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Ten Worst Films of 2014

Much of what follows was regurgitated from capsule reviews with the occasional extra added dash of bonus bile. (You don’t really expect me to give any of these a second look, do you?) Haters gonna download. For the rest of you, here are this year’s ten musts to avoid.

Movie

German Doctor <em>(Wakolda)</em>

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You can’t keep a good Nazi down. It’s 1960, and Dr. Josef Mengele is alive and well and living in a scenic Argentine bed-and-breakfast run by a family whose individual shortcomings and/or physical frailties transform the retired war criminal into a walking Make-A-Wish Foundation. Without Doc’s help, dad’s dream of perfecting a master race of dolls would never have left the planning stages. (Shots of dismembered figurines in a broiling doll factory = Hitler’s inferno.) Poor Joe risks his life to save mom and her newborn twins. And little Lilith would still be called “dwarf” by her classmates were it not for the concentration camp sawbones’ injections of experimental growth hormones. Àlex Brendemühl plays the titular killing machine with remarkable restraint and — considering how nitwitted all that surrounds him is — a straight face. Adapted by writer-director Lucía Puenzo from his novel.

Find showtimes

10) The German Doctor

It’s 1960, and Dr. Josef Mengele is alive and well, and living in a scenic Argentine bed-and-breakfast run by a family whose individual shortcomings and/or physical frailties transform the retired war criminal into a walking Make-A-Wish Foundation. Doctor M encourages dad’s dream of perfecting a master race of dolls, risks his life to save mom and her newborn twins, and the couple’s young daughter would still be called “dwarf” by her classmates were it not for the concentration camp sawbones’ injections of experimental growth hormones.

Àlex Brendemühl plays the titular killing machine with remarkable restraint and — considering how nitwitted all that surrounds him is — a straight face.

Movie

Third Person

thumbnail

In this globe-hopping parade of non-stop degradation, the participants get off acting as one another’s whores. Paul Haggis’ unwittingly sidesplitting multi-character experiment in reheating his Oscar souffle produces more of a <em>clunk</em> than a <em>Crash</em>. The all-star cast, as game as the material is gamy, boots us through over two hours of ringmaster Haggis’ voluble, slickly designed histrionics. Liam Neeson stars as a writer “who can feel through the characters he creates,” a technique the film’s creator has yet to grasp. The narrative throughline is strung together with more stridently amateurish matching-on-action transitions (gears shift in Rome, cut to a car accelerating in Manhattan, etc.) than there are at a Film Tech 101 end-of-semester screening. As much as I generally adore Olivia Wilde, her reaction to a clumsily foreshadowed “shocker” two-thirds of the way through rivals Sofia Coppola’s “Dad?” in <em>The Godfather Part III</em>. A must for connoisseurs of bad cinema.

Find showtimes

Liam Neeson and Olivia Wilde in Third Person. Wilde’s reaction to a clumsily foreshadowed “shocker” two-thirds of the way through rivals Sofia Coppola’s “Dad?” in The Godfather Part III.

9) Third Person

Paul Haggis’s unwittingly sidesplitting multicharacter experiment in reheating his Oscar soufflé, Crash, produces more of a clunk. The all-star cast, as game as the material is gamy, boots us through over two hours of ringmaster Haggis’s voluble, slickly designed histrionics with a narrative throughline strung together with more stridently amateurish matching-on-action transitions (gears shift in Rome, cut to a car accelerating in Manhattan, etc.) than there are at a Film Tech 101 end-of-semester screening. A must for connoisseurs of bad cinema.

Movie

Raid 2

thumbnail

Pit anywhere from 5 to 15 thugs against one lone tough and instead of a dogpile, the bad guys line up like they’re in a bakery waiting for their numbers to be called. (Don’t any of these maroons pack a firearm, and more importantly, haven’t they seen <em>Billy Jack</em>?) This scene is repeated at least a dozen times in Gareth Evans’ monumentally tedious, 148 minute (!) followup to his fanboy favorite of two years ago. It’s one long vacation from logic followed by another: we see our lead ditch his wire the second he’s sprung from prison, yet the subsequent strip search is played for suspense. The characters occasionally take a break from kicking and clawing at each other long enough to spout more expository dialog than you’d find in a dozen Christopher Nolan pictures. On a humane note, while many lives are lost to brutal car chases, no airbags were deployed during the making of this picture.

