Movies – Worst of 2012

It seems impossible to make a best of list for the year that was, so why not a worst of. I mean just because a movie is good isn’t good enough for it to make it to a best of list. It must have elements that make it beyond good—qualities like technique, narration, experimentation and form when it can lack technology, plot, story and content. By that yardstick, it’s only possible for me to make a best of list of five. How uninteresting would that be? Likewise, just because a movie is bad isn’t good enough for it to make it to a worst of list. My idea of bad movie, or cinema, isn’t a C movie or a Z movie, it’s not a gross-out movie or YA fantasy adaptation, not even a mass-ala movie. (Why pick one from the basket of rotten apples and call it bad.) It’s an A, or B, movie embraced by the people/fans and/or by the critics that makes you wonder why this, how on planet crap, and what the, so be not surprised at my omission of the likes of Atlas Shrugged II, Hunger Games, Mugamoodi, Thuppaki, or Taken II. I’ve either never viewed those or while viewing I’ve had the thought I knew it running in my head over and over.

Barfi

Jhilmil is pretending to be autistic, was a doubt I had. It followed that she inherited the old man’s fortune and I was proven right. Then I kept waiting for moments where she’d struggle to get out of her autistic character but couldn’t, and those never came. (Ileana as a star must be appreciated for not utilizing special aids/effects such as inflated bras or backsides. Seriously. She sets an example.) Barfi’s stunts seemed creative and along the way I thought I’ve seen this somewhere, then after a while I’ve seen that too. It turned out he was only pretending to be artistic.

Chakravyuh

Why make a movie just for the message? Cinema, and a good movie, wouldn’t spell out the message even when the message is honorable. A movie which is mainstream always means business. The corollary is that the audience must be entertained. How can the Maoist struggle be entertainment? What is the point of commercializing ongoing real life battles? Why not make a well-informed documentary instead. All aside, Chakravyuh is full of devices that make a typical Bollywood hackwork—flat characters (with Rhea padded left and right that is), convenient plotting and whatnot.

Dredd

When I first watched The Raid: Redemption I didn’t think much of it. It’s just an actioner was my reaction, as one would react Looper is just a sci-fi. Then I watched Dredd and it not only brought back memories of The Raid in relation to its setting, but the understanding how essential deft choreography, editing and performers are to an actioner and how utterly lacking Dredd was in all departments. For its atmospheric original source, Judge Dredd deserves a movie as cool and cold as Sin City if not one as good and grand as Blade Runner. This is far from anything even remotely decent.

Dark Knight Rises, The

I think this is one of those buzzes released last summer. The ever risible…offers critique aplenty.

Django Unchained

Damsel in distress? Damsel in distress in, say, a 007 movie would be understandable and would just be a disgrace. In a Tarantino movie, it’s a giant misstep and an almost-offense, even when that damsel in question remains quick and not dead. It’s not just that misdirection. Except for Samuel L. Jackson, the rest of the DU crew isn’t anything to write home about. Dr. King Schultz (played by Christoph Waltz half damn way straight) having flashbacks leading him to slip out of character is one classic case of illogical characterization. I’d go so far as to wager DU was ghost-written/directed by someone else, perhaps Robert Rodriguez, and not Tarantino. The movie as a whole doesn’t last a repeat view. Upon repeat (the repeat that you do when you think you saw it wrong the first time), the movie’s best scene—the KKK predecessor gang arguing over bags—doesn’t deliver half its first-view charm.

Gangs of Wasseypur Part 2

Too much of an overkill is what it turned out to be. The first part of GoW—for all its inauthenticity and pigeonholing of rural India—treated as a discrete entity and pure fiction (not semi-fiction) would be an interesting exercise in Curry Western.

Killing Them Softly

There’s a nice title and inappropriate but minorly interesting last few words and everything else about it is mightily boring. Its heavy-handed use of TV voices—a huge problem—is least of its problems.  Weren’t this list deliberately in alphabetical order, KTS would surely top it.

Kumki

How far can you stretch the rural clichés of Tamil movies? Infinitely says Kumki and says it unapologetically. It takes a nephew/uncle-sidekick team—borrowed from Paruthiveeran—and creates a gross-out comedy track out of it and ingests into it the family-over-love angle—borrowed from Kathaluku Mariyathai—and thrusts ham-fistedly a message—a message soon lost in its seemingly innocent idiocy. In this genre, dead bodies and wailing protagonists are the norm. Kumki ups the ante. There are burnt bodies and detached limbs. It does all this so disconnectedly, it’d make even the unbearable Vazhakku Enn 18/9 almost bearable.

Zero Dark Thirty

How to make an apolitical war movie? Perhaps, making a movie about a sexually dissatisfied adult is one way of doing it. To sound reasonable, to be apolitical as an individual is nigh impossible and as a director it is highly impossible. The only justifiable action here within this context would’ve been inaction. ZDT wants to be apolitical all the while maintaining that it’s based on Firsthand Accounts. There’s no explanation as to why it’s not called Zero Dark Irony. This is a narrative that looks straight ahead—at the high cost of what’s behind it and its surroundings—and it doesn’t bat an eyelash as to what caused and propelled this very narrative. It strides straight ahead into the shadows with the half-practical knowledge and belief that money can buy you anyone and even enemies can be bought. It questionably offers viewers the morbid pleasures of the spectacle of the scaffold—the post-industrial equivalent of the industrial and/or pre-industrial revenge as justice (punishment). The spectacle that once was real and public (displayed in streets/gallows) is now simulated and private (TVs/laptops). ZDT is the narrative of the lapdogs of a blind (and/or nearsighted), restless and paranoid state. Its weapon is one supposedly impotent (and/or virginal), rootless and inconspicuous maya (Illusion itself).

(Dis)honorable Mention

Life of Pi

For a wannabe writer or wannabe whatever whose book under review or movie under production is a product s/he plagiarized from an obscure source and afraid s/he will be caught too soon and dealt with justly, here’s some transitory comfort. Yann Martel, the author of Life of Pi, plagiarized the central theme of the said novel from a lesser known novella and he’d not only won awards for the same but got his novel made into a big Hollywood movie that’s applauded almost as “the next best thing” since Avatar. How fortunate the plagiarist? What the—. How unfortunate the plagiarized! I digress. The movie in question is filled with partly pseudo-spiritual/philosophical musings and unimaginably picturesque CGI-created landscapes (How they go hand in hand!). It shows the fantasy and tells about the real.  In other words, it shows fantasy as real and suggests the reality is optional. There’s no false dilemma here, but that’s not all. The listener chooses for the audience, and that’s not all. It tells the listener how it goes with God. (How it goes with who what why) How convenient? A fable for our time—half-empty or not! Now if that doesn’t make a blockbuster! To partially quote Don Marquis: If you make people think they are thinking…

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2 thoughts on “Movies – Worst of 2012

  1. Agree with most of it, especially Barfi, ZDT, and Life of Pi. However, I thought DKR and Django were both quite meaty is what they were saying. I would probably list Django as one of the best watches of the year. One man’s meat. Nice to have chanced upon your blog, Ahimaaz, though I have to admit, almost all the names on your music of 2012 post were unfamiliar to me.

    • Quite frankly, DKR for me (in many ways) was thorns with the fish missing and DU (likewise) was bones with the chicken missing.
      Thanks, Subhorup.
      All the mentions on the music post are either non-mainstream or obscure, so…

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