The Walking Dead – Unpublished Screenplay 8

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INT. LIVING ROOM. DAY

MICHONNE: I’m every woman, it’s all in me!

RICK GRIMES: Hello, sweetheart, what are you up to?

MICHONNE: Oh! You startled me! I was just, um, practising my sword skills.

RICK GRIMES: Really? Because it looked like you were singing Whitney Houston’s greatest hits.

MICHONNE: No, that was me thinking of something witty to say for when I finally kill The Governor.

RICK GRIMES: I see. You know, Whitney Houston’s probably a zombie now.

Nightman’s Least Favourite Movies Of 2008!

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Lets continue our descent into ineptitude with 2008 – a film which saw many good films, and many bad films. Just like any other year then. Here’s a few films which stink more than a Congressman’s spunk.

Donkey Punch

If I ever do a worst of decade post (I won’t) this abomination would be somewhere near the top. Every single molecule of this dangling testicle should never have existed, every second is pain incarnate, and it makes me angry that money was spent to hearken it forth into the world. I want to use the word despicable, but I don’t think I can quite pull it off. It’s just badly made shit, like when you mistakenly go into a public toilet at 2.00 after the drug-crazed loon with vomit in his hair staggers out – inept performers, hateful characters with zero redeeming qualities that you wish would be killed off within the first thirty seconds of meeting them just so you can look at the yacht’s interior for the next 90 minutes in peace. Harry Knowles loved it – that should be on the poster as the best warning to keep viewers away that money could buy. A more angry blogger than I might say that everyone involved in expelling this turd from the bowels of inadequacy deserves to be fisted into oblivion by Andre The Giant.

Doomsday

It’s not that Doomsday is a bad film (it isn’t very good), it’s that after Dog Soldiers and The Descent I was hoping for something amazing now that Neil Marshall had more than a couple of five pound notes to rub together. What we got is Mad Max Vs Snake Plissken. Even that sounds awesome, but somehow it’s just a little shoulder shruggy. The action doesn’t quite live up to expectations, and all the future cyberpunk stuff isn’t all that interesting. It feels like the film a teenage boy would make if he had the money and loved those aforementioned films. It’s fan fiction which brings nothing new to the table. It’s a fine middle of the road action movie to catch if you’re channel hopping, but instantly forgettable.

Funny Games

Hey, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this movie. I liked it. It’s just – what’s the point? It does nothing that wasn’t done in the original, beyond giving the great Michael Pitt another chance at stardom. Just watch the original.

Iron Man

The one that started it all, eh? Except that it wasn’t, but we can ignore those others which really came first, eh? Honestly, I’d love to be able to ignore this too, but the monster which sprung from it has been unavoidable. I never cared much for the character of Tony Stark and while RD-JR gives the film some life (except that it’s the same shtick he pulls in every film) it’s just your bog standard generic superhero origin story, but without the emotion. It does have hundreds of millions of moneys thrown at it, so it doesn’t look like a piece of shit. Credit for putting the framework in place for building a world I couldn’t care less about. By no means a bad film, just one big meh.

Indiana Jones And The Crystal Skull

Look, I didn’t hate it like most people did. I grew up with the original trilogy and was as excited as anyone that we’d be getting another. Yes it was unfortunate that it didn’t come ten years earlier, but what are you gonna do. The adventure is still there, Ford is still good if too old to be swinging about jungles, but the script is totally bogged down by unnecessary pap, and a little of the magic is gone. Plus, those monkeys… who thought that was a good idea?

Hellboy II

I loved the first Hellboy. It didn’t take itself seriously, it took a different approach and had a different look to most comic book movies. The second one struggles – the story isn’t as engaging, they don’t build upon the world or the characters, and it doesn’t hit the same beats as the first. It’s not bad, I still enjoyed it, but it was a let down given how much I enjoyed its predecessor.

Mama Mia

Welcome to your yearly shitty musical entry. Look, I get it – just like there are people who enjoy fox-hunting, there are people who enjoy musicals. They’re not for me. To its credit, it doesn’t do what most musicals do by either having the cast members’ singing voices dubbed or casting theatre types who can sing but have no screen presence. Also to its credit, you can’t go wrong with ABBA. Except… you can, because they only have about ten worthwhile songs and the rest are retreads of those ten. And they build a nonsensical plot based around the lyrics of some of these songs and throw a host of unlikable performers onto the screen to meander through the hackneyed dialogue. Even the likable performers don’t come out unscathed. And it’s at least 50 minutes too long. It’s a movie for your mother in law – by which I mean – it’s not a movie. It’s a musical on screen. Imagine how different the world would be if the money spent on, and made by, this movie had gone towards building a hospital. Or a recording studio to allow people to make good new music. Or a bunch of smaller budget movies.

I Want To Believe

Another X-Files movie – great. Honestly, I was a big fan during the series initial run, and came back for both return seasons. But the over-riding thought after seeing this was – what was the point? It is literally an extended standalone episode with no link to any of the show’s over-arching mythology. Normally I wouldn’t care, and I’ll take more X-Files where I can get it, but this particular feature length episode is bland mid-season filler. It feels like this was a script which had languished for years as a straight to DVD thriller before someone had the bright idea to retcon it into the X-Files universe to guarantee a few million in return. It’s worth a watch, but I fail to see who is really going to enjoy it – people who haven’t seen the show won’t care, and those who have won’t get what they want. A very strange choice and a very strange movie. I still liked it… but what was the point?

