Biggest disappointments of 2010

Once again I sit down to right about the films I’ll look forward to most this year and I come across Transformers 3 and there is not a single part of me that wants to see it or has any hopes for its quality. Therefore, I am reassured. Surely the worst films of the year should be easily avoided! Just look for the Michael Bay brand of disillusionment. Yet what about the ones you don’t expect? For there is no greater tragedy than hope dashed for the deprived know not what they have missed. If you go into a film expecting badness (or Bayness), you will either be confirmed correct, in which case you are happy to see your expectations met and get to write a whiny online article about it, or pleasantly surprised at something you didn’t have much hope for. But a film you have even a modest amount of hope for is more than likely going to disappoint, such is the nature of expectation (unless it’s directed by Christopher Nolan who regards expectation as foreplay to the full body pile driver his films tend to be to the system). There are almost no guarantees that a film will be good. Flops can happen at any time, to anyone! Retrospectively everyone can predict the awfulness of The Phantom Menace, but at the time, Lucas could do no wrong and no one expected what we got. Then two short years later the Wachowski brothers also prove fallible. Where are were we to turn for our sci fi?! Sure Minority report was in there somewhere, but you know how flakey Spielberg is! He’s currently making Tin Tin, War horse and Robopocalypse! (None of which better involve a CG horse!) So before I lay out the films of the next twelve months (rapidly becoming eleven months) that I am most anticipating, I feel it pertinent to compile a list of films from last year that left us sulking into our popcorn (Oh, so Salty! I ordered sweet!)

5. Green Zone

This was sold as something to hold you over until they could figure out which country Bourne should next kick ass in and frankly we did need something. The next Bond movie is stuck in some sort of development hell, the video games have been more View to a Kill than Licence to Kill and Daniel Craig is still melting! How many summers is he really going to last? So where else am I meant to get a shot of sexy espionage? Salt?! You want me to watch Salt? No! You watch Salt. So Green zone was released and the advert said “From the Director of the Bourne Supremacy AND the Bourne Ultimatum” (Anyone remember United 93? NO, not enough grav maga), starring the star of BOURNE, a critic on the posters even said “This year’s bourne!”, which they also said about Traitor incidentally, and another guy said “BOURNE GOES EPIC!”. They could not have played up the Bourne simularities more in this film’s advertising. So what did we expect? Well it seemed like Damon would be betrayed by his superiors and then go rogue, stalking his pray and saying he’s watching them, then hanging up abruptly, awesome! But no, the film focuses on the search for WMDs and key military personnel in Iraq after the war. Not only does notborune feel that he is accomplishing nothing out in the desert, but also feels that the top brass are conspiring against the progress out there. At the same time there is conflict between said brass as some feel that their efforts should be to remodel the Iraqi army as a police force to maintain order and others don’t…because…THEY’RE EVIL! Mwahaha. So Notbourne, instead of going rogue and kicking ass, joins with the rational side of the American army and tries to find compromising evidence against the evil Iraqi haters who just want to steal all the Burkas to use as padding for their massive pipes, GOD I HATE THEM! Basically, it’s a very political movie, attempting to make some points about the war and the ongoing problems in the middle east. But despite the interesting central message, the acting is standard, the characters boring, the plot slow-moving and fairly by the numbers and the directorial flares act only to startle and blind the audience. If you’re overly curious about what fireworks look like from three inches in front of your face then I’m sure the final gunfight will prove less painful on the eyes than it was for the rest of us. But I wouldn’t mind these things, the movie was basically just dull and entirely not what the advertising promised, which was Taken, not Jarhead.

