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Tuesday, Jun 8, 2010
In the dynasty of dung, among the many pretenders to the best worst movie throne, Tommy Wiseau and his oddly named tragedy truly earns its rotten rep.

One conversation, that is all it would take. Our main characters, surprisingly successful bank employee cum Euro-trash face transplant Johnny (the multi-hypenated and minimally talented Tommy Wiseau) and his borderline plump diabolical dream gal fiancé Lisa (Juliette Danielle), simply needed to sit down and talk out their obvious relationship issues, and everything would be right with the romantic world. He would see what a conniving and manipulative biz-nitch she truly is, and she would…well, probably have a hard time understanding his forged behind the Iron Curtain accent. Still, a little interpersonal palaver might have saved them - and anyone desperate enough to view their cracked kitchen sink drama - from the 100 minute nightmare known as The Room. As with most of what this abysmal movie stands for, the title makes about as much sense as the dozens of dangling (and still unresolved) plot threads.


Wiseau, who wrote, directed, produced, conceived, and still-bore this fascinating disaster is a money making maverick, his lead’s key career profile having something to do with savings and/or loans. His Johnny is so flush with the green stuff that he can keep the lumpy Lisa living in a swanky part of San Francisco (the apartment itself looks like a poorly furnished studio set - which it is) and also provide former adoption candidate, now wimpy college student Denny (Philip Haldiman) a place to live in the same building, as well as his full tuition. He is constantly buying is beefy beloved flowers and cheap hooker dresses, and while apparently swamped with important work, he always has time to hook up with BFF Mark (Greg Sestero) and toss around the pigskin. Of course, what our swarthy hero doesn’t know is that Lisa no longer loves him, she is telling everyone within earshot of same, is planning on halting their upcoming wedding, and now has her mad cow eyes (and loins) set on seducing Johnny’s bud. Why? Well…um…because, after all, she deserves it?


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Monday, Jun 7, 2010
Not every bad film is Battlefield Earth. Sometimes, you have to sit through something like Tommy and the Cool Mule to see just how shoddy a subpar effort can really be.

Get ready, Short Ends and Leader fans. Starting tomorrow, 8 June and running straight through Sunday, 13 June, we will be celebrating a week of “worsts”. Now, before your get your celluloid skivvies in a bunch, let’s review some of the important critical criteria involved in this selection of these pungent examples of cinematic stool. First, we will avoid all the “traditional” pics that usually make such lists. We aren’t looking to roast Plan Nine from Outer Space over the consensus coals one more time (BTW - it is NOT the most horrible movie of all time, period) nor are we trying to champion those oft talked about “so bad, they’re good” efforts. We’ll leave that to Mystery Science Theater 3000 and its Cinematic Titanic/Rifftrax offshoots. We also are looking to discuss dismal efforts that never wanted to achieve very much in the first place. And finally, we aren’t interested in no budget indie twaddle that would never have been decent no matter the money pumped into it. No, over the next six days we will be looking at artistic ambition dashed, filmmaking incompetence exposed, and the undeniable stench of someone who firmly believes that they have a complete grasp of the language of film. The god-awful gobbledygook they produce suggests their grip is a tad weak.


So check back every day this week for the latest scrappings from the medium’s endless trough of tripe. For a rating scale, we will go with something a little different than the norm. Giving a really horrendous entry a simple numerical score is not enough. We need to go with something more substantial. That’s why the six films featured will be judged on a scale of “1” to “5” WTFs - “1” being borderline abysmal, “5” being so outlandishly offensive that local governments out to pass some kind of law. A couple of the choices will be familiar - especially for those who follow such fringe aspects of the industry. Others, however, will hit you right between your bleary, unbelieving eyes. By the end of this self-inflicted trek into torture, we hope to illustrate how vast the chasm of motion picture crap can be. Not every bad film is Battlefield Earth. Sometimes, you have to sit through something like Tommy and the Cool Mule to see just how shoddy a subpar effort can really be.


The Schedule for A Week of Worsts


8 June, 2010 - The Room


9 June, 2010 - Tiptoes


10 June, 2010 - Birdemic: Shock and Terror


11 June, 2010 - C Me Dance


12 June, 2010 - Killa Season


13 June, 2010 - Gooby


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Thursday, Jun 3, 2010
Splice never intended to be a balls-out frightmare or gratuitous bit of bizarro inter-species exploitation. Instead, it hopes that a bevy of "Bravos" plus an ad campaign that hides the truth will trick the fanbase.

