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. Southern 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?!? Aliens (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. Inherent 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)

Aspiring to the Enigmatic: Five Film Scenes

Advertisers want to give us answers, all of our confusion beaten into sell-able pulp.

Christian Dior sells the bag, not the question.

Christian Dior selling purses.

Movie trailers are the same.

Luhrman's "The Great Gatsby"

Baz Luhrman’s “The Great Gatsby”

All of it so simple and pornographically direct. Screenshot (208)The failure is in their intent, attempting to answer everything, give our lives a clear, cohesive narrative, when it is just the opposite.

Being John Malkovich

Spike Jonze’s “Being John Malkovich”

Real questions don’t do well under the spotlight; they wilt and are never clear. Sudden and enigmatic, they only offer a glimpse, making us stop and think, “Wait. What was that?”

5. Being There (1979, Hal Ashby) Chance watches cartoons in a limousine.Screenshot (262)4. The Thin Red Line (1998, Terrence Malick): American soldiers walk by a local in Guadalcanal.

Screenshot (277)3. Punch Drunk Love (2002, Paul Thomas Anderson): A car crashes in an empty street.Punch Drunk (3)2. The Graduate (1967, Mike Nichols): True love is realized…and then what?the_graduate_ending_shot_elaine_and_benjamin_on_bus1. Aguirre, Wrath of God (1972, Werner Herzog): In the end, only monkeys are left for the revolution.600x1000px-LL-89d5a674_aguirre

Who is with me?

Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master

Paul Thomas Anderson’s new film The Master is worth seeing. Like There will Be Blood, this film is not so much a narrative as a study in human nature. Utilizing the acting talents, to say nothing of the frightening expressiveness, of his actors Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman, Anderson takes the viewer on a disquieting journey with commanding personalities through gorgeous images to…I’m not sure where. More than anything this film is a series of moments that will stay with you for days and days and possibly a lifetime.

Regarding the themes of the piece, there is of course the savage nature of Phoenix’s Freddie Quell and the brooding explosiveness of Seymour’s Lancaster Dodd, but it is the underlying repressed sexuality, the stark images of nakedness that haunt both of these men that seems to be a key to this film. These guys are not happy. Their sexuality seems to be tied very tight, in ruins, destroyed by some trickery of long lost love. This is not something these characters really want to address. They would rather stare you down – there is no doubt about that – or yell or punch you or make you a drink again and again.