Involuntary: Swedish outing about five everyday people, that examines human behaviour. There are no ‘conventional’ shots in the film; the director opts for long and static/passive takes of legs, backs of heads or very wide group shots. It’s also book-ended by a camera stuck to an ambulance, just driving through nondescript streets. There are apparently five ‘stories’ in here, but they’re all so tedious that you’d get more entertainment from a trip to your local slaughterhouse. It’s so uninspired that it’s one of those films where the actor’s real names are also their character’s names. This is exactly the sort of ostentatious euro-drivel that gives ‘Arthouse’ a bad name. Yet this was Sweden’s 2008 Oscar entry. It’s sitting at 7.1 on IMDB, and 74 on Metacritic. WTF am I missing? Who enjoys watching films like this?
Like a sucker, I’d fallen for the oldest trick in the book: the DVD cover over-sold it. Ultra-misleading description; billed as a cringe/comedy citing Larry David/Ricky Gervais, but I didn’t smirk once. Ultra-misleading cover; four and five-star reviews, and two blonde Swedish girls with big tits (zoomed in on to be even bigger). Ultra-misleading rating; 18 rating DVD + boobs on the cover would normally mean the film has something worth watching – like a professional troll it’s only an 18 because you see a guy’s willy. This DVD can eat a platter of dicks.
Alternative Plans: After 30 mins I put it on 1.5 speed for a few mins (about ½ a scene), then 10x speeded it to the end to make sure I didn’t miss anything interesting – alas it didn’t look like I did.
No Blood No tears (피도 눈물도 없이, Pi-do nunmul-do eobsi): Korean mish-mash film centered around a gangster’s wife and some girl power – I think? The DVD box, and most reviews have ‘Guy Ritchie’ plastered all over them – this comparison feels like a massive stretch as No Blood No Tears is very rough and low-budget, with very occasional glimpses of competency and ‘cool’. Most obviously, there’s a few half-decent fight scenes, but these, and anything else people may enjoy in this film are marred by some shambolic storytelling that cuts around time and location for no apparent reason (I guess that’s the Guy Ritchie stuff?). Half an hour in and there were still plenty of new characters popping up, and I had absolutely no idea what was going on.
Ultimately, I expected better from the director that went on to do Arahan (batshit crazy) and Crying Fist (Solid boxing film), but I knew from the opening 35 minutes that there was no way on earth I was going to like – or finish – this one. Not the worst film ever, but just majorly confusing. Perhaps it’d be like a Korean watching Lock Stock for the first time and just thinking… WTF?!?!
Alternative Plan: eject this and straight on to the next movie
Valentine’s Day: make-ups and break-ups are on the menu as a lot of famous people try to get lots of your bums on lots of seats. Genuinely, Ashton “Dude, where’s my talent?” Kutcher is so flat it’s like watching an inanimate object: a chair, a table, a wall – take your pick, they’d out-act him. It’s one of those lazy comedies that plays racial stereotypes for cheap comedy – including the classic ‘big black woman with an attitude’; obviously! For me, Queen Latifa is fast becoming my trusty hallmark for a shit film. The script must have been written by the Green Giant, it’s sooo corny (tedious, contrived and unrealistic dialogue) and the jokes are all poorly judged & timed. The only tolerable bits (limited to guys + lesbians) are Anne Hathaway in her scants, then talking on a phone-sex line!!! But it’s a PG sex-line though <SadFace>. Worse still, all of the best names – like Foxx – get the least time on screen, because they cost the most.
The Mrs and I braved an entire hour before we lost all faith in Hollywood, actors, integrity, humanity, the universe etc. Valentines day is cynical, insulting, money-grabbing and void of any entertainment. Whatever you do, do not watch this if you intend on some ‘adult sleeping’ afterwards, it will absolutely destroy your notions of love, and valentines day.
Alternative Plan: Early bed time.
