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Monday
Dec242012

Worst of the Year (Pt 2). My Eyes... My Eyes... My Very Soul!

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."

If I had more time today I would photoshop alter the placement of middle fingers here

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.]

04 QUARTET
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.]

Don't eat their homemade goods. POISON!03 TO ROME WITH LOVE
Dear Woody...

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.

All that venting and I didn't even get to complain about that ridiculous sequence that would only work as a bad parody of 70s cop shows

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.

 

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Reader Comments (33)

OMG What was Dustin Hoffman thinking?

December 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPatryk

LMAO, yeah I agree Cloud Atlas was pretty bad.

December 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa

This was QUARTET for me:

Tom Courtenay and Maggie Smith are ex-spouses! Fights, tears, firewo -- nah, never mind, it's cool.

Pauline Collins has dementia! It nearly derails the conc -- nope, false alarm, totally fine.

That clarinet player has chest pains and is dropping his medication! Surely this will lead to -- nothing, it leads to NOTHING.

As for the others: nearly walked out on SPIDER-MAN, TIMOTHY GREEN has a lovely score but a horrible everything else, TO ROME WITH LOVE was dull, and CLOUD ATLAS...currently sits as my favorite film of the year. Will revisit once I see LES MIS, DJANGO, AMOUR, THE IMPOSSIBLE and THIS IS 40, but that's where it stands now.

December 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterWalter L. Hollmann

THE AVENGERS poster has to be the worst movie poster in recent memory. Look at Captain America.... Despite being only a few steps behind the rest of the cast, he is HUGE compared to the other Avengers (who - unless I managed to watch the movie horribly incorrectly - are close to his height). Captain America is literally towering above everyone. Pre-movie, I thought this was revealing a major plot point (somehow Capt gets the abilitiy to GROW!!) but it turns out it was just shitty photoshop. Now I can never look at that poster the same. WHY IS HE HUGE?!? Hate. Hatehatehatehate.

December 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRyan

Cloud Atlas is my favorite of the year thus far, too, Walter, with Moonrise Kingdom a close second. The former is the only film of the year I've seen twice at the cinema.

December 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJason Cooper

Yeah, that fever must have affected your brain. As someone who mostly loved Cloud Atlas (with reservations; the far-far-future stuff was just too silly at points), I can see why someone would dislike it, but the editing was excellent and I don't get how you can't love Jim Broadbent in it.

December 25, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterrubi-kun

OK, so I see Nathaniel had strangled four of the people leaving comment here including myself (so far) for loving Cloud Atlas, LOL.

December 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPJ

Hell I just sat through the 90 second Timothy Green trailer in the theater and I felt emotionally violated. I can only imagine what 90 minutes would feel like.

December 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTorontom

Well, I clearly wanted to like Cloud Atlas more than it deserved. Oh well. Perhaps if it had been a better year in film, I wouldn't have tried so hard. But, yeah, it was suckier than I'm I'm willing to admit.

December 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVince Smetana

I'm another Cloud Atlas fan. It's not a perfect film, and certainly not the greatest time-hopping epic ever, but it made me giddy with joy.

And yes, Premium Rush is a silly movie, but a fun, silly movie. Pure popcorn movie.

December 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterErin

"Kirsten & Tobey were just adorable ... you thought so too"

No, I didn't. Come on, Nat, do you still believe that Spider-Man would be a not entirely thin and undersized hobbit with blue eyes who's constantly on the verge of a nervous breakdown and lacks any chemistry whatsoever with his co-star?
Ben Whishaw might have managed to emerge unscathed from this year's Cloud Atlas, but certainly not from this year's Skyfall where he turned the Bond fan's beloved Quartermaster into a retarded nerd who isn't even capable of making gadgets. But the good thing about this cruel raping of a favorite character is that the Whishaw Q moron at least evaluates himself correctly: he does do damage on his laptop. Mercifully, this means that the MI6 instantly had to fire him so that we won't see him in future Bond films. But wait...

December 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterWilly

Another Cloud Atlas fan here (and Les Miz hater -- my fault for having super high expectations and trusting Tom Hooper with a camera)

December 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJim

The Cloud Atlas vitriol spewing continues.

December 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBeau

I began 2012 with "The Iron Lady" so I thought I would be cursed for the whole year. Thankfully, as years go by, I'm more and more selective so the only thing I remember as just being bad was "Red Lights".

PS "Magic Mike" is a great movie, but the poster was highly improvable.

December 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Whatever happens with Cloud Atlas when I see it, I can guarantee I'll like it more than I like Perfume: The Story Of A Murderer. Easily and by far my most hated movie of all time. Let's kill all the ladies, strip them naked, and then ogle their corpses! I'd say from the looks of it, Cloud Atlas is actually a step down on the offensive chart for Tom Twyker.

December 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTB

Hmmm, I was expecting Hit So Hard, Nathaniel?

December 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJulien Faddoul

I liked Cloud Atlas a lot. The movie itself felt grand and larger than life.

December 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDaniel B.

I loved Cloud Atlas. But I also love non-traditional storytelling, anthology films, and metaphysical timelines. I'm the target demographic. Any of those things could throw you out of Cloud Atlas. For me, they drew me in.

I do not understand the desire to call it the worst film of the year. Films like ATM, One for the Money, The Man with the Iron Fists, and Gone were released this year and they're not even well-executed when it comes to pointing the camera at the action and mixing sound so you can hear the dialogue. Cloud Atlas could be disappointing, but you have to ignore a whole lot of technical merit to claim it's the worst of the year. It's hyperbole.

