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john cribbs

What's the Big Deal?

Movies people treated like the Second Coming, when it was more like a monkey coming.

1. Open Water

2. Supersize Me

3. Saved!

4. Passion of the Christ

5. Garden State

6. Kinsey

7. Maria Full of Grace

8. (this disappeared from the list. who knows what john was thinking back in 2004...)

9. Metallica: Some Kind of Monster

10. Fahrenheit 9/11

In what turned out to be The Blair Witch Project version of Jaws, two retards tread water for 90 minutes then get eaten.  Some movie, and yet everyone seemed to be so won over by behind-the-scenes stories of the real actors swimming with real sharks in real water that they proclaimed this digital devastation a masterpiece.  The fact that the movie is allegedly based on a real life incident just makes the exploitation of the marketing campaign as distasteful as those rubber suits must have been.  And speaking of taste, Morgan Spurlock's documented gimmick of only eating McDonalds for a month instantly begs the question, "Isn't only eating anything for a month bad for your health?"  That aside, Supersize Me's trivialized handling of an issue made more socially relevant in books like Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation, told through a sequence of boring statistics and outright bullying of subjects that would make Michael Moore blush, succeeds in only the redundant theme that "fast food=not good." Doc lite.

Front row seats to the crucifixion turned out to be exactly what one would expect: a two-hour snuff film.  All those Left Behind fanatics who own an original VHS copy of The Omega Code got their flagship movie this year thanks to Martyr Me-Mel, who took to placing his hand on his temple in interviews, just in case they forgot what a struggling artist he was.  Jew-bashing not withstanding, what ultimately buried this bile for me was Stephen King comparing it favorably to Sam Peckinpah. Which is like Martha Stewart saying a fumble by Barry Sanders is as good as a no-hit game by Nolan Ryan: senseless.  But even more guilty of primping a packaged film to exploit Bible-tossing hullabaloo was the self-proclaimed "anti-Passion" Saved!, which utilized every "edgy" satire of religious zealots this side of the Church Lady and was unfathomably hyped as something fresh and original.  Martin Donovan, call your agent.  You too, Mandy Moore.

Charmless Zach Braff tried to be Wes Anderson Jr. by way of Luke Wilson Jr. with Garden State, but should have realized that no one actually falls in love in New Jersey.  They just pay lots of 35 cent tolls.  For the last time, enough with the "finding yourself" flicks!  Bill Condon's Kinsey managed to best even Passion in its "ooooh so controversial - shhhhhh!" marketing campaign, yet may be the most boring movie about sex since The Miracle of Birth.  Maria Full of Grace retread City of God territory by way of cringe-inducing, Girlfight-style Latino woman-power, and sensitive, subtitle-loving critics said, "Ole!" Despite the drama of Brother's Keeper and the intrigue of Paradise Lost, Berlinger and Sinofsky have little to say in their latest. doc.  As a great man once said, a documentary about Metallica is still a documentary about Metallica.    

And, in the end, yes Fahrenheit was absolutely overrated.  How could it not be?  Even if it were indeed the most important social film ever created, it's just too fanatically self-important.  And a Palme d'or winner no less.  Regardless of how much one laments the notion of four more years with G Dubya, Michael Moore's rushed sketchbook of evidence ("Oh, and did you know that-?") with its off-putting, accusatory narrative is guilty of the same egotistical production and aesthetic cleverness as the other films on this list.


The Local Hero award for most overrated underrated film of the year: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Who the hell asked for these sequels anyway: The Whole Ten Yards, Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed, Ocean's Twelve, Agent Cody Banks 2, Ladder 49, the Son of Mask preview that refuses to go away

Title I'm most jealous of this year: I'm Not Afraid

Unfortunate title to a decent flick: Spring Summer Fall Winter.and Spring

Unfortunate title to a terrible flick: Spanglish

Biggest surprise of the year: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Biggest disappointment: Second half of Kill Bill Volume 2

Best ending: A train continues on in Time of the Wolf

Worst ending: Yet another Alexander Payne gleam-of-hope sellout in Sideways

Still not entirely convinced this movie wasn't a joke: National Treasure

Still not entirely convinced this movie wasn't a joke Volume Two: Paparazzi

Jean Shepard must be rolling over in his grave: Surviving Christmas, Christmas with the Kranks

Best character name: Bomb Voyage, The Incredibles

Worst character name: Mort Rainey, Secret Window

Worst case of "Futro" in a movie: Single bladed fan in I Robot

Two best reasons to sit through a bad movie: Eva Green, The Dreamers

Runner-up: Salma Hayek, After the Sunset

Best death: Michael Madsen, victim to Black Mamba fu (Kill Bill Volume 2)

