ENDURANCE TEST TUESDAYS #1

The worst things in life are free.  In this case, the worst possible things ever are on the internet, ready for consumption.

With a group of friends, sometimes we do what I like to call “Endurance Tests”.  That is, we find the worst stuff on the internet (but not things that are too easy to win with like gory or gross stuff i.e. Two Girls One Cup, BME Pain Olympics, goatse.cx, etc.), and try and make it through the entire thing.  These things come in the form of terrible movies, awful music videos, or downright cringeworthy youtube videos that will try the patience of any sane person.  Since I’ve been writing reviews, I make it my mission to seek out the very very worst of the worst, and really unpack them.  Figure out what makes them so fascinating.  Every Tuesday, I will watch something terrible (submitted by you), and I will review it as if I were reviewing any present day film.

Today, I’ll be reviewing a video submitted by Amanda W.

WINDOWS 95 VIDEO GUIDE

Here’s a 3 step guide to how to make this video.

1. Take a Windows 95 Instructional Manual.

2. Add Cocaine.

3. There is no step 3.

Someone had the genius idea of mixing an instructional video with a sitcom… for some reason.  One would think that the info of an instructional guide might be easier to digest if it wasn’t in a format that wasn’t meant to convey information in a clear & concise way.  But, the fact that videos like this pervaded the 1990’s, instructions given in a format that doubles as entertainment, says a lot about the 90’s..  If we can be candid about this, the only format this works in is TV for toddlers (Sesame Street for example).  The reason for this is because the information is so basic, that crafting entertainment around it wouldn’t distract from the info.  In this format, an instructional sitcom teaching people how to use a computer operating system, this video was bound to fail from the start.

Screen Shot 2014-12-30 at 9.38.10 AM

The look of actors wishing they were doing something else.

This video can be separated into two halves.  The first half is the sitcom.

Matthew Perry and Jennifer Aniston show up at Microsoft’s headquarters to talk to Bill Gates about appearing in a Windows 95 video (It’s meta…  Get it?!).  They meet a snappy secretary.  They have unfunny banter.  Then, we’re thrust head-on into info-time!  From this point on, the video acts as a clumsy device to sell us on Microsoft’s operating system momentarily interrupted with by unfunny banter.  Then, we’re treated to other “zany” characters like the foreign window washer who they make fun for being overweight.  Fat-shaming is so funny, guys!  And then, he somehow has info about Windows 95, and he feeds us info too.  Cue unfunny banter!  Then, we’re introduced to a nerd stereotype who has the hots for Jennifer Aniston.  He has more unfunny banter.  Then, we get a guy who is a delivery boy for a Chinese restaurant, and speaks in a weird accent that is a hybrid of a Southern Cali accent and a Stereotypical Chinese accent  Yay, because racism is so funny!  Then, we get a kid who rolls in on a Razor scooter.  He challenges Jennifer Aniston to a game of 3D pinball.  Then, a rock band comes in, plays some music randomly, and everyone starts dancing.

Because, overweight people are FUNNY!  RIGHT?!

Because, overweight people are FUNNY! RIGHT?!

At this point, it dawned on me exactly what the hell was wrong with this video.  The fundamental problem with this video (besides the fact that it’s monumentally unfunny) is that every character shows up as if we’re supposed to already know them.  It’s like we’re dropped into the middle of the 4th season of a TV sitcom, like we’re already supposed to be acquainted with these people, and find them funny.  We don’t.  At least I didn’t.  I laughed so little, I seriously began questioning if I’d ever laugh again.  Jennifer Aniston and Matthew Perry are irritating anyway.  Their smarmy “quirky” personalities started to actively get on my nerves about 5 minutes in.  This… is so convinced of it’s comedic genius, that there are actual pauses in the middle of dialogue where laughter should be.

You know what I like in my instructional video?  Offensive Asian stereotypes, that's what!

You know what I like in my instructional video? Offensive Asian stereotypes, that’s what!

