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Jessica McLeod
13 January 2011 @ 02:56 pm

Once again, it's time for the Worst Movie round-up! (You can read the reviews of 2009 here, and 2008 here.) As always, please remember that a) I live in Australia, so these movies are ones that came out here in 2010; b) there were a lot more terrible movies released last year, these are the ones I unfortunately saw; and c) there are spoilers ahead, but trust me, it's for the best.

Clash of the Titans

We watched the original 1981 film before this. It was pretty awful! Like mythology generally, it's a confusing rambling story in which the characters' motives are dim and the sequence of events is bizarre. The special effects, while apparently impressive at the time, are endearingly goofy today.

However: the remake is worse!

The filmmakers, instead of giving us fun characters with lots of good action scenes, have tried to give the film a Point: man rebelling against the tyranny of the gods. Except that the film doesn't follow this up in any way, it just delivers insipid, one-dimensional characters; terrible CGI; a cliched and sometimes painful script; and (according to those poor souls who saw it the cinemas) awful 3D. Sam Worthington's almost complete lack of expression (of face or voice) and strong Australian accent made every line he uttered hilarious.

Actual taglines for this movie, despite the fact that at no time do titans actually clash:

The Clash Begins 2.4.2010
The Clash Begins in 3D
Titans will clash.
Between gods and men, the clash begins.

Suggested taglines for a sequel:
Clashing: It's What Titans Do
More Clashing, More Titans
Can Titans Clash? Yes
Two Clash Two Titanny

Sample dialogue:

Spyros: One day, somebody's gonna have to make a stand. One day, somebody's gonna have to say enough.

Alice in Wonderland

First of all, I have to say that I have not enjoyed Tim Burton's movies since Sleepy Hollow. I find his celebrated style to be boring and dated; I find his movies to be twee, over-long and dull. Alice was no exception.

I was always going to be a tough critic of this film since my area of study was the nineteenth century, so I find it very irritating to watch films that get details of this era wrong. I also wrote a lecture on Alice's Adventures in Wonderland for a 2nd/3rd year unit that I taught on as a postgrad, so I am very familiar with the text its interesting dark side (as opposed to the totally made-up and stupid dark side that Burton invents).

As Luke pointed out at the time he saw it, prophecies make for fucking boring movies. "You're the one who's going to save us! It's written!" Then WHO CARES? Where's the drama? (Luke also pointed out some of the very stupid plotholes in his blog.) Also adding to the complete lack of me giving a shit was the fact that the White Queen actually seemed pretty harmless. The only creature she actually has executed is a dude who stole some tarts. You work for a murderous monarch, dude. Don't steal the tarts.

The Burton formula these days is to spray a thin layer of twisted, dark and quirky onto something and hope nobody notices the actual structure is shit. That's why it appeals to white, middle-class girls who like to think of themselves as twisted, dark and quirky.

I thought this was a shitty film, until the very end... when I realised that it was THE WORST EVER. The Mad Hatter, who has been going on about his Futterwacken dance throughout the movie (ha ha, it's a made-up word! Just like Lewis Carroll's! So clever!) finally does it and... I can't even bring words to this blasphemy. You have to see it for yourself.

That's so funky fresh and radical! The only thing that could have made it better would be if he did a Wonderland Rap. Break it down!

Sample dialogue:

Mad Hatter: When that day comes I shall futterwacken... vigorously.

Twilight Eclipse

I've seen all three Twilight movies (with Rifftrax) but to my surprise I see I have not written about any of them. I guess I didn't see them the years they were released? Anyway, they all kind of bleed into one another. Bella is one of the most insipid and featureless heroines I've ever encountered.

Gosh, what can I say about this movie? It's very much like the others: dull, stupid, sexist and dull. (Did I mention dull?) No-one seems... capable... of saying... more than three or four.... words at a... time. There is as much screen time spent of meaningful(?) silences as there is on dialogue. There's a lot of excellent criticism of these books/movies out there (particularly in terms of gender politics), so let's move on.

