That doesn't mean that their wasn't crap this year. And maybe I'm just delusional and that, I was only the unlucky one who just consumed and over-consumed on the true shit while everybody else was enjoying the more enjoyable films of 2014, and yeah, every year has a fair amount of shit in it when it comes to movies, often a lot of it. Now, there are critics and people who, for one reason like to seek out the truly, truly awful stuff that comes out in a given year, or just in general, like to waffle in the camp and the horrid and the incompetent of the lower drenches of cinema and it's not like I don't understand that fascination. I get what somebody says when they say they just want to watch a "bad movie", and not even meaning it ironically, or camp value. Sometimes they enjoy the crap and frankly it's not a bad way to become a good filmmaker to study the truly awful, teaches you what not to do. It helps to see it done poorly to show how the others show it being done right. That's why "Showgirls" is taught in film school classes.
And yeah, it's importance to showcase the truly awful crap that was thrown upon us in cinemas and elsewhere in the world of art every year. That said, there's a reason why I never liked doing Worst Ten Lists. For one thing, I don't like watching the crap. I feel like I'm wasting my time when I'm doing that, and frankly since I'm not paid adequately for this job yet, (SERIOUSLY, CLICK ON THE ADS FOLKS, THEY'RE THERE FOR A REASON!) I don't really see why I should force myself through all the horrible movies in a given year, just to make out a Worst Films List to correspond to my Best Films of the Year Lists. That's the reason why, before I always just shoved those films onto the bottom of my Top Ten Lists until last year, and frankly I hope/wish I will go back to doing that. Give those films the amount of attention they actually deserve, which is, yeah, basically a position as a footnote on the bottom of some other analytical look at the year in film. But, that's why I was so pissed and annoyed last year; I don't go seeking bad movies out, in fact, my viewing schedule and lists, while complex and too trivial to explain here, they're definitely slanted towards seeing the best-reviewed, most important and culturally significant films around, and not just in a given year, just in general. That doesn't mean those other films aren't films I'll watch, I'll get to some of them eventually, I'm sure, but no, I'm not actually going out of my way for them. And that's in general, that's not just for a specific year. Since there's so many films from both the past and recently that I haven't seen as of yet, I usually strive to watch the important and purportedly good ones first if possible, and the purported bad ones, may have to wait a little longer for their turn. So, when I felt overloaded with shit last year, I felt pissed and deceived and all kinds of annoyed and filled with all kinds of anger and rage after having to sit through a monumental amount of complete and utter shit; it's because I wasn't seeking it out. They were supposedly, for the most part, films that, for some reason, caught my radar and were, at least by enough trusted accounts that I took an interest in seeing those films, of some level of quality. It's one thing to knowingly go and seek out a bunch of bad movies, or know that bad movies are just the norm for your job and profession as long as you're compensated adequately you can put up with them but when that's not the case and you're seeking out great and good and finding some of that and then finding more and more mediocre and medicre-er and then finding a lot of bad and really bad and worst and worst and oh god, "Kelly & Cal" worst, ugh,
Anyway, that's what really was the catalyst last year, this year, I would've much rather have shoved this on the bottom of my Top Ten Best List instead of devoting a whole blog to it, and yet maybe I just got lucky or luckier this year and maybe my vetting process for films was a bit more refined than it was last year.... (Shrugs) I don't know, I didn't feel like I saw as much crap as I did last year. But, that said, some crap snuck through, and for that, I should seek take advantage of the opportunity and use this blogpost to seek out revenge on those horrible, horrible movies that did indeed waste my time and patience, so, why not. This won't be as anger-filled as last year, but whatever, a barrel and now that I've emptied it out from the top, let's scrape off the bottom. Let's get to it!
THE TOP TEN WORST FILMS OF 2015! (Now, just as late as my Best Lists are, only later!)
10. Lila & Eve
I only just now got around to this one, that managed to sneak in. "Lila & Eve" is one of those movies that's trying to be a couple different films at first, but is just so predictable and inevitable that it basically becomes none of those things.
FROM MY ORIGINAL REVIEW
Charles Stone III seems like a name that's been more ever-present among the African-American film community to me, than he probably actually is. I'm actually a bit shocked and kind of confused to check his Imdb.com page to find that he hasn't directed a feature-length film in over a decade until "Lila & Eve"..... and, well there's no real way to sugarcoat this, but this film was terrible. It's not horrible on concept, but it's basically some strange shallow fantasy about grieving mothers of dead sons, who decide to take the law into their own hands. "Death Wish" meets "Menace II Society", only not nearly as interesting as that would sound. The two mothers, are the titular Lila (Viola Davis) and Eve (Jennifer Lopez) two mothers who meet at a 12-step ground for women who've had a son murdered, mostly through gang violence. Lila's son Stephon (Aml Ameen) was killed by a local kingpin. Eve convinces Lila after a meeting to go and visit the intersection where her son was killed and soon enough, seemingly by accident, they up becoming murdering vigilantes. Lila tries to hold together what's left of her family and job but in the meantime, Eve keeps coaxing and getting her more and more investigating of her son's death and the general underworld of the area that led to Stephon's murder, and gunning them all down. (Sigh) There's a decent idea here, but you gotta really handle it well and really know how to handle it. Even the best movies of this genre, few of them are really great, in fact, I'm not really sure I can argue that any of them are, but there is a level here. "The Brave One" comes to mind as one, that's as outlandish as this one, but still seems plausible enough and gives it's story the correct amount of seriousness for that film. This film, not only does it just look and feel overly dark in general, the lighting choices here are somewhat questionable, but there's nothing intriguing or new here, unless you didn't think that Viola Davis could give a bad performance. Yeah, I see people bashing Lopez's work here as well, which, yeah, but her character's so preposterous: I'm not sure how to play it right. Maybe Sharon Stone could've done it 20 years ago? But, I didn't think Davis's work was any good here either. At least her character, was somewhat of an actual character and a real plausible human being, but it's still nothing that she shouldn't have been able to pull in her sleep, and yet still, there's a few moments of her, where I'm wondering what she's doing. Still, this was bad, straight from the page. I get the temptation to make a vigilante movie like this, but from a story perspective, they're rarely good, and this is really one of the worst and most forgettable and uninteresting ones I've seen. This is another one of those movies where the plot twist at the end is so blatantly obvious and so early in the competition that you're basically just waiting around for the film to end, if you can stay awake through the scenes that don't have gunfire in them.