Mirrors

Yikes. Every year there’s a horror film which gets under my skin for all the wrong reasons. The original ‘Mirrors’ is a fairly decent example of K-Horror – nothing special. This is dumb, devoid of scares, and doesn’t make a lick of sense. There’s one scene in this movie which gore-fans point to, but it washed over me without incident. A horror movie with Keifer Sutherland and directed by Alexander Aja should work for me, but this was just balls all round and not worth typing further about.

Bangkok Dangerous

Every year we are treated to roughly ten Nic Cage movies – 80% of these are straight to DVD shite, and the other 20% are straight to DVD WTF. Every so often you get a good one or a legitimate one. Normally none of those movies would make my list because you expect them to be balls, but this one I looked forward to, foolishly, because the original Bangkok Dangerous is one of my favourite all time movies. It’s just wonderful. This remake takes the very bare bones from that movie – basically the mute hitman – saps it of all style and emotion and humour – and that’s about it. It’s tragic that so few people have seen or heard of the original, and given that it’s a foreign movie, when I try to recommend it to people, they invariably reply ‘isn’t that a shitty Nic Cage movie’? Seriously, find the original and watch it – not this.

There you go – a less controversial selection this week, with a few clangers and a few many people enjoyed if not outright loved. Let me know your picks in the comments!

Best Original Screenplay -1977

Official Nominations: Annie Hall. The Goodbye Girl. The Late Show. Star Wars. The Turning Point.

As is usually the case with this category, it closely matches the Best Picture nominees. Annie Hall – not that different from the usual Woody Allen shtick although there are enough one-liners and rambling speeches to highlight. A modern viewer will find much of it hackneyed and cliched, but only because it has been copied so many times. The Goodbye Girl is standard Neil Simon fare – romantic comedies don’t do much for me, even when they are as well written as this, but it needs to be exceptional for me or speak on a personal level for me to rate it any higher than average. The Late Show is the anomaly of the bunch – the film no-one remembers. It’s another unfortunate case because it’s an interesting film merging noir with lighter moments and it’s certainly the type of film you don’t say anymore. The Turning Point doesn’t offer anything new and plays out like a standard soap drama. Star Wars created an enduring universe with a multitude of characters and places and dialogue which has become part of culture and daily dialogue, never mind the number of imitators which the story spawned.

My Winner: Star Wars

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My Nominations: Star Wars. Annie Hall. Close Encounters Of The Third Kind. Desperate Living. Eraserhead. High Anxiety. Martin.

Desperate Living…. I just like the idea of something like this getting nominated. Have you seen it? There’s more humour and weirdness in a couple of pages of this script than there are in many comedy writers’ careers. It’s… not for everyone. Close Encounters gets another nomination, Spielberg subtly working in Jewish and Christian allusions and more overarching themes of exploration, knowledge, and tolerance. Eraserhead also gets another nomination – a screenplay created almost entirely to allow for Lynch’s visuals and atmosphere. Mel Brooks knocks out another great script – it’s very difficult to get parody right but he does it once again with High Anxiety, while Martin was one of the first movies to bring vampires out of European castles and Victorian streets and into American suburbs, while at the same time subverting the vampire myth and offering insight into pained adolescence.

My Winner:  Star Wars

Let us know your winner in the comments!

Nightman’s Updated Favourite Films Of 2008!

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2008 was a great year for cinema – quite a few of my picks here made my end of decade post, and a number of the more obvious choices will appear on many critics’ best of lists. Lets get the almosts out of the way first:

Son Of Rambow is an early Will Poulter showcase – he continues to be a star in the making but hasn’t quite caught on the way he deserves to have yet. It’s a funny and charming coming of age film about two friends – both outcasts in their own way, and from different social backgrounds as tends to be the way with these films. The hook is that they’re both Rambo fans and decide to go make their own homage movie. The best moments are just the boys arsing about trying to do stunts and make an action movie. Director Garth Jennings would go on to make Sing but is perhaps best known in Britain for his various comedy performances and involvement with some of the biggest names. You know he’s respected when the likes of Edgar Wright, Jessica Hynes, Adam Buxton, and Eric Sykes all pop up here. Wall-E is, well you should know it by now. I didn’t love it first time around but came to enjoy it more when watching it with my kids later. A film of two distinct halves – the first being Wall-E alone on Earth and the second an ever more realistic vision of a future where we’re all fattyies 100% reliant upon technology and entertainment. Fred Willard even pops up later, so extra points there.

Equally charming is another Ghibli treat – Ponyo is the delightful tale of a boy and his… fish. A magic fish of course. It’s basically The Little Mermaid but without the forced romance and drag witch. It’s Miyazaki so you know you’re in for a beautiful, heart-melting experience. It’s just a sweet story with enough imagination to charm viewers of any age. The Informers on the other hand is not about charm. It’s all about disgust, malaise, debauchery. And it’s wonderful. I almost had this in my top ten, and in truth I feel like adding it in there instead of number ten, but why bother. I don’t really understand why this film has flown under the radar. For the sleaze balls you have any number of Amber Heard nude scenes, and for everyone else it’s a Bret Easton Elis story directed by the guy who made Buffalo Soldiers. If you need more, and I get why many will, just check out the cast – Brad Renfro, Kim Basinger, Billy Bob Thornton, Winona Ryder, Lou Taylor Pucci, Mickey Rourke, Chris Isaak, Rhys Ifans. The film received almost universal shrugs and derision with most people completely missing out on the fact that it is supposed to be one big nightmare – a satire on vapid existence, on wealth, and not so much the pursuit of fame or money – just the complete lack of meaning behind it all. It might not be for everyone, but it honestly deserves for recognition.