4. The Last exorcism

If you never saw this, you probably remember the posters. A grainy shot of a monochrome girl with dirty hair, gore dress and strained expression either tucked into a corner on the ceiling or bent straight over backwards in a creepy spider walk style pose. You either thought “No, no more Kerry Katona reality shows” or you actually read the poster and was intrigued. The trailers extended this creepy feeling. We find out this is going to be a first person POV movie like Blair Witch or Paranormal Activity. Remember how scary those are? This’ll be awesome! Lot’s of Bone crunching and running up walls and stuff, this’ll be like Emily Rose! That was creepy! Oh and Eli Roth is involved….awesome, I guess. So we all line up to see this great horror movie of the year (For all we knew Paranormal Activity 2 was going to be another book of shadows). The first thing we note is the lack of anything supernatural. The movie is entirely ambiguous as to what’s really wrong with the girl. It seems, though, she had sex and is now feeling guilty about it which manifests as some sort of malevolent demon entity (This IS a Kerry Katona reality show!). This is all fine, we love some ambiguity here at Nerds Get Bored,  and we also like the study of the impact of Christian beliefs on the mind (especially the negative ones). The movie presents some interesting things to think about. Where it falls down is the lack of scares. The atmosphere and build up is good but feels very lifted from other horror movies, especially the music (and we can question whether or not music had a place in this style of a film), and the build up doesn’t really pay off in any kind of way. The movie starts to drag on and then we are given the ending. Now the ending to Blair Witch is iconic. That little shot of the ground, hopelessly skipping frames is terrifying in it’s emptiness. Same goes for Paranormal activity and that body flying at the camera is such a powerful jump scare that it actually made me yelp like a small girl in a confessional. The ending to this movie, however, kills the ambiguity dead. She was possessed by the Devil, she gave birth to a goat thing, which they burned (seems the devil may have had better luck birthing a son if he fucked someone not also crazy and in the middle of the most fundamentally Christian parts of the world west of Jerusalem), the girl was evil and it would have been better had the redneck father shot her like he planned. It’s an ending that renders the whole movie pointless and ruins any of the redeeming qualities this movie may have had.

3. Robin Hood

God damn it Ridley Scott. We’ve touched upon Ridley’s declining career before on this site and it’s not looking good for the Alien Prequel as his latest film completely misses the point of this classic English myth from France. Originally Robin Hood was written by merchants to sell clothes (have you ever wondered why we know so much about what the men wore? Why everyone had colours or clothing in their names?) and to do so the merchants spun a yarn of great adventure, of noble deeds done dirt cheap and heroic actions from the working man’s hero who stole from he rich and gave to the poor. This character needed to be either a cartoon fox or Errol Flynn or at the very least be supported by one of the most awesome ballads of the 1980s, swinging through the window to do battle with a ridiculously over the top villain who represents whatever problem is currently facing the populous. We’re in a  recession people! Make the king close to the bankers, have Robin steal their bonuses and every one’s happy! Instead, well it’s Kingdom of Heaven essentially. Or Gladiator, or any of these historical epics that present big burley men solving problems by shouting and charging and occasionally revolutionising warfare by remembering to use the odd shield now and then. It’s just another historical action movie and frankly, I’m warming more towards the Conan style campness of Season of the which these days. Some “realistic” swordplay (realistic in that it doesn’t look any bloody good), lots of CG arrows and people falling off walls, and a very thin plot no one cares about later and we all stumble out of the cinema wanting Kevin Costner back, at least he didn’t try an accent. Sorry to seem repetitive, but I largely blame my problems with this movie on the marketing again. Almost every scene of that theatrical trailer is at the end of the movie. Essentially the film should have been called Robin Hood begins, with Robin being handed a card at the end with sheriff of Nottingham written on it. This is entirely not what the British have in mind when they think of their incredibly camp working class hero. This is what Americans have in mind when they look at their tiny penises and imagine who their wives would probably rather be sleeping with, then go out and shout at us until we support the right to bear bows and arrows.