Worst death: Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, suicide by... I believe the medical term is "suicide by non-consensual buggery" (I'll Sleep When I'm Dead)

Stand-out joke of the year: "Panthers" in Team America

Stand-out lame joke of the year: JK Simmon's flatulence in The Ladykillers

In case I needed a reminder that Before Sunrise was no good: Before Sunset

More comic book movies please: Hellboy, Spiderman 2

No more comic book movies please: Catwoman, The Punisher, Jessica Alba in the upcoming Sin City and Fantastic Four movies (the agent who took her from the straight-to-video The Sleeping Dictionary to this needs to be castrated)

No more video game movies please: Alien vs. Predator, Resident Evil Apocalypse

More video game movies please: ..No.  I can't back that up.

No more Paul WS Anderson movies please: Aliens vs. Predator, Resident Evil Apocalypse


The Curse of the Foreign Director Remaking His Own Film in America (see: The Vanishing, Nightwatch) continues: The Grudge

Stand-out performances: Isabelle Huppert (Time of the Wolves, I Heart Huckabees), Eddie Marson (Vera Drake), David Thewlis (Harry Potter), Alfred Molina and Steve Coogan (Coffee and Cigarettes), Alfred Molina (Spiderman 2), Tim Olyphant (The Girl Next Door), the entire voice cast of The Incredibles especially Jason Lee and Brad Bird, Laura Linney (P.S.), Paul Rudd (Anchorman), Alan Tudyk (I Robot), Abe Sapien (Hellboy)

Performance of the year: Imelda Staunton, Vera Drake

Most surprising performance: Mark Wahlberg as Tommy Corn, I Heart Huckabees

Worst performances: Nicole Kidman (Birth), Ben Affleck and Liv Tyler (Jersey Girl), David Carradine (Kill Bill Volume 2), Halle Berry (Catwoman previews), Kate Beckinsale (Van Helsing), Reese Witherspoon (Vanity Fair), Dakota Fanning (Man on Fire)

Stinkiest performance of the year: Nicole Kidman, Dogville

Most disappointing performance: Ian Holm's "watching-a-screen-as-acting" in The Day After Tomorrow

Genius most in need of a new agent: Michael Keaton (First Daughter, White Noise, Taxi, the upcoming Herbie remake)

Genius most in need of a new agent Part Deux: Jean-Claude Carriere (listed as co-writer of Birth)

Best cameo: (tie) Matt Damon in Eurotrip and the Wilson brothers in Around the World in 80 Days

Filmmaker of the year: David O Russell, I Heart Huckabees

Filmfucker of the year: Guy Maddin, The Saddest Music in the World


Great moments from movies this year:

- Jorgen Leth listening to the couple loudly fucking in the hallway, in The Five Obstructions

- Derek Luke snipered in Spartan (and Val Kilmer's excellent commiseration on the commentary: "Terrible when he gets shot.")

- Mark Wahlberg's near-brilliant Shakespearan aside "What's goin' on in there?" - I Heart Huckabees

- Would-be savior in a hopeless film: Christopher Walken singing "Valerie" over the phone in Envy

- Ken Foree reciting his famous line in the Dawn of the Dead remake

- Paul Giamatti's reaction to Thomas Hayden Church's freakout in the hotel room, Sideways

- The gorgeously photographed Flying Snow versus Moon fight in Hero

- Elastigirl taking out five bad guys despite being caught in three doors, The Incredibles

- Eat it, Jesus: Dash running on water, The Incredibles

- "Where's my super suit?!"  Incredibles

- David Cross yelling at the dog in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

- The satisfying resolve of the unsatisfying Mark Ruffalo subplot in Collateral

- Battleshit in Harold and Kumar

- The final match against Team Evil in Shaolin Soccer

- Naming the Italian restaurant "Fulci's" in Shaun of the Dead


Biggest things to look forward to next year:


Cronenberg's History of Violence

Gary Oldman and Ken Watanabe in Batman Begins

Terrence Malick's The New World starring Wes Studi. Let's just hope Colin Farrell gets the Adrien Brody treatment

Really really hate to admit it but... Revenge of the Sith. Need to know how Darth happens, baby.


Bleakest things to stomach in the near future:

Julian Schnabel directing another movie

Nick Cassavetes helming the Iron Man movie

Pixar's first official horrible-looking movie: Cars

The Assault on Precinct 13 remake

That Straw Dogs remake they keep saying they're going to release

Yet another cringe-inducing Tim Burton remake: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

- john cribbs, December 2004

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