Friday, June 10, 2011

The 30-Day Movie Challenge, Part 4

After the first three parts, the list continues forth with the...uh, fourth entry.

17. A Movie You Hate -- Week End
I have a song! It's set to the tune of Bon Jovi's "You Give Love A Bad Name." Here it goes...


If you thought that was terrible, well, now you know what I felt sitting through 'Week End.' Full disclosure, I liked Godard's film 'Contempt' and I have a general appreciation for 'Breathless.' But overall, Godard is one of those directors who likes to Make Statements and Reveal Truths in his movies, rather than looking to, y'know, actually make a good movie. "Week End" is one of his worst, an abstract satire poking fun at French bourgeois culture. The film was made in 1967, so perhaps I'm seeing it through dated eyes, but its broad theme of "rich people are jerks" is pretty uninteresting in this day and age.

I saw 'Week End' as part of a film class, and I was horrified to learn that I was apparently the only one in the course who didn't think the film was a masterpiece. I'm sitting there listening to the prof and my fellow students just go on and on about how great this picture was and it felt like I was losing my mind. Am I so out of touch?'s the children who are wrong.

18. Movie With The Worst Acting From Normally Good Actors -- The Good Shepherd
This category was originally "The Movie With The Worst Actors" but Chris altered to its current form since otherwise, we'd all just pick some schlocky horror movie or something. This new category is a bit more intriguing, since it's always fun to see which projects are so turgid they can suck the life out of even our best actors.

Case in point, 'The Good Shepherd.' Robert De Niro directing a drama about the early days of the CIA -- sounds good, right? N.O. Three hours of the most boring shit you've ever seen. And the cast, my god, the cast. Matt Damon, Angelina Jolie, Alec Baldwin, Michael Gambon, William Hurt, John Turturro, Billy Crudup, Joe Pesci, Timothy Hutton, Lee Pace and De Niro himself. All those fine actors and not an interesting performance among them.

Is it fair to wonder if De Niro had a 30-year pact with the devil that ran out about a decade ago? His last good film was 'The Score,' a pretty good heist movie with Ed Norton and Marlon Brando, and that came out in 2001. And even still, that movie was just 'pretty good.' Between his sad recent filmography and his terrible SNL hosting gigs, De Niro's status on the all-time acting list is dropping like a rock.

19. A Movie You Want To See -- The Dark Knight Rises
Is it too early to buy tickets to opening night? I realize it won't be out for another year or so, but damn, is there any way this film won't be yet another Christopher Nolan masterpiece? Like, just LOOK at how badass Tom Hardy looks as Bane. Now that Ledger has broken the seal, it wouldn't shock me to see Hardy or Anne (Catwoman) Hathaway get supporting Oscar nominations and/or Oscars themselves for their roles. Though, they may have to die in the interim, and nobody wants to see that.

20. The Funniest Movie You've Ever Seen -- The Big Lebowski
Julianne Moore's movie-long Katherine Hepburn impression, the Dude's landlord's impressionist dancing performance, Maude's giggly hipster friend ("Who the fuck IS this guy?!"), Jackie Treehorn randomly drawing pornographic doodles, the spreading of the ashes, all of David Huddleston's line readings, Donny being out of his element, "This is what happens when you fuck another man in the ass!!!", nihilists whose only apparent attachment to nihilism is that it gives them the right to walk around saying "Ve are nihilists, ya, ve believe in nothing," Jesus the cocky pederast bowler, Jesus' potbellied schlub of a bowling partner, Donny confusing John Lennon with V.I. Lenin, the Dude getting thrown out of a cab because he hates the Eagles, the Dude's Creedence tapes, and finally, literally everything John Goodman says and does. What a hilarious movie.

21. Movie That Scared You The Most -- Carrie
"Carrie" is a movie I haven't seen for many years, which I'm sort of torn about. On the one hand, I'd love to experience again at my current age and see if it really was as effective as I remember. (Plus, I find it hard to believe that Brian De Palma actually directed a good movie.) On the other hand, part of me wants to retain the memory of 'Carrie' being terrifying since it did instill genuine fear in me at age twelve. That's right, age 12. My film-viewing tastes were quite mature from an early age, but even still, TWELVE. Damn you, late-night showing on the Drambuie Showcase Revue. Honestly, that was too young to even get understand simple concepts like periods. I was like, "Oh no, why is Carrie bleeding everywhere?!" Fortunately, now that I'm older and wiser, I have a a positive attitude towards menstruation.

22. Movie You Wish More People Had Seen -- A Fish Called Wanda
This isn't exactly the most obscure choice, given that it's an Oscar winner (Kevin Kline, best supporting actor, arguably the most deserving Oscar of the last 25 years) and those who do know the movie absolutely love it. But, AFCW is arguably my favourite movie. It's the film that is in a constant struggle with Pulp Fiction for #1 overall, and since everyone's seen Pulp Fiction, I've basically turned into AFCW's unpaid publicist over the years. For instance, I've had several variations of this conversation....

Person: "So what your favourite movie?"

Me: "Tough call. Probably either Pulp Fiction or A Fish Called Wanda."

Person: "What's A Fish Called Wanda?"

Me: "GASP! Oh man, it's the FUNNIEST movie. You MUST see it. You'll absolutely LOVE it! It's so, so, SO, hilarious!"

Person: *backs away slowly*

So, in short, if you all see the film, then it'll save me (less) social awkwardness. It really is just about the funniest movie. If Monty Python were the Beatles, then AFCW is John Cleese's Plastic Ono Band record.

23. Movie With The Most Surprising Ending -- Unbreakable
Don't worry, I'm not actually going to give the ending away. So many movies with "twist endings" put all their eggs in the basket of that ending that, if the twist isn't successful, it ruins the entire picture. Or, in the case of something like The Usual Suspects, the twist is so effective that it almost makes the rest of the movie irrelevant.

In Unbreakable's case, though, the ending is almost a bonus. If the film had just ended with Dunn reconciling with his wife the 'morning after' his first big crimefighting gig, that would have been acceptable. BUT, then we get the added twist at the end that doesn't undermine that we've seen beforehand and only adds another level to it. Like, for instance, M. Night Shyamalan's first film "Sixth Sense" still holds up even if you know the twist going into it (as I did, unfortunately). It's a good thing I went into Unbreakable unspoiled, so I was able to enjoy Shyamalan's next twist in its full impact. It also helped that since this was just Shyamalan's second movie, the concept of "SHYAMALAN = TWIST ENDING" wasn't yet ingrained into our heads, so the audience didn't spend the first 100 minutes just waiting to get to the proverbial fireworks factory.

And now, if I may, what the hell happened to Shyamalan? 'Unbreakable' was awesome. 'Sixth Sense' was very good, and I might've found it awesome had I not known the twist beforehand. Even 'Signs' was pretty decent. Why in the world has every film ol' M. Night has made since been increasingly dreadful? I crack jokes at the guy's expense myself, but it's a pity, since Shyamalan in his prime was a very talented filmmaker.


KillerLu said...

Agreed! I just watched "Devil" which was written by M. Night and it wasn't a total waste of time but it was underwhelming. It would have made a good novel or a very strong episode of "Supernatural". Even the 'twist' in it was not surprising.

His comeback looks a long whiles away. :?

Peter Lynn said...

Unbreakable was terrific, but it's the ending that ruins it. It's not the twist itself; it's the way the resolution of the story is relegated to a title card. It was probably tacked on as a result of the studio's reluctance to go forward with the rest of the planned trilogy, but it's still pretty much like writing, "Poochie died on the way back to his home planet."