Saturday, September 20, 2014

What's Your Favorite Interesting Mess?

Just because a movie doesn't work doesn't mean it has no value.

In honor of Tusk hitting theaters this weekend (here's my review), let's all share some movies that might not work because of too many rough edges -- or that work precisely because of their rough edges -- that we still appreciate on some level. Doesn't have to mean you like it. Just one you find to be fascinating or a well-intentioned near-miss.

3-2-1-Go!

38 comments:

  1. Im going to pick an obvious one but you asked what my favorite is and my favorite would be The Room because Tommy Wiseau is a crazy person but a fascinating one. You can tell by watching the movie that there's something personal he needed to say but it just never ever comes together in any way. At all. I'm just mesmerized watching every mistake you could possibly make be put into a movie and Tommy actually thinking it was great and putting it out as a finished film. I wish I could have been on set or in the editing room with him to hear what he was thinking. From terrible dialogue, to slow motion sex scenes featuring Tommy Wiseau's ass, to characters who show up played by an actor in one scene and then in the next is played by a completely different actor, to plot lines that are introduced and then dropped with no explanation, it's an amazing watch. The thing I love about it is its based on real events that happened to Tommy Wiseau about his girlfriend cheating on him with his best friend and he just had to get this story out there and put his pain on film and make himself the hero. Even though he had no film making or acting talent he was going to do it no matter what and he threw it all up on the screen and said here it is. You just have to respect that in a way. I'm sure most of you have seen it but if you haven't, do yourself a favor and find a copy as soon as humanly possible. You won't regret it.

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    1. I'm going to try to think of another one, but this is certainly my favourite. I have a signed blu-ray ("Sol, may all of your dreams come true.") and it's my most cherished possession. Any movie that can make you laugh your ass off at an old woman saying, "I definitely have breast cancer" has to be the greatest movie ever, right?!

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    2. It's true! Lol I'm jealous you got to meet the man behind this masterpiece Sol.

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    3. A legendarily fascinating mess. Truly remarkable. And I love it.

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    4. You have to read Greg Sestro's "The Disaster Artist".

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  2. I’ll just saw The Amazing Spiderman 2 & I can’t recall ever liking and hating a mess of a movie this much in a long time. There are so many moments that they get it 100% right like the Garfield/Stone chemistry, Spidey complementing the kid on his science project, the wisecracking, trying to talk Electro down in Times Square, saving the people from touching the electrified guardrails, etc. But, then they are so many moments where I just want to throw my shoe at the TV or at least hit the fast forward button, the Parker Daddy stuff, the Electro stuff (“It’s my birthday, time for me to light my candles.” UGHHHHHHH!), Paul Giamatti’s cartoonish performance, Magic Blood, Goblin Jr. showing up for no reason at the finale, etc. For every moment that made me smile (“Hey Spiderman”) there was a moment that made me cringed (“I AM THE RHINOOOOOOOOOO!”).

    For some reason, I don’t get this mad at the awful Spiderman 3, a movie that I can’t point to getting anything right. With TAS2, I got so frustrated & angry because there were parts that show the production team knew what they were doing & could make a very good Spiderman movie. I might give a Marc Webb another chance since he didn’t have much to work from Orci & Kurtman’s script.

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    1. Amazing spider-man 2 was the most frustrating movie of the year so far for me. I'm with you, it has some great moments and I gave it a pass for the first hour or so trying to forgive it's mistakes but it was a movie that kept punishing me for trying to like it. It has too many disastrous moments to be good but sometimes they did things so well that it wasn't a complete failure to me. Sometimes I wish a movie would totally shit the bed and be completely awful instead of frustrating me by giving me little hints of what a good movie it could have been. I find myself sitting on my couch going if they just would have done this or cut out that or shifted some narrative focuses they might have had something. That's the most difficult thing with these types of movies for me.

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  3. The Counselor springs to mind, a complete mess that wouldn't work at all without Ridley Scott trying his best to whip it into something. I once described it as a collection of well acted, interesting scenes that never congeal into an actual story.

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    1. Not gonna lie, I unabashedly love that movie. Javier Bardem's reading of "it was too gynecological to be sexy" may be my favorite line in any movie last year.

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  4. Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2. I really appreciate the fact that they tried something different, even though it reeeeeeeeeeally doesn't work. They could have just stranded another group of kids in the woods and repeated the same beats but I like the meta approach they took instead. It's not good and has precisely zero (0) scares, but it's a valiant attempt at thinking outside the bun. It's the kind of risk I wish more franchises would take.

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    1. Outstanding use of 'think outside the bun,' sir.

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    2. Interesting choice. I recently rewatched Blair Witch 2 ("You've got to see this mess," I told my wife.) and it's still awful. But definitely watchable.