Find showtimes

8) The Raid 2

Pit anywhere from 5 to 15 thugs against one lone tough and instead of a dogpile, the bad guys line up like they’re in a bakery waiting for their numbers to be called. (Don’t any of these maroons pack a firearm, and more importantly, haven’t they seen Billy Jack?) This scene is repeated at least a dozen times in Gareth Evans’s monumentally tedious, 148-minute (!) followup to his fanboy favorite of two years ago.

This also marked the most excruciating press screening of the year, what with a colleague and her invited bozos cheering and high-fiving every senseless act of violence like they were taking in a midnight screening at Horton Plaza.

Movie

Blended

thumbnail

Wasn’t it Chekhov who said, “If a character named ‘Dick’ appears in the first act of an Adam Sandler vehicle, there must be a dozen penis joke in the second?” <em>Blended</em> starts in a Hooters toilet and never quite recovers. After a disastrous first date, a divorcee (Drew Barrymore) and a widower (Sandler) are forced to “blend” families for a deluxe African vacation. Maudlinly sentimental even by Jerry Lewis’ standards, there are countless embarrassingly unintentional laughs to be found, particularly those involving one of Sandler’s daughters, who insists that her dead mother is as real as a six-foot imaginary rabbit named Harvey. Screenwriters Ivan Menchell and Clare Sera’s depiction of pop-eyed, subservient natives indicates their knowledge of African culture was fashioned after watching old Tarzan pictures. Once again Frank Coraci (<em>The Wedding Singer, 50 First Dates</em>) is assigned the unenviable task of calling “Action!” “Cut!” and “Anything you say, mealticket!”

Find showtimes

7) Blended

Blended starts in a Hooters toilet and never quite recovers, yet the gales of inadvertent laughter it renders makes it almost unfair to rank baby-talking Adam Sandler’s latest among the year’s worst. (It brought forth more yuks than Tammy, St. Vincent, Neighbors, and just about all of this year’s other so-called intentional comedies combined.)

Screenwriters Ivan Menchell and Clare Sera’s depiction of pop-eyed, subservient natives indicates their knowledge of African culture was fashioned after watching old Tarzan pictures. Once again Frank Coraci (The Wedding Singer, 50 First Dates) is assigned the unenviable task of calling “Action!” “Cut!” and “Anything you say, mealticket!”

Movie

Maleficent

thumbnail

"Let us tell an old tale anew, and let us see how well you know it," intones Maleficent (a waxen Angelina Jolie) at the outset of this botched <em>Sleeping Beauty</em> tweak-job. It's fine to tell old tales anew, and it's fine to mold them to some new purpose — say, a narrative of maternal repentance. But it's not fine to do it so artlessly. Perhaps the definitive example comes at the film's midpoint, when Maleficent, after cursing the infant Aurora in dramatic fashion, visits her at home and says, "I hate you." You'll swear it's being played for laughs, but if that's the case, then whither the drama? Wither, indeed. There are holes throughout — in character, in plot, in action - nearly all of them stuffed full of overworked, lumpen CGI. Poor Elle Fanning — every girl wants to be a princess, but anyone would get tired from all that rapturous smiling. Sleepy, even.

Find showtimes

6) Maleficent

The recent announcement that Angelina Jolie has decided to retire from what she calls acting didn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone who’s seen her last five pictures. I so miss the days of bat-shit crazy Jolie making out with a hot, bald-headed Asian chick and/or her brother, long before Brad Pitt entered the picture and the two emerged all spruced up as Hollywood’s #1 power couple.

Maleficent is 97 minutes of Jolie — with lips puckered and one leg outstretched — posing before a green screen. Is this acting or an extension of her red-carpet performance at the 84th Oscars? The film fleeced moviegoers worldwide to the tune of $757.8 million.

