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by Bill Gibron

29 Dec 2011

#8: Sextette

Actually, an alternative title for this particular list could be “the worst homemade hack horror films of all time.” It seems that every year, like calculated clockwork, fans from all over the hemis-fear log into their own particular brand of macabre and make movies, thinking they are the next Wes Craven—or more likely, Sam Raimi. They believe so much in their muse that they leave things out such as talent, creativity, acting ability, characterization, storytelling and technical competence. Of the ten DVDs discussed here, five are part of this particular category. A few come from decades back, when proficiency was countered by available outlets, but others come right from today, when digital determines capability - or at least, should.

As for the rest, the determination is a bit different. In fact, every year, it’s the same argument - is this a worst FILM list or a worst DVD list… and better yet, what the Hell is the difference! If you added up the number of comments and emails, questions and complaints, you’d have a stack of suggestions higher than a college slacker. The truth is, this category comes a close second to the “unknown film” compilation. Instead of focusing on the obvious choices we move slightly beyond the mainstream to seek out those titles which, in all honesty, didn’t need to be on DVD in the first place.

by Bill Gibron

28 Dec 2011

Outsider films are, dare it be said, a dying breed. Thanks to updates in technology, new and novel means of distribution, and the bandwagon like call to arms that is the Internet, even the most reclusive cinematic “genius” is bound to be discovered (and if the biz has anything to say about it, exploited). This doesn’t mean that every movie made sees the light of an everyday release, but it does make it harder and harder to stay in the background. Websites strive on uncovering the unique and unsung, and as such, banking on the uniqueness to raise their always struggling profiles. After 12 months of sifting through the celluloid remnants, offering up a compendium of ten heretofore unknown treats is difficult, if not impossible. Still, in the annual spirit of such a discussion, we will give it a well-considered whirl.

Of course, the notion of titles “you never heard of” has to be taken with a grain of cinematic salt. We could have easily included the brilliant British alien invasion film Attack the Block, and equally genius UK road comedy, The Trip, or the killer clowns from Franco’s Spain, The Last Circus, on this list. They easily demand inclusion among 2011’s Best. But the minute we include them here, someone will come out to claim that, as mainstream hits around the world, we are being too US-ccentric in our premise’s frame of reference. With this in mind we dug a little deeper, looked a little harder, and came up with a list that hopefully has more “huh’s” that “aha’s.” Sure, some will still be known, but most will be untapped treasures.

by Bill Gibron

15 Dec 2011

Every year, the argument begins. Some famed filmmaker is left off the Oscar list while his movie remains a contender for the top prize. This leads to the natural denouncements like “the movie didn’t direct itself,” while others point out that great performances and expert realization of the printed word are all within the purview of the man or woman sitting behind the lens. Yet the director always seems to be the last one legitimately acknowledged. Sometimes, a name is swept in on a wave of celebration and support. In other instances, the lack of recognition is laughable.

Looking over a small list of who has an Academy Award for their work in the director’s seat and who doesn’t is shocking enough. Tom Hopper has one. Darren Aronofsky and David Fincher do not. Ron Howard has one. Paul Greengrass and Alexander Payne don’t. In fact, there are actors with more Oscar nods than legitimate icons of the directing trade. The fact that both Mel Gibson and Kevin Costner have awards and Christopher Nolan and Quentin Tarantino do not is just jaw-dropping. While one could easily continue on with such a list, it is perhaps better to point out 10 of the most egregious oversights. The cinematic sins exposed here are so horrid in fact, it’s hard to get a handle on how they happened. The only important thing to remember is, they did, beginning with this unfathomable affront:

by Bill Gibron

8 Dec 2011

Gwyneth Paltrow has one. So does Natalie Portman. Marlee Matlin, Halle Berry, and Reese Witherspoon are all walking around with the accolade attached to their brand. Heck, even Helen Hunt can claim her place in the pantheon of Oscar winning actresses (Really? REALLY???). In fact, over the last two decades, it seems that publicity and warped media sentiment have skewed the awarding of Academy gold more so than actual talent. It’s as if the PR companies and the various critics groups get together, whittle down the list of potential candidates to a “who hasn’t got one yet?” collection of names, and then begins the process of setting the Year-End agenda. Perhaps that explains why Hillary Swank has two statues while Gena Rowlands has none.

As we did last week, List This will once again pinpoint ten specific instances where the voting members of the movie business got it wrong - or failed to recognize a worthy role all together. Again, we will present them in alphabetical order, along with the film we feel makes our case. In certain instances, an actress may have already been nominated for said effort, but ended up losing for reasons that routinely boggle the mind. While not at all inclusive, it is clear that, in most cases, the tide or time was simply not in their favor. In other situations, however, there is no explanation for their exclusion (or possible exclusion).

by Bill Gibron

30 Nov 2011

As November grinds to a halt, as December announces the arrival of the end of each particular year, film critics and fans of the medium start contemplating awards—bests and worsts, the deserving and the soon to be discarded. It’s a ritual as traditional as pumpkin pie, fantasy football, the tannenbaum, and of course, the complementary complaining about movies and makers still MIA. Sit in on any cinematic sewing circle and just listen to the laundry list of complaints—director’s wrongfully snubbed, films erroneously praised—and you come to a clear conclusion: even within groups where consensus seems to strive for balance, the good aren’t always given their due and the dreadful often walk away with gold.

Sometimes, however, the failures are more than egregious. They stare you squarely in the face and announce their lack of careful consideration. Roberto Benigni may have wowed the unfamiliar with his farcical take on the Holocaust, but in retrospect, Life Is Beautiful didn’t deserve any of the accolades it received. In fact, similar statements can be made about titles as diverse as West Side Story or The Return of the King. With that in mind, the next four installments of List This will try and highlight ten of the many slights experienced by actors, actresses, directors, and their movies. While there are many, many more, the one’s selected represent a real lack of vision on the part of voters and those who support such annual appraisals. Beginning with the men, we offer the following:

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