I know people have a lot of nostalgia for the 90’s.  But, this video is a time capsule of a decade practically filled with unfortunate pop culture phenomenons.  We don’t have the heart to admit the things we liked as kids and/or teenagers sucked.  If this video serves any purpose, it needs to destroy what little nostalgia my generation has left.  This is an artifact.  A product that reminds of what a weird and culturally tone-deaf decade the 90’s were.  And, also a reminder of why “Friends” always annoyed the ever-loving shit out of me (seriously, Seinfeld is better).

This kid grew up to be a serial killer, by the way.

This kid grew up to be a serial killer, by the way.

Fortunately, the sitcom segment ends about halfway through (this thing is an hour long).  And, from then on, we have the much more entertaining segment which is the basic instructional stuff without the awkward comedy.

Endurance Tests are usually difficult for two reasons:

1. Length

2. Cringe-worthiness.

This one is more of the former.  It’s an hour long, which makes sitting there and watching it in one sitting hard.  It’s “cringe-worthy” because of the sitcom-shit.  There is nothing harder-to-watch than a comedy that isn’t funny.  You start to feel embarrassed for the actors & actresses involved.  This big swelling of pity is what makes this not necessarily as unwatchable as most of the other Endurance Tests that might come my way.

I give this a “cringe-meter” rating of…

3.0 out of 5.0

Every Tuesday, I will watch and review whatever terrible shit you send me.  You can send me stuff to watch via facebook…  Post it to my wall, and next Tuesday, you’ll see which video(s) made the cut.  So, send in your submissions (facebook.com/LewisMorrisPoetry) before Friday!

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Lewis’ TOP 10 WORST MOVIES of 2014

2014 was the year that the box office fell majorly. In my humble opinion, however, I thought it was a rather strong year quality-wise for genre cinema. But, like any good year, there’s crap. And, this crap is the worst of the worst. So, you won’t find films like “Transformers 4” or “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” on here… Because while those films may have bad things about them, at least the fulfill the requirement of actually entertaining audiences on some level no matter how dubious. These films are total sh*t. So, let’s jump right into it…

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10. TRANSCENDENCE

“Transcendence” may not be the worst movie of the year. But, it is the most boring. Watching it felt like I was watching my taxes get done. It’s a massive chore to sit through. The surprising thing in this entertainment-free misfire is how bored everyone in the movie looks. The movie lurches from one boring scene to another where no one acts convincingly human. I’ve never seen Johnny Depp as lackadaisical as he is here. He sleepwalks through the entire movie, as if he wandered onto the set while in a drowsy drunken stupor. It’s well-shot, and looks “pretty”, which is appropriate since it’s directed by Chris Nolan’s go-to cinematographer Wally Pfister. Just goes to show, just because you can point a camera at something and shoot doesn’t mean you can direct. If you want the most restful sleep you’ve ever had, look no further than this garbage.

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9. I, FRANKENSTEIN

If “I, Frankenstein” was a person, it’d be a 13-year-old Goth kid sitting in the back of the classroom scribbling in his notebook while mumbling Slipknot lyrics to himself. This movie is hilariously awful… until it becomes stupid. Aaron Eckhart plays Frankenstein’s monster (otherwise known as Adam… get it?!) in the way that Robert Pattinson plays a “Vampire”. They somehow make him a “sexy” (according to who?) version of Frankenstein’s Monster, a grave miscalculation. It’s embarrassing. But, Eckhart plays the role with a ridiculous amount of seriousness that is absolutely laughable. When the movie isn’t busy trying to sell us on this bullsh*t, it devolves into a series of repetitive action sequences involving demons, gargoyles, and Frankenstein in listless and hopelessly boring fights scenes that recycle effect shots that look like playstation 2 quality cut scenes. From every angle you approach, this movie is a f*cking disaster. The only thing that made it somewhat entertaining was my girlfriend getting me high before I watched it. And, even that didn’t work.