Movie

Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them

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James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain star as an asshat and botched suicide, respectively, whose marriage fell apart with the death of their young son. Producer Harvey ‘Scissorhands’ Weinstein took first time writer-director Ned Benson’s dolorous trilogy — combined total running time of 311 minutes — and sliced them down to one two-hour feature. Normally I’d call for his head, but in the case of this endlessly uncinematic ribbon of reverse angles of people talking, he’s done us all a solid. There is not one memorable visual or cut in the entire picture and as such, Eleanor might just as easily disappear on the radio. Films like this exist for two reasons: to showcase sound acting and to leave audiences feeling like crap. With Isabelle Huppert, William Hurt, Ciarán Hinds, an ill-fitting Bill Hader as McEvoy’s sitcom-ish BFF, and above all Viola Dana, whose singular delivery could enthrall and entrance even if it were called upon to recite license plate numbers.

Find showtimes

5) The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them

For once the scissor-happy Harvey Weinstein did moviegoers a great service with his insistence that director Ned Benson pare down a pair of pictures (The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him and The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Her), with a combined total running time of 189 minutes, and release them as a two-hour feature.

James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain star as an asshat and botched suicide, respectively, whose marriage fell apart with the death of their young son. Without one memorable visual or cut in the entire picture, Eleanor might just as easily have disappeared on television, or worse, radio.

Movie

Walking with the Enemy

thumbnail

Two hours of killing Jews to awaken audiences to the heretofore unheard of notion that Nazi's committed atrocious acts. Based on a true story (so it must be good). In an attempt to help remove every Jew from Budapest, a couple of young Hungarians get their hands on SS uniforms and go all Batman and Robin on the Third Reich. Ten screenwriters and not one cliche left unturned. The radio is repaired just in time for a news flash to advance the plot. A precipitous bombing allows our heroes to escape the Nazis. And what does the minion dish out in the way of authentic dialog? A goon growling, "Ven vas zee last time you saw your vife and daughter alive?" Freshman director Mark Schmidt leads a uniformly unconvincing cast over a sentimental trivialization of the Holocaust that makes Spielberg's amusement park ride look like documentary realism. Even Sir Ben Kinglsey walks through his teensy part, terrible toupee and all.

Find showtimes


4) Walking With the Enemy

A masterclass on Holocaust Trivialization in the guise of important entertainment.

In an attempt to help remove every Jew from Budapest, a couple of young Hungarians get their hands on SS uniforms and go all Batman and Robin on the Third Reich. Based on a true story (so it must be good), Enemy amounts to little more than two hours of killing Jews to awaken audiences to the heretofore unheard of notion that Nazis committed atrocious acts. Freshman director Mark Schmidt leads a uniformly unconvincing cast through a sty of sentimental hogwash that makes Spielberg’s amusement park ride look like documentary realism.

Movie

Grand Budapest Hotel **

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Director Wes Anderson's <em>apologia pro</em> style <em>sua</em>. Most of the action takes place in the pre-communist heyday of the titular (and pinkly ornate) Alpine retreat, and involves concierge extraordinaire Gustave (Ralph Fiennes) and his attempt to claim the priceless painting left to him by a grateful old guest/lover. The mannered, madcap proceedings are often delightful, occasionally silly, and here and there, gruesome and/or heartbreaking. But the real star of the show is Anderson himself — the storyteller, relating events in his own ineffable fashion — a point he makes by nesting Gustave's tale in layer after layer of narrative device. We open with a fangirl paying tribute to a dead author, then cut to author in his latter days, then to author in his younger days, picking up the story from an old man full of memories, then to the old man as a young witness. And over it all hovers Anderson, the Master Framer himself.

Find showtimes

3) The Grand Budapest Hotel

Wes Anderson lost me halfway through The Royal Tenenbaums, never to return. His five subsequent live-action features play as precious pop-up books, electronic wallpaper for Tim Burton–dismissing hipsters, where more thought goes into giggly, prettified production design than does storytelling. Time and again Anderson’s pretentiously schematized approach to mind-mapping a scene — center frame and teeter-totter compositions alternate — puts me to sleep.