2. The Expendables

Well how the hell could it not be? This is a poster with more names on it than an anti Uwe Boll petition and has induced more fan boy erections that Megan Fox reading Witchblade. But what’s surprising is just how disappointing it really was. This came nowhere close to being a decent action movie, even by the standards of each individual actor (I would very much rather watch Stop or my mom will shoot, the transporter, Romeo must die, master of the universe, or the condemned than this!). Arnie’s cameo was pretty sweet, though taking six hours to film is a bit fucking precious considering he had three lines, and in that six hours were these really the best reads they got out of this fucker? No wonder Californian economic policy is all over the place with this guy mumbling through the governor’s mansion. And the language barrier is a problem. There is some major exposition being passed here between a man with half a face, a man who sounded better dubbed, and a man who started acting after he retired from a career of getting punched in the face. The action is boring or incomprehensible and it really draws attention to one star of the action movies of the 80s and 90s that didn’t come back to this movie. The squib! Before CG became the rule and not the exception actors would simulate bullet shots by strapping explosives to themselves and by the looks of some of these things getting shot by a real bullet would have been preferable. If you shot someone in a Paul Verhoven movie, that fucker got shot! Arnie could pound a bullet into someone with a 9MM and the impact would look as if he’d personally punched the round into the guys chest with his massive ham like fists. The CG gore in this movie is laughable. I have actually seen trailers for this movie, during the day, showing the shotgun death at the beginning of the movie in full detail. It looks so fake, there is no problem with it being shown during an episode of Malcolm in the Middle. And the final death would have looked more real if the dagger had been plunged into the actors armpit. Now Stallone is mumbling something about a sequel, or maybe something about cereal, I don’t fucking know, but what I do know is that I will be very reluctant to see another movie based on its star power.

1. The Tourist

Until the following December that is, when Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp faced off in a personality hiding championship in the Tourist, a movie with less charm than a Glaswegian fruit salesman. Some movies can suggest from the first minute that this is going to be a good experience and a little bit special. In this movie the very first moments of Angelina Jolie walking down a road in whilst a talentless surveillance team stare at her arse told us that this was going to be an ordeal. The movie was quite a deep psychological exploration of the lives of your average surveillance team as we discovered what it is like to spy on incredibly dull people who some fucker getting paid ten times your wage decided might be interesting to watch. The movie follows the botoxed exoskeleton onto a train where she encounters the painfully awkward and poorly written character Johnny Depp is slumming in whilst he gets away from Penelope Cruz for a few weeks (this could NOT have taken longer than that to shoot. They certainly didn’t pause for any flubbed lines). She seduces him and tries to make the FBI think that Depp is in fact her unseen boyfriend, an espionage mother fucker who stole lots of money from a nasty, nasty man who shoots people because he’s so nasty! It then transpires in the final five minutes that Depp IS the unseen boyfriend, espionage mother fucker! Now this twist would be fairly predictable were we not so desperate for it not to be the case! This is another ending that makes the film meaningless. This wasn’t the story of a bewildered American in a situation beyond his control, trying to do the best with what he could. NO! He was the suave spy all along and now they can sail off into the sunset having wasted several weeks of their time and several hours of ours. Essentially, there was no Tourist! Everyone knew what was going on the whole time. Also, why wasn’t  first line after he revealed himself “So what’s up with you being all over my cock when you didn’t know it was me? What if you’d picked someone else on the train?! If Tom Cruise had been on that train would you be in his cellar by now?” I immediately had to go see another movie after this to flush it out of my system. Luckily it was The American, which may well have affected my judgement as to its quality. Perhaps had I seen Furry Vengeance or the Tooth Fairy before The Tourist, I may have been more favourable. As it happens I will be taking a copy of Inception on my PSP to every screening to act as a chaser to some of the truly dire films that await us in 2011.

Luckily we here in England get to spend January watching all the good movies that America enjoyed last month, so there’s still time for me to submit my most anticipated movies of 2011 list without it seeming utterly ridiculous. I’m sure something Oscar related will be up soon too, so keep an eye out! Also, you’re penis. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to listen to Brian Adams.

P for Procrastinating.

Best films of 2010

Hello all! I was just making my list of the films I’m looking forward to most from 2011, and realised I hadn’t ripped off this little idea that has been done by every single internet reviewer. Now I’m afraid this isn’t a list by both of us, as K has recently become overly distracted by her attempts to become a teacher or a fireman or some shit. If she had contributed I can only imagine Piranha 3D would be making an appearance for its liberal application of ass to our screens (all about the booty, that chic) and to be fair the appearance of the legendary Gianna Michaels would probably be enough for me to include it too. But I’m sure she will approve of the judgements I have made here. And perhaps you will too! Perhaps not. If so you’re wrong and I hate you.

