19 February 2017

MOVIES I COULDN'T FINISH


This is a category I have actually been meaning to start for a while. I watch lots of movies but the truth is I finish only about half of the ones I start anymore. I am getting older and I have seen who knows how many movies in my life. At one time I tended to finish almost everything I started but in recent years I find myself getting bored or dissatisfied or even downright irritated by a film I have either just began or got to about the halfway mark on. Even with the idea in mind that I could just finish and then review it as a motivator I found I just cannot often finish some movies, even after multiple restarts. Perhaps with age comes a sense of feeling a bit jaded and cynical and having an idea, from experience, of where this train wreck is headed. The same old place all train wrecks end up. Sometimes it is simply the technical quality of the film. Often the cinematography can set me off quickly. I do not like shaky cam work or washed out, videoish looking film textures, or long arty ass static shots. Found footage films are out 99% of the time. Sometimes the acting and script is too lame for me to endure for 90 minutes or more. Sometimes it might be the pacing of the film and even a film with a big name cannot salvage the poor editing. It may be too slow or even too fast for me. slower tends to be better than rapid, choppy editing for me. Sometimes something may simply be too contrived and formulaic. Even the music score can set me off for some reason. 

In fact I am often not sure why I just give up on a film quickly but here I attempt to explore some of the possibilities. The only real "rule" here for me in selecting a film is that I expected the movie to be half way decent or entertaining before going into it. If I start a film that is most likely some low budget slasher flick of the slumber party or teen camp out variety I know what I am for and go in with low expectations and am less likely to be put off and even more likely to finish the film. If I am led to believe the film might be something special, because of the presence of a certain actor or the director's name, and then it fizzles quickly for me then it may wind up here. Also, if I tired to restart the film a few times and still find myself unable to endure it to the end then it might wind up here. I also will not do that much research into any of these as I am not sure what the point would be in doing that. I am also not saying other people may not enjoy the film and should not try it. I am just slightly fascinated with this habit I have of being able to finish only about half of the movies I start anymore. And with that in mind lets see the four films I selected for this post (each post will have four entries):

OUTLAWS AND ANGELS: I guess for me the last great American western movie was The Unforgiven, and Clint Eastwood was the last real cowboy actor. This movie featured his daughter Francesca in a role, so I was curious simply because of the Eastwood name. It is the first feature film by writer/director JT Mollner and I do not know who one other cast member is. In fact I do not even know which one was Francesca. It is in the style of many of the newer westerns and seems to be more inspired by Quentin Tarantino’s abysmal contributions to the genre than anything by Eastwood, Sam Peckinpah or John Ford. The first opening shots seemed promising but that all soon fizzled. The opening of the western town at the beginning with two hookers talking about stuff like anal sex and the choppily edited bank holdup scene, complete with an attempted retro style, but utterly corny, title sequence, just had me struggling to keep going. The dialog was trying hard to sound cowboy but sounded like a clueless city dude making up hillbilly dialogs. The violence was gratuitous and excessive without craft, and the deaths elicited still more corny dialog from the characters trying hard to act and show emotion. I figured the film was going to be something in the end where the gang of murderous bandits were going to hole up in hiding at the farm house shown at the beginning, where some young and troubled farm girls lived, and that there was going to some twist as in the hunters becoming the hunted or something like that. I assumed there wold be weird sexual situations as well. From some briefs reviews I read later it seems that is exactly what was going to happen, and that could have been a good story. A good story, maybe, in more capable hands.  The weak writing, direction, and acting just put me to where I could not make it past about the 20 minute mark. I understand the film degenerates into some sort of ultra-violent deviant sexual miasma in no time.  The music did not fit a western at all and seemed way too modern in spots. I think this quote from IMDb, where it got a merciful 5.3 rating, by astute user mike3368 hits the nail on the head: 

As an aging Western fan, just consider me a lone sentinel standing watch against this current spate of other movie genres masquerading as Westerns. THIS MOVIE IS NOT A WESTERN. This movie contains a purely pornographic plot and script, even if the visuals might somehow escape an XXX-rating . . . its R-rating makes a joke of the MPAA film rating system. It is almost impossible to find a shred of redeeming value in this movie . . . perhaps it was the oddity of finding the beautiful daughter of Clint Eastwood, Francesca Eastwood, appearing on screen with her mother in a cameo role, Frances Fisher – "Unforgiven" (1992). Well, the dialog was so mumbled, so garbled, so poorly delivered and edited that much of it was unintelligible . . . and that is a good thing. This movie works diligently to destroy everything we Americans regard as sacred, e.g., parenthood, Christianity, family, home, and childhood. Retribution? There is none. Director J. T. Mollner's first full-length movie, and maybe his last?