Sample dialogue:

Edward: Isabella Swan, I promise to love you every moment of forever. Would you do me the extraordinary honor of marrying me?


Ha ha, WOOF! This one was almost enjoyable in its stinkiness. If you're not familiar with it (and why would you be?) this is a vampire movie with a TWIST! A twist of stupid. It is the year 2019 (ie THE FUTURE, DUDE) and most of humanity has been turned into vampires. The problem: there's hardly any humans left to eat. The vampires are apparently too stupid to do what humanity has been doing to its food sources for centuries and breed them, so everything is very dramatic and THE STAKES ARE HIGH ha ha ha eurgh. Starring the unbearably greasy Ethan Hawke and a hilariously overacting Willem Defoe (say it ain't so!), this movie takes itself Very Seriously. Maybe it's a Metaphor? But for WHAT?!? It's too subtle for me, that's for sure!

It's not so much that the plot has holes, more that it's a thin lattice of plot laid over gaping nothingness. The film looks cheap and nasty, and the CGI is bad. If you thought sexy vampires were bad, wait till you see the humourless, dull ones!

Sample dialogue:

Edward: Is this place safe?
Elvis: Living in a world where vampires are the dominant species is about as safe as bare backing a 5 dollar whore.


Edward: Yeah well, life is a bitch ain't it? Then you don't die.


I'm sure I will get some disagreement on this one, but this film had me swearing at the television like a Deadwood resident. Before you suggest that I didn't Get the movie, and that I would have appreciated it if I had just understood it, I can assure you that I got everything the filmmakers were trying to say, and I hated it.

At one point tedprior and I had the following exchange:

Grug: God dammit, why are there so many shots of cars driving?!?
Jessica: I guess the driving is a metaphor for pointlessness, going nowhere while always moving...
Grug: She should put in a metaphor for ENTERTAINMENT.

Sometimes this film felt like an experimental Yoko Ono-style art film where the audience's limits are being tested and the real point of the piece is seeing how many people can make it through. The film is a week or two in the life of a successful Hollywood actor (played ironically by Stephen Dorff, ZING) who is filled with ennui. Poor baby, I am playing you a sad song on a tiny violin! Many reviewers have focused on the story of his daughter, but this only really takes up the middle portion of the film. The metaphors are about as subtle as the lengthy pole-dancing segments we are forced to watch in their entirety. The film is 'naturalistic' in that we have to watch things in real time. Which, as you can imagine, is very, very boring.

I know it's not fair to compare two very different films, and I'm not saying that there is no drama in the lives of wealthy folks which is worth exploring. But I kept thinking of the characters in Winter's Bone and mentally saying to Dorff, "SHUT UP! Go get some fucking therapy and cheer up, you lazy dickhead."

Here is an imaginary dialogue between myself and Sofia Coppola:

J: This film is very boring.
S: Yes! I made it that way deliberately. I am forcing you to experience the ennui of the character.
J: Why:
S: So you can understand his experience.
J: Why?
S: Because it is so tragical to be a famous actor. But not as tragical as it is to be the daughter of somebody who is very famous in Hollywood! That is the hardest. It is so hard to go to Italy with your father and then he sleeps with a lady, even though he plays Guitar Hero with you later! Daughters of famous Hollywood dudes are so hard done by.
J: Good point. I'm going to go work in an office now.
S: Okay darling, I'm going to eat gold-plated tacos with famous people before I make another movie.

The final scene is hilariously bad, a turgid and cliched ending: the charisma-free Dorff drives his car into the desert until it runs out of gas, then starts walking! I almost expected a passer-by to ask him where he was going, so he could look dramatically into the distance and say, "Somewhere real. Just... SOMEWHERE."

Suggested taglines:

It's Hard Being A Rich, White, Heterosexual Celebrity
If You Went To University, Pretend You Enjoy This

Sample dialogue:

There is no sample dialogue up at the film's IMDB site, and I can't remember a single line! This is pretty accurate though:

Johnny Marco: Mumble mumble Guitar Hero designer sunglasses French champagne mumble
Girl: [gives blowjob]


Another contentious one! While Grug and I generally agree on movies, he actually put this in his Best Movies list. Unprecedented!