Now before we begin I have to explain that there are a few massively well received films that came out this year that for one reason or another I haven’t seen. Whether I be busy with university shit (Scott Pilgrim, Let me in, Alice in Wonderland), them not being my thing (Kings speech, tangled, harry potter), or if the makers just like shafting the UK right in its over abused asshole by delaying the release dates (True Grit, Black Swan, 127 hours (Et Tu Boyle? You’re fucking english!)). So this list is to the best of my abilities and knowledge. I may update it as I see more (secret of Kells on the to do list).

I’d also like to express some honourable mentions and genuinely pleasant surprises of the year that weren’t quite pleasant enough to get on the list. Rare Exports: a christmas movie, which I expected to be a dumb horror flick on par with Black Christmas and the like, turned out to be a very interesting little story about the darker side of the Christmas myth, namely what happens if you’ve been naughty? Devil was fairly crap but very funny and kept me interested for its runtime. Red was crazy and despite going on for far too long had some very pleasurable moments. The way back managed to make a lot out of very little as the minimal plot managed to keep me enthralled and deeply invested in the epic journey. Knight and Day turned out not to be a fairly decent and funny action flick and not the cringe worthy, self-satisfied mess I predicted (unlike another film of this year!), and Predators managed to squeeze in some old-fashioned thrills and an affectionate homage to the original. None of these ever stood a chance of making the list, but they didn’t make me mourn for the £7.50 I spend seeing them either.

Also, I would have included Buried on this list but two days ago I got this letter from some creep asking me to put it high on the list. So fuck him and it.

10. Monsters

A few of the films on my list are surprisingly divisive, and it seems this is one of them. With only 65% on IMDB, I still contend that this was one of the most entertaining films I saw this year. Journalist Andrew Kaulder is asked by his boss to escort his daughter, Samantha, back to the states. The only problem is that six years ago a probe landed in northern Mexico, contaminating it with a quickly evolving alien life form that proceeds to cause chaos for the nearby citizens. The film follows their increasingly desperate attempts to escape and make it through the Quarantine zone. The characters are flawed. They are foolish and naive and sometimes downright stupid. Yet they are also quite likeable and the sense of danger invoked feels very real. Not showing too much of the enemy again proves to be an effective trick as we initially see very little of the aliens which enhances their menacing quality. The ending is ambiguous which is actually quite upsetting as we are left to ponder our heroes fate.

09. Shutter Island

Scorsese directs horror you say? Wow! Count me in! But we didn’t get clever scares or sudden jumps. This wasn’t a horror film in the strictest sense as it was advertised. Leonardo DiCaprio plays Teddy Daniels, a 1950s detective who arrives on Shutter Island to investigate the disappearance of a patient from the islands mental institution. The film is full of intrigue as we are given more and more clues as to the island’s purpose and Teddy’s reasons for being on the island. The atmosphere is very well crafted, establishing a sense of paranoia that keeps the audience double guessing everything right up to the somewhat farfetched twist and beyond into the chilling implications of Leo’s final line. I’ve always thought the best way to keep a film in your mind after you’ve seen it is to have an ambiguous ending, or somethin open ended to be discussed and theorised on. It just increases the rewatch value as viewers encourage different friends to see it to guage their reaction. A very fine thriller from Scorsese.

