Top Ten Film Disappointments

Life is full of disappointment, people letting you down, letting yourself down. It’s a shame that the place I seek solace from this – film – offers the same:

Toklat (Robert Davison, Sweden, 1971) The first film I ever saw in a theater, and it was awful. Shots of a bear randomly stitched together. Yes, disappointment starts early.

Juggernaut (Richard Lester, UK, 1974) Advertised as an edge-of-your-seat thriller but in reality was all talk and no action. Terrible fare for a 11-year-old.

Sorcerer (William Friedkin, USA, 1977) I have never been more excited for a film, nor more disappointed. The poster was the best part. Top ten Film disappointmentsSouthern Comfort (Walter Hill, USA, 1981) A bunch of guys wandering around in a swamp. Sounds existential but not.

Conan The Barbarian (John Milius, USA, 1982) The prototype for why all comic books fail on the screen.

Return of the Jedi (George Lucas, USA, 1983) The only thing worse than an Ewok is a Jar Jar.

Legend (Ridley Scott, USA, 1986) Alien, Blade Runner…and then this?!? Legend - Top ten Film disappointmentsAliens (James Cameron, USA, 1986) How to Ruin a Franchise 101.

The Godfather III (Francis Ford Coppola, USA, 1990) Not as bad as everyone says, but Ms. Coppola is. I also had a guy behind me explaining Godfathers I & II to his girlfriend. The Godfather IIIInherent Vice (Paul Thomas Anderson, USA, 2014) The problem with a high bar is that you have to maintain it. (See also Woody Allen, post-2000)

Movie Day: “The Bear” to “Catch-22”

Movie Day The Bear to Catch 22

Watching films is an addiction, consumed one by one, regardless of story or value, but for how they are shot – the lights, shots and edits, watching as as alien, trying to understand the language of this world through Annaud’s The Bear, Zemekis’ Castaway and Luketic’s Paranoia. Movie Day: "The Bear" to "Catch-22Finding the moments, beautifully or ridiculously rendered: Redford’s Ordinary People, Hiller’s Silver Streak, NIchols’ Catch-22 (Mike Nichols, 1970). Movie Day: "The Bear" to "Catch-22And then the day is gone, lost in the confusion of make belief, and you are an alien no longer, just tired.

“Get Out” & “Women”: Script Isn’t The Thing

There’s supposed to be something like three stories, right? Boy Meets Girl. Boy Kills Father. Boy Gets Old. Whatever the number of seminal narratives, it’s all derivatives of derivatives now, exemplified by Jordan Peele’s ballyhooed Get Out. Get Out" & "Women": Script Isn't The ThingWhile the film is a compelling attempt to address the hypocrisy of whites pretending not being racist, the story mashes up Scream, Being John Malkovich and Driving Miss Daisy and is plodding at best. There is no character development nor even plot, nothing to consider in the individual, except that we’re just derivatives of derivatives of ourselves.Get Out" & "Women": Script Isn't The Thing20th Century Women, ironically this year’s choice original screenplay at the Oscars, represents more laziness, offering moronic short-hand for finding truth in accepting our silly old selves. Quirky, they call it.Get Out" & "Women": Script Isn't The ThingBoth films fall into a blithering tradition, initiated by heralded auteurs with such films as Breathless, Easy Rider, and The Last Picture Show. Get Out" & "Women": Script Isn't The ThingRather than offer an arc or delve into the intricacies of character, these films offer things to look at, moments to be consumed, and then we’re needing more. Get Out" & "Women": Script Isn't The Thing

Oscars 2017: Best Live-Action Short

Oscars 2017 Best Live Action Short. This year’s Oscar nominations for Best Live-Action Short are all European: The Woman and the TGV (Switzerland), Silent Nights (Denmark), Time Code (Spain), Enemies Within (France) and Sing (Hungary). Oscars 2017: Best Live-Action ShortAnd while all have obvious merits, most fail at the short format, striving instead to be an abbreviated feature. Aske Bang’s Silent Nights is the most flawed in this regard – cramming in a passionate on-again-off-again affair, a mugging, death of a parent, deportation and sudden pregnancy into 30 minutes. Oscars 2017: Best Live-Action ShortTimo von Guten’s The Woman and the TGV, although entertaining and meticulously shot, suffers from a kind of Amelie envy. Best Live-Action ShortKristof Deak’s Sing and Selim Azzazi’s Enemies Within briefly focus on the key of the short format – that of a specific and intense relationship – but both lose focus in the end. Oscars 2017: Best Live-Action It is only Juanjo Gimenez’s Time Code – the shortest of the entries at fifteen minutes – that understands the structure of short films. Oscars 2017: Best Live-Action ShortIt delivers from beginning to end with humor and insight into the human condition while never overshooting its mark – people are happier when they accept themselves.

Gillo Pontecorvo’s The Battle of Algiers

The Battle of Algiers is known for its neorealism, cinema verite as they say, images so real that we have to be told they’re not.

BATTLE OF ALGIERS

Its strength, however, lies not only in its images.

Gillo Pontecorvo's The Battle of Algiers

But in its development of a central theme: our inherent inhumanity to one another.

Gillo Pontecorvo's The Battle of Algiers

The chaos of knowing that.
Gillo Pontecorvo's The Battle of Algiers

And that it will never change.Gillo Pontecorvo's The Battle of Algiers

The Cattle Drive in Howard Hawks’ “Red River”

It’s not the story nor the setting nor even characters that make Howard Hawks’ 1948 Red River an epic, but the images of the cattle drive.The Cattle Drive in Howard Hawks' "Red River"

A herd of 9,000 used in shooting this iconic story element. The Cattle Drive in Howard Hawks' "Red River"Nothing compares to these images throughout the 133-minute film.Red River

The Cattle Drive in Howard Hawks' "Red River"

Except maybe Montgomery Cliff sucking poison out of Joanne Dru’s shoulder.The Cattle Drive in Howard Hawks' "Red River"

That’s pretty good too.