Saturday, December 27, 2014

London City Nights Shittiest of 2014: Films

My god do I see some shitty films.  Being a film critic isn't all free pizza, soapy titwanks from PR agents, open bars and big plates of complementary croissants (though it often very much is).  All too often you have to drag yourself at some ungodly hour to some frankly disgusting cinemas.  With the deserved death of the piss-stained, tramp-infested labyrinth that was the Trocadero Cineworld, the Holloway Road Odeon holds the current title, with its dim bulbs, 30 year old seats and worryingly squishy lumpen carpet.  These aren't necessarily the worst films I saw in 2014, but they were the shittiest times I had in a cinema:


'Begin Again' directed by John Carney 

As I noted in my review there's nothing technically that awful about Begin Again.  The principal cast does okay, the film is shot competently but unremarkably and for the most part it's inoffensive bilge.  But imagine the film as that apocryphal Halloween apple with a razor blade concealed inside; the mouth-shredding sadism here taking the form of Maroon 5's Adam Levine.  From the prickish tip of his stupid beard to his soppily warbling vocals to his lamely Dylan referencing waistcoat to his infuriatingly pointy shoes god I hate hate hate this man so so SO much.

And the film is saturated with both him and his limp-dick music!  Songs that sound like this. Worse, everyone in the film goes all gooey and doe-eyed behaving like he's the reincarnation of Woody goddamn Guthrie.  By the end of the film my eyes had narrowed to the thinnest of thin slits, my spine was curved like a cheesy quaver and my hands had turned into claws of hatred.  I wanted my stare to somehow burn a hole through the screen, through the film, back in time to when they were shooting it and explode this man's head.

'Mood Indigo' directed by Michel Gondry

Hah! Turns out I was way wrong in that quote.  It's dead easy to genuinely dislike Mood Indigo because it's a load of twee shite.  Cast your eyes upwards to that moronic picture above of an embarrassed looking Audrey Tatou and Romain Duris sitting in that stupid looking car.  What the hell is going on? Why does it have a cross on the side? Why are the wheels cross shaped? Variations on these questions fill every aspect of Mood Indigo, but the ultimate answer to them is that Michel Gondry needs someone to tap him on the shoulder and tell him that he's vanished up his own arse.

It's out of character for me to criticise a film for being overly imaginative, but it seems that panic set in early in this film's production and Gondry decided to fill the frame with whatever lol-monkey-cheese randomness that flitted through his head.  A useful point of comparison are the films of Alejandro Jodorowsky, which also contain bagfuls of weirdness. But Jodorowsky's weirdness always has an intentional symbolic point, which he happily outlines in his DVD commentaries.  Gondry's tactic is to hope we're so distracted by all these whizzy gee-gaws that we'll not notice the film isn't shit.  Well we did. 

Gondry is an undoubtedly talented visual director, but this garbage marks the point where patience with his brand of kerrazy weirdness runs out.  I hated watching it, feeling my respect for him gradually shrivelling the longer the film went on.

'The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies' directed by Peter Jackson

Whereas the other shitty films this year invoked bitterness, hatred and anger; the bloated conclusion to Peter Jackson's Hobbit trilogy just left me feeling a bit sad.  I've been a fan of Peter Jackson since old times; his surrealistic low-budget punkish films like Brain Dead, Bad Taste and Meet the Feebles felt like they were made for teenage me.  Then in the 90s the double-bill of The Frighteners and Heavenly Creatures cemented him as someone going places.  This made the Lord of the Rings trilogy feel like the inmates had been given control of the asylum, the epic and the personal beautifully fused together.  I ate up all those Extended Edition special features showing people piecing chain-mail together, getting off on the sheer care and craftsmanship that went into them.

So that the Hobbit films were so colossally shit felt like the dying of a dream.  With the release of the final portion they can definitively be described as bloated, tasteless, ugly and narratively malformed pieces of shit.  Peter Jackson has 'pulled a Lucas'; trying to recreate the magic of his classic works and in the process tainting them with shitty sequels.  Over the last three years I've spent about nine hours watching this series; I'd have had a more productive time doing just about anything else.


'Divergent' directed by Neil Burger

One thing I appreciate most in cinema is brevity.  For my money the ideal length for a movie is about 90 minutes.  Obviously there are a load of excellent fat-free two hour films, but the longer the run-time the greater the tendency to lapse into flabby incoherency.  Worse, there's a trend for longer and longer movies, figuring that length is roughly commensurate with epicness.  This finds its logical conclusion in Divergent, a goddamn atrocious YA novel adaptation that clocks in at an arse-numbing two and a half hours.

The film looks crap, the actors keep glancing off-frame (presumably towards their trailers) and it's suffused with a kind of plasticky Sci-Fi Channel original vibe.  I could feel my soul slowly leaking out of my shoes and sliding down the door.  With a kind of full-body numbness rapidly setting in, the only option my crazed main saw open to me was to take a pin from my bag and begin slowly poking holes in the skin of my arm.  It hurt like hell, but at least I wasn't going comatose.  So Divergent, a film that made me self harm is undoubtedly the shittiest thing I saw this year.

And there's a sequel coming out in February.  Oh joy.  

....better pack some gauze.

23rd December: Gigs
24th December: Art
26th December: Theatre
29th December: Best films

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