Wednesday, January 4, 2012

F This Movie! - The Overrated, the Underrated and the Ugly of 2011

Patrick and JB don't need a lot of special knowledge to count down 2011's overrated, underrated and worst movies. They just need a lot of heart.

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  1. Glad to see I'm not the only one that thought "The Tree of Life" is overrated pretentious crap. But then I have to disagre completely with both of you on "Sucker Punch." That movie made me physically ill, like JB's physical reaction to seeing Gus Van Sant's remake of "Psycho." Zack Snyder had his once-or-twice-in-a-lifetime chance to do a personal-to-him project after delivering the goods with "300" and "Watchmen." And what did Snyder do? He proudly and shamelessly (that's the part that gets me most irked) reveals himself to the world in "Sucker Punch" as a misogynistic ADD-loving, cliche-spewing, heartless/soulless hack of a filmmaker. Two-dimensional cardboard characters performing fanboy-service action in a CG world with no gravity or depth just to escape an injust and torturous everyday reality? Thanks, I'll just put "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" on a loop.

    There are not enough words in the English and Spanish languages for me to express how much I despise "Sucker Punch." Michael Bay can retire now, the next money-making hack director with an eye for visual composition involving multiple-scale CGI effects but zero emotional/heart behind the characters in front of those pretty pictures is here. And his name is Robert Zemeckis... kidding, Zack Snyder is it.

    And not even Patrick's gushing enthisiasm (and subliminal use of the poster for the podcast) can get me the least bit excited about the idea of seeing "We Bought A Zoo." I saw "Elizabethtown" and I'm convinced the Cameron Crowe we knew and liked in the 80's and 90's has left us for good. The only reason I'd see "Zoo" is to contrast how much Matt Damon has changed between his 2005 appearance in 2011's "Margaret" and his present-day look in "Zoo" (that hair!).

    So, to summarize:

    Overrated: "The Tree of Life"
    Underrated: "Margaret" (and yes, I'm going to mention it in every comment I make from now 'till kingdom come)
    Ugly: "Sucker Punch" (too many to mention here but the fact you guys are defending it only makes me remember how much I fucking hate this piece of shit... pardon my Swedish).

    One last comment to JB about his 'hipsters' comment. Are you ever (or would you consider) going to Sh!t on "MST3K" or that school or comedy riffing (Cinematic Titanic, Rifftrax, etc.)? I'm conflicted on this because I both love and appreciate older movies/TV shows, but also find the approach from the above-mentioned shows/comedy groups respectful and artful while also (mostly rightfully) taking to task bad movies whose sole means of entertaining is through talented writers/performers mocking them. If JB really thinks hipsters are not cool (and Patrick is on record saying he doesn't like to watch stuff ironically, ala "MST3K") then I'd like him to put all his arguments (if he has any) against "MST3K" in a 'Sh!tting on the Classics' column so I can respond to them in kind. I love F This Move, but I love "MST3K" even more and want to defend its honor.


  2. ^^^ Forgot to add that, if "Margaret" (officially a 2011 release even if it was filmed in '05) and voice-over work are included, Matt Damon was on FIVE movies this past year (not three like you mentioned in the podcast): "Adjustment Bureau," "Margaret," "Contagion," "Happy Feet Two" (as Bill the Krill) and "We Bought A Zoo."

  3. Thanks for listening, J.M.! So much to address.

    After recording the podcast, I saw a still from MARGARET with Matt Damon in it; I didn't realize he was in it. And I forgot all about HAPPY FEET TWO, because life is too short. Thanks for looking out.

    You are totally within your rights to hate SUCKER PUNCH, but it seems like based on what you said about the movie in your comments, you didn't listen to anything we said about it. I think there's more to the movie than you are giving it credit for. Doesn't mean you'll agree with me; doesn't even mean you'll like it any more. And I know it can be hard to get past such a visceral negative reaction. But there's more to SUCKER PUNCH than just a literal interpretation. The movie is a mess, and I wish Zack Snyder would have gotten his ideas across more clearly (so that I wouldn't have to defend it to people), but I think it's a really political and subversive movie, especially for an $80 million Hollywood film. Like I said, none of this is likely to change your opinion.

    As far as MST3K goes, I think it's fine. It's funny and I enjoy watching it sometimes. My issue is more with the culture it begat -- that now there are hipsters everywhere who think it's funny to "MST3K" every movie, even though a) they are not funny and b) not EVERYTHING exists to be mocked. I experience this phenomenon every year the 24-hour Music Box Massacre. So I don't have a problem with the show, just with the people who learn all the wrong lessons from it.

  4. Also! WE BOUGHT A ZOO -- I don't know that I would recommend it to anyone, even though I really liked it. I have this theory that I haven't totally worked out yet that Cameron Crowe is now in the George Lucas phase of his career, and that we have to stop wishing he would be the guy he used to be and accept that this is the guy he is. Or something. I think the movie is way better than ELIZABETHTOWN, but anyone expecting a return to SAY ANYTHING or ALMOST FAMOUS will be disappointed.

  5. Thanks Patrick. To be fair my negative reaction to "Sucker Punch" is based on the theatrical version a friend took me to see for free (and, to quote JB, the movie wasn't worth the 'free' I paid for it). I know the version released on BD/DVD is closer to Snyder's original intent and maybe, when I can find a patron saint willing to buy it/rent it for me (I physically cannot hand over money for it in any way... hand refuses to move!), I'll give it a second chance. Who knows, maybe it will be in the 'JB Box' prize for podcast #100 and I'll end up winning the darn thing. That'd be my cosmic joke. :-)

    Rewatching "Sucker Punch" (when/if I ever get to it... a lot of stuff ahead of it like, I don't know, "Charade" and "The Royal Tenenbaums") is the least I can do for your efforts to highlight it as 'underrated' when I can only think of it in Chuck Wepner-vision (i.e. all red). Still, I'd love to hear JB's thoughts on "MST3K" even if his beef is only with the people that learned the wrong lessons from that otherwise fine TV institution. Later.

