“Worst” seems to harsh, and I don’t really like that, but oh well…
I met 22 movies in February, many of which were quite good. 3 however, proved rather frustrating.
Here are the least satisfying films I watched last month:
Death Wish (1974)
Directed by Michael Winner
My main problem with Death Wish is that it’s both fascist AND dull.
It simply didn’t do anything for me. No characters to care about. No style to sink my teeth into. No message I cared to pick apart… Maybe it’s just not for me.
The most compelling thing about Winner’s vision here is just how ugly it is. I’m being sincere. The world of this film is cold, derelict, and completely void of beautiful images. There’s something to that; too bad I don’t care enough about the rest of the film to spend any time figuring it out.
It’s also potentially relevant as a precursor to films like Taken I guess….
But it’s still pretty tedious and unengaging, and it leans way too far to the right for my taste.
Aeon Flux (2005)
Directed by Karyn Kusama
I watched Aeon Flux as “research” for a larger (science-fiction-related) project that I’m working on, not because I expected it to be a good movie. That said, I still found it disappointing. There’s the beginning of a good film buried away here somewhere, but poor execution wins out.
There are glimmers of good ideas all throughout Aeon Flux, but the film as a whole still ends up feeling uninspired. At times, it’s almost as if someone took a bunch of common science-fiction motifs, but them in a blender, and then sucked all the life out of the resulting amalgam. I managed to stay interested for about half the running time, but I was all but checked-out by the end.
Some pretty images, but it lacks substance…
My take: this would be better if it were gayer and more focused. (Then again, what wouldn’t?)
Imperial Dreams (2014/7)
Directed by Malik Vitthal
Though it initially premiered in 2014, Malik Vitthal’s feature debut wasn’t released until Netflix made it available early last month. One assumes that John Boyega’s recent (and massive) increase in visibility thanks to Star Wars has something to do with this…
While I appreciate a number of Vitthal’s aims, the final product feels far too much like a first feature, and it lacks any distinctive style or vision. If Vitthal directs another film, Imperial Dreams provides little insight into what it might look like. I attended a Q & A with the director; based on his own accounts, the script for Imperial Dreams went through quite a number of revisions and was touched by many, many hands. Perhaps this is why the film is fine, but feels so unremarkable. An early cut of the film was also much longer, and the final version seems to be missing a few pieces, especially late in its narrative.
There is a sincerity to Imperial Dreams that I admire, but it doesn’t convey any of its messages with enough clarity, volume, or distinction.
That said, Boyega is quite good in this. He fully commits to Vitthal’s script, and his presence elevates the entire piece. He keeps the film watchable, even when the pieces around him feel a bit tired.
Still, why this has a 91% on RT at the moment is beyond me.
Until Next Time
As I indicated last month, I can’t write on all of the films I’m watching at the moment. For the time being, I’ll posting very brief reactions to everything on twitter and letterboxd; those reactions will then be supplemented by recaps of the best and worst films I watch (for the first time) each month.
Best of February coming soon.