December 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRobert G

Robert G --well, i get to choose which movies I see (for the most part) so I don't end up seeing a lot of the true worst. But I also think there's a place for ignoring the obvious expense of certain movies and realizing that no matter how technically proficient they might look in certain scenes or clips, they're still giant pieces o' crap.

Julien -- I really think Hit So Hard and The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye were terrible documentaries (both had great subject matter but were either incomprehensibly meandering or just plain unfocused as to what their POV even was. But I don't like to knock little films that were obviously trying when big hubristic titles are available to me.

PJ -- I know! so many of my friends and readers like it. To each their own. But I am unswayed. I have the bug eyes Psycho theme-stabbing hate for it. We all have movies like that i suppose.

December 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNathanielR

I don't really have a Worst Of list, because I really only see things I enjoy and and I'm sure much worse stuff came out, but I enjoyed Cosmopolis, Seven Psychopaths, To Rome With Love, and Piranha 3DD the least this year. Piranha 3DD is THE PITS.

December 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterWill h

*only see things I THINK* I'll enjoy, I mean.

December 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterWill h

Choosing from the list of movies masquerading as "good movies" is the only way to do a Worst Of list. Otherwise, how will you warn the small movie-going crowd who actually cares about quality?

December 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

"Cloud Atlas" was literally the most fun I had in a theater all year. It made me giddy with joy. It's also by far THE MOST movie you get this year- SIX movies, each working wonderfully alone and even more majestically together. And what a cast, doing wonderfully fun work.

I think some people are/were taking this film too seriously. It's pretty much burlesque. Just sit back and enjoy the craziness.

December 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge

"and that's the true true" HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

December 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMatthew

You do realize that the entire Luisa Ray storyline WAS a pastiche, right? It's meant to be unrealistic and over the top.

December 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJeffrey

This comment's sort of an interjection to Jeffrey's comment and sort of just me nutting out my own thoughts: I'm going to defend Nathaniel and go against a lot of what the commenters are saying here but while I recognised that the directors were deliberately doing takes on familiar movie genres in the manner that the book takes over various literary ones, the pastiches themselves (with the exception of the Frobisher bit) weren't very inspired or interesting. Like, it takes more than replicating certain cinematic styles to be an effective of parody of something and besides, there's something deadly serious about the film's overall "message" that really leadens the 'fun' element crucial to any pastiche. It would have maybe been nice to let the tone and beats of each section breathe by itself, but the way the directors tried to intercut it to give everything Meaning really took away from any stylistic dexterity they could have achieved IMO.\

I don't think I hated it as much as Nathaniel did but I think it's an incredibly flawed piece of work and don't feel that the reductive defense that it's ambitious or original is enough to save it.

December 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlice

Cloud Atlas, deeply flawed as it is, is my #2 of the year, behind only Beasts of the Southern Wild. And, in its favor, I only have one thing to say: Cloud Atlas is actually three minutes longer than The Hobbit: An Unexpected(ly LONG) Journey, but felt at least half an hour shorter. And I say this as the exact target audience for The Hobbit.

December 26, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

I enjoy Cloud Atlas, but criticize it all you want so long as you keep dissing it in Cloud Atlas futurespeak. I got a good laugh out of that. ;-)

December 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

Alice said it really well. For me, any attempts at "style" transitions and "fun" are totally suffocated by the Self Importance of the Message and its Prestige Movie Score (i realize people love this and it *is* beautiful, I'm not saying it isn't) which removes any doubts that the film wants to be taken very very seriously. I WISH that I could have viewed it as Burlesque like George did or like a series of miniature movies each with their own distinct reference and style like Jeffrey did. I might have enjoyed that.

But in a lot of ways you can't have it both ways.

I often respond really well to homage and pastiche and crazy films but Cloud Atlas is so muddy with the cross-cutting and the prosthetic distractions that it didn't come through for me *at all* that they were even really attempting to make several different pictures at once beyond new art direction, costumes, and makeup for each section. It was entirely cohesive for me in its awfulness.

Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained I think is a perfect counterpoint example of stylistic pastiche and homage. It never demands to be taken seriously but because it's of such high general quality, aesthetic commitment, and delivered with Tarantino's tonal dexterity (a gift he's always had in spades) you can...take it very very seriously, I mean.

December 26, 2012 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Wow, Quartet was really that bad, huh?

I can't think of any 2012 release that I really hated, but I was pretty offended by parts of The Silver Linings Playbook. Who knew love and dance could cure manic depression...

December 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

I've seen both Cloud Atlas and Les Miserables, and the former is definitely a better film than the latter. I don't even have to think about it.

January 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJerry Maguire

I'm another Cloud Atlas lover.....I can understand if people don't like it, but imo it wouldn't even be on any top (insert number here lol) worst of 2012......I loved the cutting away of the six stories, and sometimes only seeing a second of one story as it switches to the next. It kept the movie exciting for me. I saw it twice in the theatres, and it's now at the cheap show and I plan on seeing one more time before it comes out on DVD at the end this month.
I think Les Mis & Cloud Atlas are two completely different movies and shouldn't be compared at all. I'm the target audience for Les Mis and I think i got too hyped up for it, because I didn't care for a lot of it. I thought Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, Sasha Baron Cohen, & Samantha Barks were the saving graces of that movie. The girl that played Little Cosette (a part I normally am bored with while watching the staged musical) did an excellent job too. The way the film was filmed, using a non-steady cam for some scenes but a steady cam for others bothered the heck out of me. I also didn't like a few of the changes they made, some were great, but some seemed odd like the ending and the removal of a certain character from an awesome trio before the final 'Do You Head The People Sing' Reprise...but I digress.

January 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMarcus

Loved Cloud Atlas. Think it will win fans as it ages.

January 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMark

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