10: Johnny Mad Dog (France/Liberia) Jean-Stephane Sauvaire

Johnny Mad Dog is the film that I kept saying ‘Don’t you mean Johnny Mad Dog’ to when people began talking about Beast Of No Nation. It’s almost the same film – the main difference being the lack of an Idris Elba. If I can say anything to convince you to watch it, it’s just that – Beasts Of No Nation, but earlier. If anything it’s more gritty, more brutal, and the fact that almost all of it focuses on the kids makes it all the more upsetting. There’s also a definite sense of the bizarre given some of the antics the child soldiers get up to – not to mention their costumes.

9: Pontypool (Canada) Bruce McDonald

Even though I’ll watch any old rubbish horror movie, it’s the ones with an interesting premise that pull me in and stick with me. Pontypool has one of the most intriguing you’ll ever hear – a disease (?) is spreading and seems to be passed on via language – certain words – and those who succumb become slightly more sentient versions of the 28 Days Later creatures – manic, violent, and equally likely to kill themselves as batter you to death. On its own that’s enough to get me invested, but throw in the setting – an isolated radio station where a late night DJ and his skeleton staff suspect something is amiss as they  receive unusual calls. It’s still fresh now, and it plays admirably with its low budget and central ideas.

8: Cloverfield (US) Matt Reeves

The big surprise of the year, though looking back the biggest surprise seems to be that everyone was surprised by it. Buoyed by an excellent marketing run, Cloverfield also uses the hand-held fashion of the time to craft a literal Escape From New York. My problem with the film was always the characters – there isn’t anyone here you give a shit about and if we’d been allowed to feel an ounce of affinity with them this would probably be higher up my list. The story is simple – something crash lands in New York City and begins attacking everyone and everything. It’s some sort of gargantuan alien creature scene only in brief glimpses on news reports and through flashes between skyscrapers. I have zero problem with the shaky cam – this is the perfect film for it even though the whole ‘I have to document this’ excuse falls apart pretty quickly. The shaky cam heightens to war-torn confusion of it all – people don’t have any idea what is happening in the middle of a battlefield – you’re only concern is getting the hell out of there as quickly as possible, and that’s what we see. It’s a rollercoaster ride, wisely helped by the inclusion of smaller aliens and while it doesn’t live up to the promise, in reality could we have expected much better?

7: Rambo (US/Thailand) Sylvester Stallone

Who’d have thought it – the return of John Rambo? And who’d have expected it to actually be both good and faithful? When Stallone wants to, he can still pull it out of the bag. This is just ridiculous carnage – an 80s Action movie with an 80s Action hero, but with the violence blown up to 11. The plot is almost irrelevant – Rambo is helping out a bunch of missionaries who get caught up in an Asian war zone – but at least it isn’t completely vapid. The supporting cast contribute well – Julie Benz and Graham McTavish the obvious standouts. Stallone keeps the pace ticking along until the brutal climax and there’s simply something comforting about seeing an old character resurrected from your childhood, whether they’re standing on stage, swinging a lightsaber, or in this case, ripping out throats with their bare hands.

6: Ip Man (HK) Wilson Yip

From ripping out throats, to jabbing them 48 times in one second. Donnie Yen has been a beast for at least thirty years now, but the Ip Man series may be his crowning achievement. Beyond being a showcase for his badassery, and beyond hitting that personal sweet spot for me of being both a martial arts movie and telling a (sort of) history of Bruce Lee, you have Wilson Yip – the director who seems to know how to get the best performance from Yen. Yip and Yen have teamed multiple times and have a shared understanding of choreography and character to the extent that, and I know it’s a cliche, but that watching the fights are more akin to watching a dance – with the added benefit of it not being a fucking dance. The fights in Ip Man are so painstakingly practised and directed that each one is a thing of beauty – all heightened by the fact that we come to care for the guy and his family.

Ip Man is a martial arts teacher in a very large pool – at this place and point at time it seemed like every street in the vast city has multiple competing martial arts schools – each with their own styles, fighters, masters, and rivalry. Ip Man stands out by being almost invisible – he isn’t interested in getting into disputes or proving he’s the best, but simply wants to train, learn, and live out a peaceful existence. It’s not necessarily a unique story when it comes to the genre, but in Yen we get a sympathetic human we can stand behind rather than the standard faceless pile of fists and feet. When the Japanese invades, Ip and his family lose their home and business and he is forced into mining to make ends meet. It turns out that the Japanese are offering additional food to the Chinese if they take part in unsanctioned fights – except that the Japanese military have been killing some of the Chinese fighters when they lose. Ip is understandably enraged and wipes out a number of the Japanese fighters which attracts the attention of their General.