Keith Lemon: The Film – I’ll have to start this by saying I absolutely love Celebrity Juice for what it is, and that Keith Lemon, as a TV character, is great. Having seen the horrific trailer, I was sitting in the brace position from the start, but it somehow manages to be even worse than it looks. Production values are Sub-TV, the script and story could have been written by teenagers, and miles of old rope is pulled out in the form of 10-year-old Bo Selecta! Characters, and Keith Lemon phrases from the past 4 years. (Bang tidy, Finger blast, Smash your back doors in, will you nosh me off, etc, etc…)
No amount of familiar catchphrases or riffs from the show, no amount of cameos, and not even the lovely Kelly Brook in her undies could stop this from sinking. Mostly disappointing, because Celebrity Juice is a funny show. It looks like Leigh Francis is only good at taking the piss out of celebrities, because when you give him a script and a narrative, he’s unwatchable.
Alternative Plan: Went to watch Shadow Dancers, but the generators at the cinema gave up, so ended up playing some 8-ball instead.
Brooklyn Rules: 3 young Italian-Americans grow up in New York where their upbringing is overshadowed by the mob: rampant plagiarism ensues. First off, the acting’s terrible (PFJ as a dramatic lead… well done), as is the story, as are the accents, as is the direction – and just so the script didn’t feel left out, they made that shit too. Ultra-sloppy stock ‘gangster’ characterisation and entire characters lifted from similar movies – which makes for some boring, predictable, tosh. What’s more insulting is that despite a reasonable cast – and assumably budget – the film looks like it was filmed on VHS.
Having cringed my way through the first 50 minutes, I knew I didn’t have another 40 minutes of self-loathing / punishment in me. Wouldn’t wish this on my enemies.
Alternative plan: fired on a few episodes of Community instead.
Knight and Day A wanted super spy (Cruise) somehow thinks it’s OK to tangle a random civilian (Diaz) into his escape plans. Up front – there are simply too many things to dislike in this movie; the plot is terrible, the tone is uneven – big action or goofy parody, derivative script, neither lead is any good, neither lead is watchable or likable, etc, etc… The secret agent keeps knocking out the gal when she’s just about to put 2 + 2 together, that’s no way to treat a Lady, even if she is only with you for the money! Moreover, the whole film feels like a big, strategic, crass plan to simply make a ton of box office, without as much of a thought given to the actual product.
It genuinely made the Mrs and I want to make a suicide pact, but before things got that far, we switched it off after a record-breaking 15 minutes. Bankable A-list stars, does not a good movie make! GAME OVER, Cruise.
Alternative Plans: just went to bed early that night, ‘cos that’s how we roll.
Coco Before Chanel: follows the early life of Coco Chanel, who would become one of the most important fashion designers in the world, like, totally, ever! So she starts out as an orphan, and slowly grows up / whores herself into the most ungrateful super-leech in the world; this character is so unlikable that you wonder why anyone in the film tolerates her, let alone why all of the men are fawning and fighting over Coco. Early 1900s France is a lovely setting but the story, and eventual romance, are tedious. I never, ever thought I’d watch a film like this and be craving more dress-making, tailoring, and general fashion talk… but that’s how boring everything else in the movie is. Above all else the snail’s pace destroys any hint of momentum; as the film dwells on gentry lifestyle, a sulking brat-like Coco and boring class-struggles.
I scraped through the first 90 minutes, couldn’t have given less of a crap about the final 20.