Perhaps this is explained by the fact that he has never dated Ben Stiller's character. Stiller plays a neurotic, immature, selfish, spiteful man who is recently out of a mental hospital. The film (like so many other indie films) uses mental illness as a shorthand (or in this case a substitute) for a deep and interesting character. He meets a lovely young woman and treats her like shit throughout the film, and then feels better, because that is what girls are for: looking after self-destructive, mean, damaged men until they are fixed. Florence, who is beautiful, talented, kind and at least twenty years younger than Roger, pursues him and puts up with his shit throughout the movie, with no comment made on this.

This wasn't a terrible film in terms of the acting, the dialogue or the direction. In fact, it was frequently funny or poignant. But the basic relationship between the two main characters made me so angry I had to put it on this list. Fuck you, Greenberg!

Sample dialogue:

Florence: You like old things.
Roger: A shrink said to me once that I have trouble living in the present, so I linger on the past because I felt like I never really lived it in the first place, you know?

Jonah Hex

Josh Brolin, noooooo!

Jonah Hex is a Confederate soldier, but one of the good ones, you know? Now one of the racist ones. John Malkovich, in typically scenery-devouring style, is a baddie who kills his family and is also supernatural and he kills Jonah Hex but not really because Native Americans bring him back because they are magic, and now Jonah Hex can talk to dead people and crows and there is some kind of plot to blow up the President or something? This sounds like the makings of a fun, shambolic, rollicking movie. Instead it is a confusing, shambolic, mumbling fiasco. It's only 82 minutes long, but still has lengthy dream sequences. (Actually, they may have been alternate realities, or taking place in the subconscious, or actually happening. This film is very confusing, and stupid.)

All the scenes that should be fun, like talking to the dead, are boring. All the scenes that should have built the character, like Hex's relationship with Megan Fox (playing a prostitute, naturally), are wooden and nonsensical. The art direction come across as though somebody said to the makers of this film, "Make it steampunk! The kids love steampunk!" and they went on Etsy to find out what that meant.

The best thing about this movie is Will Arnett. He's playing a completely straight role, but that just gives the impression that he's deadpanning. Good casting!

Sample dialogue:

Burke:  I'm gonna hand Turnbull your balls in a snuffbox!


Burke: Lovely little orange balls.
Jessica McLeod
06 September 2010 @ 10:46 am

Image by luvi

A week ago, I saw a dietician. I have been having tummy problems for a while now and I suspected (very unwillingly) that it might be a food intolerance, probably gluten. I was worried that she would put me on a gluten-free diet for a few weeks. OH HOW LITTLE I KNEW.

She put me on an elimination diet.
  • No wheat
  • No caffeine (coffee, tea [even green tea!], chocolate)
  • No nuts and seeds
  • No legumes (chickpeas, beans, lentils)
  • No high-fructose fruits (most of them except bananas and citrus fruits)
  • No high-fructose vegetables (onions, garlic, leeks, tomatoes, capsicum, broccoli)
  • No honey
  • No fizzy drinks
  • No dried fruit or fruit juice
  • No alcohol
So what can I eat? YOU MAY WELL ASK. I can eat rye bread, eggs, meat, avocado, white rice, bananas, corn flakes, potatoes, lactose-free milk and yoghurt (I'm already lactose-intolerant, I am basically becoming like the boy in the bubble but for food)  and not a whole lot else. I cannot tell you how utterly depressing this is. A glass of plain milk is the kind of snack you get IN PRISON.

I know I am being a bit pathetic. It's only for two weeks and I am one week through (THANK GOD). To be honest I didn't think it would be this hard. I had no idea how much I relied on simple things like a cup of tea to cheer me up. I can't go for lunch with a friend or have a cup of coffee with colleagues, I can't have people over for dinner because I don't want to PUNISH THEM. I think the thing that makes it the hardest is that it isn't really just two weeks; my tummy problems are subsiding, which means that one or more of these things was causing it, which means that those things are not going to be part of my diet any more. (Or maybe I'll just put up with the problems. I cannot see myself going without onion and garlic for the rest of my life.)