"Lila & Eve" is one of those movies that I suspect probably started somewhere interesting, but it completely went off the rails. It's just too many of the wrong genres trying to be shoved together and and filmmakers who aren't actually capable of putting all these kinds of films together in some kind of coherent way. It was bad on the page, and became bad on the screen.
Okay, while I did say that there were a lot of great films last year, when it came to making my Top Ten List, from where I was when I started to what it ended up, I didn't actually make too many changes. I thought about adding or subtracting a film or two that I wanted to get in and couldn't find room, or move a films or two around on the positions after I thought deeply about it enough, but not much; I've spent other years fixating for a lot longer and making many changes on the Top List, even though there were a lot of great films, at some point, the Top Ten wasn't too hard for me to narrow down. That was not the case, at all, for this Bottom Ten, as I was legitimately trying, and looking down the list of, say thirty five or so films that I was considering and changing the orders, multiple times and trying to get it just right; it was a difficult and trying list to make this year.
9. Woman in Gold
Part of me, wants to be nice and grade "Woman in Gold" on a curb, maybe put in something that's more reprehensible or otherwise is probably more "technically bad", but, I don't know.... Like I said there was some "entertaining bad" this year, at least to me, so I can probably forgive one or two of those more interesting films. "Woman in Gold" was the worst of two both worlds, it was tasteful, trite, manipulative and commercial, mainstream, but it was also horribly boring as Hell to sit through.
MY ORIGINAL REVIEW:
There's a way to make this movie and tell this story right, I swear there is, but "Woman in Gold", oh man, did they not do that right. And that's really disappointing considering the subject matter, 'cause this is a big problem, us trying to locate many of the possessions that the Nazis stole from the Jews and then bring the items back to the descendants, particularly the valuable ones. Jewels, heirlooms, and in particular paintings. You know, eh, I know there's a few morons who still try to claim that the Holocaust didn't happen, eh, the Nazis documented the Holocaust, not only through film and pictures, but to the most trivial of details, people. They did that. It's- ugh. Anyway, this is the tale of Maria Altmann (Helen Mirren) who escaped to America from Vienna when she was young, and on top of losing most of her family, and the possessions she lost, she lost multiple paintings, including a painting of her aunt done in gold leaf by Gustav Klimt. That painting, "Woman in Gold" was hanging in Vienna for decades and is often noted and considered to be the most famous and important example of Austrian art, but it's not Austria's to have. It's apart of the constant argument about art and ownership, whether it's owned by those who actually created the work (or commissioned it), which is often the case, or in this case, whether a piece of art as a piece of cultural importance trumps it's actual ownership ,and whether or not, the law, both in Austria, or the U.S. (Or for that matter, in terms of international law) can adequately determine how to settle such a situation. The story is about Maria and her lawyer, Randy Schoenberg's (Ryan Reynolds) struggle to regain possession of the Klimt painting, even after it had become the Mona List of Austria. In between the road blocks of the trials and hearings, we have flashbacks of Maria as a child through the Holocaust, and her aunt, and the painting, etc. Honestly, this isn't a bad movie, but it's so boring. I'm not sure they were able to stretch the story of the trial to a full film, so they tried intercutting the film with the flashbacks, but I seriously don't think this worked either. Take the context out, it's a by-the-book based-on-a-true-story tale of overcoming tremendous obstacles and the little guy winning over the.... ugh, it's just not that good. Director Simon Curtis has done some good films in the past, I admired his "My Week with Marilyn" immensely, but this was not the correct approach to the material. I'm not sure what would've been but trying these two narratives approach definitely wasn't the right one. "Woman in Gold" looks like an amazing painting that I hope to see one day, it's currently at the Neue Gallery in New York City, and they make a point of bringing that up, and that the owner of that museum is the son of Estee Lauder, Ronald (Ben Miles from the UK version of "Coupling"), so that's quite possible, (Although there was absolutely no reason for that character to even be in the movie) but other than that, there's no reason to see the movie about how it ended up here. It's a short film stretch to an hour and 45 minutes and starring Helen Mirren in a half-ass attempt to get her another Oscar nomination. I hate being that blunt, but...., yeah, that's what it is.
Yeah, this was just boring and awful, and somehow Helen Mirren got a Golden Globe nomination for it, mainly 'cause she's Helen Mirren. Anyway, this is one of those stories that, somebody heard and read about and somebody said, "You know, that could make a good movie", without really thinking about whether or not it would actually make a good movie. It just sounds and seems like the kind of thing that would, but when you really think it through, sure there's WWII, Nazis, important history here, it's a story worth telling, but, is it a movie? It's basically a courtroom fight over a piece of art, and that's not inherently compelling. That's bad enough that it's not compelling what really puts it on the list though, is that, they didn't take the right approach, at all, to make it compelling. Maybe they wanted to be faithful to the original story or people or whatever, you know, that's fine, but I'd rather watch a movie that was less based on the facts of what happened and was instead more entertaining as a film.
I really don't like documentaries on this list. I have the last couple years, but I really do try to avoid doing that, but it has been happening more and more lately for one reason or another. Sometimes it's wildly inaccurate and manipulative, other times it's just unwatchably boring, like the one I selected for this ballot, Now, last year was one of the first times I didn't have a documentary on my Top Ten List, and I didn't really focus in on it, but it was a weak year for documentaries too last year. In fact I only had five nominated for the One-Year-Later Award last year, which is the minimum, something I rarely do; now I didn't have any docs on my Top Ten List this year, but that wasn't because they weren't good. There were a bunch of really good ones this year that just didn't make my Top Ten cut. I'll definitely have the maximum of ten nominations this year, but there were still a few pretty bad ones this year. Some of you might even shocked by some of the ones I put in my Dis-Honorable Mentions List at the bottom,put I didn't pick one of the politically or culturally horrific one. I could've made a stand and picked one of those more popular titles, but instead I picked one that almost no one's heard of.