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8. ADDICTED

“Addicted” is based on a novel… Although, calling it a “novel” is very generous for a book that is essentially a collection of sh*tty Penthouse letters. And the film, appropriately, comes off as a series of boring unerotic softcore cinemax porn scenes stitched together with meaningless drama. At every possible point where “Addicted” has an opportunity to tell an interesting story, it instead wimps out and quits. My viewing experience was f*cking miserable. Imagine me, the only male in an audience full of thirsty-ass women… The audience hooting and hollering as two people we don’t give a flying f*ck about dryly hump each other while the camera emphatically zooms in on male ass the way Michael Bay zooms in on boobs.  The level of insulting dismissiveness this film treats its main female lead made me feel nauseous.  Throughout the movie, scenes play like this until we get to the “dramatic” portion of the movie that grinds to a screeching halt, and completely abandons the idea that the people we’re watching are human. It’s like watching a trainwreck happen in ultra slow-motion. This is a godawful movie. Stabbing your eyeballs with dull pencils would be more entertaining (and more erotic) than this f*cking bullsh*t could ever be. F*ck this goddamn movie.

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7. SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR

“Sin City”, back when it was released in 2005, was a dark & fun little movie. The stories, whether it was “That Yellow Bastard” or “The Hard Goodbye” had a kernel of humanity that made each of these stories feel present and genuine. “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” further disconnects Frank Miller from his already disconnected-from-humanity work. More than anything, this film feels juvenile, childish, and dull beyond reason. It makes me rethink my feelings about the original film. The novelty has worn out its welcome. Back when “Sin City” was released, it was the introduction of a few things we’ve never seen done before. Namely, the green screen stuff that Robert Rodriguez is known for. However, this movie looks dated… Visually, conceptually, storyline-wise, gender-wise, emotionally… dated… and juvenile as well. This film made me feel gross after watching it. Mainly because of how immaturely everything is approached. There was a stern kind of grown-ness to the original (while still maintaining a fun tone). That’s missing here. Sin City 2 is a terrible movie, which is heartbreaking because of my love for the first film.

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6. WINTER’S TALE

“Winter’s Tale” is like getting five bad movies in one. There’s Russell Crowe ripping off someone’s face. There’s a flying horse. There’s Will Smith in the weirdest most out-of-place cameo I’ve ever seen. Melodramatic and sentimental down to its ooey-gooey climax, it’s one of those movies about “LOVE” and how “LOVE IS LOVE” and “LOVE! F*CKING LOVE!!!”… Love conquers all, love crosses barriers, love fixes everything in the world ever. One has to wonder how this many big name actors attached themselves to this. The screenplay is atrocious. How were they able to read this f*cking screenplay, and not know that this was awful? As far as fables go… I thought that after a fable was over, there was supposed to be some kind of valuable lesson. There isn’t here. I didn’t learn anything except that Will Smith had better treat this movie like Arnold Schwarzenegger treats “Red Sonja”, and pretend it doesn’t exist.


5. AMERICA: IMAGINE THE WORLD WITHOUT HER

“America: Imagine the World Without Her” is amazingly awful. As a piece of documentary filmmaking, it is undeniably terrible. Dinesh D’Souza anchors this turd, yet has the personality of a box of Cheerios. This film posits the question of what if America didn’t exist. Just like his equally sh*tty “2016” documentary, this film plays fast & loose with “facts” (if you can even call them that), justifying its weak arguments with laughable logic that even Fox News would have too much respect for itself to even try to attempt. And, just like “2016”, the film is filled with America’s Most Wanted-style dramatizations… Sh*tty skits that’d be more appropriate as a MadTV parody of AMW dramatizations. Plus, let’s be honest, and say that Dinesh D’Souza could maybe learn from a guy like Michael Moore. Call him what you’d like, but at least Moore knows how to entertain his audience. He is a GOOD filmmaker. Dinesh is not. This sh*t here… is just garbage.