Movie

Frank

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Frank (Michael Fassbender), the visionary lead singer in an unsung alt-rock band, spends his entire life hiding beneath piñata headgear that brings to mind a Jack-in-the-Box drive-thru. His parents later confess their adult son suffers from mental illness. Really? Forrest Gump for hipsters, this huggable, Sundance-sanctioned babble joins the ever-stretching dishonor roll of well-intentioned multiplex rot that shamelessly exploits and trivializes intellectually challenged minds. For a film about determined musicians, Stephen Rennicks’s abrasive score boasts more Mickey Mousing than a Silly Symphony. The band eventually makes its debut at SXSW, and with it comes the film’s only honest discernment: there is no better place for self-indulgent mediocrity to flex its commercial muscle than at a trendy film festival. Even the customarily venturous Maggie Gyllenhaal stumbles around in an empty-headed daze. Frankly speaking, director Lenny Abrahamson’s pretentious lampoon of social media is destined to top this year’s 10 Worst list.

Find showtimes

Only in a year as bad as this could Frank have successfully avoided the #1 spot.






2) Frank

Frank (Michael Fassbender), the visionary lead singer in an unsung alt-rock band, spends his entire life hiding beneath piñata headgear that brings to mind a Jack-in-the-Box drive-thru. His parents later confess their adult son suffers from mental illness. Really?

Huggable, Sundance-sanctioned babble that joins the ever-stretching dishonor roll of well-intentioned multiplex rot that shamelessly exploits and trivializes intellectually challenged minds. For a film about determined musicians, Stephen Rennicks’s abrasive score boasts more Mickey Mousing than a Silly Symphony. The band eventually makes its debut at SXSW, and with it comes the film’s only honest discernment: there is no better place for self-indulgent mediocrity to flex its commercial muscle than at a trendy film festival.

Movie

Visitors

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Purveyor of fine coffee-table movies Godfrey Reggio (<em>Powaqqatsi, Koyaanisqatsi</em>) brings us a highfaultin' technical exercises that asks the question, "Since humanity spends so much of its time staring at a computer screen, why not turn things around, situate the audience inside a laptop, and force them to look out? The result is a series of black-and-white, dialogue-free, unbroken, close-up 'Scope long-takes of faces intercut with allegorical inserts of abandoned amusement parks, disjointed hands moving a computer mouse (or is it close-up magic?), enough accelerated clouds to make one time-lapse into a coma, and children as credulous symbols of hope. It’s Paranormal Activity for eggheads, a staring contest during which my eyes practically bled from focusing on so many fixed images for such long periods. The camera takes aren’t the only thing Reggio sustains. Wait until you get a load of the great lengths he goes to state the obvious.

Find showtimes

1) Visitors

Godfrey Reggio, purveyor of fine coffee-table movies (Powaqqatsi, Koyaanisqatsi), is an acquired taste I have yet to acquire. Reggio uses precisely 74 shots to document his story. With only four behind me and 70 left to go, the film’s thesis already stated and its conclusion long foregone, I wanted to bolt.

Visitors intercuts black-and-white, dialog-free, unbroken, close-up ’Scope long-takes of faces — with allegorical inserts of abandoned amusement parks, disjointed hands moving a computer mouse (or is it close-up magic?). According to this highfalutin’ technical exercise, since humanity spends so much of its time staring into a computer screen, why not turn things around and situate an audience inside a laptop and force them to look out. There is enough accelerated cloud movement to make one time-lapse into a coma, and, of course, children as credulous symbols of hope. It’s Paranormal Activity for eggheads, a staring contest during which my eyes practically bled from focusing on so many fixed images for such long periods.

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Comments
2

Scott, Sounds like even 1979's low-rated clunker "The Visitor" would be better! http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0080100/?ref_=fn_tt_tt_5

Dec. 27, 2014

Never saw it, but the cast left me drooling. What's in a name? This version topped my 10 worst in 1993. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0108500/?ref_=fn_al_tt_3

Dec. 27, 2014

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Much of what follows was regurgitated from capsule reviews with the occasional extra added dash of bonus bile. (You don’t really expect me to give any of these a second look, do you?) Haters gonna download. For the rest of you, here are this year’s ten musts to avoid.

