18 October 2009

The Decade List: (Some of) The Worst Films (2007)

Since it was established with 2006's Worst that the Austin Butt-Numb-a-Thon, hosted by everyone's favorite troll, is a legitimate place for a film to make its world premiere, technically 300 and Black Snake Moan belong in the previous year. But 300 is such a fucking horribleterriblewretched film that I'll just leave it with the '07s for now. Black Snake Moan, however, doesn't even register on the shit list when compared to that garbage I once heard referred to as "gay porn for soccer moms," but it sucks enough on its own, outside of one nicely edited music sequence.

This list does beg the question: which breed of bad movie is worse? The obvious abortions (I Know Who Killed Me, Norbit, Good Luck Chuck) or the respected-foreign-auteur-remakes-himself-in-some-form-or-another-for-his-English-language-debut (My Blueberry Nights, Funny Games U.S.)? It was a real lousy year for both Wong Kar-wai and Michael Haneke, whose '07 offerings reeked of not just complacency but utter laziness. Neither could be accused of losing artistic control as a result of Hollywood's over-the-shoulder glare as both were multinational productions, receiving quite a bit of funding from the French in addition to their native countries. They had otherwise respectable English-speaking actors on board, who either did their usual schtick (Naomi Watts) or just embarrassed themselves completely (Rachel Weisz).

Thankfully, Haneke has recovered from the injury of Funny Games U.S., which was one of the major failures that eventually shut down Warner Independent, with his creepy, elegant Palme d'Or winner The White Ribbon [Das weiße Band]. Wong has yet to truly follow My Blueberry Nights up (Ashes of Time Redux doesn't count), though he has reteamed with Tony Leung for 2010's Bruce Lee/martial arts "biopic" The Grand Master, rumored to also star Gong Li and an out-of-retirement Brigitte Lin.

Some lingering questions/thoughts about a few of the titles below. 1.) Why do my parents insist on watching that manipulative drivel August Rush every time its on television (which can sometimes be thrice daily)? 2.) Aside from Assayas' demonlover (and probably The Wizard, but for altogether different reasons), most films that visually incorporate video games are going to blow (w/r/t Ben X, and possibly its upcoming American remake if that's still in production). 3.) Jodie Foster < style="font-weight: bold;">Diary of the Dead? It retains none of the qualities that made his previous zombie films (even Land of the Dead) so enjoyable. 5.) If Dragon Wars had extended that big Los Angeles destruction scene into its full running time, you might have seen it appear on the actual Decade List (as long as they axed poor Robert Forster in the process).

6.) Lots of nudity apparently does not make a horrible movie that much more tolerable (w/r/t the Uschi Obermaier biopic Eight Miles High). 7.) In the past 10 years, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre received a crappy US remake, a crappier US prequel and a wonderful in-spirit-only French take in Fabrice Du Welz's Calvaire; so why bother with something as lousy as Frontière(s)? 8.) Was anyone else deeply disturbed by Dawn Wiener's death scene in Hostel: Part 2? I've already forgotten the specifics of everything else about the movie, but that scene... I can't get rid of. 9.) I should look up and see what other films were in the running for the Caméra d'Or at the '07 Cannes Film Festival, because there had to be something better than Jellyfish playing that year. 10.) The list has a number of "comedies" that didn't pull a single laugh out of me: Good Luck Chuck, Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer, Mr. Woodcock, Molière, Kiss the Bride, Starrbooty and The Ten. I'm pretty sure I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry belongs on that list, but I can vouch that the others didn't provoke even a smirk out of me.