4. OUIJA

“Ouija”… Uh……. This movie is bad in ways I can’t even joke about. There is literally no effort made here to make a movie that is scary or interesting. This isn’t just a horror movie for being who can’t handle horror movies. This is more so a horror movie for people who just can’t handle movies. I can’t write a blurb about this movie without it getting as boring as the movie itself. A PG-13 non-thriller, this movie is as horrifying as a box of puppies… Except puppys are interesting and fun to watch. “Ouija” sucks. Plain & simple.


3. EXODUS: GODS & KINGS

“Exodus: Gods & Kings” is a bible based epic that doesn’t understand the bible or the word “epic”. Ridley Scott does this thing nowadays that is becoming more irritating with each film. He directs in a really cold and distant way to give off the illusion that the movie is cerebral and filled with nuance. Instead, it makes the film BORING. Inconsistent tones abound in this choppily paced piece of anti-cinema. Joel Edgerton (who wears a spray tan) overacts like crazy. Christian Bale underacts, and sleepwalks through the film. The rest of the cast perform in varying degrees of sh*ttiness. The screenplay, like every bible based movie this year, is HORRIBLE. The dialogue these otherwise good actors are forced to say… Jesus. Is it a rule that Bible-based movies are required by law to have sh*tty f*cking screenplays? This continues that trend, except this exists under the veneer of being a psychologically complex & cerebral drama. It comes off as pretentious. And, if there’s one thing I hate more than anything in film, it’s pretension. For that reason, this movie can kiss my ass.


2. TUSK

“Tusk”… WOW. What a f*cking piece of dogsh*t. I almost couldn’t believe what I was watching. Kevin Smith’s latest bowel movement is a “horror” movie (I can’t put enough sarcastic quotation marks around the word “horror”, so I won’t even try). But, it’s so tone-deaf, it starts out as a VERY broad comedy that isn’t funny in the least. Then, rams head-on into Cronenberg-style body horror involving Justin Long’s character being kidnapped to be turned into a Walrus. The premise is ridiculous, sure. But, just like most good exploitation films, if the execution is solid and the tone is deliberate, you can make a good fun movie. Here, the movie stumbles very early on with its lame attempt at comedy, and then stumbles through an even lamer attempt at psychological horror that takes up most of its runtime. That doesn’t prepare us for the ending, though… Remember when I said Will Smith had the most out-of-place cameo I’ve ever seen. Well, I lied. Compare that to Johnny f*cking Depp’s cameo where he shows up, and the movie comes to a screeching halt so we can watch a 5 minute scene that feels like three f*cking hours. And then, they finally show us the “Walrus”… And… I couldn’t believe just how sh*tty the creature effects look. It looks like someone wrapped a bunch of brown blankets around some guy, and gave him Walrus fangs. It looks absolutely awful, as much of this movie already does (there’s a scene where some kid gets his leg chopped off, and it’s one of the worst special effects shots I’ve seen in a long LONG time). I cannot properly express in words how much of a disaster “Tusk” is…


1. GOD’S NOT DEAD

“God’s Not Dead” is a deeply insulting, deeply condescending, and monumentally sh*tty faith-based movie. I hate this movie so much. As soon as I saw it, I knew that unless they made “Battleship 2”, there was no way any other film could be worse than this one. Here, we have a movie about this Christian kid who’s a freshman in college going up against his Atheist philosophy professor (played by Kevin “Hercules” Sorbo) in a series of debates. But, of course, this movie is jammed packed with sh*tty subplots. A riot of themes and ideas that never ever feel like they belong together. As a Christian myself, I’d absolutely LOVE to see a movie with real debates for and against the belief of God. However, the Christian characters are given cupcake storylines with no real drama (example: a pastor and his missionary buddy try to get a rental car to go to Disneyland… Not joking), and the atheists are given insultingly simplistic reasons to explain away their atheism. The movie becomes even more offensive when they depict the subplot of a girl who was brought up in a Muslim family, and ultimately gets disowned by that same Muslim family because she listens to Christian sermons on her iPod. Wow, f*ck this movie. Not only that, but the whole entire film on a technical level is subpar on a level that is surprising even for the ultra-sh*tty faith based Christian film genre. Scenes are awkwardly edited, and the production feels a lot like a Disney Channel original movie. I said in my written review that this is the kind of film Tyler Perry would make if he were white. In that it’s obvious, completely unsubtle, and insulting in its simplisticity. This is an awful awful movie that cannot be defended on any intellectual/emotional/religious level. “God’s Not Dead” is the worst movie of 2014… A movie so awful, God him/herself would probably be embarrassed to have this movie named after them.