Movie

German Doctor <em>(Wakolda)</em>

thumbnail

You can’t keep a good Nazi down. It’s 1960, and Dr. Josef Mengele is alive and well and living in a scenic Argentine bed-and-breakfast run by a family whose individual shortcomings and/or physical frailties transform the retired war criminal into a walking Make-A-Wish Foundation. Without Doc’s help, dad’s dream of perfecting a master race of dolls would never have left the planning stages. (Shots of dismembered figurines in a broiling doll factory = Hitler’s inferno.) Poor Joe risks his life to save mom and her newborn twins. And little Lilith would still be called “dwarf” by her classmates were it not for the concentration camp sawbones’ injections of experimental growth hormones. Àlex Brendemühl plays the titular killing machine with remarkable restraint and — considering how nitwitted all that surrounds him is — a straight face. Adapted by writer-director Lucía Puenzo from his novel.

Find showtimes

10) The German Doctor

It’s 1960, and Dr. Josef Mengele is alive and well, and living in a scenic Argentine bed-and-breakfast run by a family whose individual shortcomings and/or physical frailties transform the retired war criminal into a walking Make-A-Wish Foundation. Doctor M encourages dad’s dream of perfecting a master race of dolls, risks his life to save mom and her newborn twins, and the couple’s young daughter would still be called “dwarf” by her classmates were it not for the concentration camp sawbones’ injections of experimental growth hormones.

Àlex Brendemühl plays the titular killing machine with remarkable restraint and — considering how nitwitted all that surrounds him is — a straight face.

Movie

Third Person

thumbnail

In this globe-hopping parade of non-stop degradation, the participants get off acting as one another’s whores. Paul Haggis’ unwittingly sidesplitting multi-character experiment in reheating his Oscar souffle produces more of a <em>clunk</em> than a <em>Crash</em>. The all-star cast, as game as the material is gamy, boots us through over two hours of ringmaster Haggis’ voluble, slickly designed histrionics. Liam Neeson stars as a writer “who can feel through the characters he creates,” a technique the film’s creator has yet to grasp. The narrative throughline is strung together with more stridently amateurish matching-on-action transitions (gears shift in Rome, cut to a car accelerating in Manhattan, etc.) than there are at a Film Tech 101 end-of-semester screening. As much as I generally adore Olivia Wilde, her reaction to a clumsily foreshadowed “shocker” two-thirds of the way through rivals Sofia Coppola’s “Dad?” in <em>The Godfather Part III</em>. A must for connoisseurs of bad cinema.

Find showtimes

Liam Neeson and Olivia Wilde in Third Person. Wilde’s reaction to a clumsily foreshadowed “shocker” two-thirds of the way through rivals Sofia Coppola’s “Dad?” in The Godfather Part III.

9) Third Person

Paul Haggis’s unwittingly sidesplitting multicharacter experiment in reheating his Oscar soufflé, Crash, produces more of a clunk. The all-star cast, as game as the material is gamy, boots us through over two hours of ringmaster Haggis’s voluble, slickly designed histrionics with a narrative throughline strung together with more stridently amateurish matching-on-action transitions (gears shift in Rome, cut to a car accelerating in Manhattan, etc.) than there are at a Film Tech 101 end-of-semester screening. A must for connoisseurs of bad cinema.

Movie

Raid 2

thumbnail

Pit anywhere from 5 to 15 thugs against one lone tough and instead of a dogpile, the bad guys line up like they’re in a bakery waiting for their numbers to be called. (Don’t any of these maroons pack a firearm, and more importantly, haven’t they seen <em>Billy Jack</em>?) This scene is repeated at least a dozen times in Gareth Evans’ monumentally tedious, 148 minute (!) followup to his fanboy favorite of two years ago. It’s one long vacation from logic followed by another: we see our lead ditch his wire the second he’s sprung from prison, yet the subsequent strip search is played for suspense. The characters occasionally take a break from kicking and clawing at each other long enough to spout more expository dialog than you’d find in a dozen Christopher Nolan pictures. On a humane note, while many lives are lost to brutal car chases, no airbags were deployed during the making of this picture.

