- no, that's too vivid -- Tom Courtenay is vaguely displeased with the world, vaguely displeased with Connolly's hormones, vaguely displeased with Collins mental health, vaguely displeased with the shtick up his own ass, and finally very displeased that Maggie Smith is arriving at all but not until...
Hour 4: Maggie Smith arrives with all her attitude and luggage but the movers have lost both her handbag (pity, her quips were inside!) and her backstory so as to prolong the agony drama of Quartet
Hour 5: The backstory is found! It was just such a small unassuming bag and misplaced next to the generic oversized suitcase with all the "Save this Business!" cliches. Yes, this old folks home is running out of money and only a concert will save it!
Hour 6: The Concert! In which... "oh fuck it, we're done here" director Dustin Hoffman announces abruptly and packs up the cameras only 5 minutes into the film's sixth hour.
[Quartet is 98 minutes long.]
03 TO ROME WITH LOVE
02 THE ODD LIFE OF TIMOTHY GREEN
Like a game of chicken -- and I don't mean "chicken" as in young boy though 10 year old Timothy Green does begin his Odd Life running naked and muddy through the house of a childless couple who immediately fall in love with him. Errrrr Uhhhh -- in which each scene seems to be daring the next one to come up with an even worse idea and embarrass everyone who is getting a paycheck. We're going for something totally fable-like so let's frame it in the most banal way possible as a true story told to stuffy suits... Who then believe it ! Pencils are quaint and cute. So, let's set it in a town where the big business is a pencil factory. Let's cast Dianne Wiest as a bitch with unsightly facial hair... Dianne two-time Oscar winner Weist reduced to a bitch with unsightly facial hair (I wept). Remember how genuinely skilled Jennifer Garner was at playing wistful childless longing in Juno... let's make her do it again only with crayola crudity rather than fine-penned nuance. I could go on and on and the movie did.
01 CLOUD ATLAS
The movie that made non-violent me want to strangle beloved friends who loved it (at least one of whom keeps a straight face while trying to convince me that Les Miz is a bad movie with THIS in his top ten. I have decided it's a cinephile prank on the magnitude scale of David Fincher's The Game which is the only way it makes any sense so I applaud him!) Now, it's true that I watched Cloud Atlas while fighting a fever and the circumstances of viewing do affect our reaction to films, for better and worse. But I swear to you if you were to now magically offer me the choice of three more hours of sweaty, vomitous, hacking fever or a second viewing of this over-directed, over-edited, over-costumed, over-designed self-aggrandazing philosophy 101 class of a movie, I'd gladly choose an encore for the flu.
I shudder remembering that I once loved the early work of both The Wachowski Siblings and Tom Tykwer's and does this mean I must now reconcile my previous fandom with this new evidence of They Don't Know What The Hell They're Doing that's collapsed in front of me wheezing hysterically from exertion? I shake my head in disbelief at the unthinkable fact that the grotesquely prostheticized egregiously over-acting cast, share five Oscars among them! FIVE !!! Only Ben Whishaw and Doona Bae emerge unscathed though I fear that the stain of this movie will taint my ability to enjoy their great faces forever more. RULE: Any movie which threatens to ruin perfect Ben Whishaw for me is an automatic Most Terrible Movie of the Year contender. See also: Julie Taymor's Tempest. Or better yet, don't.
I hereby vow that the next time I hear that a well regared book is unfilmable that I'll read it before the movie version appears since Cloud Atlas has already ruined "Cloud Atlas" for me too. The Boyfriend assures me that the book is phenomenal and that it isn't incomprehensibly horrifically crosscut but beautifully fluid and linear with "where is this goi... oh, interesting!" transitions to connect the stories but I can't bear to read it now for fear of Tom Hanks's oily moustache and vaudeville buck teeth staring back at me, poisoning each and every page while hovering too close to miss his foul stench.