Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Low 2014

Similarly with the middling list, this is not offered as a condemnation of the films as a sigh of disappointment that they seemed to miss their own potential. I'm just a guy with a blog and pay for my own tickets. I don't see movies that I think I'll hate. Here are some I wished had been better.

When Animals Dream
Great idea of grim Scandi verite as vehicle for genre movie derails as soon as the pieces connect and it turns into an inferior Hollywood-style genre movie.

Jodorowsky's Dune
Tantalising it-might-have-been documentary gets bogged down in uncritically allowing its central figure to bluster and a mass of back patting without much of an eye to the legacy of the failed project that actually did ensue. Nice slideshow but I wonder if this might not have been better as a book. I'd buy that.

Paolo Alto
The new Coppola on the block serves up some real promise but it gets lost in the swell of reverence for the source material.

The Search for Weng Weng
I was less disturbed by Weng Weng's treatment in life than the willingness of his chronicler to dip into ridicule. It's perfectly legitimate for a documentarian to turn the focus on themselves when information on their subject runs out or is blocked (Michael Moore or Morgan Spurlock, anyone?) but here, for me, it turned nasty-tasting.

Fading Gigolo
John Tuturro writes himself a dream role and directs himself playing the hell out of it but it just drifts into nowheresville.

I first read this story in the National Geographic in the 70s. The cinematic treatment had the same look but packed the purpose and any theme beyond the endurance itself into a series of vague flashbacks.

Only Lovers Left Alive

More fun than most later Jarmusch films but still too cute and self-hip to create much lasting impact. Points for the Detroit ghost town images.

The Rover
Beautiful wide screen Namatjira landscapes and a smoothly evocative score. Pity the rest of it is like a string of acting workshops. Well, it's about how men deal with things and sometimes it's not pretty. Right, I didn't know that and needed two hours of insubstantial bullshit to inform me. My worst of the year.

As poorly served a John Ronson adaptation as The Men Who Stare at Goats replacing military esoterica with avant-garde music in a film that shows no affinity with music or artistic radicalism. Where the scenes of wild invention might have been permissibly baffling in a film so determined to be liked we got ordinary jamming, field recording and the kind of spontaneous arrangements of impromptu songs that used to happen on the tv show version of Fame. If you want to show imaginative music show imagination with it. This just looks like faking.

In the first third of this film the original name of the monster, Gojira, is anglicised into Godzilla within one line and so the progress of this film from 80s style epic to popcorn actioner may be summarised. Why couldn't we have some of the brand name stars in the female roles get more screen time, particularly as their roles' expansion might have enhanced this cover version.

Grand Budapest Hotel
The only Wes Anderson movie I don't despise. I still like it but more for how I added a cinema habit than the movie itself. I went into work to make a little extra flex then fled to the Kino to see this. Got there just in time. The more I remember of it the more typically twee it becomes but Fiennes's central performance remains stellar. My best praise? At the time it charmed me rather than begged my indulgence. I barely remember it, now.

The Dirties
Clever self-reflexivity to the extent where the found footage look is part of the joke. Not terrible by any means but nowhere near as fresh or smart as it presents. Are the pastiche end credits a nod to the assumed cinephilia of its audience or a cynical recognition shooting gallery? Couldn't care less.

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