The 2015 GLAMS

The GLAMS of 2015! That acronym was unplanned!


Take that, Rape-Bear!
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Reported on 8th of June, 2016

There’s some kind of show that exists once a year. Not when you’re reading this, obviously, but when I wrote that sentence and was filled with rage. I’d say it was busy simmering, but I’m too lazy for anything to be simmering, let alone feelings. Hey, that’s just like the aggressively tepid year of 2015! Thematic unity confirmed!

First, we introduce some new awards, which make exactly the same amount of sense as assuming a year is a reasonable period of time where some films are good and some are bad. Fortunately, the awards are the as ridiculously conceived as they are named: The Garners, The Leonards, The Abrams, the Marcs and the Scotts. Two wrongs don’t make a right, so I give you five.

The Marcs!

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What about, reasoned I, films that are so-so, or even lousy, but that are vastly overpraised? Whose competence barely rises to a ‘huh’ on the ‘wha’ meter, yet whose overstatedness must be stated over and over?  Films such as these don’t deserve an Abrams, as that would give them as too much subconscious attention. Like naming the award for worst filmmaking after JJ Abrams.

Nevertheless, in the name of who critiques the critiquemen one must single out the films that aren’t so hot, and will produce future denial from their present apostles. I was originally going to call this the Zola, my go-to reminder that crappy overrated movies have always been with us. But you know what? The Life of Emile Zola (which won the Oscar for best picture) is okay by me. It’s not great, but the guy himself did some nice things like defend Dreyfus. It was 1937. Beating out A Hundred Men and a Girl is not the greatest crime we’re going to encounter. Maybe something happened in Poland. Who knows?

If one wanted to be old-timey, one could also settle on The Greatest Show on Earth, Cavalcade or any number of past films that would imply the kind of filmgoing experience I would have if I wasn’t so easily bored. By uninspired filmmaking but still.

Faced with the choice of trying to pull off like I really have seen everything and trying to actually find an appropriate film, I realize that I had totally blocked out the unwarranted praise of Shakespeare in Love. Haven’t seen that since it came out, have you award givers? Could it be that because you remember what it was like actually watching it?

Strange that I couldn’t remember since SiL was one of the first films I reviewed here, back when I was attempting to go through the whole book of tickets. A futile quest, so I’m trying it again.

Can’t exactly call the award The Shakespeare, as he’s one of about six people on earth who actually deserves the praise that they get. And didn’t feel right about calling it The Stoppard, since whatever punishment this film doled out, Mr. Stoppard had given us Rosencrantz and Guildenstern and The Real Thing, and gets a lifetime pass.

We name the award for most overrated average film of the year after Marc Forster, the co-writer on Shakespeare in Love. We do so in the name of obscurity, which is my true cause.

It is also my effect.

The Marc is quadruply appropriate because 2) (the ‘1)’ is implied in ‘obscurity’, see above) it’s spelled with a ‘c’, 3) it accurately describes the people who have watched the films in question, or, technically, the assumptions made by the people making them about the people watching them, and 4) in a strange dose of reality, I actually heard an interview with the two writers or NPR back in whatever year that was, and Mr. Forster is a spectacular douche.

Shakespeare in Love is pretty bad, and would, technically, win an Abrams on its own demerits. But Marc just sounds so good. And so, The Marcs for 2015 (see what I mean?):

Spotlight

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You can tell just by the title. I have, in the course of writing this, mistakenly retitled it Frontline, Scandal, Blackout, The New York Times Literary Supplement and finally Cookout. The name – almost perversely forgettable – originates from the film’s desire to concentrate on the boring details of what happened, rather than the poetry or conflict of the situation. Let’s call it…the thing that it is! It’s so real! Like that disused straw from my six buck half-cap! Let’s point the camera at that!

Spotlight’s failure is a depressing one, given the compelling subject matter. But it shows what happens when you tell a story without bothering to look for the drama inside it. It’s fine but barely rises to the level of a post-Albrecht HBO film. There (will be) more here and the possibly even longer than this piece on TV movies. Nothing to click? You weren’t going to anyway.

The Revenant 

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A perfectly serviceable, then stupefyingly long revenge film. In a way, this is the perfect example of the Marc (still loving it), as at 90 minutes, this would be pretty good, possibly a Scott. Bear attack, Mr. Leonardo DiCaprio left for dead, Mr. Tom Hardy kills his son, and, wounded in 1820s America, Mr. DiCaprio seeks revenge. Cut it to 90 minutes, and respect the genre, and this could have genuinely been a classic.

Instead, it’s an award winner. Yay? There is much single take nonsense, acting and look what we did! That could be another thing about genre which begets its timelessness: invisibility. This is, instead, a blatant film, calling attention to its own filmi-ness combined with the sense that it’s made by someone who thinks themselves better than the genre whose boots they are not fit to slavishly put on a femme fatale. Which they would then lick.

Eww. Or, possibly, yum.

Star Wars: Just not the audience.