Find showtimes

8) The Raid 2

Pit anywhere from 5 to 15 thugs against one lone tough and instead of a dogpile, the bad guys line up like they’re in a bakery waiting for their numbers to be called. (Don’t any of these maroons pack a firearm, and more importantly, haven’t they seen Billy Jack?) This scene is repeated at least a dozen times in Gareth Evans’s monumentally tedious, 148-minute (!) followup to his fanboy favorite of two years ago.

This also marked the most excruciating press screening of the year, what with a colleague and her invited bozos cheering and high-fiving every senseless act of violence like they were taking in a midnight screening at Horton Plaza.

Movie

Blended

thumbnail

Wasn’t it Chekhov who said, “If a character named ‘Dick’ appears in the first act of an Adam Sandler vehicle, there must be a dozen penis joke in the second?” <em>Blended</em> starts in a Hooters toilet and never quite recovers. After a disastrous first date, a divorcee (Drew Barrymore) and a widower (Sandler) are forced to “blend” families for a deluxe African vacation. Maudlinly sentimental even by Jerry Lewis’ standards, there are countless embarrassingly unintentional laughs to be found, particularly those involving one of Sandler’s daughters, who insists that her dead mother is as real as a six-foot imaginary rabbit named Harvey. Screenwriters Ivan Menchell and Clare Sera’s depiction of pop-eyed, subservient natives indicates their knowledge of African culture was fashioned after watching old Tarzan pictures. Once again Frank Coraci (<em>The Wedding Singer, 50 First Dates</em>) is assigned the unenviable task of calling “Action!” “Cut!” and “Anything you say, mealticket!”

Find showtimes

7) Blended

Blended starts in a Hooters toilet and never quite recovers, yet the gales of inadvertent laughter it renders makes it almost unfair to rank baby-talking Adam Sandler’s latest among the year’s worst. (It brought forth more yuks than Tammy, St. Vincent, Neighbors, and just about all of this year’s other so-called intentional comedies combined.)

Screenwriters Ivan Menchell and Clare Sera’s depiction of pop-eyed, subservient natives indicates their knowledge of African culture was fashioned after watching old Tarzan pictures. Once again Frank Coraci (The Wedding Singer, 50 First Dates) is assigned the unenviable task of calling “Action!” “Cut!” and “Anything you say, mealticket!”

Movie

Maleficent

thumbnail

"Let us tell an old tale anew, and let us see how well you know it," intones Maleficent (a waxen Angelina Jolie) at the outset of this botched <em>Sleeping Beauty</em> tweak-job. It's fine to tell old tales anew, and it's fine to mold them to some new purpose — say, a narrative of maternal repentance. But it's not fine to do it so artlessly. Perhaps the definitive example comes at the film's midpoint, when Maleficent, after cursing the infant Aurora in dramatic fashion, visits her at home and says, "I hate you." You'll swear it's being played for laughs, but if that's the case, then whither the drama? Wither, indeed. There are holes throughout — in character, in plot, in action - nearly all of them stuffed full of overworked, lumpen CGI. Poor Elle Fanning — every girl wants to be a princess, but anyone would get tired from all that rapturous smiling. Sleepy, even.

Find showtimes

6) Maleficent

The recent announcement that Angelina Jolie has decided to retire from what she calls acting didn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone who’s seen her last five pictures. I so miss the days of bat-shit crazy Jolie making out with a hot, bald-headed Asian chick and/or her brother, long before Brad Pitt entered the picture and the two emerged all spruced up as Hollywood’s #1 power couple.

Maleficent is 97 minutes of Jolie — with lips puckered and one leg outstretched — posing before a green screen. Is this acting or an extension of her red-carpet performance at the 84th Oscars? The film fleeced moviegoers worldwide to the tune of $757.8 million.