8. Ballet 422
Yeah, I didn't write a full review of this movie, so bare with me as I try to explain my reasoning here, but this movie looks interesting on the surface. It's a documentary about a ballet production, and the behind-the-scenes aspects that put of putting on such a production. There's plenty of good films about things like that, and ballet, even for someone like me who isn't necessarily a fan, can find a lot of it fascinating. It's also been a popular and important subject for film from "The Red Shoes" to "Black Swan" and documentaries on dance can be amazing if done right. Wim Wenders's "Pina" is one of the best documentary films this decade. That said, "Ballet 422" is just boring.
MY ORIGINAL REVIEW:
Ugh, this movie annoyed me the more I thought about it. I really wanted to like "Ballet 422", I've enjoyed movies about ballet over the year, and especially these behind the scenes movies, like "Black Swan", or the underrated Robert Altman film "The Company". This movie documents Justin Peck's, a dancer/choreographer of the New York ballet, and the first current dancer to be allowed to choreograph an original ballet for the production. What does that entail? Well, not much to be honest. We see, a little of the technical, sometimes the real technical, like how they dye the costumes using the washer, that's actually one of the most interesting parts of the movie unfortunately. At barely 75 minutes or so, we basically get a behind-the-scenes, and not much of the actual ballet. That could be interesting in of itself, but this wasn't captivating, or really taught me much about how to put on a ballet production. I feel more cheated out of this film than any film I've seen in a while.
Unlucky Number Seven
Oh Dear. Partly because of, the fact that I do tend to slant my viewing habits towards the bigger and more important films and filmmakers, there's almost always at least one, really good and talented director on these Worst Lists, and-eh, this year, is no exception, and this film in particular is full of talented people, in front of and behind the camera, but-eh, what the hell were they thinking?
7. The Humbling
I wanted to give Barry Levinson's "The Humbling" a break, at first. I mean, it had the unfortunate timing of coming out, shortly after the similar, "Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)" but no, this movie too messed up to really not be considered. I expect more out of these people.
FROM MY ORIGINAL REVIEW:
Well, we'll get the obvious thing out of the way first, "The Humbling" clearly suffers firstly from the fact that "Birdman..." came out last year. It particularly doesn't help that the opening sequence involves our lead character, a legendary actor, Simon Axler (Al Pacino) trying to get into the theater after locking himself outside, in time for his cue onstage. So, the movie's behind the eight ball already, but honestly, if you took that out of it, "The Humbling" is still, pretty much just a mess. And you know, I don't really get Barry Levinson lately. He's a good director, "Good Morning, Vietnam" is in my Canon of Film, and "Rain Man" is one of my personal favorite movies, I actually just saw "Bugsy" fairly recently that was a really good film too. I guess in hindsight there have been clues over the years that he has this fascination with satirizing Hollywood. The best of these films by a mile is "Wag the Dog", but this is the same guy who directed "Diner" and "The Natural", and produced, "Homicide: Life on the Streets" even "Sphere", I usually think of him as somebody who has range in subject matter and interests, but lately even in those projects that you would think there wouldn't be this behind-the-scenes deconstructing of Hollywood going on, he seems to be going after it. "Man of the Year", about a comedian who runs for President, or "What Just Happened" which is really a sharp satire of Hollywood, even "The Bay", which was a horror film from him, that I don't think I recommended, but that was one of the few films that actually found a new and unique approach to the found footage movie by telling the story through the perspective of a news reporter looking back on the footage that was taken and she was apart of, even in found footage horror, he's looking at the behind the scenes footage. I don't know why this has become his motif lately, and it's just become more and more cynical it seems. And this is the worst of the bunch too. The movie begins with Simon playing Jacques in "As You Like It" and he's practicing his "All the World's a Stage" monologue and then onstage he accidentally falls off of it. Admitting that he's losing a sense of reality between the real world and the world of the stage, he admits himself into an asylum for thirty days. When he gets out and back home, he talks to a psychiatrist (Dylan Baker) over Skype and the details are...-, um...-, hmm.... Eh, let's see if-, no, that's not really right either. Um, hmm. Well, I mentioned the "All the world's a stage speech...", well, that, and this quixotic script is based on a Philip Roth novel and co-written by Buck Henry of all people, it's intended to be difficult to determine whether or not the events that occur are in his mind, or are actually happening, even he claims, he doesn't even know and isn't sure he can tell. So, these events mainly are based around Pegeen (Greta Gerwig) the lesbian daughter of two of his oldest theater friends, Carol (Dianne Wiest) and Asa (Dan Hedaya), who suddenly knocks on his door, claiming...-, oh boy, um,- she claims a lot of things, basically, they start eventually being together. (Dear Lesbians, send your letters of complaint to Barry Levinson, et. al. c/o Ambi Pictures and Hammerton Productions.... California, 90rest of zip code) Anyway, she's some kind of pathological liar, sociopath, con artist, it's doesn't matter, it's some crazy-ass thing that's a partial side-effect of casting Greta Gerwig in the role, 'cause you want the lead female to straddle that line between "Oh, she crazy," and "Batshit, holy fuck crazy", also known as the "Parker Posey is-your-lead actress-in-an-underwritten-Indy film role" syndrome. Her parents tell him this, his psychiatrist worries about this with him, then the ex-girlfriend comes around, Louise (Kyra Sedgwick) and talks about how she's crazy and that she's still in love with her despite the lying and apparent cheating and now fucking men, and women, she still screws around on Simon. (Seriously, Lesbians, you really should write a letter on this one.) And keep in mind, it's insinuated that it's unclear what or which of these incidents is real or not, because of Simon's inability to separate reality of the play and the real world, so.... (Shrugs) I got nothing. Oh, there's also a fellow inmate from the asylum who is now stalking Simon because she believes that he's agreed to be her hitman in order to kill her pedophile husband. It's this mess of things colliding and frankly, whether it's a tale told by an idiot or not, it doesn't really lead to much in the end..... the idea of an actor unsure what's real or not is interesting, but not unique and being inside his mind just makes everything confusing and not insightful. Again, I don't know why Levinson keeps pulling from this bag, I don't know what's left for him to explore in this world or why he keeps doing it to be honest, it's becoming repetitive and pointless. He directed the HBO biopic "You Don't Know Jack" with Pacino playing Dr. Jack Kevorkian and that was a good film and even then, a lot of the film was focused on the media aspects of that story. I wish he'd looked towards some kind of different material in the future, something's that not so cynical and so meta of Hollywood; it doesn't feel like it's as interesting a theme to him, as his recent filmography suggests, and that's probably why it so confuses me, especially after this film which is nothing but confusing....