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I honestly don’t much to say that hasn’t been said. It’s a shot-for-shot remake of the original, minus the energy and excitement of having made something new. It’s strange that surprise addict Mr. JJ Abrams made a film utterly without any.

Surprise?

Its greatest crime remains making me think well of Episodes 1-3. While these remain some of the worst films ever made and awkward grandpa racist to boot, their resistance to making any sense is somehow more appealing that the risk-management style of giving an audience the non-entity it seemingly craved all along. It is the perfect kids film, as having nothing new actually happen, there’s no post-film talking or engagement with – yuk – your children. So technically, it’s the perfect adults film. Nothing for the whole family!

The Scotts!

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I’m just going to save you the grand trouble of clicking at the bottom and cut and paste the following. I will not save you the trouble of reading it. No one can do that.

The Scott is the award for entertaining films, which may be in fact harder to make than bad, good or even great ones. The only thing harder is making funny ones, which are, you know, entertaining. Calling it a Scott is not in reference to me, which is strange for me, not referring to myself, as I am right now, but to Mr. Tony Scott, who made a whole slew of pretty decent fun films, including the best Tarantino crime film: True Romance.

Now I’m aware it’s in bad taste that I ever open my mouth to say anything at all, let alone name an award after a guy who killed himself. But no one defends the decent workmen filmmakers, who may not accomplish the sublime, but they do the second best by not sucking. True Romance is probably the perfect example why we need more filmmakers like Mr. Scott because guess what? It is better that Slater’s character lives. Tarantino would have ruined it. Other than the fact that he wrote it, so shut up.

His idiot brother, Sir Ridley Scott, made a good film, then two which actually defined genres, and then, falling hard to the Second Peter Hyams rule, begin a run of turd after cinematic turd. See A Good Year and decide for yourself how long it actually is. Mr. Tony Scott didn’t make Blade Runner or The Duelist, but he didn’t make Legend or Promethius or the If I Make Something This Forgettable No One Will I Remember I Made It At All Kingdom of Heaven either. I can’t remember a Tony Scott film I didn’t like, and I remember all of them pretty well.

Mad Max: Fury Road

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Yeah, I’m also the guy who didn’t think Mad Max: Fury Road was totally the greatest film of the year. Could it have suffered from statements like that? Possibly. But it’s a surprisingly flabby film for the first hour, story-wise. When Mr. Hardy bargains with Ms. Theron, the trade-off feels fake. It is fake and suffers badly when it was done to perfection in the original The Road Warrior.

Yes, like Evil Dead 2, The Road Warrior is the original.

Again, ticket machine poetry knows more than I.

Again, ticket machine poetry knows more than I.

In Mad Max: Fury Road the characters go through the motions of you don’t need me, I don’t need you, and a surprising amount ooh, let’s wait until we get to the twist stuff that hurts that so many a film. Even so, the level of creativity and think-through-it-ness of the environment is very much off the chart. It’s not unlike The Lobster in that much of story was just excuses to come up with cool shit, and come up they did.

That having been said (this is in reference to the second that), the first 70 perfectly serviceable but hardly heart-stopping minutes are a more than forgivable set-up for the last half an hour, which is outstanding in every way. Since Anomolisa got a Leonard for being a good short, you would think I would give the same to Mad Max: Fury Road. But I count on my controversy. To keep people from reading. To keep people from generating controversy. I don’t like controversy.

Bone Tomahawk 

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Yes, Rotten Tomatoes will never add me to its database, but I do love it and read it. The scores tell us nothing: many high rated films are forgettable and cheap, just as many low rated films turn out to be just fine. And always the other way around except when it isn’t. Which is all the time.

But one can, as I do, glean. The funny thing about critics is that they don’t actually know what it is that they like, and would much rather praise what they think they should, or, even more baroquely, what they imagine people they are imagining think they should. It’s a tough job, which explains the non-existent pay.

Scary on tape, and that's saying somethin'.

Scary on tape, and that’s saying somethin’.

Thank God, and then Freud, or God for creating Freud if you must, for the subconscious. In reading reviews en masse, one will for there are many a review that say things like ‘I was always entertained, so you can see why I didn’t like it’ or ‘It’s a grueling four hours, but here’s a reference that I totally got which you didn’t and gives me bragging rights!’ Fine, I do that last one all the time, but Carrot Top films don’t count.

Oh yes they do.

Gleaning was the case with Bone Tomahawk, with which I would not have bothered were it for the constant mention of its running time (two hours). It was weird. Critics rarely do this, even for films like Star Wars or even Stop Light (what was it called again?), which are pretty fucking dull and two and a half hours long.

Then I realized – they were surprised. That, the reviews taken in the aggregate seemed to be saying, was two hours? Maybe it doesn’t fly by, but I saw it on tape, and I didn’t skip (this is very rare). It’s pretty damned entertaining. You should see it, if you can stomach the brutality, but you’re not going to. I’m giving you the chance: don’t click here. Don’t do it.