It’s known as the old bait and switch - the promise one thing but the delivery of something completely different. Carnivals used to excel at such tactics, especially the sleazier ones that would substitute medical “oddities” in jars of formaldehyde for actual sideshow freaks. Hollywood has been doing it for years - providing family films that only a brain-addled infant could love, dreaming up romantic comedies which are far from either. Genre titles seem to be the worst, however. Horror or science fiction requires a certain suspension of disbelief and when you fail to fulfill that requirement, the ideas you proffer usually go from spine-tingling to mind-numbing. But the worst crime is pretending to be something you have no intention of embracing. Nothing is more disingenuous to the fans - or the format.


Take the new fresh-from-the-film-festival-circuit favorite Splice. Co-written and directed by Vincenzo Natali (perhaps best known for the Saw-like Cube), the main premise offers envelope-pushing scientists Clive Nicoli (Adrien Brody) and Elsa Kast (Sarah Polley) as they try to find a way to make their corporate sponsors happy. They’ve just artificially developed a profitable protein (and a new genus of beastie to supply it) and the bosses want more, more, MORE! So naturally, Clive and Elsa decide to vary from protocol and use human DNA to speed up the process. The results are a half-breed ‘horror’ nicknamed Dren (“nerd”, backwards) that’s part baby, part beast. Maturing at an accelerated rate, the mutation brings out the worst in our reluctant researchers. When the company finds out, however, things go from bad to horrifically worse.


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Monday, May 24, 2010
Call it a bias or an irrational fear of my feminine side, but Sex and the City 2 will surely live without me…and I without it.

As a film critic, you have to put up with a lot - unrealistic deadlines, stubborn studio reps, screening rats, unruly paying patrons, “blank page” syndrome, our dying importance to the medium. Between the daily reports of the latest layoff to the incessant smell of a preview loaded with popcorn, perfume, and ass, it’s livelihood as a constant struggle between belief in one’s ability and better career judgment. So when something like Sex and the City 2 comes along, it challenges the carefully crafted personal equilibrium you rely on to help you get out of bed in the morning. Like the Twilight films (which offer an equal amount of cinematic suicidal tendencies), it argues for attention while acknowledging that it will do little except aggravate and demoralize - and it’s a sequel, which under the standard laws of diminishing returns means its going to be even more mediocre. 


So in preparation for my decision NOT to return to this particular franchise, I have come up with three rationalizations (call them excuses) which, I believe, forgive me from further consideration of this material. Call it a bias or an irrational fear of my feminine side, but Sex and the City 2 will surely live without me…and I without it. As a declaration of intent, I offer this clearly male manifesto, beginning with my primary position on the whole ‘sharp dressed girls gone wild’ conceit. Let’s begin with reason number one:


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Thursday, May 20, 2010
The worst thing about the Shrek films is not their entertainment inconsistencies or lack of reach. Instead, what's most troublesome is the bellwether they set for an entire decade of derivative rip-offs.

With Dreamworks supposedly putting the last nail in the coffin of this creaky, antiquated CG dinosaur (well, ogre actually), it’s time to look back at the damage a certain big green idiot has done to a fledgling, often faltering artform. When computer animation first hit big, there were two considered standard bearers. On the one side was Pixar, careful in their approach, polished in their presentation, and seemingly flawless in the quality of work they eventually produce. Of the ten movies the current Disney subsidiary has made, all have their champions and almost all are classics. On the other hand is the Spielberg/Katezenberg crapshoot, a creative enterprise that has seen as many disasters (Madagascar, Shark Tale) as delights (Kung Fu Panda, How to Train Your Dragon).


Sitting on top of the heap of half-baked entertainment is the Shrek series. Sure, the first film managed to snag the Academy Award away from Monsters Inc. (hard to believe in retrospect), but since then, the franchise has been a cinematic illustration of the law of diminishing returns. Shrek 2 was an even bigger box office success, but failed to repeat in the little gold statue department, and the less said about the awful Shrek the Third, the better. Now comes the closing riff for this encore no one asked for, a superior attempt to “reinvent” the original storyline to show what would happen if our hulking hero had never been born. Introducing the new villain Rumplestilkskin and offering a “parallel universe” version of Far Far Away where Shrek is no one special, the main aspects of this fourth installment are pretty solid.


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