Movie

Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them

thumbnail

James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain star as an asshat and botched suicide, respectively, whose marriage fell apart with the death of their young son. Producer Harvey ‘Scissorhands’ Weinstein took first time writer-director Ned Benson’s dolorous trilogy — combined total running time of 311 minutes — and sliced them down to one two-hour feature. Normally I’d call for his head, but in the case of this endlessly uncinematic ribbon of reverse angles of people talking, he’s done us all a solid. There is not one memorable visual or cut in the entire picture and as such, Eleanor might just as easily disappear on the radio. Films like this exist for two reasons: to showcase sound acting and to leave audiences feeling like crap. With Isabelle Huppert, William Hurt, Ciarán Hinds, an ill-fitting Bill Hader as McEvoy’s sitcom-ish BFF, and above all Viola Dana, whose singular delivery could enthrall and entrance even if it were called upon to recite license plate numbers.

Find showtimes

5) The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them

For once the scissor-happy Harvey Weinstein did moviegoers a great service with his insistence that director Ned Benson pare down a pair of pictures (The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him and The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Her), with a combined total running time of 189 minutes, and release them as a two-hour feature.

James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain star as an asshat and botched suicide, respectively, whose marriage fell apart with the death of their young son. Without one memorable visual or cut in the entire picture, Eleanor might just as easily have disappeared on television, or worse, radio.

Movie

Walking with the Enemy

thumbnail

Two hours of killing Jews to awaken audiences to the heretofore unheard of notion that Nazi's committed atrocious acts. Based on a true story (so it must be good). In an attempt to help remove every Jew from Budapest, a couple of young Hungarians get their hands on SS uniforms and go all Batman and Robin on the Third Reich. Ten screenwriters and not one cliche left unturned. The radio is repaired just in time for a news flash to advance the plot. A precipitous bombing allows our heroes to escape the Nazis. And what does the minion dish out in the way of authentic dialog? A goon growling, "Ven vas zee last time you saw your vife and daughter alive?" Freshman director Mark Schmidt leads a uniformly unconvincing cast over a sentimental trivialization of the Holocaust that makes Spielberg's amusement park ride look like documentary realism. Even Sir Ben Kinglsey walks through his teensy part, terrible toupee and all.

Find showtimes


4) Walking With the Enemy

A masterclass on Holocaust Trivialization in the guise of important entertainment.

In an attempt to help remove every Jew from Budapest, a couple of young Hungarians get their hands on SS uniforms and go all Batman and Robin on the Third Reich. Based on a true story (so it must be good), Enemy amounts to little more than two hours of killing Jews to awaken audiences to the heretofore unheard of notion that Nazis committed atrocious acts. Freshman director Mark Schmidt leads a uniformly unconvincing cast through a sty of sentimental hogwash that makes Spielberg’s amusement park ride look like documentary realism.

Movie

Grand Budapest Hotel **

thumbnail

Director Wes Anderson's <em>apologia pro</em> style <em>sua</em>. Most of the action takes place in the pre-communist heyday of the titular (and pinkly ornate) Alpine retreat, and involves concierge extraordinaire Gustave (Ralph Fiennes) and his attempt to claim the priceless painting left to him by a grateful old guest/lover. The mannered, madcap proceedings are often delightful, occasionally silly, and here and there, gruesome and/or heartbreaking. But the real star of the show is Anderson himself — the storyteller, relating events in his own ineffable fashion — a point he makes by nesting Gustave's tale in layer after layer of narrative device. We open with a fangirl paying tribute to a dead author, then cut to author in his latter days, then to author in his younger days, picking up the story from an old man full of memories, then to the old man as a young witness. And over it all hovers Anderson, the Master Framer himself.

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3) The Grand Budapest Hotel

Wes Anderson lost me halfway through The Royal Tenenbaums, never to return. His five subsequent live-action features play as precious pop-up books, electronic wallpaper for Tim Burton–dismissing hipsters, where more thought goes into giggly, prettified production design than does storytelling. Time and again Anderson’s pretentiously schematized approach to mind-mapping a scene — center frame and teeter-totter compositions alternate — puts me to sleep.