Yeah. Nothing happened. I haven’t written it yet. But then again, you’re not even reading this. So who’s the idiot now?

Speaking of which…

The Abrams!

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I did them both already, and was surprised generally that neither appeared in our future Oscar race, especially the former for its hey, here’s a country we haven’t awarded yet quality. And yes, I just used former and latter before naming White God and Jurassic World. That’s okay, I just did it in the former sentence.

Again, to be truly terrible, The Abrams is for bad filmmaking combined with a shitty world view. There is no camp or instructive value.

Caution, filling will burn your soul. You are not a professional filmgoer. Do not see.

White God

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Knew it was the worst right off the bat, then proved right by utterly disappearing come awards season. What is it about great films that are so forgettable? By definition, it is impossible to say.

Jurassic World

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The success of this film remains a stumper, but like Star Wars and cakes, we rely on our memory of what we think it would have been more than it was. What makes an Abrams award winner is the combination of incompetence and evil, that it must be ineptly made, fine, but also hateful. And Jurassic World is replete with a rage against women completely justified by their not having sex with us I mean taking our masculinity!

But, you might say, don’t worry. Two female characters talk to each other about things other than boys. For example, one female character tells the other what a bad mother she would make! And then another does the same. And then a man does it. It’s the definition of feminism!

Oh my god. It’s the definition of feminism.

The Leonards!

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Named for the gentleman who not only gave us some of the best examples of narrative anything, but the simple rule that so few films follow. In this case, I’m leaving out the name and the quote, but not the boring parts. I don’t have to follow his rule.

Mistress America

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This more a matter of my good taste, but a tight film. It just moves along. I was ceaselessly entertained, which confused me given what films had passed before this year. I think it may be the best of all the films of the year, but that’s the great thing about the Leonard. It’s a honor just to win.

The Lobster

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Not perfect, but extremely zeitgeist-y and bursting with coherent ideas. It’s hardly a pleasant experience, but if Twilight 3.1 prevented many pregnancies, here’s a film that will prevent the relationships that might accidentally cause them. It’s like a train wreck looking in a mirror.

It Follows

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I haven’t seen this again, largely because my friends who watched it on my recommend weren’t so impressed. I stand by the original assessment – relentless, and needs to be seen without a pause button, so difficult to do these days. Being weak (cf everything I have bothered to see in the theater), I have my food safe, which keeps my chocolate in time-locked security until I have regained my self-control, or have the $50 to smash it with a hammer. When I discover a way to mechanically prevent my desires for laziness, I’ll see It Follows again. I’d lock the remote in the food safe, but that’s where the food when I want to watch the movies.

The Big Short

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The stand-outs from this average-y year were in the independents. One could make the argument that The Big Short was a studio picture, but it’s actually a TV movie. It’s the only way to keep things tidy. Otherwise you got yer facts ruining yer perfectly laid-out system, and nobody wants that.

Hey! That’s what the movie’s about!

Per the upcoming unreadably long piece on the Albrecht HBO film, The Big Short is exemplary of the genre of films that dramatized relevant events, instead of just showing them. The Big Short, for whatever relevance you have chosen to ignore, is just good filmmaking. It has distinguishable damaged one-dimensional characters, choices, and situations. Beyond that, jokes that land. It was written, not pieced together. It does what it needs to do to explain its complex situation, even if the celebrities ‘Я’ people too cameos were getting a bit much by story’s end. As proof, it won the Good Oscar, so all is well.

The Garners!

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I’m going to transplant posts again, but I stand by the assessment: like genre, if you didn’t notice, it’s because they were actually doing their job:

James Rockford is a creep. He only works for money, and only does the right thing when is forced into a corner. He has no problem fighting dirty. We should hate him. Mr. James Garner (apparently honorifics don’t apply to characters) is so great at this part, we don’t even notice. This is acting, by the way. If you notice it, it’s not acting. And so, to the unsung, who by this virtue must be, I give you The Garner, the award for those so good they’re actually disqualified.

Ms. Amy Poehler and Mr. Tom Noonan

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I’m the guy who didn’t like Inside Out, but I acknowledge that Ms. Amy Poehler is possibly the performance of the year, obviously tied with Mr. Noonan’s in Anomolisa. Both are also great film performances. Rather than transplanting from the stage, this is work suited to the medium. To tailor your voice et. al. to something that you will only see six plus months down the line, that’s acting, motherfucker.

Ms. Greta Gerwig

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Fine. It’s a not a voiceover, but Ms. Greta Gerwig was something else as the titular Mistress America. Moreover, and as with Mr. Noonan and Ms. Poehler, this is a film that fails without the actor’s ability to make us like their character. The script is swell, but it would have died on the vine that gave us the grape that her character sent back, not to demonstrate that she had class, but to teach the waiter how to spot it.

Mr. Christian Bale

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He would have been higher than an honorable mention, if other people hadn’t noticed, but they did. I’m a very shallow person. Still, his best work in years. Uli noticed it and I didn’t: at one point, he blushes. Take that, rape-bear!

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