Dec 6, 2008

2008 in review: Part 1

First things first: Welcome to 24 Frames Per Second.
I've been writing about movies for about 8 years now, at various places around the web. For the last couple of years I've blogged at the excellent (where I continue to post on the forums as SAI) but it has been obvious that I needed a cleaner, easier and above all archivable blog.

24 Frames Per Second, as its name suggests, will be a movie blog. Here you'll find reviews, lists, features on various movie related topics and film festival reports. What you won't find is gossip, I don't like it and I'm not interested in it; I don't care what is happening in an actor or director's personal life unless it impacts on their work.
Hopefully 24 Frames Per Second can become a place where you can come for movie coverage with substance. Comment and let me know how I'm doing on that.

That said... to business

2008 in review: Part 1
The 20 worst films of 2008
Overall 2008 has been, all things considered, a pretty decent year at the movies, and yet… the lows have been truly catastrophic. This list takes in the unceremonious kicking to death of a much-loved franchise, punishingly unfunny comedy, hilariously terrible acting and a genuine contender for the title worst film ever made. Take a deep breath, steel yourselves, here’s the list.

10 runners up [In alphabetical order]
The Dark Knight
Christopher Nolan’s spectacularly overrated sequel to the - well - spectacularly overrated Batman Begins was so dark as to be no fun at all and half an hour too long into the bargain.

Eden Lake
British director James Watkins debuted with this tabloid baiting hoodie horror. This could have been good but the script was appalling, bolting colourless characters on to a(nother) retread of Last House on the Left to deadeningly dull effect.

Funny Games US
Perhaps not so much terrible as it was utterly, utterly pointless. Michael Haneke’s expensive dubbing session doesn’t make his original Funny Games any better, worse, or more accessible.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
The year’s biggest disappointment was that, despite a couple of good ideas and a wonderful turn from Karen Allen, returning as Marion, this felt so unlike Indiana Jones, and so inconsequential as a whole.

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor
Threequels seldom work, and The Mummy series proves no exception. From a bored Brendan Fraser, to a clearly uncomfortable Maria Bello and an irritated (and irritating) John Hannah, everyone seems to have been coerced into this film, and it doesn’t even have the decency to serve up a good fight between Michelle Yeoh and Jet Li.

The Orphanage
About as scary as a newborn kitten; Juan Antonio Bayona’s much lauded debut annoyed me by lifting its every scare from other, better, films and implementing them in a way so familiar that you can almost count them in with the editor.

Quantum of Solace
Edited to within an inch of its life, this nonsensical Bond movie makes it clear that the series needs an action director. It doesn’t, of course, help that Daniel Craig gives the blankest, most emotion free performance of the year.

Righteous Kill
When even Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro can’t make something worth watching you know you’re in trouble. This generic, predictable, pile of tosh smacks of two old men paying their bills.

Unpronouncable, uninteresting, undistinguished, and frankly unwatchable. Tom Shankland’s boring Saw meets Se7en rehash boasts a sadly bored seeming Stellan Skarsgaard and a hilariously miscast Selma Blair and Melissa George among the most compelling of the many reasons to miss it.

Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden?
Morgan Spurlock’s really dangerous holiday video is an exercise in vanity, and doesn’t belong on anyone’s screen but Spurlock’s. It’s boring, unhelpful in its portrayal of Westerners attitudes to the Middle East, and about as informative as a google search for ‘muslim terrorism’.

The Bottom of the Barrel: The 10 worst films of the year

10: The Happening
Dir: M. Night Shyamalan
The best, most amusing, terrible movie of 2008. Nothing else this year screamed MST3K quite as loud as Shyamalan’s ludicrous, and gut bustingly hilarious, horror film. The cast are all caught like rabbits in the headlights, all directed to give exactly the same monotone non-performance, and most look very, very unhappy, notably a dead-eyed Zooey Deschanel.

If only this had been a comedy it would have been inspired, there’s so many big laughs here: the lion, one character’s preoccupation with hot dogs, and the unbelievable moment when Mark Wahlberg tries to talk to a plastic plant. Sadly it’s a horror film, and thus an abject failure, but one you owe it to yourself to see.

9: The Other Boleyn Girl
Dir: Justin Chadwick
Watching this film you begin to suspect that debuting Brit director Chadwick was either unable or unwilling to control his starry cast, because almost all of them (bar Kristin Scott Thomas) are spectacularly awful, and all in their own special ways. The variously terrible acting isn’t at all aided by the fact that Chadwick’s TV origins are all too obvious in his flat, tedious visuals but the hardest call here is whether Natalie Portman - hamming it up outrageously - or Scarlett Johannson - doing nothing at all - gives the worse performance.

