I hate those two words so big.
But I know that with a project like a dissertation--especially a qualitative diss--I have to expect to have my plans upset now and then. I'm not talking about upset-like-having-the-first-project-implode upset, but off kilter. This week has been odd. I've not felt up to par, and I've not produced as much as I'd like. I still hold out hope for Friday being a banner writing day. *Fingers Crossed*
In the meantime, I wish to list for you the five worst films I've seen in recent history:
1. Shutter Island: 2 hours and 20 minutes of stilted dialog and terrible acting. I had high hopes for Scorsese, but he buried us in unnecessary details and side plots. Even Leo couldn't save this film, and I happen to find him to be pretty persuasive. Gangs of New York = Brilliant. The Scorsese/Leo one/two punch has worked before, but it didn't work this time.
2. Pretty Bird: Paul Giamatti ruins pretty much everything he's in. He was a passable John Adams (in the HBO miniseries), but all of his sex scenes--and he always has one--make me nervous. Pretty Bird featured a frustrating, awkward, way-too-long sex scene that was totally superfluous. It's like he wants to be typecast as inadequate. Overacted, pointless, unfunny. Save your dollar.
3. Zak and Miri Make a Porno: I know. The title should have let me know it was for 12-year-old boys, but I gave it a shot. Now I own it. What a waste of potential.
4. Zombieland: I know this choice is unpopular. Lots of people LOVED Zombieland. I found it too self-referential and scatalogical to be even remotely entertaining. Woody's one of my favorites, so I felt particularly hurt that he made such a lame, lowest-common-denominator film.
5. The Road: Hate mail me all you want. The kid was obnoxious. The death scene lost all of its dignity and gravity. And a dog? I can't believe Cormac signed off on this melodramatic mess of a film.
6. From Paris With Love: This film was so bad, I broke my five-film rule. I heard it was like Pulp Fiction, but set in Paris. Lies. I made it 30 minutes in before folding laundry became a more attractive option. Terrible acting upstaged only by Travolta's total commitment to that terrible acting.
And now, just for balance, five decent films I've seen in the recent past. Note: I do not say "great." I fear that filmmakers have lost whatever it is that makes greatness. (Or maybe it just doesn't sell JuJu Beads very well.)
1. Defendor: Okay, remember that I love Woody Harrelson. This film was one part superhero drama, one part dark comedy, one part mental health tale. Surprisingly human. Surprisingly funny.
2. The Messenger: It's the year of Woody, I guess. Besides the somewhat-coopting timeliness of the fim--Harrelson is an "Angel of Death" officer charged with serving families the notice that their loved ones have been killed in war--it comes together as a pretty effective buddy film. And maybe it's coming of age, too, for the younger solider Harrelson mentors. Though I do have to say that it hit a little too close to The Hurt Locker for me. I didn't like The Hurt Locker. But at least The Messenger had times of genuine warmth and comedy, and, unlike The Hurt Locker, the characters in The Messenger were developed enough for you to care about them.
3. The Men Who Stare At Goats: I was prepared to hate this film, but I didn't. Clooney, predictably, steals it here, but Ewan McGregor is no slouch himself. Jeff Bridges as the hippie-dippie soldier behind the scenes made me smile. I do worry that two of my favorite films in recent history deal with the war in Iraq.
4. The Lord of the Rings (1978 Cartoon Version): Okay, not a NEW film, and I've seen it before. A long time ago. Before I read the books. I didn't realize 1) how accurate the cartoon was, in terms of following the source text or 2) how much Peter Jackson's films OWE this badly drawn cartoon. A number of the scenes in the new live-action version follow, point by point, blocking and everything, the cartoon version. It's really long, though. I had to watch it in installments.
5. Alice in Wonderland: I was skeptical. Burton/Depp usually fumble the ball. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was SO bad and tried SO HARD to be modern that it just looked cheap. And it was boring. (Replacing geese who lay golden eggs with squirrels? Really?) But sometimes they hit the mark, like with Edward Scissorhands. Alice is no Edward, but neither is it Charlie. (I am also amused at Burton's insistence on working with films with name titles: James and the Giant Peach, Sweeny Todd, Ed Wood.)