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2004 – A Year in Films (The Bad/The Ugly)

07 Jan



What is the Mecca for film?

Hollywood?

Unfortunately so.

Being the center of the film universe, Hollywood has been arrogantly dictating the world on how to showcase films, be it foreign-language films, which can be pretty exhilarating at times, or simply their fake, artless, commercialized, mass-produced products to the extent that it does not take any beggars to smell them as stinkers.

These films shamelessly prove my point above.

(note that the list of film below reflect what appeared on cinemas in Singapore for commercial releases, festivals, or other special screenings from the period of 1 January to 25 December 2004, by using the order of the month when I watched them)

(secondly, I do not write about these films’ synopses!)

DISHONOR! category

1. THE SINGING DETECTIVE

Whatever happened to the supposedly suave, charming, witty Dan Dark in the film portrayed as a brooding, neurotic, confused, amnesiac, and hopeless singer played by Robert Downey Jr. as if he needed to be injected with a bloody loads amount of heroine? One can’t stop wondering how possibly bad it can be if the screenplay writer himself did, in fact, write the original television scripts in which the films is based upon! After numerous bad adaptations from stage to screen, or from words to screen, now comes the masses of the batch from googlebox to big screen … The Mod Squad, anyone?

By the way, I still lure myself to the jazzy soundtrack sung with a debonair style of Downey himself. At least! Something worth noting can be derived from this messy film!

2. GOTHIKA

Halle Berry does indeed shamefully capitalize her recent status as The Star in forking out gigantic sum of money by appearing in whatever being offered to her. All these one-word-title films seem to assemble themselves marching to the garbage can, noting that you do not miss much, in fact, you do not need to be bothered watching them.

The mischievous poster and trailer did offer a good promise of a thriller film wrapped in a chilling, bluish look, only to suggest that throughout the painful 100-or-so minute of watching this film left me giggling and laughing. Oh dear!

3. STUCK ON YOU

Many puzzling queries rolling over my head:

– Do you really need having two directors in making a grossed-out flick?

– Whatever happen to the insertion of pure naturalism in previous Farrelly Brothers’ flicks?

Look, you may accuse me of being too serious in appreciating arty-farty flicks, yet I applaud There’s Something about Mary which I think is superbly done and Cameron Diaz has never been at ease with her perfectly placed comic timing, and Shallow Hal gives Gwyneth Paltrow a rare opportunity to showcase her range of acting skills. Sadly, similar notions could not be applied to this film which somehow lost its intention halfway throughout the film, while indeed it tries to capitalize the life of a Siamese twin, we were not given a slight chance of their insights which may boost the plotline.

What were Meryl Streep and Cher thinking when they agreed to sign in as cameos?

And speaking of Eva Mendes …

4. OUT OF TIME

She stole the show from the obviously-tired presence of Denzel Washington! In a wrong movie, though …

While the film clearly paid its tribute to the slick, stylish, slightly-noirish good cop vs. bad cop genre from previous decades, enriched with Miami background giving a relaxed atmosphere to the story, the film couldn’t help from falling flat in entertaining, or simply providing some sparks of interest in following the plot twists which were just predictable even if you fall asleep halfway through.

5. THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT

What if?

That’s what the tagline of this film says.

What if … the movie is not made?

Better. I won’t get Punk’d!

There’s a great difference of a smart film and a film trying hard enough to be smart, clearly the abovementioned film belongs to the second one by dangerously venturing into a theme which has a great risk to be brough up: time-travelling. Moreover, without any logical explanation accompanying the dizzying, puzzling scenes scattered throughout the duration of the film very much done in an MTV-influenced style, what appears on the screen would only evoke a sense of visual amazement without prompting the mind to question the viability of the plotline. The compromised ending was simply something forced to fill in the necessity to end the prolong story.

6. LITTLE MEN (Kazakhstan)

My Singapore International Film Festival (SIFFest) journey this year had to begin with such a shaky start, due to the wrong choice of film which certainly arose my curiosity on how the film got selected in the first place.

Perhaps the festival committee really wished to explore to as varied countries as possible, which I find it pushy to some extent, that’s beyond my comprehension.

However, to sleep during the screening done in one sunny afternoon where no trace of sleepiness was found would only strengthen my point on how the film failed to make itself as something worth-watching, as simple as that.

Audience may quick to point out on the slow pace of the film, although that might be redeemed by giggling in a silly way on some funny scenes, which are not meant to be funny on the first place for sure. The bleak presentation of otherwise a lift-up mood on the struggle of two salesmen facing the toughness of the world they live in only left me with an impression that living on Kazakhstan does indeed ask you a great deal to survive there …

7. TROY

Yay! Finally, I’ve come to my so-called favorite entry, simply because this film has a great dis-honor to be THE WORST FILM OF THE YEAR!