Anyway basically what I am saying is PITY ME. And the next time you eat a chocolate biscuit and a cup of tea, count yourself lucky.
Jessica McLeod
23 August 2010 @ 03:50 pm

Photo by efsb

My friend Julie and I work together. Most days we get together for lunch or coffee and a lot of the time we talk about our health and our eating and exercise habits (a mixture of moaning, self-recrimination and hypocritical encouragement). Now we are doing a very modest 2-week cleanse. We've chosen the time frame because we both tend to make grand, exciting plans involving lots of heroic self-denial and then fail miserably. So for the next 2 weeks:
  • No coffee
  • No fried foods
  • No chips (crisps)
  • No chocolate
It's not over-the-top, it's not a diet-- just trying not to eat the very worst foods. Coffee is in there because I tend to feel better when I'm not drinking much coffee, and I've been drinking a lot more than usual lately.

We'll see how we feel in two weeks' time, and maybe we'll keep going-- or maybe even up the strength of the cleanse? Perhaps the next stage could be adding daily exercise. I'm mostly posting here because it makes me feel accountable, but if you'd like to join us, please do!
Jessica McLeod
19 July 2010 @ 02:20 pm

This weekend was so filled with Things to Do and People to See that I sort of feel like I need a weekend to get over it. Even though it's only Monday, I'm already planning my weekend and since making lists is one of my favourite pastimes I thought I'd make one here.

Things To Do This Weekend
  • Play ukulele (I am writing a song!)
  • Clear out some of the crap in the study so I can...
  • Put my beautiful new desk together
  • Play with my new fabrics which just arrived from the V&A
  • Start making a new skirt (maybe with some vintage printed velvet!)
  • Make apple gingerbread
  • Read Marvel comics
  • Make lists
What are the activities you're craving?
Jessica McLeod
15 July 2010 @ 10:41 am
Apparently LJ are purging old, unused accounts, which made me nervous about this one. I can't believe I haven't posted here since January. I am part of the problem, etc.

Anyway here is something to share with you: prunes are delicious! I am trying to eat more SUPERFOODS and one of those SUPERFOODS is prunes. They're really good!
Jessica McLeod
08 January 2010 @ 08:14 pm
As you might have seen from my comic about 2010 resolutions, I am doing the Couch to 5K running program. This is completely out of character. I like the couch. Most of my favourite things can be done there: reading, playing video games, watching TV, cuddling, napping, eating. And yet I am doing something which promises to get me OFF the couch. Madness!

Mostly I am doing this because since my main form of exercise became Pilates, I have lost all my cardio fitness. I can crush walnuts with my thighs* but I can't jog for more than a few seconds before lying down. Also, I was seduced by yellowcardigan  and preachertom , two seemingly intelligent people who have taken up running and pretend to enjoy it.

So I decided to do the Couch to 5K. Again, please note the word 'couch.' The website specifically promises to "transform you from couch potato to runner', in fact. "Well, that sounds pretty good!" I thought to myself. "A nice, easy, slow start, and then building up gradually."

As it turns out, the people who developed this program have a different definition of 'couch potato' to mine. I think of a couch potato as a person who has spent a lot of time on the couch, and subsequently has come to look like a potato. Consider this self-portrait:

But apparently the Cool Runnings people define a couch potato as 'someone who owns a couch, but prefers to go for long vigorous walks rather than sit on it.' The first week is three sessions of half an hour: 5 minute warm-ups and cool-downs on each end, and 20 minutes of the following:

Run for 60 seconds.
Walk for 90 seconds.
Repeat 500 times.**

When I saw this, I laughed. "Sixty seconds!" I chortled. "That is not a very long time! Why, I have done lots of things for sixty seconds. Like reading, or waiting for a bus, or eating cereal. It is a teeny amount of time!"