Yeah, I'm trying to give "The Humbling" a bit of a break, but god this was just a mess and really when you think back on the film, this is just a blur of a mess of a meta-Hollywood, meta-actor-y, just a blob that lasted an hour and forty-five minutes of my life. It's already bad in the mindset, and then, going back and looking up the plot of the movie, it gets dumber and dumber. It was well-acted, but yeah, this hit theaters in January, was immediately forgotten and thank God. Barry Levinson's a good director, and I don't know why he keeps this fascination with the fame and multiple public and private sides of it, but he should really find another motif. Let Sofia Coppola make that kind of movie, Levinson should find something else.
Now, also a bit of an anomaly on my Top Ten List was that, there were no foreign films on the list this year. Again, not because there weren't plenty of good ones out there, there were plenty, but they just didn't make my Top Ten this year. That's actually quite unusual, last year I had four foreign films in my Top Ten, so kind of an under-the-radar story from 2015 films was that 2015 was a particularly good year for American films, but still, foreign films were still really great. For the most part,....
6. In the Name of My Daughter
I really didn't want to put an Andre Techine film on this list, but, even the great ones (Although Techine is probably more borderline great than great) can sometimes make some clunkers, and this, based on a true story melodrama, "In the Name of My Daughter", this unwatchable mess, most definitely deserved this spot.
FROM MY ORIGINAL REVIEW:
Techine, along with Jean-Luc Godard is one of the last surviving and working directors of the French New Wave and even then, Techine kinda came in at the tale end of that movement. Honestly, I've never really been a fan of his. On top of that, "In the Name of My Daughter" already as a story comes in behind the eight ball for me. This is actually based on a major headline story that occurred in France involving, a missing person, a casino heiress, a hostile takeover and the Mafia, but this story did not make headlines here, at least none that I remember and to be honest, it's not told well. I wish I could be a little more specific considering the movie, but.... this was all so jumbled and just-, I mean, it's half-told in flashback there's double-triple crossing, there's business dealings and-, this was so complicated, and this could've been told well, Scorsese given this material could've done something with this, but Andre Techine is way not the right guy for this. This movie comes off like a mixed up TV movie that didn't know what perspective to take with. Actually, you know what this reminds me of, there's a book called "Citizen Hughes", by Michael Drosnin and it's about the Howard Hughes empire and how the IRS inevitably were able to take him down. Don't bother looking for it, it's probably around somewhere but it's a pretty obscure book, the only reason I have a copy and actually know about it, is because my Grandfather's brother, Andy Baruffi, was the head of the Las Vegas Branch of the IRS and he was the one who actually arrested Howard Hughes, (At least he is in family folklore) and he's mentioned in the book a couple times because of this, and he did head off the investigation so he was more than involved in this, but anyway-, if you actually read the book, it's-, I mean, it's not bad but it is dense. It's not a non-fiction novel like say "In Cold Blood", it's really more of a investigatory piece, sorta like, the novel "Game Change" is detailing the behind-the-scenes of the 2008 election, but it's dense and unless you're devoted to learning about it, I don't recommend reading it, but "In the Name of My Daughter", it feels like, reading this book again. It just overlayered and dense and full of details and references and relationships that-, honestly I just don't know enough about, and this movie didn't make me want to learn. (It also doesn't really help that this didn't really end, this story yet, the courtroom case, still leaves a lot in the air, so it's already a story with an unfinished, lingering ending.) There's a decent performance by Catherine Deneuve and a few others, but this is being really generous right now. The movie is just a colassal, confusing mess that, even if I knew about the story and hypothetically could follow it, I don't think I would still like this film. This is a quintessential example of the wrong material with the wrong director.
I wanted to give this movie a bit of leeway, 'cause it is a good filmmaker, and to be honest, this wasn't a really well-written review, and it had been awhile between watching the film and writing about it, but that said, this film was really a labyrinth-like mess that didn't go anywhere. It couldn't go anywhere. I mean, it's hard to explain it, 'cause the movie and it's characters and subplots were so incestuously linked, but not in a way that made anything clear. There are some good movies about somebody suddenly going missing, "Under the Sand" comes to mind for instance, a few others, just last year, "45 Years" for instance, but this movie, has so many things elsewise going on. It's the missing girl, the company takeover, the casino fraud case, it's like everything is happening at the same time, so therefore everything is connected, but they don't really show a great job at how or why they're all connected. Or more than that, why I should care.
5. Digging for Fire
(Angry growl) Okay, now we're starting to get into the movies that actually pissed me off this year. and Joe Swanberg, you're officially on the shitlist.
