Reflecting on 2015, Part 1: The worst films

January 1, 2016

amy-schumer-trainwreck

I tend to avoid the rubbish Hollywood produces to sell the popcorn and its over-priced 3D premium upgrades, so you won’t find well-known crap like Terminator Genisys and Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 on this list. I try to seek out films that at least appear to have potential to be good and/or are well-reviewed. Still, that doesn’t mean I don’t get suckered into some disappointments.

Among the Hollywood films I had higher hopes for in 2015 were TrainwreckAmy Schumer’s big screen debut as not only a lead but a screenwriter. I found the movie to be forced and not as funny as it was hyped to be. The editing was particularly terrible, revealing sentimentality for improvised lines over an interest in consistent storytelling. Then it all ended in typical precious Hollywood sincerity. There was also too much made over The Danish Girl, which sealed my judgement with an idiotically romanticized scene of closure with a fucking flying scarf and the words “Let it fly!”

These are all the easy targets, however. My disappointments include well-respected directors, indie darlings and several screenings at Miami Dade College’s Miami International Film Festival. To be fair with MIFF, a festival of about 200 films, it can only be as good as the films you can actually see during the festival’s week and a half run. I was also on a jury where I was assigned movies to watch. It’s also not really fair to single out some of the weaker movies that somehow made it into the program. Some are obscurities that will never get U.S. distribution yet offer distinct voices for the countries that produced them. So I won’t note some particularly disappointing experiences from Venezuela and Spain.

That said, I do feel obliged to single out a couple of titles. Oscar-winning Danish director Susanne Bier returned to the fest with the obnoxiously preposterous A Second Chance. It’s a ludicrous film featuring the talented actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who plays a police detective pulling “the old switcheroo” with a baby he finds in a drug addicted couple’s filthy home and the body of his and wife’s dead infant. Then there was the festival’s big award winner, Las oscuras primaveras (Obscure Spring). I had high hopes for this Mexican film, but it turned out to be utterly contrived and overly serious. I was surprised to see the jury fall for it. You can read my review in the Miami New Times here. And I was glad to find The Hollywood Reporter’s film critic prove that I did not stand alone in my complaints: read Jonathan Holland’s review here.

Still, these were not the worst films I saw in 2015. Here in ranked order, are the biggest disappointments for this writer in 2015:

5. Z for Zachariah

ZFZPOSTER1433438299

The pedigree was right for this one. Director Craig Zobel, whose previous movie I admired (Compliance reveals horrific dimensions of social behavior – a film review), had three fine actors at his disposal. Unfortunately, the original story by Robert C. O’Brien was changed so much that it not only lost its relevance but lost its sense.

Read my review: Z For Zachariah can’t overcome shortcomings to live up to its concepts — a film review

4. The Hateful Eight

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I’ve loved so many films by Quentin Tarantino. Though I was generally positive about Django Unchained (Film review: ‘Django Unchained’ celebrates myth and history with humor and horror), for the first time I had some serious issues with a Tarantino movie. My main problem was that it could have used some editing. But here is the monstrosity that results in terrible self-indulgence: The Hateful Eight.

Read my review: The Hateful Eight is just a tiresome exercise in drawing out mean caricatures of annoying people — a film review

3. Sicario

Final Poster

Canadian director Denis Villeneuve always shows so much great potential in his movies. So far all of them have succumbed to fundamental flaws in story-telling. You have to look beyond his film’s often stellar cinematography, but once you do, you will understand that his scripts are plagued with terrible issues. Sicario tries to say something deep but can only help but scratch at a surface that only reveals ignorance and ends with a mere tasteless stretch of Hollywood closure with a climax that caves to its own evils.

Read my review with Ana Morgenstern: Sicario romanticizes revenge in gritty Hollywood take on US/Mexican drug war — a film review

2 and 1. Love and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

love_poster_1-620x875Me and Earl poster

These two are so close to call because both made me want to walk out. Both are also stories of young people stumbling with an affection for the opposite sex who fall short for their own egos. Both directors take themselves so damn seriously that all they reveal is their own annoying self-importance. Both filmmakers have growing up to do before they can cast backward glances at growing up and avoiding so much overwrought, self-indulgent cinema.

Read my reviews:

Love is flawed in almost every cinematic way possible — a film review

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl reduces friendship and death to sentiment and tokenism — A film review

Hans Morgenstern

(Copyright 2016 by Hans Morgenstern. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)

7 Responses to “Reflecting on 2015, Part 1: The worst films”

  1. table9mutant Says:

    Great list. I’m really disappointed about what people are saying about The Hateful Eight. I was looking forward to that (out next week here). 😦 I also wanted to see Me & Earl – sounds like I didn’t miss much. And I’m probably just immature but that Love poster grosses me out too much so I doubt I’d watch it! Ew. Spit. 🙂

    • Hans Says:

      lol. That Love poster perfectly represents the 3D abuse in the movie (it doesn’t take much imagination). Glad I’m not alone about the Hateful Eight. I know a few other dissenters, too. My points feel validated. Because worse than the editing is its morality. It’s quite repugnant.

      • table9mutant Says:

        Hmm. I really don’t like the sound of it now. 😦 Oh well – I guess Tarantino had to have a bad one eventually!

      • Hans Says:

        I mean, a lot of people are liking it. I recall you and I disagreed on Wolf of Wall Street, so maybe you will like it after all? The film has its moments, just not enough of them as a whole. It’s the first time I can say that about a Tarantino movie: that the bad moments outweigh the good. Then the overall message is a bit too nihilistic.

      • table9mutant Says:

        Oh… Yeah! Good memory! Yes, I did love Wolf Of Wall Street although I normally hate it when characters are SO hateful. I just love Leo & thought he was great. I’m pretty sure I won’t like The Hateful Eight from what I’ve read, though. Shame. :-/


  2. Agreed, was looking forward to Me, Earl and the Dying Girl. Hated it. Kinda like the author didn’t wanna write a sequel, so she killed the girl.


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