As Einstein put it, "Time is completely relative when you're a fat girl trying to run around an oval." The first 60 seconds exhausted me; the second nearly killed me; the third... went for thirty seconds and then went no more. I could not do the first (i.e. the COUCH POTATO) workout.

But! I am a hero, so I persisted. The first run (or "run") was on Monday night; on Wednesday I did three full runs; tonight I did four. At this rate, it will only be another two or three weeks before I reach couch potato status!

* Probably.
** Actually eight times in total.
Jessica McLeod
24 December 2009 @ 08:48 am

I can't hope to beat tedprior 's awesome Worst list, but here are the movies that made me mad this year. (As usual, please note that a) I am in Australia and b) there will be glaring omissions, I don't go out of my way to see these things.) Beware of spoilers if you want to see these terrible movies!

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

By now you have probably read about everything that's wrong with Transformers 2, and seen it for yourselves. In the end, though, what bothered me so much about this film wasn't the terrible dialogue, or the blatant sexism, or the attempts at humour that were apparently written by someone who had grown up in a laboratory without human contact and then been given random panels of MAD Magazine, or the incredible racism of Skids and Mudflap, the two 'black' robots who are incompetent, drunk and toothless, or the inexplicable lack of action and concomitant excess of talking, or the direction of those few action scenes (and design of Transformers) which ensured that not only did you not care what was going on, you couldn't work it out even if you did. No, the thing that hurt the most was seeing poor John Turturro sell his dignity for 30 (million) pieces of silver. It was like seeing your favourite, most inspiring high-scool teacher sucking dick at the bus station.

Sample dialogue:

Sam: Hey, you know the glyphs? These? The symbols that have been rattling around in my head?
[shows the Twins the symbols he drew]
Skids: That's old school, yo. That's like... That's Cybertronian.
Mudflap: That's some serious stuff, right there.
Sam: They gotta mean something, like a map or like map. Like a map to an Energon source! Can you read this?
Skids: Read?
Mudflap: No. We don't really do much reading. Not so much.

[Mikaela dresses up in a fancy dress to surprise Sam]
Sam: Wow!


A perfect example of form over function. The animation is pretty but the story is dreadful. As the characters are apparently (spoiler!) elements of one person, it makes sense that they are completely two-dimensional, but that doesn't make the viewer any more interested in their struggle. The dialogue is clunky and wooden, and the story is banal. I defy you to watch this and give a toss about any of the 'characters.' This movie is like biting into a meringue and then realising it's completely hollow. Also, the baker trapped a fart inside it.

Sample dialogue:

1:  When we awoke in this world, it was chaos. Man and machine attacked each other with fire and metal. I lead us here to sanctuary and here we waited out the war. Slowly, the world grew still until all that remained, was The Beast. Now we wait for it too to sleep.
9: But where did it come from? Why is it hunting us?
1: Questions like that are pointless.

Year One

Year One did a truly outstanding job of taking people I love (Jack Black, Michael Cera, Oliver Platt, David Cross, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Harold Raimis) and making me want to punch them. After a couple of snickers in the first twenty minutes, I sat stony-faced through such comic gems as Jack Black eating shit, women having underarm hair, and Oliver Platt giving one of the nastiest and most homophobic performances I've seen in years.

The whole film feels cheap, lazy and dirty. If you want to see a sophisticated and witty Raimis movie, you're better off seeing Caddyshack.

Sample dialogue:

Zed: Hey, I'm peeing on my face too. On the inside.

Synecdoche New York

I was expecting to love this movie. I love Charlie Kaufman, I love Philip Seymour Hoffman, I love Catherine Keener, I love self-indulgent metanarrative arthouse films about the nature of existence. But oh man, it was like Kaufman took my love of all of these things as a challenge to make a movie that would leave me feeling utterly crushed and despairing, and then resentful. Kaufman's usual playful sense of humour is leaden and repetitious. Towards the end (after what feels like four hours or so) the relentless misery of the film feels like self-parody. I was expecting profundity, but what I got was pomposity.