FROM MY ORIGINAL REVIEW:
Oh my god, here's a few terms I never thought I'd use in the same sentence, pointless, Mumblecore, cameofest, and it's boring on top of that. Joe Swanberg, is probably not the best of the Mumblecore movement, but he's definitely the most prolific. Not counting his acting credits, which would be a lot more than this, and only counting feature film credits, except for "V/H/S" which he only co-directed, Swanberg has directed, twelve feature films. and he's got a thirteenth in post-production that will come out later this year, and that's only, this decade! I'm not counting what he's done before 2010. That's insane, even for low-budget indy directors. Edward Burns hasn't directed that many features, in his 20+ Year career and that's probably the only other indy director I can think of who's even close to the rate and pace of Swanberg. It's not that his films are bad, either, I consider "Drinking Buddies" to be pretty damn good, and I guess I didn't outright hate "Happy Christmas", but honestly, I'm starting to think he's starting to lose it. He's never been a favorite of mine, but there's a pattern and the pattern is that, more and more of his films, come off as, unfinished. Like, there's an idea here, and he just sorta plants a few things in the movie, but he never really goes anywhere with them. Now when it's done well, since most of his films are relationship pieces, you can kinda take the often-improvised dialogue and sorta find some greater truths below the surface, that's the real reason why "Drinking Buddies" does hold up, um... well, I think here there's an idea for a subtext-filled tale about a couple, but, where he went wrong with it, um, I don't think he ended up anywhere near John Cheever or anything. Okay, so, like a lot of these Mumblecore directors seem to love to do, the main characters, a yoga instructor to the stars, Lee (Rosemarie DeWitt) and her public school teacher husband, Tim (Jake Johnson, who also wrote the feature) have been given a 3-month stay at a client's house, and it's a pretty lavish house and just enough time to get away from it all, and have some time together, and apart, as well. They also take their 3-year-old, Jude (Jude Swanberg, yes, Joe's real-life kid). Everything's rather cool, although Lee wants to take the kid to their grandparents, Grandma and Pop Pop (Judith Light and Sam Elliott) both to see the kid, but also so that Tim can stay home and get done their long-delayed taxes. However, he also wants to have a little fun, and asks some friends to come out for a barbecue. Among his friends is Sam Rockwell's Ray, I guess the most interesting and memorable of this group, which says more about Sam Rockwell in general than his character, I'll explain in a bit, but he also brings along a couple of hookers to the pool party, Max and Alicia (Brie Larson and Anna Kendrick). See what I mean, when I say this film is a cameofest. I'm not done by a mile on that by the way. Anyway, instead of partying too much, or doing something stupid with, either of the hookers or anyone else really, he ends up distracted by a find in the backyard, a rusted small gun, and what appears to some kind of human bone. As he continues to search the area, and eventually begins doing some amateur digging in the area, he starts finding things like, an old license plate, more unusual bones, many of them in the dirt, and other odd objects, a plastic trash bag for instance, a watch. It's suspicious, and in a normal movie, this could've been interesting and some kind of metaphor for the relationship struggles they're going through, and they are going through those. During one day, when the grandparents have the kid, Lee ends up having a day with Ben (Orlando Bloom, of all people,...) who she runs into at a bar, I believe on a night out, and gets close to maybe doing one or two things she probably shouldn't, but not really. Okay, let me just list off everybody else of note who seems to float into this movie almost by accident: Chris Messina, Mike Birbiglia, Jane Adams, nice to see her again in something since "Hung" got canceled, Ron Livingston, Melanie Lynskey, Jenny Slate, Timothy Simons from "Veep", and those are just the ones I instantly recognized. And they're all pretty much wasted. I mean, there's something between Jake Johnson and Brie Larson's character, as she actually starts helping Tim dig, and because they're dirty, she ends up putting on some of Lee's clothes while hers are in the wash, but, it doesn't really go anywhere. There's one weird scene, with an old neighbor, Tom (Tom Bower, oh forgot about him) and he mentions that he knows what's there that he's digging up, and the history of the house they're staying in, and nothing! Literally, he doesn't even ask, "Can you tell me the history, what is down there?" Nothing! Like-, I, I guess this was meant to be symbolic, but you're finding suspicious items underground on somebody else's property and you're becoming more and more obsessed with digging up whatever's there, and somebody tells you, they know what's there? I mean, even if he's lying and he makes up some ghost tale, which he doesn't even do, at least it's something that could lead somewhere. I-, I honestly have no idea why that scene's even in the movie, or why he went and did nothing with it; it's barely, if ever brought up again. I haven't had the fortunate opportunity to go through Swanberg's entire filmography, I'm sure there's gems I'm missing; I really should get around to "Hannah Takes the Stairs" at least, but this has to be his worst film yet. It's definitely the most pointless one, and moreso because there really was so much potential and not just in the waste of supporting actors either, there's a good idea for a film here, instead we get, two separate adventures that a couple goes on, and nothing comes of either of them.
Look, I actually do like this low-key, low budget, naturalistic shooting style made famous most recently by many of these Mumblecore filmmakers that have gone onto great success and have, deservedly become quite influential, but good lord. This is, just nothing. This is worst than Bret Easton Ellis nothing, it seems like it's going five or six directions, and as far as I can tell, this movie was just an excuse to get all his Hollywood friends together and have a party. And hell, I just watched Jennifer Jason Leigh and Alan Cumming's old film "The Anniversary Party" from over a decade ago, which was basically the same thing, and that was actually a fun and entertaining movie. I have absolutely no idea, what the hell "Digging for Fire" was supposed to be about or why this was made, or...., well anything about it. The worst thing is that it seems like there's something there, but when you actually step back from it, complete waste of time and energy of us, the audience and worst yet, all the talented actors, who actually, many of them, are giving good and interesting performances, and they should be in much, much better movies than this one. Thankfully many of them are.
I originally thought this would be higher on the list, but to paraphrase Jim Cornette, so many things came up that were worst than this that it moved up without even doing anything. But, still, this was, really awful, and what makes it really problematic and annoying and a particularly horrid brand of awful, is that, unlike all the other films on this list, this is a musical! A Musical!? How bad can a Musical really be?
(Holds back vomit)
Oh god, I forgot that existed, give me a minute.
(Long thinking pause)
Okay, is case you all forgot about "Rock of Ages", it was fucking terrible! But, oh I don't say this lightly, THIS WAS WORST!
4. The Last Five Years
Ms. Kendrick, I beg of you, please be more selective and don't just do a movie because it's a musical, please, please, I beg of you; you're too talented for this crap!
MY ORIGINAL REVIEW:
The latest Anne Kendrick musical-, oh my god, that's a genre now! How the fuck did that happen?! Uh, anyway, the latest, "The Last Five Years" is by far the worst and I'm gonna start at the top here, the music is terrible! I'm told this is a popular musical from Jason Robert Brown but there's not a single memorable song from this movie. Half of them sound the same, occasionally there's a funny idea or line, and I know, essentially this is an opera, (I won't go so far to say "rock opera") so the dialogue is sung and whatnot, and I'll admit to having questionable musical taste, with my conspicuously high amount of Jewel CDs that I still listen to, but I can't think of a song from this movie I ever want to hear again. Admittedly, the movie's half screwed for me already 'cause of this, but that's only the first problem. The movie follows Cathy (Kendrick) and Jamie (Jeremy Jordan) as it documents their relationship over a five-year period through song, with Cathy's songs starting from the end of the romance and going backwards and the guys songs starting at the beginning of the relationship and going forward because,-... um, eh, I don't know; I think the author thinks he saw Harold Pinter did it once or whatever, there's no point to it. Cathy is a struggling New York actress who takes a lot of Summerstock work in Ohio, while Jamie is suddenly the next huge up-and-coming wonder boy in the literary world and falls into the trappings of being 23 and a huge successful novelist. basically, it's every other bad New York City independent movie ever made. It's what happens when "Listen Up Philip" thinks it's "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg". I don't even know what else to say, it's a boring tired plot of a movie with boring tired musical numbers...;- I can't even imagine how this would be better on stage; there's literally nothing here I haven't seen done better multiple times over. It's not even horribly awful for a musical that you can see it as camp like "Rock of Ages", except for maybe director Richard LaGravenese's strange choice of some Bergmanesque two-shots a la 'Scenes from a Marriage" and this movie's romance is nowhere near interesting enough to rip off Bergman. It's bad in dull and uninteresting ways and it's dull and bad for a musical.