We can only hope. 



THE DAISY CHAIN: This film is from 2008 and stars Samantha Morton who is supposed to be a decent actress but I usually do not care for her work. She does seem to be able to act and it might just be the films I have seen her in that annoy me, like this one. I just did not want to see another annoying kid movie, and it was clear that that was what this was going to be. Not only an annoying and evil child movie, but also one set in a boring ass seaside town in boring ass Ireland, and so I would have to listen to that grating Irish accent all through the film. I had sat through all of the Babadook and endured that fucking annoying brat thinking something might come of it all in the end and when it never did I swore I would not endure another evil kid movie. I felt there might be something to this film and even made some screen captures as I was watching it thinking it might deserve a longer review after I finished it. But by about 30 minutes into the movies I realized I was on my third setting of trying to watch it. I took it off my old iPad once and then put it back on later for one more go and after a few minutes I just could not stand it any longer. The awful Irish accent, the bleak boring setting, the waves crashing over and over in the background, the dismal boring little cottage on the cliff, the awful Irish accent, the bratty child and her evil secret that Samantha Morton’s character is too dumb or blind to see, and of course the awful Irish accent. The film was very slow and boring and bleak in that unforgiving Irish sort of way. It got a 5.1 on IMDb and that is about right. I just do not like evil kid flicks any more. They are not scary in a real Satanic spirit sort of, they are just evil in that way that all kids are basically evil and annoying. And well, when it is a kid with an Irish accent, there you go. 

DETACHMENT: This is a story about a depressed looking school teacher who takes up a teaching position at a school full of angry, aggressive and ethnically challenged students who are dead set on not learning and want to make the teacher’s life a living hell. After working ten years in China as a teacher and knowing the sense of futility a teacher can experience with even passive students I just could not deal with it. The burned out teacher with a jaded credo against the classroom of rebellious gangsta wannbe teenage thugs is just one genre I have never cared for. I liked a few of the angry young men movies from 60’s Britain but I just could not handle Brody’s long face and longer nose looking out into a room full of angry ghetto rats for the next two hours. After the obligatory contentious and overly critical progressive female school principal character was added to further make his cursed life more miserable I opted to bail out after about 20 minutes. Why would I want to watch that? Despair and depression are not fun. Did he win over the kids in the end? I don’t know. I don’t want to know. I don’t care. Just so happy I went to school back in the 60’s and 70’s is all I get from these sort of films. It gets a 7.7 on IMDb no doubt because depression and unending, uncomfortable conflict are seen as arty, topical and controversial topics for most people. I have never gone in for all of that myself, And hell, how depressing can it really be? I ain't even in B/W or French!


JOHN WICK: Maybe 20 minutes before I pulled the plug on this one that a lot of people really like (a decent 7.2 on IMDb) and probably in so small part due to the fact it stars Keanu Reeves. To be honest I never thought Keanu was a good actor although I admit he has charisma and fantastic looks. His best stuff was his early teenage angst films and The Matrix. I often check out a film if he is in it. I consider his presence a recommendation. I like the guy a lot though I just feel he is an average actor in terms of ability. But this and the weird Eli Roth film Knock Knock makes me wonder what is up with the guy. Bad choices as far as I am concerned and are no better roles being tossed his way any longer? Once an actor begins making films where the poster art shows him pointing a hand gun towards the camera one can figure his serious dramatic acting days are over.  This film was so contrived I could not stand it. His wife dies of cancer. He becomes the broken man, a shadow of who he used to be,  flirting with self-destruction. This is proven by the fact he drives his cool Ford Mustang around in reckless doughnuts while barely missing trucks and bull dozers then beating on the steering wheel.  What guy has not been there? His not dead wife leaves him a cute little dog he should have named Plot Device. Soon a bunch of bad, ruthless Russian dudes want his car and when he says no (and called one a bitch I think) they break into his upscale house,  beat him, steal his car and kill his little cute pooch. And all of this is like in the first ten minutes of the movie.  So I wonder what the next hour and a half will involve? Maybe this guy tracking down the nasty Russian dudes and killing them off one by one? It is clear the guy has a past that makes him lethal. He broods a lot and talks in sentences of three or four words. I first thought it was like CIA or Black Ops, but he was once a hitman it seems. Retired now of course, but in movies there is always something to drag the once dangerous character back of retirement. And killing his puppy ranks up there at the top of the list. The problem for me was I did not buy Reeves as this sort of character. Not at all. Just like I did not buy him as a serial killer in The Watcher. This is a Charles Bronson type role and not one for Ted of Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure fame. I didn’t buy him in this one and the plot is lackluster B-Movie fodder, something for someone like the new frozen faced Mickey Rourke to cover. 

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