Plot is often secondary in Martial Arts movies which generally means ridicule for the more discerning critic. Placing this in a ‘genuine historical setting’ (seen from the Chinese side) helps matters and this becomes a standard enough story of heroism, patriotism, glory, and family values that you’ve likely seen before in Chinese Martial Arts. But it’s the fights, the nuances, and the performances which raise this above the myriad others. I’d probably recommend starting here for anyone interested in Donnie Yen and it’s a high budget, classy starting point for anyone keen to gateway into the genre. As someone who has seen the dregs on offer, this is light-years ahead and offers incredible, breathless action.

5: Let The Right One In (Sweden) Tomas Alfredson

So far the horror films on my list this year haven’t been out and out scare-fests, but have rather been subtle, introspective, or done something new with an old favourite. Let The Right One In captures each of those points – taking the vampire mythology and offering new twists, yet makes it a character piece, a romance of sorts, a coming of age story, and drip-feeds us dread, unsavoury pedophilia subtext, while being shot through the lens of abandoned beauty. This was one of the first modern horror movies which truly cared about how it looked and sounded and how both were portrayed – the current wave of so called elevated horror all owe something to Let The Right One In.

Like Ip Man, this is something of a sweet spot movie for me. I love vampire movies and horror, and I love coming of age films – especially ones which feel genuine, ones which I can relate to. I didn’t know too many vampires growing up, but isolation, bullying, looking for close friendships are things I know all too well as do many others. The film downplays much of the horror and mythology and the darker elements of the novel and focuses instead on the friendship and loneliness and need. Oskar is a boy with no friends, no confidence, bullied into fantasizing about bloody revenge. Eli is a vampire who needs to feed and tasks a familiar with killing on her behalf so that she can keep living. For much of the film Oskar doesn’t know the truth, and even when he does their established friendship works, even if it does take on some sour, manipulative notes. Hell, who wouldn’t want an all powerful vampire in their corner?

The film doesn’t take a jumpscare approach, rather relying on the horror inherent in its ideas – needing to kill, needing to protect a killer, bullying, abuse. It all looks gorgeous too – there’s something wonderful about snowy nights and landscapes on screen, about quiet moments shattered by sudden violence. It’s a horror movie for critics to appreciate, for non-horror viewers to get on board with even though they’ll brand it a thriller, and it should of course please horror nerds. With two great lead performances, a career defining directorial from Alfredson, and shot by Hoyte Van Hoytema who earned Her, Interstellar, and Dunkirk from this.

4: Departures (Japan) Yojiro Takita

As the 2000s went on I began to side more with South Korean cinema than Japanese. After the J-Horror bubble burst, only the obvious big hitters like Koreeda and Miike and Sono were repeatedly bringing the goods. Departures came out of the blue, surprising everyone to win the Best Foreign Oscar this year over some front-runners. It, and the three movies remaining on this list are covered in more detail in my end of decade favourites list. It’s a film which caught me off guard and may do the same for you – the director I only knew from the decent enough Hiroyuki Sanada vehicle Onmyiji, and out of the cast it was really only Ryoko Hirosue I knew – from her days as a Nintendo model and Wasabi. It’s tender, heart-tugging, funny, and has one of the best soundtracks of the decade.

3: Martyrs (France) Pascal Laugier

So, America had the whole Torture Porn market cornered. Then Spain came along and said ‘hold my scalpel’. Then France beheaded the lot of them with a baguette and farted in their general direction. There’s a reason why there is a whole movement called French Extremism, and Martyrs is the peak. It’s just brutal, exhausting, and difficult to get through yet utterly compelling, impossible to forget, and once its over you know you’re going to be drawn back to it again to experience the twists once more. It made my end of decade list, so read more there. Quite simply, if you’re a horror fan you need to see it. If you’re not… it might put you off the genre forever or become one of your all time favourites. There are those horror movies which even the most ardent anti-horror film critic can’t deny – this is one of them.

2: The Dark Knight (US/UK) Christopher Nolan

It’s one of the biggest, most popular, and best movies of the decade – of the last two decades. You know it, you love it.

1: Love Exposure (Japan) Sion Sono

There are some movies you want everyone to see. Each of us finds a small handful of movies each year that no-one seems to know about and you tell all of your friends and co-workers and anyone you can get your hands on because, dammit, those movies need to be seen. Love Exposure is near the top of that list for me. It’s just perfect and is everything I love about film, somehow. It’s… not really anything. It’s not horror, it’s not action… it is a bit of comedy, a bit of drama… it’s just a bit of everything shat into a blender and squirted out into a four hour long cup, whatever the hell that means. Sion Sono, like other madcap hero Takashi Miike, does whatever he wants it seems. There’s just no way any other person on the face of the planet at any other time in the history of the world could make the films these guys do. Sono in this case has dealt with suicides and cults in Suicide Club, revenge in Hazard, comedy in Into A Dream, horror in Exte, drama in Land Of Hope, musical in Tokyo Tribe, and brutal thrillers in Cold Fish and Guilty Of Romance. Love Exposure trumps them all, with its panty obsessed fetish ninjas, budgie-shouldered cult leaders, daddy-pleasing pervs, child-slapping religious nutcases, and all the rest. I suppose in the end it’s a romance – my kind of romance. It should have been at the Oscars for Best Picture, Sono should have been down for best director, and Hikari Mitsushima should have won Best Actress. But who cares about awards – if you love Cinema, even if you have a passing interest in movies, you have an obligation to see Love Exposure. I know most people hate it when someone one really pushes a movie onto you – I get that too – but believe me when I say that your life will be better with this in it.