Thankfully, I think this movie entered and died in theaters right away, but oh my God, this was dreadfully boring. If this was an album, I'd listen to it once, fall asleep, wake up halfway through, thinking, "Oh my God, how much did I miss?" and it turns out, "Wait, I didn't miss anything, I was awake this whole time!" This is terrible, the Pinteresque narrative doesn't help, it just makes it more confusing and frankly, that would only work if there was a reason to care. And the music, this is the worst music I've ever heard in a musical. I mean, people complain about being tired of "Frozen"'s music playing 24/7, screw you people, be happy this didn't catch on like that. This was just, utterly atrociously bad and atrociously boring! I didn't even realize a musical could pull those two things off, but dammit, this one did it. And, poor, poor, poor, Anna Kendrick, I felt sorry for her being in this film.Not as sorry as I feel for Malin Akerman, (Who's stupid idea was it for her to sing a lip with the string from Tom Cruise's jeans in her mouth, oh there was much bad about that film) but, yeah, pretty bad. At least "Rock of Ages" is almost gloriously bad, "The Last Five Years" is horribly bad and boring and completely forgettable.
Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper have, in general, been on a role when it comes to making good movies, especially when working with David O. Russell, who, we'll unfortunately get to later. Now, they were in two movies together this year, in movies that were titled after the names of their female lead characters. There was "Joy" that was made with the Russell. Lawrence got an Oscar nomination for it and it was okay. The other movie they did....
The funny thing is that this was also made by a normally reliable and great director in Susanne Bier, but this movie was doomed from the get-go, from a nightmare of a shoot, to numerous delays with the release, even when Jennifer Lawrence being the biggest star in the world at the time, "Serena" was shelved until it was quietly released in theaters early last year, and, yeah, yeah, the studios was right. This really did suck.
MY ORIGINAL REVIEW:
Oh God, this frontier-era soap opera was doomed from the beginning. I think a lot of us have probably heard about the supposed nightmare production that was "Serena" by now. Not necessarily a nightmare in filming, just a nightmare of a film. In the absolute pinnacle of Jennifer Lawrence's star power as well as the rising fame of co-star Bradley Cooper, who we know they two have worked amazing magic together with "American Hustle" and "Silver Linings Playbook", this movie auspiciously remained on the shelf for three years before finally getting dumped into theaters early this year. Serena (Jennifer Lawrence) soon marries the rich timber tycoon George Pemberton (Bradley Cooper), I'm not glancing over stuff by the way, that's quite literally how much we learn about them and what happens right at the beginning. So what happens afterwards. Mostly, Serena, just makes her presence known. She's abrasive, cold and bitchy, towards everybody; I think she's supposed to be some kind of powerhungry, um,- I don't know. She gets married to this guy and immediately she is in charge of everything. Elizabeth Taylor's character in "Giant" is probably the closest thing I think this character was intended to be, but that's a real stretch actually, she was a gentle and nice character who influenced her husband to be less racist and more sentimental, this is just, I don't know. You can tell right away that she's somewhat more interested in the position the marriage gets her and the power that it invokes, by blatantly dismissing a townswoman who's carrying George's kid from an earlier affair, she and he doesn't dispute, she just doesn't acknowledge or gives a shit. It comes up later, but it seems like everything and nothing comes up later in this film. I called this a soap opera and that, yeah, that's it. It's over-the-top melodramatic emotions to a series of events that are occurring as often as they are random, maybe I missed the point where somebody threw a drink in this movie, but I wouldn't be shocked if I later rewatched it and realized somebody did. And the film was directed by Susanne Bier, the wonderful Danish director who's made some amazing work in the past, "After the Wedding", "Brothers" my favorite, the Oscar-winning "In a Better World", and she's done well in America before too with the wonderful "Things We Lost in the Fire", but I think she was just given a terrible script and like everybody else, didn't know what to do with it. Everybody's trying to make a good movie, but it's not coming out that way. Bier's never made a period piece before and she's struggling to understand the mood of the movie, whether it's this elegiac sprawling observation on society, or a dark, cold Shakespearean tragedy. She's somewhere between John Huston and Clint Eastwood directing wise here, but it's just a mess. I don't blame her completely, this is just an anomaly for her, she'll bounce back and so will these actors. As for this film though, I don't blame the studios for holding this back. It reminds me of, like in movies about Hollywood actors and actresses making their big break and then suddenly, their next major film is a period piece and you see them on the set and in costume and it's big and overblown and the dialogue is shaky and best and doesn't seem like it would ever be from a real film, not that a movie like this would ever even be made nowadays 'cause even at the time this cliche of what a Hollywood movie was died 20 years earlier..., yeah, this feels like one of those movies, like the fake movie someone's making within the real movie.
(Sigh) Yeah, this was shelved for three years before getting a release and it should've been shelved for a lot longer. Um, this was really just a classically, boring, unwatchable movie. I mean, this movie...- I said that this felt more like a fake movie in an actual movie, and it kinda does. I mean, this feels like they were trying to go for like an epic, sprawling melodrama from like the fifties of sixties of classic Hollywood, and I guess I kinda get that, it didn't work, at all. It was just boring.
I don't give too many films ZERO STARS, but I gave it to this film, and, it deserved it. I'll explain why it isn't number one later, but yeah, I never did understand disaster movies.