Alternative plans: left my lady to it and made my supper early – mentally filed this in my crammed cabinet of boring period dramas. Couldn’t get the Stellastarr* song ‘My Coco’ out of my head… so not all bad. Other walkouts…
Brotherhood of the Wolf: a French knight and NATIVE AMERICAN WARRIOR (!!) investigate reportings of a murderous wolf-like beast in 1700s France. I can best describe this as a 1980s fantasy fanboy political aristocratic period drama ‘horror‘; with werewolves, camp comedy, bawdy action, and token European tits. Trying to cover this much ground, it’s simply far too weird and ridiculous for its own good. The acting is theatre at best, the plot is nothing short of batshit mental, there’s also lots of hammy slow mo, rubbish CGI, and a laughable bone-sword. The beautiful Monica Bellucci can’t even save this, as a tracking shot of her naked body morphs into a CGI woman-shaped mountain-scape… really!?!?! The film’s like a wholesale sized can of industrial strength WTF, focus grouped by the biggest nerds in the world – and I love geeky films.
I endured 45 minutes then skipped through the rest of the film, stopping at the action scenes only.
Alternative Plans: sat in the corner of my room – confused, angry and disoriented – bashing head against the wall, thinking why… why… why… why…
Bad Teacher. Having seen the trailer, and there being not much else out at the time, a friend and I thought we’d chance a matinée showing to fill in a few hours between loutish drinking in our city’s lovely gardens and heading out in the evening. So the film starts, and it’s nothing but concentrated averageness. Diaz figures out JT has some money dawns some hot-pants & washes cars, keeps trying to woo him… then the credits start?
Turns out there was a lot more to the story, but I had fallen asleep after 25 minutes, only to be woken up by a sharp elbow to the ribs, end credits rolling, and the phrase “that was pretty bad”… I guess it could have been the effect of two Henry Weston ciders, but I believe it’s more likely to be my acute narcolepsy; which is triggered by watching terribly shit films (this has happened one other time).
Alternative plans: my subconscious had clearly decided that sleeping would be more productive than sitting through this. Pre-town powernap!!!
Walkout: The Secret World of Arrietty – Despite being a Studio Ghibli film, around the 20 minute mark my two mates and I knew this wasn’t for us. Being a re-telling of The Borrowers, it’s definitely pitched at an audience far younger than us (mid 20s men), it was also quite a slow burner, especially for a kid’s film. The biggest turn off however was the English dubbing – not just because dubbing’s rubbish – but because badass Mark Strong is cast as the dad, and not fighting anything. Hanna the assassin was Arrietty, and Sophie from Peep Show was the mum… maybe it’s just me, but it’s such a strange voice cast? Although not as strange as Will Arnett (!!!) being the American voice of the dad…
Realising this was pretty uncool and that we may have looked like a pack of predators in amongst the screen full kids, we bundled out ASAP, not looking back.
Alternative plans – as it was still relatively early we went to the nearest rock Pub and got our beer on!
Tree of life: I’m never normally bothered by how arty or pretentious a film gets – if anything, it usually makes a film at least a little interesting… Despite this my cinema buddy and I endured around 30 minutes in to this before we realised that there was nothing on the screen that could hold down the film and tie together all of the random imagery that we were seeing. Entire segments featuring dinosaurs, stellar galaxies, wildlife, nature, scenery… for what purpose? Could someone please explain this to me? The Tree of Life takes the idea of a ‘narrative’ and clubs it in the face until all that’s left is a few recurring characters at 20 minute intervals. Non-linear storytelling can also be awesome, but if you could find the story in this, you’re a better man than I.
Despite being hooked in by Pitt and Penn, we realised there was around another 1 hour 50 minutes (total runtime of 140 minutes) – this was definitely a case of Tree of Life 1, Paragraph Film Reviews 0.
Alternative plans – 2 bonus hours of Call of Duty: Black ops.
Because of my awesome unlimited cinema card with Cineworld, infinite online streaming with Love Film and more generally having a massive DVD/BD collection I’m getting to the point where I’ll be damned to sit through an entire film that I’m not enjoying and waste another 60 / 90 / 120 minutes of my life. As the years go on the tolerance level seems to be decreasing rapidly, so much so that it’s now worthy of it’s own feature and category.
For these films I’ll tell you how long I lasted, why the film wasn’t doing it for me, and what the alternative plans were – plans that were much better than watching the film – at least at the time…