Sample dialogue:

Millicent Weems: [voice over] Now it is waiting and nobody cares. And when your wait is over this room will still exist and it will continue to hold shoes and dress and boxes and maybe someday another waiting person. And maybe not. The room doesn't care either.

Zack & Miri Make a Porno

One again, a film I was expecting to enjoy. I like Seth Rogen a whole bunch, I really enjoy Elizabeth Banks. I am not a big fan of Kevin Smith, but I was willing to try.

Sadly, everything I usually hate about Smith's films was on overdrive here. The misogyny, the anti-sex prudishness disguised as sex comedy, the complete lack of understanding of how women talk, think or interact with people. Add to this a healthy dose of homophobia (apparently just being gay is hilarious, you don't need to add any jokes) and a bizarre self-aggrandising theme (the best person in the world is the one who makes a movie! That person is truly a hero!) and you have something utterly insufferable. The characters act without any discernable motive, and Zack's violent, sudden rage is seen as a cute character flaw that Miri inevitably forgets as soon as she has a chance to be in a relationship with this wonderful guy.

Sample dialogue:

Brandon: I will be your Sherpa up the mountain of gayness.

Wrong Turn 3

Ugh. You know what? I liked Wrong Turn. It had excitement (cannibals!), a gothic sensibility based on a postindustrial fear of the countryside (inbred hillbilly cannibals!) and science (inbreeding makes hillbilly cannibals super-strong!) Wrong Turn 2 wasn't as good, but it had an enjoyable and bewildering star in Henry Rollins (no, really) and lots more inbred hillbilly cannibals.

With Wrong Turn 3, the makers apparently decided that what audiences liked in the Wrong Turn franchise was... HA! You thought I was going to say 'inbred hillbilly cannibals', didn't you? Nope, they decided that what audiences liked was the complex interplay of the characters, and lots of dialogue. Or to be more accurate, the 'complex' 'interplay' of the 'characters', and lots of 'dialogue.'

So instead of lots of inbred hillbilly cannibals munching down on lithe teens, we get brief appearances of two or three cannibals and lots and lots of time spent on prison escapees. The real horror is man's inhumanity to man, or something.

Oh, plus a really irritating, nonsensical and unnecessary 'twist' at the end.

Sample dialogue:

This film is so ignored that there are no lines available at IMDB! Instead, enjoy these actual taglines:

What You Don't See Will Kill You
Which Detour Will You Take?
He Just Can't Wait To Meat You

And my more realistic taglines:

This Caged Heat is Out of the Cage and Onto the Plate!
Not As Many Cannibals As You'd Expect
Why Can't We All Just Get Along
Jessica McLeod
24 November 2009 @ 11:23 am
I dreamt that all my friends were lying on the ground in sleeping bags in someone's lounge room, and I was crawling around giving them all kisses (on the cheek). yellowcardigan and alexmoon and boofuls and campoalto and lisamax and boxer_the_horse , you were all there! Then I realised that every time one of my female friends had a birthday, I gave them a painting of themselves making out with me. I had made boofuls a huge blingy necklace, the centre of which was a painting of us kissing. I was asking her why she didn't wear it more often and she told me she didn't want to damage it.

Then I woke up and realised that she was just trying not to hurt my feelings. THE NERVE.
Jessica McLeod
30 April 2009 @ 09:40 am
Today, for the first time, I went to a doctor who was the same age, or possibly younger, than me. I did not like this! Doctors should be at least ten years older than me, because I am still very stupid and I don't know what I'm doing and how can someone my age prescribe drugs and make sure my body is functioning? To makes things worse, he was a hipster, in tight jeans and a red shirt and scruffy curly hair and a bit of a beard. Doctors should be neatly, though dowdily, dressed, in things like cordouroy trousers and brown skirts and serviceable shirts bought at a department store ten years ago.

Kids today, with their blood pressure monitors and stethoscopes!
Jessica McLeod
12 March 2009 @ 06:10 pm
Maoam pervert candy

Now that's a fusion of fruit flavours.

Brought to you by the Germans, unsurprisingly.