2. San Andreas
FROM MY ORIGINAL REVIEW:
(Slight growl under breath) No, no no. No-No,no-,no. No-no, NO! NO! No, no, no. No. Just, NO! No! No! NO! NO!. NOOOOOOOO-OOO! NO!
Oh, where to begin here. Okay, "San Andreas" is the infamous faultline- fault-line, (Faultline is not one word? Really? Okay.) it's the infamous fault-line that separates the Pacific tectonic plate from the North America plate and it conveniently for this movie, cuts through the state of California; it's the reason why, at least back in the day, I don't think it's a widely believed myth anymore, but some hypothesized that when the big earthquake hits California, that the state, or at least part of it, might one day become an island or just sink into the Ocean entirely. So, it's a perfect set up for a disaster movie, it's already California, Hollywood, it's earthquake heavy, it's a famous location that people already think (or thought) could be the location of such drastic disastrous events, etc. etc. Now, you'd think a movie that was named after a famous piece of geography, would know thing about the region, like, how Hoover Dam works, or where the Colorado River goes. (Okay, technically the Colorado River used to go down towards Mexico, but it hasn't done that in decades. Or, maybe not make up a place in Nevada that's supposedly near Hoover Dam, which is where the famous seismologist Dr. Lawrence Hayes ([Sigh] Paul Giamatti, what the hell are you doing in this movie?! Please tell me you really wanted a yacht or something so you did this. [Sigh]) goes to seek out the evidence that he can accurately predict when the next big earthquakes will arrive and this leads to the big earthquake that kills one of his assistant and destroys Hoover Dam in exactly the way that it would absolutely not happen. And btw, the San Andreas Fault is about 350 miles away from Hoover Dam. Look, I know there's other faultl-ines, but seriously, if the fault shook enough to destroy Hoover Dam, then it probably would completely annihilated Bakersfield, Barstow, probably Fresno. Okay, Giamatti, is the established character actor who's sole purpose is to give the made-up science as exposition sound credible, he's never even seen in the same scene as the main story which involves, (Depressed sigh) a, let's see, let me check the "Hack Writers Mad Libs Guide to Disaster Movies" and under dangerous noble profession, he wrote down, "Helicopter Rescue Pilot", okay, a helicopter rescue pilot, Raymond Gaines (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) who's getting a divorce from his wife Emma (Carla Gugino) because plot convenience, and she's about to marry a new asshole Daniel (Ioan Gruffodd) who's trying to befriend their daughter Blake (Alexandra Daddario) who's about to head off for college, and before a bunch of shit happens, meet-cutes and befriends Ben (Hugo Johnson-Burt) a British college graduate and his younger brother Ollie (Art Parkinson) and they all end up in trouble, most of the time, they get out of it. Daniel does a few things that aren't as unreasonable as they want to make it seem, but they treat him like the Billy Zane character from "Titanic" because of it....
Oh, God this movie is painful, and yes, I'm focusing on the sketchy geography and science, but this movie would've been bad anyway. I mean, a good disaster movie that's dumb and stupid, like "2012" for instance, it's over-the-top and just a spectacle of bad; "San Andreas" is caught between taking things too seriously or trying to be humorous and it decides on neither and it makes the movie just unbelievably boring. It's just a film about a family getting back together because of disaster. It's like "The Impossible", only stupid. It's not even stupid, it's just inept. Just-ugh. Look, I've never thought Dwayne Johnson aka The Rock was necessarily the greatest actor, but that said, nobody gave a good performance in this movie. Nobody could give a good performance in this movie. These aren't characters, they're plot devices. Archetypes of plot devices. It's copying the formula of every other movie like this. I'm seriously wondering if this movie wasn't cut-and-pasted together from some other shitty script with just the names and locations changed. I'd call it formulaic, but it's so beyond formulaic that I practically just want to call it copying. This movie is like, you ever grade papers in like high school or something, and two idiots who sat next to each other are clearly copying each other's paper, and they're so dumb they get caught right away because they both got all the same answers wrong and had all the same misspelled words, misspelled in the exact same way? That's what I think the first draft of "San Andreas" was, and then somebody cut and pasted the rest to make it look like they weren't copying from someone else. I don't know who was copying who but I'm just gonna presume/hope this was the one copying, 'cause I don't want to know the moron who copied this work, if that's the case. "San Andreas" was just an utter pain to get through, and no, there's nothing in this movie I can honestly recommend.....
There's not much to say here. "San Andreas" was a dreadfully bad disaster movie. And, it wasn't even interesting or memorable for a disaster movie, it wasn't fun, it wasn't interesting, it wasn't anything that we hadn't seen a hundred other times before, and this isn't exactly a great genre to begin with, cause mostly those movies are just a bunch of crap happening over and over again, and trying to shoehorn a story, much less a happy story into all that death and destruction is just depression, so, and "San Andreas" is probably one of the worst I've seen at that, that wasn't a horrible Syfy TV movie or something.
And now, drumr-, actually, no, this doesn't deserve a drumroll, finally, let's get to the absolute WORST FILM OF 2015!
I originally gave this film 1 1/2 STARS when I first wrote my review. (I actually changed it later to 1 STAR). Needless to say, I now think I was being generous, although, in general, I'd tell you don't pay that close attention to such things as the number of stars a film is given. I mean, "I gave it 5 STARS, but I gave this 4 1/2 STARS, and this 4 STARS, does that mean, one's that much better or...?" It means, it's good. Don't over think this, 4-5 is means I think it's really good, 2 1/2/-31/2 stars, probably means I think it's average, maybe okay, and 0-2 STARS means I don't think it's that good, basically,-, just don't get too wound up in how many stars I give a film; care if it's good or bad, and the stars are just my expression of how good or how bad I think it is, but still good and good and bad is bad blah, blah, blah.... Anyway, still, 1 1/2 STARS, is traditionally a bit high for me to rank on this list, especially at number one. not unprecedented, time and self-reflection are more than capable having me reevaluate a movie and it can definitely make me like or hate a movie more or less, long after originally seeing a film, but yeah, what happened here? Well, here's the thing, I think I thought I was giving this movie a little break. Giving it the benefit of the doubt, maybe I didn't quite get it, kinda thing. Then I started looking into the movie and then, the more and more I looked into the film, the less and less I realized it was, and at some point, this movie, because, and it's not even close, completely obviously to me, that this is the worst film of the year. Sorry David O. Russell.