I found myself on a great shock of horror upon going out from the cinema while all I could grumble was, “What was that? What was I watching just now?”, which of course, all boiled down to one single question:

“How could one make such a horribly terrible film?”

I may not particularly blame Wolfgang Petersen though, or in fact indeed I do, for he did not inject his sense of artistry and sensibility as what he did superbly in his previous works a la Das Boot, or even U-571 if you ask me.

Topping the senseless direction is the horrendous butchering touch, removing the human-ly elements in the initial poem written by the great Homer, which turned out suggesting that the film is somehow based on blurping lines uttered by Homer Simpson instead.

What a waste of big budget, big biceps (of Brad Pitt), big stars, big, in the sense of grand, presence of Julie Christie and Peter O’Toole, big, nuanced performance from Eric Bana, and it’s a big bomb dropped on the knees of Hollywood to start realizing their biggest failure of the year.

8. THE STEPFORD WIVES

Lesson learnt: Never launch an attempt to modify something highly regarded as a cult!

When the original film was released on 1975, the timing couldn’t be more perfect as the world had just been awakened by the rising movement of female liberalism, thus both the novel and the film, in a lighter sense, proved to help providing some thought-provoking reactions.

If only this new remake would dare enough to do the same, not stripping those elements and replace them with unnecessary glossy images and dry, unfunny jokes that not even the A-list actors seemed to bother to immerse themselves on the lines.

Seeing the lineup of talented actors here who have often crossed one genre to another easily, we can’t help asking one thing: What were Nicole Kidman, Glenn Close, Matthew Broderick, and Bette Midler thinking when they read the script?

And enough of the suddenly-too-familiar cameo appearance from Larry King in many films, including this one!

9. THE WHOLE TEN YARDS

One can only wonder, how could that possibly be, the predecessor was a good example of how a mob comedy flick can be full of punchlines and smart jokes, while the sequel, being the sequel itself, has to try desperately hard for merely trying to be funny?

One can only wonder why there wasn’t any chance of putting the right comic timings from Matthew Perry in his usual slick style, Bruce Willis in sometimes-merciless expression, or even Amanda Peet with her manipulative girlish smile would actually work well for this kind of film.

10. THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW

I know that I should not expect much from Roland Emmerich film, although his involvement in The Patriot somehow did lift up my slight believability that this man can still deliver a decent film after some “little-known” horrible pieces of junk called Independence Day or Godzilla.

Or not being a fan of action-adventure genre myself, I still find Twister entertaining, but the same reeling definitely not going to others, which include the latest offering this time, playing fool around on what’s supposedly a potential, strong theme of global warming which has been a major issue for the past few years.

Again, for the sake of milking cash by covering itself under the clout of ‘entertainment’, we were presented with mindless visual effects and thin storyline that put the charms of Jake Gyllenhaal, Emmy Rossum and Dennis Quaid aside.





DISAPPOINTMENT category,





because THEY ARE JUST SIMPLY BAD!



Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason suffers from both being sequels and adapted from a sequel novel as well, and both the novel and the film receive exactly the same lukewarm reviews, yet Renee Zellwegger, Hugh Grant and Colin Firth certainly enjoy their holidays here.



Bride and Prejudice shows that Gurinder Chadha needs to learn a lot about masterful skills to make a Bollywood musical and not to compromise the essential elements of singing and dancings that are supposed to make audiences tapping on their feet; however, seeing Aishwarya Rai at her utmost ease is worth the admission ticket itself.



I, Robot is an example of making a blockbuster film, put an A-list star, the box-office guarantee that overshadows everything else in the film, not to mention the ripping off the understated theme of power and oppression that could make the film a major thought-provoking work of arts, yet it chose to fall flat.

because THEY CAN BE MUCH BETTER!



Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow is applaudable for its daring use of technology that matches really well to the storyline, yet one can’t help seeing that Gwyneth Paltrow seeems to be out of place since her character is unforgivably reduced to be a mere background. If only the scriptwriter adds in a lot of punchlines here and there, making her character a la damsels in 1940s films, the film would be just perfectly complete.



5×2 (France) tells its story in a way that made Memento and Irreversible memorable, yet this latest outing from Francois Ozon fails to match the hilarious, shocking elements usually found on his previous works.



Beautiful Boxer (Thailand) has all the potentials to be one admirable and adorable film that has a universal appeal due to its unusual choice of theme. However, Ekachai Uekrongtham, the director himself, is trapped into the cliche of compromising in making a feel-good flick, not to mention carrying the burden of telling a real-life story.

Final Note:

I remember this particular quote found in SIFFest’s forum board a few years back, in which the quote itself ws apparently coming out from some renowned director, he said that if you are watching a horrible film, you’d only lose your $8 and 2-3 hours of your day, whereas for the filmmakers, they lose millions of dollars.

How do you want me to react to that statement?


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Posted by on 01/07/2005 in English, Film

 

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