- 300 - d. Zack Snyder - USA [also here]
- August Rush - d. Kirsten Sheridan - USA
- Ben X - d. Nic Balthazar - Belgium/Netherlands
- Beowulf - d. Robert Zemeckis - USA
- Black Snake Moan - d. Craig Brewer - USA
- The Brave One - d. Neil Jordan - USA/Australia
- City of Men [Cidade dos Homens] - d. Paulo Morelli - Brazil
- Diary of the Dead - d. George A. Romero - USA
- Dragon Wars [D-War] - d. Shim Hyung-rae - South Korea
- Eight Miles High [Das wilde Leben] - d. Achim Bornhak - Germany
- Elizabeth: The Golden Age - d. Shekhar Kapur - UK/France/Germany
- Frontier(s) [Frontière(s)] - d. Xavier Gens - France/Switzerland
- Funny Games U.S. - d. Michael Haneke - France/UK/Austria/Germany/USA/Italy [also here]
- Good Luck Chuck - d. Mark Helfrich - USA
- Hannah Takes the Stairs - d. Joe Swanberg - USA
- Happily N'Ever After - d. Paul Bolger, Yvette Kaplan - USA/Germany
- Hostel: Part 2 - d. Eli Roth - USA
- I Can't Think Straight - d. Shamim Sarif - UK
- I Know Who Killed Me - d. Chris Sivertson - USA
- I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry - d. Dennis Dugan - USA
- In the Valley of Elah - d. Paul Haggis - USA
- Into the Wild - d. Sean Penn - USA [also here]
- Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer - d. Jon Knautz - Canada
- Jellyfish [Les méduses] - d. Shira Geffen, Etgar Keret - Israel/France
- Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten - d. Julien Temple - UK/Ireland
- Kiss the Bride - d. C. Jay Cox - USA
- Lost in Beijing - d. Li Yu - China
- Molière - d. Laurent Tirard - France
- Mr. Woodcock - d. Craig Gillespie - USA
- My Blueberry Nights - d. Wong Kar-wai - Hong Kong/France/China
- Norbit - d. Brian Robbins - USA
- The Orange Thief - d. Vinnie Angel, Boogie Dean, Arthur Wilinski - USA
- Poor Boy's Game - d. Clément Virgo - Canada
- Schoolboy Crush - d. Kôtarô Terauchi - Japan
- Sex & Breakfast - d. Miles Brandman - USA
- Starrbooty - d. Mike Ruiz - USA
- Sunshine - d. Danny Boyle - UK/USA
- Teeth - d. Mitchell Lichtenstein - USA
- The Ten - d. David Wain - USA
- Then She Found Me - d. Helen Hunt - USA


Anonymous said...

Give me a freaking break, Rachel Weisz's performance in Blueberry nights was the best thing about the film. Her and Dave Straithem gave the film's its only good performances.

Joe said...

Weisz's performance lacked any sort of direction, and as a result, felt like a big ol' mess. Just because she's beautiful doesn't mean she makes for a convincing southern belle. I actually thought Chan Marshall gave the film its only worthwhile scene.

Anonymous said...

Who said anything about Rachel being beautiful? That's your hang up, not mine. Rachel's scene with Nora Jones outside the bar was heartbreaking and was the one of the few true moments of real emotion out of the whole film, a film that lacked any kind of emotion in any way outside of the small segment that Rachel Weisz and David Straitham did for it.

filmbo said...

In all sincerity, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry was pretty decent.

Joe said...

I don't specifically remember the exchange between Norah Jones and Weisz outside of the bar, but I haven't really had the desire to revisit the film.

And Eric, "pretty decent" might be a stretch, but I recall so little of I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry that you might be sort of right. I think I may have only included it because nothing triggers my nausea more than forced homo tolerance.

filmbo said...

Keep in mind I try to follow the schoolboy comedy, and many of my opinions are prefaced 'with respect to the sub-genre...'

I actually though Adam Sandler was going to finally make decent films, but he followed Chuck and Larry up with total crap.

Thom said...

I still disagree about the Funny Games remake. That to me represents a wonderful example of a filmmaker 'getting away with it,' and parting a fair number of unhappy American filmgoers with their dollars.

I just know that I enjoyed the hell out of seeing it in a theater, knowing all of the beats, and watching the rest of the audience suffer. De-lect-ab-le!