Let me know your favourites of 2008!

Wake Wood

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Wake Wood is somewhat of a downer. There have been quite a few horror films in recent years dealing with how parents cope after the death of a child, some dealing with the psychological trauma, others taking a more visceral approach following the lengths some parents will go to either to get on with their lives or bring their child back. It’s a tradition going back most famously to Pet Sematary, but naturally it’s a fear as old as time with numerous fairy tales, myths, and stories from antiquity using this unimaginable tragedy and the associated grief as a starting point. Wake Wood lies somewhere in between the visceral and the psychological, not truly succeeding at either, but not truly failing either.

Make no mistake – Wake Wood is a Serious Horror Film – Caps all the way. It wants to hurt, and it wants to remind you of folksy tales like The Wicker Man and drama like Don’t Look Now. It doesn’t have the money or the directing chops of either of those, but it also doesn’t want to scrimp on the gore. It’s difficult to see who the film is really for then because, while plenty of people will want to see a film like this if you heavily market it towards one crowd they’re likely going to be pissed of by the blood or by the artistry. As mentioned – the artistry is more akin to someone just learning the ropes by mimicking their forefathers, while the blood is limited by budget and, well, good taste.

We open with the fairly upsetting mauling of a child by a dog – the girl, Alice, does not survive. Her mother and father – Louise and Patrick – move to a rural village called Wakewood and try to get on with their lives. The people of Wakewood seem friendly enough, though like any of these off the grid towns, there’s something a little off about them. Turns out they have a history of resurrecting the dead via a ritual with a series of rules. This is where some of the more interesting parts of the film come in, hinting at a sprawling history. There are various ancient trinkets and tools and rules employed, but they’re not really discussed or explained. These sorts of things are always interesting to me and I’d like to have known more about their purpose or origin. The main guts of the rules are straightforward enough – to raise the dead, you need another corpse. The person you want to raise must have been dead for less than a year. The person can only return for three days, and the person cannot go beyond the borders of the town. Naturally, as Patrick and Louise makes their decision, each of these rules comes in to play.

Everything about the film is cold, sullen, the muddy brown of a forgotten English graveyard – the performances (featuring Aidan Gillen and Timothy Spall), the direction, the look of the thing right down to the costumes. It’s mournful and bleak, even in its happiest moments and anyone looking for a slice of quirky horror or a hint of joy should shuffle by. It’s not without it’s charms – watching it reminded me of many a gloomy painting or Doom Metal album cover. It’s played out with conviction and its sense of grit and foreboding feels real – if there is a town out there which can bring people back from the dead, this certainly feels like it – insular, brow-beaten, and with the look of a tweed clothed farmer nonchalantly pistoning a bolt through a bull’s skull.

Let us know in the comments what you thought of Wake Wood!

Nightman’s Least Favourite Movies Of 2009!

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Greetings, Glancers! We kicked things off with the controversial 2010 and we now start moving backwards into the mists of time to have a laugh at my other misguided choices of least favourite films from each year. What does 2009 have in store for us? Have a look below.

Watchmen

Zack Snyder had been on a roll for me – Dawn Of The Dead is one of the all time great remakes, 300 is a silly, stylish slice of violent fun based on one of my favourite stories. It made sense that he would tackle a comic book adaptation, and adapt one of the less mainstream series. As you’ll see me say frequently in these posts – it’s not that it’s a bad film, it’s just not very good. Or more appropriately, it just didn’t work for me. On the plus side it looks great – not quite on par with the visu-shock of Sin City, but it certainly fits the bill of standing apart from the ‘realism’ of Marvels visual output. But like everything else Snyder has released since Watchmen, it’s so overfed on plot, so packed with stuff, that in the end I don’t care about any of it. I can’t remember any of the character’s names – Blue Cock – was that one? Outfit Girl? Running Dude? Wrong Face? Fuck knows. It’s another example of a film which should have been something I thoroughly enjoyed, but instead it was overblown and forgettable.

Wolverine

The X-Men movie series got off to a bang – the first two movies remain two of the finest comic book movies ever. Then some nameless twat got a hold of the series and ruined it for part 3 – one of the worst movies ever made. Luckily the series returned (and then subsequently fucked up again) and we got a series of spin off based on everyone’s favourite beardo, Wolverine. Like Watchman, this should have been something I enjoyed, but it’s drivel. If I can’t remember what anyone was called in Watchmen, I can’t remember anything that happened in Wolverine. I think there was snow in one scene. Maybe I was drunk when I watched it? In any case it went in both eyes, and straight out the back of my skull with zero recollection of what happened.

The Hangover

If the 2010s saw the rise of Alpha male bullshit, then the Noughties have a lot to answer for. I’m not saying The Hangover is to blame for a lot of the sickening sexual entitlement we see today across the entertainment industry, and up and down through politics… I’m not saying it’s even to blame for a rise in the absolutely terrible junk which passes for comedy in Hollywood these days. What I am saying is that it’s a pretty shitty movie, vastly overrated, and at least influenced a number of people to see the protagonists as worthy role models. It’s the ultimate bro movie, and for that reason alone, it deserves to be called out as the piece of shit it is.

