January 2017 Recap: The Worst

janworstI watched 28 movies in January, two dozen of which I had never seen before. As a graduate student (and an adult who has work to do and whatnot), I simply can’t write on that many films. So, for the time being, my plan is to combine regular letterboxd and twitter updates with monthly recaps like this one. This installment will be followed by a similar one on my best films of the month. For the time being, I’m not including rewatches in these posts.

Here are the least satisfying films I watched last month:

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985)
Directed by George Miller

Given just how much I love Mad Max: Fury Road, it pains me to say that Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome is simply not good. There are (potentially) good ideas scattered throughout the film, but they never quite cohere into something meaningful or worthwhile. This installment of the Mad Max franchise is not nearly as economical or as distilled down as its counterparts, and the result is a confusing, messy, and diluted work. Much like the Ewoks in The Return of the Jedi, the children in the film take up precious time without contributing any dramatic weight. That Tina Turner song is a jam, and it’s hard not to admire Miller’s creativity, but Beyond Thunderdome left me more disappointed than anything else.

The Founder (2016)
Directed by John Lee Hancock

After watching The Founder, I wrote on letterboxd that the film is “middling and not worth the two hours it takes to watch it.” I also repurposed Dwight MacDonald’s claim that “There is slowly emerging a tepid, flaccid Middlebrow Culture that threatens to engulf everything in its spreading ooze,” to suggest that John Lee Hancock’s latest effort should be regarded as such.

Essentially, there is just nothing interesting, compelling, or memorable about The Founder. The story of Ray Kroc is to The Social Network what a single raisin is to an entire chocolate cake. It’s Steve Jobs if someone drained all the life and dimension out of it. There’s simply not enough there, and Kroc’s character development is inconsistent to the point that one suspects the film(makers) of laziness.

The Comedian (2016)
Directed by Taylor Hackford

There’s an intelligent, thought-provoking film about comedy, celebrity in the age of viral media, and the challenges of growing old buried somewhere deep in Hackford’s latest film. Unfortunately, the pile of cringe-inducing, torturous garbage covers most of the film’s surface renders any of its solid ideas and potential all but invisible.

At times, The Comedian comes across as something like Bojack Horseman, but with all that is good and enjoyable sucked out of it. And when a film as well-crafted and as intelligently written as The King of Comedy already exists, one wonders why De Niro wanted to debase himself with a project as misguided and flawed as this one.

Gilbert Gottfried is in this movie, but he doesn’t have a single line. Audiences are asked to believe that Danny DeVito and Robert De Niro are Jewish. Harvey Keitel is a sad shadow of himself….It’s just not good.

And what’s will all the insufferable jazz?

The Bye Bye Man (2017)
Directed by Stacy Title

Faye Dunaway is in this movie, and this movie is very bad. That said, it’s not bad enough to be much fun. The performances are amateurish. The plot is nonsensical. The pacing is clunky. The ideas are uninspired.

I could go on, but there’s really no reason to. The Bye Bye Man isn’t worth it, and one wonders why anyone wanted to see it made in the first place.

Until Next Time
Thanks for stopping by!

Best of January 2017 post coming soon.

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