1. Accidental Love
I really don't want to include this film on the list, on some level it doesn't seem right. It shouldn't actually count as a movie, much less a theatrically-released feature in the United States, but it was released and it technically counts, but then again, somebody needs to be responsible for this abortion.
MY ORIGINAL REVIEW:
Wait, wait-a-minute, I'm not reviewing this film, this movie is too old, and I don't have the time or need to devote to-. What?! 2015, no that can't possibly be right, this movie looks like it was made a decade ago! Wait, David O. Russell directed this?! I-eh-um, okay, it does sorta seem like one of his lesser works that failed comedically, but-eh, that's-, no this isn't, give me a second, I gotta look this up. This isn't adding up.
Hmm, huh, Richard Roeper's review, what's he got to...
The Story behind "Accidental Love" is weirder and definitely more interesting than the movie itself. Based on a novel by Kristin Gore (Al's daughter) titled "Sammy's Hill," the production was titled "Nailed" when director David O. Russell and the cast assembled for filming in 2008. Production was shut down more than a dozen times when the financial backers failed to make payments on time. cast member James Caan quit the film early on (Russell has a history of run-ins with actors from George Clooney to Lily Tomlin to Jude Law). Russell finally walked away and successfully lobbied to have his name removed from the credits. The patched-together "finished" product was released on VOD earlier this year, and it' s getting a one-show-only showcase at Facets Cinematheque on Friday.
Oh-kay, well, that explains it. And for the record by the way, this happens way more often than people realize, even with some established actors and directors. (Stephen Greene is Russell's "Alan Smithee" alias) Hell, Pacino's "Chinese Coffee" didn't even get a theatrical release. And, yeah that explains pretty much everything wrong with the movie as well. And yes, until I actually checked the release date I was actually just gonna skip reviewing this movie, because, well, to quote Roeper's review again:
As for the movie, it's an unmitigated disaster, not even worth a spin as a curiosity piece.
(Shrugs) Um, yeah. Yeah, there's really not much here. I mean, it's clearly supposed to be one of those old-time screwball comedies, sorta like if Preston Sturgess tried to make "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" but, that's... (Shrugs). It begins with a rollerskating-waitress, Alice (Jessica Biel) who's about to marry the man of her dreams, a local cop named Scott (James Marsdan) until a nail is accidentally shot into her head. Because of this, she's got a shortened life span and for reasons that have since become mostly irrelevant since Obamacare came along, she decides to head to Washington and try to convince her Congressman Howard Birdwell (Jake Gyllenhaal) to stand up for her and others who come along and help them get healthcare for reasonable things, like a nail stuck in your head. Needless to say, the most sensible thing in the movie is the fact that she then has sex with him, as the nail in her head triggered her, um-slut reflex. "I'm a nail slut", she utters in the movie's only memorably funny line. How this eventually involves, girl scouts and the Majority Whip's (Catherine Keener) plan for a military base on the Moon, no, not kidding, and-, eh, I don't remember, 27 other ridiculous things that might sound funny in a decent Upright Citizen's Brigade sketch or something, but yeah, this is a mindless mess of a barely-a-movie, that probably wouldn't have been funny eight years ago. I get the sense there probably was a decent satirical idea here at one point, the era of it's satire has passed, and even if it was around the time, it really isn't executed that well, and I know this is a tough genre to pull off and I admire the attempt, but obviously this was a doomed attempt to begin with.
Yeah, as bad as "Serena" and "San Andreas" and "The Last Five Years" were and they were terrible, at least they were movies, this literal and figurative abortion of a movie, was never properly finished, was only half-way tied and piece together with duct tape just to force a release, seven years after it originally was made. Now that explains, why it's bad, and why it deserves to be number one, but actually, if I'm being completely honest, I left something out of my review that I should've brought up. You see, I'm usually a stickler for watching movies through to the end and every single scene and whatnot, but this movie was really hard to watch. So, at some point during the screening of this movie, I left the room and went to the bathroom, and left the DVD running, and decided, no, I'm not gonna back up and catch whatever I missed. I cannot remember doing anything like that, in over seven or eight years, not since, before I had this blog and I returned "Jesus Christ Superstar" to the library after an hour, 'cause that was all I can put up with. So, yes, even without all the behind-the-scenes shambles that "Accidental Love" suffered through, even without knowing that at the time, this was the first movie where I decided to purposefully and intentionally walk out on, for a little while anyway, and I should've just taken the DVD out, not watch the rest from where I walked back in, stepped on the DVD until it broke throw it into the Ocean, never to be seen again, and I would've had I been near an Ocean (Or more importantly, I would've if I could've afforded the Netflix fine). "Accidental Love", this barely qualified as a movie, but it's the still the worst of 2015!
Of course, there was plenty of garbage throughout the year, so let's through up a brief list of Dis-Honorable Mentions that could've been on this list, if for no other reason, just to make sure you stay the hell away from them.
ANIMATED AND LIVE-ACTION FEATURES
The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared-Felix Herngren
The Boy and the Beast-Mamoru Hosada
Hot Tub Time Machine 2-Steve Pink
Hotel Transylvania 2-Genndy Tarakovsky
Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet-Roger Allers, Segment Directors: Gaetan & Paul Brizzi, Joan C. Gratz, Mohammed Saeed Harib, Tomm Moore, Nina Paley, Bill Plympton, Joann Sfar and Michael Socha
The Man from U.N.C.L.E.-Guy Ritchie
The Nightingale-Philippe Muyl
Testament of Youth-James Kent
He Named Me Malala-Davis Guggenheim
The Russian Woodpecker-Chad Garcia
(Sigh) Yeah, now I remember why I don't like devoting too much time to Worst of the Year lists normally, especially this year where, there wasn't that much I really found that horrifically awful. It's much fun to keep coming up with new synonyms for great than it is for crap. Alright folks, and that's the conclusion to the year, 2015, let's hope the next one...- oh right. Nevermind that, let's just try to embrace the upcoming Award season while we're trying to not turn the country to shit. Hey, that's what entertainment for anyway, I'll be here to guide you if you want. :) Peace out, :)