The Five Worst Films of 2008
These might not seem the worst films of the year, nor even
the worst that I might have seen (I have a privileged position that allows me
to assign the very worst to other critics). Those are too easily dismissed and
mean nothing in the big scheme of things. These films are the worst in that
they represent some of the most pernicious trends in movies.
1. “The Spirit”
I could not equal the hilarious description of the sheer
awfulness of Frank Miller’s epic travesty of the Will Eisner comic written by
STV on “The Defamer” website. But it also poses an intriguing question. Could
Miller be the 21st century equivalent of Ed Wood’s innocent ineptitude? Or is Miller’s
sensibility too mean, sophomoric and banal? We could wait until “Sin City 2” to
decide, but I’d rather just say the movie sucks and get it over with.
2. “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”
Woody Allen’s pseudo-sophisticated piffle is to art films what
“The Spirit” is to honest pulp: a fraud. And both star Scarlett Johanssen.
3. “I’ve Loved You So Long”
This is what happens when French film directors take their cue
from faux foreign films by Woody Allen. Kristin Scott Thomas puts in an
Award-worthy performance apparently because she wears no make-up, has no
expression, speaks seldom (and in French), and smokes cigarettes. The
first-time director Philippe Claudel delays his
bluntly obvious and pointless “plot
twist” with a cinema illiterate soap opera narrative and tosses in that odious
Euro-pudding cliché, the chipper multi-cultural extended family.
Having gone a long way to debasing avant garde literature, Chuck Pahlaniuk
has been making ventures into moviemaking. Clark Gregg’s’ adaptation of Pahlaniuk’s
novel is to independent filmmaking what “The Spirit” is to pulp and “Vicky
Cristina Barcelona” is to art. In short: contrived, puerile and thuddingly
unfunny. But no Scarlett Johanssen.
5. “The Life Before Her Eyes”
I was thinking of reserving this last spot for the hysterically
overrated and painfully twee “Rachel Getting Married,” but Jonathan Demme is
often a great filmmaker and a nice guy. Besides, how could I resist including a
film that plagiarizes from Ambrose Bierce’s “Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge,”
exploits the Columbine tragedy, diminishes the career of Uma Thurman, all to the purpose of making a
vile anti-abortion argument? Have that baby or die.