Declined to Review

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Readers of this blog may think that I review a lot of movies. The truth is that I also ignore quite a few of the films I’ve seen, for various reasons.

Over the past year here’s a list of films I didn’t bother burdening you with…

 

1. The Martian

This one generated so much noise that I couldn’t be bothered. I wanted to hate this film, based on the initial trailer. Then I decided to see it anyway, as mars is interesting (I have an action thriller screenplay set there), and the research was supposed to be impressive.

To my surprise it wasn’t as annoying as I had initially assumed. Then they hit us with the Saran Wrap bulkhead. At that moment I lost faith in the storyteller. Once you lose faith in the guy behind the story it’s over. If he would resort to that, then it was clear where he was going and the absurdities he’d tolerate to get there.

Story is a tricky business. Once you’ve said what you came to say it’s over. The key is to have a message that takes the entire story length to make the case. If you’ve already said it by 30 minutes in, then what is the rest of the thing? Going through the motions? Meeting someone else’s perceived expectations?

 

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2. Maleficent

Saw this kid’s movie at a movies-in-the-park summer series. Not exactly the kind of film I review here, so it didn’t fit in. This was much better than I expected it to be.

Going back into the Netflix history…

3. Listen Up Phillip

Like most of the titles I choose, this one had its champions selling it on the indie promotion sites. A year later I can barely remember anything about it. Story concerns writers. Not very noteworthy.

4. Strange Magic

Thought this might be a fun animated film, but they started singing annoying, sophomoric Disney songs right in the opening credits, and I had to shut it off and stick it back in its envelope.

 

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5. Unconscious

I was on the fence about reviewing this one. Didn’t seem to be the kind of film the audience here craves. Wasn’t so bad at all.

6. The Past

Another one I had to consider. Iranians in France? Again, not exactly the kind of film I expected to generate much action here. It’s a believable relationship story.

7. Life Itself

Roger Ebert’s documentary. This was sad, particularly seeing Ebert deteriorate so. For film geeks only.

 

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8. In Darkness

The smothering of Poland, this was a tense WW2 thriller. I guess I should have reviewed it. War buffs will want to catch this realistic tale of survival under the most extreme conditions.

9. Punching the Clown

Can’t remember anything about it. “Audience Award at Sundance Film Festival?” Really? Not sure I sat through the entire thing.

10. Ballet 422

Documentary shows us the people making ballet today. Intense and basically just a camera following around ballet students and professionals as they create a new piece.

11. Road to Paloma

This had rave reviews elsewhere. Native American outlaws take on the man. Not great, but not the same old tripe either.

 

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12. Witching and Bitching

Oh my God — Italian horror exploitation, I probably should have mentioned this one. It’s Americanized with stunts, special effects, quick cuts and obnoxious characters. It did fail to live up to the exaggerated hype though.

13. Wild Target

A British hitman saga, this was too silly really, but with Bill Nighy and Emily Blunt you may want to check it out.

14. Jimi: All Is By My Side

A Jimi Hendrix biopic that had a compelling performance and recreation. Should have reviewed this one.

15. In Your Eyes

I think the expectations were high for this one, and it never really rose above a cute gimmick.

16. Natrual Selection

More pure indieness. This was okay, but again like most of these it was oversold in the Indie hype machine (looking at you Indiewire).

17. No

Another one I should have reviewed. Very authentic recreation of the political revolution in Chile to squeeze out Pinochet.

18. A Coffee In Berlin

Unmemorable.

19. Conviction

I totally expected it to turn out differently. Hillary Swank is always good, but this was a bit bogged down in details, so it felt longer than it should have.

20. Crazy Horse

A silly cabaret club in Paris. No story.

 

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21. White God

Some revolutionary types loved this film to the moon. It has an interesting take on disposability, a sea of dogs that no one wants and don’t fit into society. It didn’t click with me the way I expected it to, but it’s still an interesting statement.

22. Dark Skies

A weird tale of madness/alien invasion. Thought it might make more sense, but today I can barely remember much about it.

23. Exporting Raymond

An interesting look at Russia at its darkest point. Comedy producer tries to set up Everybody Loves Raymond in Moscow. Not great, but a couple good laughs.

24. No One Knows About Persian Cats

Iranian underground punk cinema? Yep.

25. Shadows

I guess I’m not a Cassavetes fan. Found this one, and a few other titles that remain unmentioned, unwatchable and turned it off.

26. 16 Blocks

I’m gettin’ too old for this shit.

27. Pitfall

One of the strangest Japanese films I’ve seen (let’s not mention Tetsuo the Iron Man), and it fell into that pit of banality, so I tuned out.

28. Faults

A cult story that outsmarted itself and jumped the shark.

 

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29. Easy Virtue

I liked this British manor farce. It tipped its hand a couple times too many and gave away the ending, but still pleasant enough.

30. The Overnight

Indie hype machine again. Another one that you’ll forget 6 months later, or 6 days perhaps.

31. Results

A gym romance comedy that was more dramedy than expected. Almost fell for this one. Guy Pearce is a top notch actor.

 

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32. Two Days, One Night

This one was overhyped, but it is still a worthwhile watch. It takes on socioeconomic issues, and Marion Cotillard is one of the top actresses out there. Probably should have reviewed this one.

33. Heaven Knows What

The teens behaving badly film that let me down. I know it’s a true story, and I guess that makes it even more tragic, rather than more magic. Drug wasted homeless teens are the shame of the nation.

