Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The 10 Worst Movies Of 2013

10. LONE SURVIVOR (d. Peter Berg)
The opening of Peter Berg’s supposed passion project (he volunteered for “Battleship” to get this off the ground – pound of flesh) is actual footage of Navy SEAL training. And as the heroic Explosions In The Sky score suggests, this is the origin of heroes, of men who will shape the world through brawn and attitude. And then the footage continues, and it begins to get a bit frightening. Suddenly, these troops are being cursed at, deprived of oxygen, tied up and brutalized. This montage ends in these soldiers graduating from the academy and meeting with friends and family, smiles on their faces. And then the next segment of footage, befitting the title, features a helicopter returning to base with one soldier, bleeding to death, punctured and annihilated. That’s the philosophy of modern war films, where we show the sacrifices the troops make without ever extolling the virtues of what we’re fighting for in the first place. The rest of “Lone Survivor,” believe it or not, is even more punishing, as a team of SEALS end up in an unwinnable situation and proceed to get torn up in some of the most visceral gun violence ever on the big screen. I’m not sure what this movie is really about, but it was a lot like getting shot at for two hours.

9. DRACULA 3D (d. Dario Argento)
What is this contemporary anti-art that is Dario Argento’s “Dracula 3D”? This retro retelling of the legendary saga pretends that there’s never been a Dracula movie made before, framing the action against a green screen background that wouldn’t pass muster on a PBS show and stranding poor, possibly sick Rutger Hauer with prose that no actor can sell. It’s bad in a post-modern way, where you find it hard to imagine that it’s being acted out by the likes of Hauer and Asia Argento, and not a couple of castoffs from the “Tim And Eric” world. At the very least, there is a sequence with a CGI praying mantis that ranks as one of the few moments this year where I honestly believed I was hallucinating in the theater.

8. BLACK ROCK (d. Kate Aselton)/YOU’RE NEXT (d. Adam Wingard)
I want this to be about the movies. I do. I want to talk about how these two films are byproducts of the horrid mumblecore era, one that has produced some strong films and a couple of great filmmakers, but has also resulted in a bunch of inorganically inarticulate films about people suffering from arrested development. I want to talk about how both films are joyless, pointlessly brutal, idiotic horror films that, befitting the mumblecore ethos, look like absolute shit. “You’re Next” peppers in some amusing humor, but it’s loaded with so much more shaky-cam bullshit than “Black Rock” that it’s basically a dead heat.

But again, and I am really not a trooper for this sort of thing, but both films feature disillusioned, psychopathic army vets as the villains. And there’s not one iota of believable character development to illustrate the mindsets of these rapey assholes. In “Black Rock” they’re dumbass blunt instruments, howling at the sky and firing wildly after three innocent girls. And in “You’re Next,” they’re killers for hire, mercenaries who walk into a Kevin McCallister trap because they were paid by someone to take out a miserable family of rich assholes. I have no qualms with negative depictions of the armed forces provided they’re interesting, three-dimensional portrayals. But when you just throw in some Fallujah, some racism, sexism, and general friendly-fire hate, you just look exactly what Aselton and Wingard are: a couple of attractive white filmmakers who hated every day they had to punch a clock, and who openly scoff when someone says “Support The Troops.” Maybe next time make a competent, good-looking, interesting film, and we can talk about your hatred for the armed forces and your feeble, de-politicized critique of the military-industrialized complex.