The Hurt Locker

I was the first person to applaud when Katheryn Bigelow won her Oscar. But that was more as a sign of respect for her work on Near Dark, Strange Days, Point Break. She’s a terrific director. The Hurt Locker… I still don’t get why it is so acclaimed. A character study of little insight, a drama without tension. You notice how the acclaim for Renner’s performance seem to focus on his physical appearance – the fact that he’s not some Tom Cruise lookalike or hunk? You may as well start handing out Oscars for actresses based on how impressive their tits are. At best it is a very well made, good looking drama which was released at exactly the right time. At worst it’s an unrealistic Hallmark movie that just happens to have a master director in charge.

Halloween II

Ho-lee-shit. Listen, I didn’t mind the first Rob Zombie Halloween. He wanted to do his own thing, so by all means give it a go. The second effort is possibly the worst film I’ve ever seen in a theatre. Where to begin? There’s no sense writing a badly articulated diatribe about this – it’s so laughably bad that Police Academy 7 is ashamed of it.

Fame

That’s right, you can pretty much bet that if a crappy musical came out in any given year, it’ll be on my list – if I’ve had the misfortune to have seen it. The original is pretty terrible outside of the fact that it has some ripping tunes. This is the same, but worse, and without the ripping tunes.

An Education

Cripes this was banal, with a small disinterested ‘b’. The film which sadly unleashed Carey Mulligan on the world, it tells the story of… well I can’t really remember. It doesn’t matter does it? I don’t think I’ve yawned through a movie more than this – to its credit I didn’t fall asleep (that’s reserved for made for TV court dramas with names like Breach Of Contract or Justice For Bob, or Mrs Smith Gets A Divorce And Then Has A Custody Battle Over Her Infant Son, Jonas). 

The Fourth Kind

I’m a big fan of Milla Johovich. Sure the quality of her movies rarely goes higher than mindless action, but she’s always committed. The Fourth Kind seemed right up my alley until I watched it and wondered where are the scares that hardened horror fans seemed to be freaked out by. Remember that Ant And Dec movie Alien Autopsy? It had more scares than this.

The Lovely Bones

Peter Jackson had long been one of my favourite directors, from his early shlock, through The Frighteners and Heavenly Creatures. The LOTR trilogy is peerless. King Kong was a good 2 hour movie, blown up to off-putting CG-worship proportions. Then came The Lovely Bones – a misguided and offensive mess which looks as if it was made by a team who had never worked with each other before and had no experience of working on film. I’ve never read the source material – it always seemed like one of those Jodi Picault books to give housewives something to cry about. The movie certainly gave me something to cry about – the fact that Peter Jackson could have ever made something so insipid.

Lesbian Vampire Killers

I mean, it was going to be this or one of the shitty Ricky Gervais romps, wasn’t it? As much as I am mystified by people who enjoy Gervais, at least his films are generally competent. This isn’t, and has the added flaw of starring James Corden, whose one high moment was appearing in a Tango advert. It also stars Matthew Horne, whose one high moment is having a funny surname.

Let me know in the comments which of the films above you think I’ve got wrong. Are there some you love? Which movies released in 2009 would be at the bottom of your pile?

Best Animated Feature – 1977

My Nominations: The Rescuers. Wizards. Race For Your Life Charlie Brown. The Many Adventures Of Winnie The Pooh.

1977 was something of a turning point for animated features – it was one of the first years where multiple, genuinely worthwhile films were released and stood the test of time, and it’s really the start of that happening more or less consistently. The only issue is that a lot of the notable films were either TV specials or a mixture of animation and live action, so I can’t really include those. The only thing missing is a truly strong Japanese effort. Nevertheless, we have Bakshi still experimenting – leaving behind his controversial real world efforts and conjuring a total fantasy in Wizards – a post apocalyptic tale with some great visuals, even if the story is one we’ve seen before. Race For Your Life Charlie Brown is another memorable effort in the Peanuts canon and as endearing as ever. That leaves a surprising double effort from Disney – The Rescuers is the more action packed of the two and a film which was critically and commercially successful but which has fallen by the wayside over the years. The Many Adventures Of Winnie The Pooh is a more gentle and relaxed affair. Normally I would pick this as winner, but as it’s really a compilation of old pieces, reassembled and merged with newer bits, it probably breaks a bunch of rules.

My Winner: The Rescuers

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Let us know in the comments which Animated Feature of 1977 gets your vote!

Nightman’s Least Favourite Films Of 2010

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Here we go. Now, you might be asking why I’m starting with 2010. I’ve mentioned this before, but if you’re new around these here parts, I rarely watch films as they are released. I have more important things to do (like beat the world record for most sit-ups in a minute). But I get to them eventually. At time of writing – 29th December 2019 – I looked at the films released in 2018 and saw that I haven’t seen one of the top ten grossing movies. Not Infinity War, not Black Panther, not Incredibles 2, Fallen Kingdom, Aquaman, Bohemian Rhapsody, Venom, Fallout, Deadpool 2, or Fantastic Beasts. What a naughty movie boy I am! I’ll get to them, but only one or two jump out at me as something I’d actually want to see beyond mere obligation.

So rather than start in media decennium, I rounded down to 2010. I’ll work my way back to 1950 and then cover 2011-2019. One more note – I generally now avoid movies I don’t think I’ll like and a lot of the ultra low budget, amateur, and obviously crap films. I almost never enjoy ‘so bad it’s good’ stuff, unless I’m completely off my tits. In other words, my lists aren’t going to contain Sharkopter Vs Megacock or Fifty Shades Shittier.