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Frank

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Frank (Michael Fassbender), the visionary lead singer in an unsung alt-rock band, spends his entire life hiding beneath piñata headgear that brings to mind a Jack-in-the-Box drive-thru. His parents later confess their adult son suffers from mental illness. Really? Forrest Gump for hipsters, this huggable, Sundance-sanctioned babble joins the ever-stretching dishonor roll of well-intentioned multiplex rot that shamelessly exploits and trivializes intellectually challenged minds. For a film about determined musicians, Stephen Rennicks’s abrasive score boasts more Mickey Mousing than a Silly Symphony. The band eventually makes its debut at SXSW, and with it comes the film’s only honest discernment: there is no better place for self-indulgent mediocrity to flex its commercial muscle than at a trendy film festival. Even the customarily venturous Maggie Gyllenhaal stumbles around in an empty-headed daze. Frankly speaking, director Lenny Abrahamson’s pretentious lampoon of social media is destined to top this year’s 10 Worst list.

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Only in a year as bad as this could Frank have successfully avoided the #1 spot.






2) Frank

Frank (Michael Fassbender), the visionary lead singer in an unsung alt-rock band, spends his entire life hiding beneath piñata headgear that brings to mind a Jack-in-the-Box drive-thru. His parents later confess their adult son suffers from mental illness. Really?

Huggable, Sundance-sanctioned babble that joins the ever-stretching dishonor roll of well-intentioned multiplex rot that shamelessly exploits and trivializes intellectually challenged minds. For a film about determined musicians, Stephen Rennicks’s abrasive score boasts more Mickey Mousing than a Silly Symphony. The band eventually makes its debut at SXSW, and with it comes the film’s only honest discernment: there is no better place for self-indulgent mediocrity to flex its commercial muscle than at a trendy film festival.

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Visitors

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Purveyor of fine coffee-table movies Godfrey Reggio (<em>Powaqqatsi, Koyaanisqatsi</em>) brings us a highfaultin' technical exercises that asks the question, "Since humanity spends so much of its time staring at a computer screen, why not turn things around, situate the audience inside a laptop, and force them to look out? The result is a series of black-and-white, dialogue-free, unbroken, close-up 'Scope long-takes of faces intercut with allegorical inserts of abandoned amusement parks, disjointed hands moving a computer mouse (or is it close-up magic?), enough accelerated clouds to make one time-lapse into a coma, and children as credulous symbols of hope. It’s Paranormal Activity for eggheads, a staring contest during which my eyes practically bled from focusing on so many fixed images for such long periods. The camera takes aren’t the only thing Reggio sustains. Wait until you get a load of the great lengths he goes to state the obvious.

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1) Visitors

Godfrey Reggio, purveyor of fine coffee-table movies (Powaqqatsi, Koyaanisqatsi), is an acquired taste I have yet to acquire. Reggio uses precisely 74 shots to document his story. With only four behind me and 70 left to go, the film’s thesis already stated and its conclusion long foregone, I wanted to bolt.

Visitors intercuts black-and-white, dialog-free, unbroken, close-up ’Scope long-takes of faces — with allegorical inserts of abandoned amusement parks, disjointed hands moving a computer mouse (or is it close-up magic?). According to this highfalutin’ technical exercise, since humanity spends so much of its time staring into a computer screen, why not turn things around and situate an audience inside a laptop and force them to look out. There is enough accelerated cloud movement to make one time-lapse into a coma, and, of course, children as credulous symbols of hope. It’s Paranormal Activity for eggheads, a staring contest during which my eyes practically bled from focusing on so many fixed images for such long periods.

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2

Scott, Sounds like even 1979's low-rated clunker "The Visitor" would be better! http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0080100/?ref_=fn_tt_tt_5

Dec. 27, 2014

Never saw it, but the cast left me drooling. What's in a name? This version topped my 10 worst in 1993. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0108500/?ref_=fn_al_tt_3

Dec. 27, 2014

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