So, there you have it. If you have the opportunity to avoid all of the movies above, do so. What do y’all think? Agree? Disagree? Think I’m full of sh*t? Let me know… And, as always, thanks for reading.

“Annie” is pure anti-cinema…

Let’s make this quick…  “Annie” is a jaw-droppingly shitty movie.
You know, I should end the review there. Never before have I seen a movie of this kind that seems to have such an open and unhidden hatred for its audience and its genre. That genre, of course, being musicals. Musicals only work if (a) the music is actually good, and (b) the story surround the music is compelling. Neither is the case here as the story drips with ooey-gooey sentimentality that becomes sickening five minutes in. And, the music?

Well, the music is mostly composed of shitty and uninteresting numbers. Some of the more popular songs from the original musical don’t make an appearance here. Surprisingly, director of the music was none other than the ultra-talented Sia. Yet, the music here sounds generic and flat. And, your main actress, Quvenzhane Wallis, sing-talks her way through musical numbers that feel just about as fun as jury duty.

This movie sucks.

I cannot believe how wrong this entire production was, from the acting, to the directing choices. Everything here feels cheap and manipulative, and everyone in the movie looks like they just want it to be over. Who fares the worst is definitely Cameron Diaz. Her performance is so awful, it’s like watching an elementary school play. It’s embarrassing. In fact, the only actor who seemed somewhat comfortable in their role was Jamie Foxx. Makes sense, because he is the most versatile performer in the film. He can sing, he can act, he can dance, and he’s funny. It’s just to bad that this script constantly undercuts all that with wrongheaded choices.

It’s like the filmmakers are embarrassed to be making a musical. So, what you essentially get is a movie that is actively at war with itself, never fully committing to being what it is… That’s depressing. This whole movie is depressing.

I mean, we can talk about the film technically speaking, but every creative choice feels wrong. There are straight-up just awful editing choices, which I assume are a byproduct of a cinematographer who has no idea what they’re doing. The whole entire production is dunderheaded in a way that I haven’t seen in years. This is a straight-up awful movie. Annie is indeed one of the worst movies I’ve seen all year.

“The Interview” is… Good Enough?

“The Interview” is a movie made more relevant because of the circumstances surrounding it rather than the movie itself. News outlets, entertainment media, and even Obama have made this movie out to be more-or-less an event.
It’s not.

That’s not to say that it’s bad. In fact, it’s actually quite good in places. But, the fact remains, with the terroristic threats and the unprecedented (and frankly entertaining) Sony hacks, one might wonder if the movie would get any play at all if the controversy wasn’t trumped up and blown up by various media outlets. The ultimate undoing of this film is not the film itself. And that is particularly tragic. There was no way this film could possibly live up to the epic drama surrounding its making. So, when watching this, I tried to separate this from the real-life shenanigans that swirled around it since late November.

As a movie, completely and totally separate from all the bullshit, it’s pretty solid. It’s not great. It finds a nice comfort spot in being good. Just good. It’s funny (for most of its runtime… more on that in a sec). It scores some pretty interesting dramatic situations. And, what I found most surprising is that the movie looks GORGEOUS. The cinematography, the richness of the production design… All the money is there onscreen. I haven’t seen a comedy pay this much attention to its visuals in a long time.


The film’s plot is solid (if somewhat flimsy when given further thought). It surrounds a celebrity tabloid talk show host Dave Skylark (James Franco), and his producer Aaron Rapoport (Seth Rogen). They’re generally disrespected by their colleagues for essentially feeding the American public trashy television. When the opportunity to interview Kim Jong Un (Randall Park) appears, they see it as a way to legitimize themselves to the general public. But, the plans change when the CIA asks the pair to assassinate Kim Jong Un. Obviously, things don’t go as planned.