08. Four Lions

I love Chris Morris. That’s probable not a great fact to start with as it will undoubtedly immediately activate the “bias” alarms in your heads, but I feel it has to be said. I do love Chris Morris and everything he has done, from his writing for Nathan Barley and The Day today to his absurd performances in The IT crowd and Brass eye (is it just me, or does he make a very attractive woman?). So when he finally finished his debut film I was eager to go see it with my friend Paul, my History lecturer and his girlfriend….who wouldn’t! The film was hilarious. Tackling dangerous subject matter in a satirical and humourous way with great performances and potent implications. The story follows a group of Muslim fundamentalists in England as they aspire to be martyrs for their cause. Hilarity actually does ensue as the muslims are shown to be ridiculous and absurd in their efforts. However as well as being very funny with many memorable visual gags, one liners and dark moments, the film also shows the four suicide bombers as being very human and the story is actually very tragic. Throughout the whole thing you become more and more eager to see these characters drop these beliefs and in humanising the muslim characters it is more effectively anti-fundamentalist than most all out attacks on the ideology. It’s just surprising that one of the most politically relevant films of the year is also one of the most funny and enjoyable.

07. The Town

It’s a film directed by Ben Affleck, starring Ben Affleck! ….where did you go? Selling this movie to serious enthusiasts is no easy sell. However the intrigue offered by the advertisement for this film tempted us into the cinemas and, surprisingly, we were not disappointed…unless we expected it to suck, then we were disappointed…but in a good way….it was good! The plot regards a small town in Boston that for economic and social reasons suffers a great number of bank robberies each year. The focus is on Affleck (OMG! REALLY?) who actually provides an interesting performance (the line between restrained and wooden is paper-thin, but he’s on the good side of it…this time) as a robber who has fallen in love with the teller of the last job and wants to quit the life to be with her as his former comrades goad him into his biggest job yet. The characters are well written and perfectly acted by a very talented cast, and the difficulty of Affleck’s choice is rendered well and his predicament is understandable as he has to choose between freedom and responsibility. Complaints come in as the film is strikingly unoriginal. We’ve all seen the wire now, and various heist movies that achieve much of the same things, and the revelation of what happened to Affleck’s father is a bit narmy. But the pace is good, with fair amounts of tension.  The action scenes are frantic and fun, recalling such realistic shaky cam shootouts as seen in Heat and every action film since heat. Ultimately, It’s one of the best surprises of the year.

06. The American

I managed to see this a little early at the BFI film festival (oh did you now? You fuckin’ yuppie!), but I didn’t quite get into the premier with George Clooney (oh boo hoo), instead getting to the mattinee. The only advantage of this is that I got to see it before any of my friends and consequently had no one to talk about it with…worth the money! But I did really enjoy the film. The pace is very laid back and the plot fairly simple as we follow Clooney as he is commissioned to make a rifle for an assassin whilst lying low after blowing his cover by sleeping with some chick. If there is a word that describes this film, it is sexy. All the actors are sexy, Clooney is sexy, the small italian town where the film is set is sexy, the priest is sexy….right? Everything is very italian and very, very sexy. Everyone is naked, all the time, especially when their clothed. Everyone seems to have been cast by how perfect their ass is and yet the acting seems very sweet and genuine. It is a bit self-centered (Clooney? Never!) as we see Clooney swanning about Italy doing press ups and being moody, but ultimately it works and this very minimalist film offered a great deal of thrills, especially in its climax.

05. Kick Ass

It’s in the title! This movie was really just a way for me and my friend Andy to waste some time one afternoon and neither of us expected to fall in love with it. The story is pretty basic. Nerdy kid becomes superhero. Yet where this film differs is that the nerd actually decided to become a superhero. He didn’t inherit any powers through any accident, except maybe some lazy pain receptors after a car crash, and has very little defense against the enemies he pits himself against. The protagonist was recently listed on Cracked.com as one of the characters who actually makes his situation worse by getting involved. However the spirit in which he acts if very admirable and the character is inherently identifiable. Nicholas Cage puts in a very fun performance and Adam West impression as big daddy, the awesome vision of Batman if he used guns. Mark Strong is a menacing opponent and his son Chris played by Christopher Mintz-Plasse is very funny. Add to this a little girl with knives who swears alot and you’ve got yourself an instant classic, full of laughs, gore and kick ass action.