8: The Ruins
Dir: Carter Smith
The two films above are, at least, vaguely diverting in their awfulness, not so this plodding, stupid, gore drenched horror flick. The characters are, to a man, dully devoid of personality (even the talented Jena Malone can’t pull out a performance here) the plot is entirely predictable and a couple of wince inducing moments do nothing to raise the pulse.

7: Rambo
Dir: Sylvester Stallone
If it weren’t for my number one pick then this would surely be the stupidest film of 2008. Stallone, hilariously, said that he was trying to make a serious statement about the political situation in Burma with these 90 minutes of empty-headed orgiastic violence. All Rambo says, and it says it in big red letters, is Violence; Solves Everything. Yet even at the simple level of being a fun, bloody, action flick Rambo fails, it’s so po-faced, so devoid of lightness, that it never entertains and all that the big action finale provides is Stallone standing behind a machine gun, gurning.

6: Donkey Punch
Dir: Olly Blackburn
The Plot-O-Matic 3000 broke down midway through generating Donkey Punch. This resulted in there being just three personalities to share, more or less at random from scene to scene, between seven characters. It also meant that all the dialogue sounds like it comes from one person, and has then been randomly assigned. Sadly the Auto-Shoot 2000 was also on the blink, and so the film looks just as personality free as it sounds, over signposts everything, and is monumentally tedious to watch.

5: The X Files: I Want to Believe
Dir: Chris Carter
I loved The X-Files when it was first on, it lost me in later series as the continuity became more and more convoluted, but I was still looking forward to the second feature film, and frankly I’m still reeling somewhat from its punishing dreadfulness. There’s just no reason for this to be an X-File, nothing about it that only Mulder and Scully could deal with, and it feels like everyone involved knew that, and didn’t care. Seldom has the usually excellent Gillian Anderson exuded such boredom on screen, and even David Duchovny seems to be in it for the money. That’s not the problem though, it’s that this is just such a dull, dull movie.

4: The Incredible Hulk
Dir: Louis Leterrier
Ang Lee’s Hulk may have been wildly overambitious, too preoccupied with its lead character’s inner turmoil, and have lacked a decent ending, but it wasn’t all bad, and it’s certainly no excuse for this loud, stupid, blockbuster. Edward Norton gives a performance so lacklustre that not only will you not believe he’s Bruce Banner; you’ll barely believe he’s Edward Norton. The film is loaded with action, but the effects are poor and the choreography is dull. The ending, a 26 minute blur of two blobs of pixels; one green, the other brown, throwing themselves at one another is one of the most punishingly boring things I’ve seen all year.

3: Step Brothers
Dir: Adam MacKay
The Will Ferrell train came off the rails this year, with neither this nor Semi-Pro managing to raise a laugh between them. Step Brothers is the worse offender though, if only for the amount of talent it wastes. John C Reilly, Richard Jenkins and Mary Steenburgen all turn up and are given absolutely nothing funny to do. Rather than amuse me this depressed me; to think that comedy now means Will Ferrell rubbing his balls on a drum.

2: An American Crime
Dir: Tommy O' Haver
A textbook example of the total mismatching of director and material. Tommy O’Haver’s Get Over It, a very silly teen rom-com with musical number, is an extremely guilty pleasure of mine, but he’s just not able to handle this hard hitting story of the torture and murder of a young woman (Ellen Page) by her foster family (led by Catherine Keener). The talented cast flounder, Keener giving an astonishingly poor performance given her many talents and O’Haver just can’t make the material scary, or indeed interesting.

1: The Hottie and the Nottie
Dir: Tom Putnam
As spectacularly awful as they are I’d rather watch the 9 films above on a loop until the end of time than see a second of this one again. This putrescent little film is almost certainly the worst ever released in cinemas. This is not merely because it is hackneyed beyond belief, predictable down to almost the exact phrasing of its terrible dialogue, and looks like a notably badly filmed sitcom. It’s because The Hottie and the Nottie is a fascist tract. No, really, I'm DEADLY serious. Its message is that beauty is skin deep (and then only when that skin has submitted to the surgeon’s knife) and that if you don’t conform you will go through life alone. Essentially it’s a film that, as well as being insultingly unfunny, jaw-droppingly misogynistic and, again, fascist, spends 90 plus minutes giving its audience the finger.
Well FUCK YOU TOO The Hottie and the Nottie.

1 comment:

  1. an american crime is a very interesting movie to see how just one person can go through so much and i hope anyone who reads this comment does not have to go through this