As with any of these Seth Rogen comedies, there is a formula. That formula is becoming more apparent with each movie he releases. This time around, we’re getting a formula sorta/kinda similar to Superbad. There’s two guys, one smart, the other dumb & crass. They have different ambitions. They get caught up in an epic quest. That epic quest introduces a female love interest for at least one of these guys (or the female love interest is the reason for the epic quest). And then, plans get more complicated, and causes a rift between the two guys. But, then the two guys reconcile when the situation becomes a little more dire. Cue bromance. Then, the two guys execute their plan, and through dumb-luck, end up coming out of it okay (and one of them ends up getting the girl too). Of course, in between these plot points, you can insert dick & shit jokes to pad out the runtime.

You know… “This is The End” had a more original approach. That movie had several opportunities to bow down to the conventions of the genre. And, for the most part, it didn’t. Unfortunately for this movie, it is almost entirely an exercise in formula without the reward of something new.

However, that’s something most audiences won’t care about. Because where it counts, this movie works… It’s really funny for the most part. But, the movie does hit a pretty sizable dry spot somewhere in the middle, and doesn’t recover until the beginning of the third act. I understand why it has to slow down. It has to spend time (out of obligation) to develop Kim Jong Un’s character.


I think Randall Park’s performance as Kim Jong Un is part of the main reason why the middle of this film works. He somehow finds a way in his mannerisms and body language to make an otherwise despicable person somewhat relatable. Here, we get a tragic character given power when he doesn’t know what power actually is. Park builds off of that, and ends it on a note that makes us almost feel sorry for him… Almost.

Of course, predictably, Franco & Rogen have great chemistry, and play well off each other. These guys could do this shit in their sleep, they work so well. You get the impression that these guys have known each other for years. That’s unlike a lot of other movies of its kind where we are told this information rather than shown it.

If there’s one big thing I can’t forgive the movie for, it’s its length. The movie is not particularly long at all (just under 2 hours). However, this film (like a lot of comedies that come out of the Rogen/Apatow production house) feels like it needs about 10 minutes shaved off of it. There are scenes that feel like they’re only as long as they are to pad out the runtime. Scenes that stop being funny midway through are milked until dry.

Shakespeare once wrote “Brevity is the soul of wit”… That quote might be a lesson to apply to further Seth Rogen films.

All in all, “The Interview” is a good film for what it is. It could’ve been great. It could’ve had a cultural relevance that most comedies don’t have. Unfortunately, it will. But, it won’t be because of the movie itself. It’ll be because of the controversy around it.

Such a shame. It’s a good movie. But with so much hoopla, I wish the movie that was the cause of it was a little bit better.

So… I finally have a blog.

1

ME. Boston’s Finest. 12/12/2014

YO.  My name’s Lewis.  For those that don’t know me, I’m a performance poet, educator, musician, and film critic.  For those that DO know me…  Well…  It’s been a long time coming…  Since I’ve been writing film reviews, it’s been suggested time & time again that I create a blog for my reviews.  This is that blog.

The thing about this is…  I don’t do this for a living.  I don’t get to see as many movies as I would like to.  There’s still tons of things I need to see.  Truth be told, I’m slacking on my movie game.  That’s gonna change in the very near future.  I plan on keeping this blog going with new content, editorials, opinion pieces, and more all revolving around the world of film, filmmakers, and their audiences.

I strive for a more down-to-earth tone than most film critics out there.  I respect all genres, all subject matters.  So, I watch EVERYTHING.  And, here will be no different.  Of the course of the next few weeks, I’ll be posting new content that will (hopefully) involve you, the reader, and will promote conversation and discussion.

I promise y’all BIG things in the next couple of weeks.  Stay tuned.  And, thank y’all for reading.

– Lewis M.