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  5. My pick is also a recent one: Prometheus. Alien and Aliens are such perfect movies that I'm glad their prequel didn't make much sense, because if it had, I'm pretty sure it would have been less interesting. I've dabbled in history enough to learn that we can't always really understand the distant past, so the opacity of the Engineer's motives strike me as entirely appropriate.

    Also, I dig the fact that the movie is essentially a story about religious fanatics who are so hell-bent on finding utterly irrelevant "answers" regarding humanity's origins that they blast across a huge distance with little preparation, and immediately abandon all caution or scientific discretion in pursuit of their goal. And what do they find for their trouble and juvenility? A bunch of slime that tries to eat them alive, and mostly succeeds. It's a hilarious anti-religion parody - or so I choose to read it. (The whole Engineer Jesus thing just makes it funnier.) Peter Weyland spends untold riches to travel all that way, and when he finally achieves his goal, a big ugly alien just wordlessly smacks him across the face. That, friends, is comedy.

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  6. Event Horizon. First hour is great. Then it goes completely off the rails.

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    1. Holy crap yeah. It starts so well. Sam Neil is just so great, When hes looking in the mirror and just shaving it scary. It's got that feel to it.

      Sticking with Sam neil movies "In the Mouth of Madness" is also a fantastic mess

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  7. Many would say that this film is beyond saving, but I'm going to go to bat for The Lone Ranger. I feel like Verbinski could've made a wonderful, postmodern anti-western (or revisionist western, if you like) but was hobbled by having to make it a Disney product as well that would be palatable to the masses (and the suits) who wanted Pirates of the Wild West.

    I think the movie can be divided into thirds. One third is a serious western, complete with Peckinpah violence and Little Big Man-esque commentary on the end of the frontier and the plight of Native Americans. Another third is a "fun" western with amazing train choreography in its brilliant (if over-the-top) action climax. The last third is the goofy crap with Depp overplaying it and Helena Bonham Carter showing up for no reason. The inclusion of this last third results in irreconcilable tonal inconsistency throughout. (To be fair, even without the goofiness, the Native American massacre would probably have been at odds with the fun finale too, but its inclusion is still interesting).

    Though it was a huge flop and an industry punchline, I believe there is a better movie hiding somewhere inside of The Lone Ranger, if only Verbinski had been allowed to find it. The film will never be revered as a classic, but I hope time will allow people (other than me and Tarantino) to appreciate what it attempts to say, and what it does well.

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    1. Tarantino, you and me, brother. "Lone Ranger" was my No. 2 movie of last year, and I can't talk about it here as an interesting mess because to me the juggling of so many different tones resulting in the jambalaya western we got is the work of mad, crazy cinematic geniuses who both didn't and did know what they were doing. I love this movie.

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    2. I would never argue with you that it's an interesting mess. I don't enjoy it as much as either of you (or Adam Riske and Heath, both of whom are fans), but that's ok. It's a perfect example of what we're talking about, and I'm happy to have weird, messy movies like it to talk about.

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  8. Batman Returns is really 3 different films, stitched together to form a crazy-quilt Frankenstein’s monster of a movie. The movie that stars Michelle Pfeiffer is a brilliant feminist retelling of Catwoman’s origin. Pfeiffer’s scenes with Michael Keaton’s Bruce Wayne are great, and the moment when they realize each other’s secret identities is sublime. Unfortunately, we have 2 other stories to get through. The movie starring Christopher Walken is a whole lotta meh, and the movie starring Danny DeVito is a horrible, disgusting, vulgar mess. I believe it was the New York Times that pointed out uncomfortable echoes of anti-Semitism in the Penguin storyline (hooked-nosed creep in a fur coat tries to kidnap and kill Gotham’s first born children), and DeVito seems to think that Jack Nicholson’s major sin as the Joker was to underplay everything. Still, what’s good in the film is great, and makes it worth watching.

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    1. I consider myself a big "Batman" guy, and whenever I talk to friends about non-Nolan cinematic Batman, they always cite this as the best. I think those opinions are fueled by nostalgia because it's a great example of what Patrick is going for here. I still do not understand why Walken is in this film or why they went with the Penguin for Mayor storyline. Both are first draft artifacts that somehow made it to our screens. As Patrick likes to say: You can see the different color script pages at play in this one. But as Steve pointed out, the costume ball scene is fantastic. It's out of another movie entirely.

      For the record, I still believe that only one of the Burton/Schumacher Bat films that actually resembles a complete (though bonkers) story is Batman Forever.

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  9. "The Green Hornet". Just because I love that Gondry directed and I think it's an absolute mess of FUN.

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  10. I guess the best mess I still love is American Beauty. We've had the discussions on the podcast so I wont go over it again but I just love that movie. To me its Beautiful movie and I just enjoy watching it. To almost quote Janet Jackson. " I don't know why I like it. I just do"

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  11. I got to go with Richard Kelly's SOUTHLAND TALES (2006) and The Wachaski's SPEED RACER (2008). By any objective and personal measure of my cinephile senses I should hate these movies with unbridled passion. And yet I find each fascinating in that despite being utter messes (the former more than the latter) they swim against the tide and deliver lines of dialogue/moments/scenes that offer enough slivers of entertainment to keep me going for a good 20-30 minutes until the next memorable thing tides me over again. Heck, these aren't even the worse movies that Dwayne Johnson or Matthew Fox have ever been in, and many a cinephile would disagree and I can't really argue with them.