Now, you may want to go back and read my original post about why I’m doing these lists. Remember, in most cases I don’t hate these films – they may have disappointed me because I was so hyped, they may have been forced upon me while I sat there dreaming about murdering every single person on screen, or they may be some bloated blockbuster with a huge budget but zero ambition beyond making more money – money which could have saved hundreds of lives had it been put into a different endeavour. Some of your favourite movies may be included. If you get salty – man up – opinions can’t hurt you. By all means go ahead and love your movie – doesn’t mean I will, doesn’t mean it should change how you feel about it. I’m just some guy, just like you.

Lets get onto the movies in 2010 which didn’t do it for me – these are in no particular order.

Alice In Wonderland

Weeew, what a mess. I’m torn between saying this looks good, imaginative, bright, or just uncanny valley terrible. When you throw this much money at a film, you’d better be sure it looks amazing. It’s a great start having Tim Burton in the Director’s Chair, as he’s one of Hollywood’s visual pioneers. Plus you get a terrific cast – it should have been spellbinding. But it’s just an incoherent mess. Just like the original text. I’ve never been a fan of Carroll’s story, I’m not so precious as to not call it out as a fraud. There are other, better works of fantasy fiction in a similar vein, and its a book whose moments and characters and ideas are better than their execution. The film can’t really be faulted for absorbing those flaws.

What it can be faulted for is its descent into unforgivable camp, for making otherwise good actors deliver cringe after cringe, and for further making Tim Burton look like just another big budget stooge with no clue how to build character, garner emotion, tell a story, or elicit anything from the audience other than a confused yawn.

Daybreakers

For reasons far beyond me, this has popped up in a few year end and decade end lists of best, or most underrated horror movies lists. It’s neither of those things. It takes an… okay premise, and then turns the whole thing into Blade, if Blade was a Hallmark drama. They say the biggest sin a horror movie can commit is to not be scary. I’d go one further and say the greatest sin any movie can commit is to be boring. This is boring, it’s not scary, and it looks as drab as a Ken Loach film if he had a 1000 quid budget and a single cloakroom to film within. Years on, I struggle to recall anything which happened in the film beyond Sam Neill sitting behind a table.

The Wolfman

The Wolfman never really had a shot. As far as classic monsters go, the werewolf has never really had a great horror film. Not the Universal Classics, nothing from Hammer – the best of the bunch, by some distance, needed to resort to comedy to make what should be an interesting character, well, interesting. Credit for retaining some sort of Gothic approach and for attempting to elevate the thing by throwing legitimate actors at a script written by someone more interested in forced romance than genuine trauma. It feels like nobody gives a shit, outside of an enthused, gloomy Del Toro. The problem is it’s laughably predictable even without seeing any other version of the story. You know exactly how the film will play out, and how it will end. Within the opening ten minutes, if you haven’t worked out precisely how the final minutes will go, this must be your first movie – congratulations on finally entering the world of Cinema, you must be excited to discover all of these wonderful new fangled movie things the kids have been talking about. It doesn’t even look that interesting, and Anthony Hopkins looks as if he is not only channeling Brian Blessed, but has swallowed  him too. Go watch the 1941 version.

Shutter Island

Martin Scorsese and horror – finally. How could it go wrong? It barely goes right. Every twist is signposted, every performance is ridiculous, and if you’ve ever seen, literally any movie set in an asylum, you know how this one will go. The film insults the audience by treating us like naive children, and it again commits those cardinal sins – it’s boring, it’s not scary. In its defence it claims to be a psychological thriller – a term people use when their film lacks the balls to be Horror. Perhaps most infuriating it made a crapload of money when there were a bunch of more deserving movies which passed unseen or under-praised.

A Nightmare On Elm Street

Wes Craven’s 1984 classic is my favourite horror movie of all time, and it’s a Top 5 for me regardless of genre. So I come in to any remake or sequel to these films with a bit of bias. However, I wasn’t as rabid as some who were anti-the film before it even got made and especially when they heard there would be no Craven involvement and no Englund as Freddy. I can’t say I was happy about it being remade as I always expected it to be crap, but that idea of a demonic entity stalking kids in their sleep is still one I find intriguing – with the right script, director, cast, there’s nothing stopping it from being good.

As expected, it’s not good. Props to everyone for trying something sort of different, and props to Jackie Earle for giving it a go, but it just doesn’t work – not as a Nightmare film, and not as a horror film. It’s nowhere near as inventive as it should be and doesn’t offer anything in the way of creative kills or use of the dream ‘space’ imaginatively. The script isn’t horrid, it’s just bland and like any number of remakes it tries to delve more into the character of the killer unnecessarily. Listen – it doesn’t matter who or what Freddy is, or any other killer for that matter. It wants to kill you. It has killed already. What the fuck are you going to do about it – that’s your film, or at least it should be.

