As my fellow film blogger Kevin wrote yesterday, I don’t walk into movies wanting to hate them. Quite the opposite: I want to be entertained for a couple of hours, first and foremost, and, aside from a couple of notable exceptions this year (what’s up, Justice League), every single time I walked into a movie this year, I did so with the intention of enjoying myself. But hey, not everything can deliver, and here are the movies that, for me, failed to hit the mark in the most spectacular fashion.
Yup, let’s kick things off with the controversial here: I’ve seen this movie rock up on a lot of best-of lists, but I still just don’t understand what the appeal of this movie is. No, okay, that’s unfair, I understand the appeal of this movie – the car chases, the pop culture literacy, the fact that Jon Hamm and Jon Bernthal were listed in the main cast. But it’s so flat I can see straight down it and through to the awful casting decision that put the unbelievably untalented Ansel Egort as it’s lead. The whole thing disintegrates every time he wanders, apparently lost, on screen, and add to that the fact that there’s only so many ways to make someone pulling a handbrake look exciting and the film’s disappointing lack of effort with regards to it’s women characters and Baby Driver is a massive let-down from the usually reliable Edgar Wright.
A slightly less controversial choice, but at least I can understand what people liked about Darren Aronofsky’s latest delve into the mind of the tortured creative: it’s handsomely directed, often well-acted, and there are flashes of genuine brilliance within it’s grinding runtime. But honestly, it’s hard to think of a film that pissed me off more aggressively than mother! did: I walked out of the cinema feeling genuinely irritated, like someone had spent the last couple of hours poking me in the eye and giggling every time I tried to bat them away. The heavy-handed biblical allegories, the ugly treatment of Jennifer Lawrence’s character for thematic reasons, the swooning romanticising of
the fact that people weren’t huge fans of Noah the misunderstood work of the tortured masculine artist – it was all just structured to put my hackles up, and for that reason, it deserves a spot on this list.
- La La Land
I really considered putting this at the top just to be a dick, but it doesn’t deserve it’s place there. Here, though? Fuck, yes. La La Land was one of the most thunderingly overrated piles of steaming rubbish I saw all year, and I can’t believe how many people are willing to go to mat to defend it’s mediocrity. There are no great songs in it, the staging focuses on form over function (ex: trying to get an entire shot in one take over getting Ryan Gosling to actually hit his choreography cues), and the story is bland and wishy-washy and if it didn’t have the apocrypha of the classic musical slung around it’s spindly neck no-one would have given a shit about it. Indulgent in the worst kind of ways, this film gave me flashbacks to every man who’s ever tried to explain a genre of music to me, and for that alone I hate it with every fibre of my being.
- Death Note
Adam Wingard’s adaptation of the Death Note series was the kind of film that’s symphonically bad. You know, everything coming together to create this stunning, swooning work of art that’s awful in so many ways you can barely count them on one hand. The acting was awful, the characterisation was the comedy routine of the year, the direction stuttering and unconfident, the relation to the original stories flimsy at best and outright rude at worst. I wrote a huge screed about it when it came out and I stand by every word, but I still almost kind of recommend it because it is such a perfect example of what not to do when it comes to making a movie.
I saw a lot of snarking on this when it came out, critics making dismissive comments about bored housewives and the romance world in general, but let me tell you that that kind of criticism doesn’t do justice to the jaw-dropping terribleness of FSD. I recap the series over on my other blog so I’m well-acquainted with the “story”, and even I found this basically unwatchable. Some films are bad because they’re boring, some films are bad because they’re too silly, some films you can argue about the relative merits of one way or another, but FSD is truly a staggering masterwork in awfulness. It’s Death Note to the nth degree. Not one scene flows to the next, not one line reading sounds remotely human, not one attempt is made to make it’s leading man anything other than a nightmare stalker in an expensive suit. I would say they set out to make a deliberately terrible movie, but then they would have succeeded at something and that just can’t be the case. Truly a masterpiece of terrible cinema, I condemn Fifty Shades Darker to the fiery pits of cinema hell for eternity, and have already booked my tickets to the sequel to see how they can possibly fuck this up even worse.
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