contrary to popular belief (and just about all evidence offered up on this here blog), i don't particularly revel in disliking things. so let's get the hate out of the way early on, and hop directly to what i consider to be the very worst, worst, worstest films of 2008! huzzah.
in no particular order:
EAGLE EYE: damn. how anyone can gripe about a brief shot of shia swinging his way through the jungle in this year's unfairly maligned episode of indiana jones and not be absolutely gob-socked (yeah, gob-socked. that's a word on this blog) by the entirety of this film... is beyond me. i might find Y: the Last Man to be facile beyond all comprehension, but even i am offended that they're letting D.J. Caruso anywhere near it. yikes.
GRAN TORINO: really, people??? accolades?? for this? i was at the first or second screening of this film, before there'd been much if any of a chance for early reactions to leak out... and i am shocked that the fits of giggles i experienced during this eye-roller of a blunder haven't become the norm. from clint's forced and completely unbelievable reaction to his granddaughter's belly-button ring at his wife's funeral to... well, all of the mannerisms and stupefyingly obvious conversations the other characters muck around in, this thing is just a joke. eastwood's flaccid direction does nothing to distract from characters so stiflingly archetypical that they make the cut-outs in slumdog millionaire resemble overflowing channels of pointed human pathos. among the most predictable films of the year until... clint sings. yikes.
HAMLET 2: just arid.
THE SIGNAL: harry knowles and the rest of his cronies owe me $11 for this piece o' poo. the first two episodes have their moments, however brief those moments might be... but the whole enterprise is entirely devoid of interesting ideas, and the last chapter must violate some seldom-discussed protocol of the geneva convention. it must.
CHARLIE BARTLETT: i hated this when it was called (or at least in the vein of) igby goes down, and now i hate it even more. it's a minor miracle that robert downey jr. managed to appear in this and still have a career year.
SEX AND THE CITY: i never cared for the show (and found its effects on certain members of my generation to be as devastating as they are irrevocable), but i watched it anyway. all of it. cause that's how i roll. like john ford, i know my enemy. but this movie is without an iota of whatever little grace and wit the show had about it. all lost in hideous, bloated translation. hokey and forced beyond all comprehension, not a single moment of this dreck plays as anything more than money grab. this is what happens when you neatly tie up a bunch of stories and then are paid a gotham crime mob-sized pile of money to untie them in as ungainly a fashion as possible without saying anything remotely perceptive about the ways in which adult relationships of any kind aren't static. also, if there's a film that partitioned history into pre / post-recession, this is it. and seriously... samantha flies across the country something like 912 times during this film. i'd re-watch it for a more accurate count, but in that time i could fly across the country something like 912 times.
and the worst movie of the year... and really no opposition to this opinion will be considered valid cause... seriously... did you even see this???
well, i really just need to let m. night speak for himself here. if the following exchange doesn't mean anything to you... you are both fortunate and missing out on one of my very favorite things the year 2008 gifted me with.
Elliot Moore: If we're going to die, I want you to know something. I was in the pharmacy a while ago. There was a really good-looking pharmacist behind the counter. Really good-looking. I went up and asked her where the cough syrup was. I didn't even have a cough, and I almost bought it. I'm talking about a completely superfluous bottle of cough syrup, which costs like six bucks.
Alma Moore: Are you joking?
[Elliot nods his head]
Alma Moore: Thank you.
okey dokey. now that that's out of the way...
honorable mentions for my FAVORITE films of 2008 after the jump! huzzah.
SPARROW - Johnnie To - good, classy, breezy fun from the reigning master of contemporary hong kong cinema.
INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL - yup. this thing moves and it moves goooood. also, CATE.
TOKYO! - this is an odd duck... the first portion of this omnibus (michel gondry's contribution) is just... beautiful. the 2nd bit is... something i'm not likely to forget any time soon, and the masterful bong joon-ho's closing segment is somewhat underwhelming save for a few indelible visuals... but still, it's all lingered quite nicely.
VICKY CHRISTINA BARCELONA - duh city.
ALEXANDRA - sokurov delivers again
WOMAN ON THE BEACH - overripe but a bounty of little joys
24 CITY - minor jia zhangke... which means it's just absolutely mandatory viewing. in a year in which much fun was had with the "documentary" format, zhangke's tightly interwoven flights of fancy (almost half of the talking heads in this "doc" are actors, with no such declaration made to the viewer) strengthens his efforts in a vaguely herzogian fashion.