While watching the film at the time, I kept thinking that it wasn’t as bad as the reviews had suggested and I wasn’t going to stoop to the same level as those somehow suggesting it tarnished the original. That didn’t stop it from also committing those Cardinal Sins once more – any ‘fear’ I felt in this was likely more jittery excitement at the possibility of Freddy showing up to fuck shit up. It’s not quite boring, it just feels like yet another slasher whereas the original flipped the genre on its head. I can’t remember a single kill or piece of dialogue from this movie so it would otherwise go on the to be forgotten pile. Because it has the name it does, it instead makes it onto the disappointed pile, and onto this list.

Robin Hood

When I was typing up this list, all I could remember about the film was that Ridley Scott directed and Russel Crowe was in it. At some point since watching, this got confused in my head with King Arthur or whatever the hell that was called. It shouldn’t be difficult to be a Robin Hood movie – the story and characters and setting are all there, and it’s perfectly set up for adventure, romance, and an all round fun time. So why the hell, in the four or five versions we’ve had in the last twenty or so years has every single one got it so wrong? Prince Of Thieves is the definitive modern version, and while it’s far from perfect, it’s a hell of a lot of fun. This… this is something about beards? Men with beards? Someone dies and some other guy pretends to be him, and then it ends. Honestly, the day after seeing this I couldn’t have told you anything that had happened.

Scott Pilgrim Vs The World

I’m consistently bewildered by the love this film gets – popping up in many best of year and best of decade lists. I just don’t get it. It’s 100% hipster wank and feels like it was made by someone who has never played a videogame in their life. The Mario Bros movie is more authentic. It’s all so strange because I love everything else Edgar Wright has done. But it brings together a bunch of indie hipster performers and people I don’t generally rate to play 16 bit NPC-level humans cut in this generic music video style. There isn’t an ounce of originality in the script beyond the admittedly novel premise and I sat there watching it thinking ‘this is a seventy year old white guy’s idea of what a videogame looks like, after hearing about Pacman forty years earlier’. The fights, the stylized look, the colours, everything has been done better before and while it’s not the film’s fault, it pisses me off that people think this broke ground.

I don’t think I despised a movie more this decade to the point that even the clothes starting pissing me off. Honestly, I had a hard time finding a screenshot for the movie to include at the top of the post because looking at each one was making me more and more angry. But I wanted to feature that film as the featured image because I know how much everyone loves it – gotta get those clicks, bro!

Maybe it irked me so much because it’s so clearly aimed at someone like me, that it made me step back defensively and say ‘hold the fuck on – that’s what you think I am!? This is what the world sees me as!?’ It’s a film I should have loved, but it’s just an abhorrent shambles. Don’t get me started on the awful soundtrack either – if you have a film with performers as bland as Michael Cera, Anna Kendrick, and Jason Schwartzman, you just know the soundtrack is going to feature Beck. Throw in more failed Indie nobodies with less to say than Milli Vanilli and you have a film to watch the volume off.

After the first fight, you’ve seen all you need to. What the film doesn’t have the balls to say is that each and every character deserves to be pounded headfirst into a ? block before dropped down a pit with Game Over left on their blank tombstone.

Burlesque

Every so often, some wise-ass gets the great idea to bring the Musical back instead of letting it die and rot in the 1940s where it belongs. It’s a genre which simply doesn’t belong on screen anymore, unless you’re going to do something novel with it. Musicals on stage work – musicals on film don’t, and I can count the film musicals I tolerate (never mind enjoy) on one hand. Burlesque saw the bewildering success of Chicago and said ‘well, it’s been a few years, lets roll out the same shit again and see who falls for it this time’. It’s painful.

Once again in a musical we have a collection of songs that nobody who cares about music can honestly enjoy, once more it devolves into camp, and once more it delivers the promise of a story we’ve seen before played out by characters whose entire lives could fit under a child’s fingernail. When the primary purpose of your film is to showcase how well the human body can move in rhythmic time to a piece of music, you’ve failed as a film-maker. When the secondary purpose of your film is to show how well the human body looks in certain clothes, you have failed as a film-maker. While it should be fairly obvious that the Musical is not a genre I give two shits about, I can at least recognise when one is well-made versus one which isn’t. This is about as poor as the musical can get, with dialogue straight out of a instructional pamphlet written in Chinese and badly translated into English, and performances including Christina Aguilera’s – a wonderful showcase for her ability to wear make-up.

Chatroom

Hideo Nakata made one of my favourite movies of all time in Ringu. He has made some interesting films since then, none of which come remotely close to measuring up to that classic. Chatroom is a monstrosity arriving ten years too late and which seems even more outdated with each passing week. It’s a miracle that some of the cast members actually came out of this without the stench of shit following them. It makes next to no sense, it doesn’t understand its own script, and the actors seem to be in at least four different movies. How does the guy who did Ringu and Dark Water come out with something like this – a horror movie with zero attempt to build atmosphere and no scares? That’s an even bigger mystery than anything which happens in the film.

Rubber

Rubber makes my list, not only because it’s a bad film, but because it thinks it’s more clever than it is, and because a bunch of people fell for it. It’s a movie about a killer tyre – that’s more than enough to get me handing over my ill-gotten cash, and that’s what I want to see. Instead we get ham-fisted meta and everything trick employed to pad out the running time to ensure it’s not a short. If you’re a horror fan and you’ve heard someone talking about this movie – don’t waste your time with it – it’s not as good, or bad, or interesting as it sounds.

There you have it – some controversial choices to be sure. Let me feel your wrath in the comments, and feel free to share your most hated/least favourite films of 2010 below!