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    1. Good call on Southland Tales. I've only seen it one time, but there was just something about it that intrigued me, even as the film went off the rails (or never found the track to begin with). It is often indulgent and incoherent, but there's enough that's fun, crazy and twisty to make it entertaining, if not understandable.

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    2. I love "Speed Racer." Saw it opening weekend in an empty theater and had an absolute blast. It's way too long and a little preachy, but it captures the gonzo essence of the anime pretty perfectly. I don't think people were expecting such a literal adaptation of the show, especially in tone, and that kind of sank it. But it's a visual stunner, and if you go in with the right mindset, a ton of fun.

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    3. Speaking of Richard Kelly. I also like Donnie Darko though I think some would say its a mess. I love the soundtrack. I really like Jakes acting. His long shots where he purposefully doesn't blink. The concept about a troubled teen who has nightmares about a 6ft tall bunny rabbit visiting him in the night and telling him the world is going to end. Its got a lot of good points. I can see that it all doesn't totally fit together as a whole but there's a lot I like in there

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    4. I second Southland Tales. When I saw the title to this post, I immediately thought of it. I enjoyed it when I saw it, although I was aware that it missed the mark. It just felt so rich with ridiculousness. Sarah Michelle Gellar's interpretation of a porn star especially stood out. Also, I was watching it with a friend who fell asleep during the latter half and woke up to see Gellar and Mandy Moore dancing, saying: "That is the most beautiful thing I've ever seen."

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    5. There's technically no right answer to this question, but Southland Tales is the right answer.

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  12. Since I was just watching it I'll throw out a mention to Tony Scott's "The Fan". I never liked it for the longest time, but for some reason I always watched it every couple years thinking my opinion would change, and maybe it's come to that point where I've started liking it.

    I think it's commentary of obsession and perfectionism are even more relevant today than back in 1995 (especially when it comes to sports). It's still kind of an ugly movie, that really doesn't give us much to root for, but at times I feel for Snipes, and even DeNiro's mean-spirited character.

    It wouldn't be my favorite mess of a movie (that honor would probably go to another DeNiro movie, The Untouchables), but I wanted to mention it here since it was on my mind.

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  13. Inland Empire (2007): As a huge Lynch fan I hope this isn't his final movie, but if it is what a movie to go out on. I feel a full range of emotions while watching this crazy mess. Exhilaration, boredom, terror, confusion... Then alternately grooving to a crazy dance party, and cracking up to the weird Lynchian humor. I've seen the full range of reactions to this movie from writing it off as pretentious garbage to calling it one of the best horror films ever made. Which is it? Who knows? Who cares! See it!

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  14. One that springs to mind is Up the Sandbox. It is fucking insane. Like there is no way for me to prepare you for the insanity of this movie. Actually there is one thing, a story about the making of the film. There is one fantasy sequence that takes place in Africa and there is a very large tribal woman who is the leader if I remember correctly. Apparently when they were shooting helicopters landed in order to arrest her as she was a most wanted criminal, I think she even committed murder. They talked to the police and asked to finish the shot, which they let them. After the director said cut they took her off in handcuffs and flew away in their helicopters. That kind of insanity is all over this movie!

    But I love it. I love any Streisand movie. It has some really interesting feminist elements and I would love to write about it sometime so I could pick apart some of the themes it explores. The movie is complex and confusing. I think the film had the potential to be really great but suffers from being incredibly messy but for me it is always interesting to watch and I can never quite remember what is going to happen next which is quite exciting sometimes.

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  15. If we can emphasize "mess" as well as "interesting," can we talk about the Matrix sequels? There are ideas in there. Hidden. Deeply. Somewhere.

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    1. Perfect. A true well intentioned mess. Which I like with all its flaws. It was good to see more of Agent Smith. To be complimentary about the film I would say it was worth while just to see more of Hugo Weaving

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  16. Well, what do you know? I just saw a movie that happens to fit this week's topic to a tee: Luigi Cozzi's "STARCRASH" (1978). Click my name to read the full review, but basically this movie has no business being anywhere near as entertaining as it ends up being (though it runs out of gas 10 minutes before it's really over) and it's a reminder of what "Guardians of the Galaxy" could have ended up being if Marvel hadn't picked James Gunn to guide it. Plus, between Marjoe Gortner's so-bad-you-have-to-see-it performance (Aktor rulez!) and The Hoff showing up out of nowhere to basically save the day (but not really), "Starcrash" is equals parts interesting and a mess. Ask for it by name. :-)

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