04. The Social Network

David Fincher has a nack for producing some of the most interesting films of any given year. All tend to feel subdued in their handling of intriguing stories and subtle characters. The Social Network is the turbulent story of Mark Zuckerberg the inventor of Facebook. The film starts with some very snappy dialogue as Mark gets dumped for reasons that seem very obvious. The character is very flawed and perfectly played by Jesse Eisenberg, portraying the darker side of the nerd! A few elements are a little at odds with reality. Zuckerberg being such an enthusiastic student of Havard and desperate to join their exclusive clubs, when in reality he eventually dropped out and was fairly indifferent to the clubs. This may seem a fairly small point but it does link in to a problem I had with the movie. Namely that it does feel very elitist. These are all Harvard students, the website is for Harvard students and only Havard students, and of course most people aren’t Harvard students or even university graduates at all. So that can isolate you from the character a little.  The film makes a point of insisting that facebook have no advertising and be very exclusive, without showing the inevitable transition to being ad-ed up the ass and opening its doors to entirely fictional characters created by me and K (one of whom hasn’t even added me, the stuck up bitch). The film is surprisingly funny and manages to be a coming of age movie, legal drama and character study all at once.

03. Winter’s bone.

Bleak. This film has the immediate and powerful trait of making you feel much better about your life and problems. The film is about Ree Dolly, a 17 year old girl living with her mentally incapacitated mother and two young siblings. Her father has gone missing and has put up their house for bail. If he doesn’t return in time for his court date, then the house will be repossessed, leaving the family nowhere to go. Ree must therefore confront her threatening, drug dealer family and its dangerous associates about her father’s whereabouts. The sense of danger that surrounds these very human characters is very powerful and in a situation where everything seems to be wrong or twisted, the film actually manages to be a little optimistic in it’s ending. The writing is beautiful and the direction is perfect in creating the cold tone of the american back woods. Bleak, but very beautiful.

02. Toy Story 3

We finally hit the mainstream with our final two entries. Toy story 3 comes ten years after the last toy story. Anyone who was old enough to really want to go and see the last one is now in their late teens or early twenties and I think that is a really nice touch, as we can identify with the main theme of the movie, which is getting older and realising that some things need to be put behind us (he says as he nudges his foot reassuringly against the nerf gun under his desk). Andy is going to college and the loveable gang face an uncertain future in the attic, when they are suddenly and mistakenly donated to the Sunnyside day care centre which proves to be more than it seems. Still very sweet and with lots of lovely homages and references to things kids can discover when they’re older (like prison escape movies), the film manages to be funny and charming enough for the whole family to enjoy, a trait that Pixar and Disney can accomplish like no other. Also, Totoro is in it for a bit, which ups the cuteness to a whole new level! God Damn I love Ghibli.

01. What do you think?

The whole world has started paying attention to Christopher Nolan. The indy crowd got hold of him when he was producing classics like Memento and Insomnia. The mainstream fans were wowed by the batman movies. Everyone anticipated his next movie, which after the commercial success of the dark knight was almost sure to have received a blank cheque (fuck french) from the studios. So what would the man do with all this freedom? He gave us one of the most original, exciting, intelligent and stylish action-sci fi movies since the matrix. And just as the matrix saw me donning trench coats and black jeans for most of my teens, I’m guessing my twenties will feature many a waistcoat. The movie involves Cobbs, a very unusual thief who is able to hack into your dreams and steal your secrets. The dream world is portrayed as being very grounded and realistic. Afterall how many of us really dream in abstract fantasy art? Nobody! You dream in gritty monotone just like the rest of reality and you don’t even know it’s a dream until you wake up! Lots of little touches about dream logic give this reality credibility and theories regarding the effect of weightlessness on the sleeping mind results in one of the best corridor fight scenes since oldboy. The acting is a little stiff and the characterisation of anyone except the lead is a little lackluster, but in terms of adrenaline and style this movie is second to none. And it’s not as complicated as everyone says so don’t be scared to see it. It’s just fiddly. That’s all!

And that’s it! The top ten movies of the last year! Stay tuned (can you tune the internet? Stay….connected?) for the most anticipated films of the next year, which unfortunately can’t include Black Swan or True Grit since they’re technically last year even though they’re not here yet….why do americans hate England? We let you run yourselves! That was cool of us, right?