  6. I'm disappointed in JB & Patrick. Where's the hate for Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon? Just because it's slightly better than the 1st two abortions doesn't mean it should be left off anybody's top 5 Ugly List. I can't believe this is what John Malkovich is reduced to because he lost almost all his money in the Bernie Madoff scheme. I still don't get Bay's obsession with strecthing out movies with barely enough plot for 90 minutes into bloated 2 and a half hour "epics".

    Overrated: I have to go with Thor. I really liked it at the theater & thought it deserved all the box office & critical acclaim. However, when I saw it on rental for a 2nd time last month, I thought it was a slightly above average (2.5 stars out of 4) superhero movie. Hemmsworth's great & I still liked most of the fish-out-of- water stuff on Earth, but the rest of it with Loki, Asgard, & Natlie Portman didn't do much for me. Critics like Richard Roeper thought Thor was the best debut for a hero since the 1st Spiderman movie yet he didn't care for Captain America(?). Captain America was a far superior movie (3.5 stars to me) but it made less than Thor. I wonder if Thor being the 1st superhero movie of the summer blockbuster season had something to do with that.

    Underrated: I have to go with Sucker Punch too. Unlike Bay, Snyder can direct overcrowded action scenes where I can still tell what's going on. I own & have seen the extended Blu Ray edition which is an improvement. The story is less of a mess & includes a couple of important scenes that couldn't be in the PG-13 version. I just don't think there's enough in there to change Vargas' very negative opinion of it.

    Keep up the great work. Mach6

  7. I have to listen to the podcast, but I bet that I wasn't the only one that thought Tree of Life was overrated. Actually I would take it a step further and say that Terrence Malick is one of the most overrated movie directors of all time. The cinematography of his movies are superb, but what about the story and characters? His last movie was the live action version of one of Disney's worst animated movies. When's the last time you saw his movies get acclaim or revered for characters or story or writing? Quick somebody tell me a character name and/or quote from a Malick movie? Are you stumped? I could ramble on about characters, plot, and quotes from John Ford, Martin Scorsese, Elia Kazan, Sidney Lumet, and Stanley Kubrick movies. So why the hell is everyone including Malick with these titans of American film? If movies were 99% about creating unforgettable images then yes, Terrence Malick is incredible. However, when the dust settles Malick is easily forgotten. He's a high school or college philosophical fad that inspires you for about a millisecond. Are people going to remember Brad Pitt's performance in Tree of Life or will they admire Fight Club and Inglorious Basterds more? Do people still mediate on Days of Heaven or The Thin Red Line? Am I the only person that thinks Terrence Malick is massively overrated as a filmmaker?

  8. You are totally within your rights to feel Terrence Malick is overrated as a filmmaker, but I don't really agree. TREE OF LIFE is a frustrating movie for me, and I don't totally get the tidal wave of praise it has received, but I also recognize that it's not for everyone and, as far as I'm concerned, it's his least successful movie. I've been a fan of all of his movies prior to his in varying degrees, and actually think his first three movies are really, really great. They're not always about plot and character (though BADLANDS and DAYS OF HEAVEN are, I would argue), but that's ok; not all movies have to work in the same way. Comparing him to Spielberg or Kubrick is disingenuous, because they have very different goals -- even though all three are directors, and all three are (roughly) of the same generation. Movies are a spectrum, and all three filmmakers are at very different points. The Beatles and Radiohead are both great bands, but they don't sound much alike. Maybe that's a bad comparison (and I'm not saying that one director is Radiohead and one is The Beatles), but it's the first one that jumps into mind.

    Having said that, his movies are not for everyone, and if you don't respond to them it's easy to wonder what the hell the fuss is all about. For a long time, I had that relationship with Stanley Kubrick (though I recognized that maybe the problem was me and not the movies). To some extent, I still struggle with the praise heaped upon Roman Polanski, because while I've liked several of his movies, I still don't quite see him in them. Maybe it will come to me. Maybe it never will.

    At any rate, thanks for posting. It's a good conversation, and one worth having.

  9. Mach 6 - TRANSFORMERS was terrible, but the movies I mentioned (I can't speak for JB) were, I thought, worse. TRANSFORMERS showed me a few things that I hadn't seen in a movie; it was in a terrible, badly written garbage movie, but I have to give it points over GREEN LANTERN and all the Happy Madison stuff. Still, had I thought to mention it, I probably would have. F that movie.

    And good call on THOR. I haven't seen it since opening day, at which point I liked it just fine but didn't love it. I suspect that if I were to see it again, I would start to find some big problems with it. And I DEFINITELY think that the box office for the movie was helped by the fact that it was first out of the gate; CAPTAIN AMERICA was a much better movie, as far I'm concerned.

    Glad to hear more support for SUCKER PUNCH. I liked the director's cut better, too, but don't think it's a different enough movie to change anyone's mind about it. I don't need everyone to love the movie, but I hope with time that people will start to recognize that it's more than misogynistic fanboy porn.

    Thanks for posting!

  10. Great movie with an elephant: Dumbo.

  11. Tucker and Dale was definitely an unappreciated gem this last year. I really had a great time at Thor and enjoyed it on a repeat viewing at home, but Captain America was just class, all the way. Well cast, well acted, and definitely benefiting from that pulp sense of fun and adventure. I'm going to further mix the Beatles/Radiohead metaphor and say that Thor was Beach Boys and Captain America was Grizzly Bear. Wait, what?