34. Electric Slide

A cute take on a charming bank robber. Not so realistic, but was it supposed to be true life?

 

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35. Jodorowsky’s Dune

Alejandro Jodorowsky is a maniac. His unproduced Dune project was the inspiration for decades of sci-fi, and his ideas were stolen to end up in some places you might not expect. For people in this racket.

36. Shame

Indie hype machine strikes again. Why did I watch this?

37. A Girl Walks Into a Bar

I don’t know. Noir isn’t a story, and it isn’t an excuse for a movie. Maybe it’s an acquired taste.

38. Afflicted

Low-budget, found-footage vampire insanity? You may want to get this.

39. Welcome to Me

Reminds me of that Rita Rudner line, “Born to be mild.” Nutsy but harmless.

40. The Dead Girl

Can’t remember this one, and it was only in October. Couldn’t have been that memorable.

41. The Lazarus Effect

Okay, yes, horror/sci-fi plus Olivia Wilde. You can risk this.

42. Upside Down

Unwatchable.

43. Road Hard

A stand-up comedy film with no budget. Not a great one either.

44. In the Land of Blood and Honey

Angelina Jolie directed this odd war story of love, rape and murder. Quite a bit more memorable than most of the titles on this list.

45. Sleepwalk With Me

A wacky stand-up comedian who literally sleepwalks. Based on true events.

 

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46. Hungry Hearts

This one got under my skin, and I should have reviewed it, but I can’t decide what to say about it. Mental illness, parental rights, American violent extremism all converge.

47. Obvious Child

Another oddball stand-up comedy flick. Not a great one.

48. Goodbye to All That

Can’t remember it at all.

49. The Class

A French study of the clash of minorities and civilizations. School is difficult, conservative and must adapt to a changing world. Or not?

50. Tous Les Matins Du Monde

Unwatchable. I just don’t have the patience.

51. Rififi

French New Wave heist film that everyone eventually sees if they’re into movies. Interesting for its time. Not bad at all.

52. The Conformist

A political thriller that was chilling and frustrating. I hate it when the fascists win.

53. The Passion of Joan of Arc

No. I just couldn’t muster the patience for this classic that film snobs reference.

54. Alleluia

This twisted tale will frustrate you. It’s got that made by lunatics feel to it. Also over-hyped.

55. Felt

No-budget tale of madness. Those wacky art chicks…

56. Surveillance

Shark jumping is a theme here. This may be what you’re looking for, but I found it annoying. Is that David Lynch’s daughter at the helm???

57. Tangerine

Not a great fan of the transexual prostitute lifestyle I’m sorry to say. Add to that the crap quality of being filmed on cell phones. This is an acquired taste for sure, and that hype machine really went overboard this time.

 

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58. Picture Day

Li’l Orphan Black Tatiana in her first feature role. Canadian indie is always more fun and charming.

59. Goodnight Mommy

Little Nazi bastards. Quite frustrating, but may appeal to those serious connoisseurs of psychological grindhouse.

60. Hell

Post-Apocalyptic low-budget survival–this one wasn’t as bad as I had expected. If you need to return to the barren wastelands this may be for you.

61. Extraterrestrial

A silly Spanish alien invasion dramedy, where the invasion never invades. Cute story, perhaps worth another peek.

62. Saint Laurent

Very gay, very long, and a bit unremarkable.

63. Timbuktu

Life under Sharia Law–I meant to review this, but I guess I never got around to it. Frustrating plus one, the fundamentalist gunmen terrorize this African city, and the people are powerless to resist. I thought the plot was sidetracked, however, when the main confrontation isn’t against the invading authorities but between a rancher and fisherman. The picture of Sharia fundamentalism is unnerving though.

64. Maybe Baby

A sorta truish story about the making of this very film? Story concerns a BBC filmmaker whose wife can’t conceive. Takes the personal and amps it up with comedy. Recommended.

65. Night Train

Another one I almost pulled the trigger on and reviewed. I love Leelee Sobieski, and I think she’s one of the most beautiful actresses in America. This strange paranormal noir throwback actually delivers for the money. You may want to click this one.

66. Winter Sleep

Half an hour of story in three hours of film. Praised to the moon on pretentious indie sites, it took me two days to complete the viewing.

67. Open Windows

Jumping the digital shark. I could have appreciated this except the ending makes no sense whatsoever. Don’t have your characters pull a Keyser Soze just because you can’t think of what else to do.

68. Z for Zacharia

Another post-apocalyptic film that I didn’t think could compete with the big boys. In hindsight it’s not such a bad story, though limited in scope.

69. Gone Girl

I had no idea what to expect from this. Gillian Flynn is a twisted woman, and smart. Not sure I could bring myself to actually like this film though.

70. What We Do in the Shadows

I mentioned this in another post, but I didn’t review it. I had higher hopes for this one. It did let me down. Blame the Hollywood hype machine. They blast everything at 200 decibels in hundred foot high font.

This is a fun little Monty Python sketch kind of vampire tale. Not much more bite to it.

71. The Rewrite

Tepid is the word here. Another one about writers, and this one is sorta cozy if you’re in the mood for that kind of thing. Not going to change the world.

72. Snowpiercer

Unwatchably dumb premise. Sorry, couldn’t get past the first five minues. I don’t like crass stupidity dressed up as avant garde. Keep it real, fuckers.

 

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And yes there were some others, some titles I was too embarrassed to even mention. Some of them I may have just forgotten. I do watch a lot of movies, so you don’t have to.

 


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