Film

The Worst Films of 2011

Nothing is more punishing than a bad movie. With these ten, 2011's torture was truly painful.

Film: Season of the Witch

Director: Dominic Sena

Cast: Nicolas Cage, Ron Perlman, Claire Foy, Robert Sheehan, Stephen Graham, Christopher Lee

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Display Width: 200Season of the Witch

Whoever cut the trailers for Season of the Witch deserves credit for doing their job well. Those trailers made the movie out to be a guilty pleasure cheesefest of medieval action. Instead, the movie is a dull, grey plod through the forests of Bulgaria. Nobody seems to be having fun in this story of two Crusaders roped into escorting an accused witch to a far-off monastery. Ron Perlman at least bothers to show up for his usual solid performance. Nicolas Cage, on the other hand, sleepwalks through the movie looking like he’s regretting doing a favor for his old buddy from Gone in 60 Seconds, director Dominic Sena. Sena goes through the motions, too, dutifully staging his action-horror sequences with little flair as the rest of the cast gets picked off one by one. Season of the Witch never had all that much potential, but it should’ve turned out better than this. Chris Conaton

 
Film: New Year's Eve

Director: Garry Marshall

Cast: Halle Berry, Jessica Biel, Jon Bon Jovi, Abigail Breslin, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, Robert De Niro, Josh Duhamel, Zac Efron, Héctor Elizondo

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New Year's Eve

Finally, an answer to the pressing question: could Garry Marshall and Katherine Fugate's Valentine's Day have been worse? If only it were more succinct; their newest holiday-themed ensem-rom-com New Year's Eve runs 115 punishing minutes. With eight or nine intersecting storylines and eight or nine thousand vaguely to extremely famous people acting them out, those two hours should be a breeze. Instead, the movie is so mechanical and stiff that it resembles robots attempting to replicate this strange art you humans call "sitcoms." At the control center is Marshall, hitting the sentiment, bad-music cue, and overacting buttons as hard as he can, until the whole thing collapses into a heap of spare parts. Maybe the cast's three Oscar winners can lay low there for awhile. Jesse Hassenger

 
Film: Abduction

Director: John Singleton

Cast: Taylor Lautner, Lily Collins, Alfred Molina, Jason Isaacs, Maria Bello, Sigourney Weaver, Michael Nyqvist

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Abduction

True, spoilery fact: There is no abduction in Abduction. Sure, main character Nathan, played by Twilight’s second-fiddle Taylor Lautner, sees his own face on a missing-persons website. But it’s not because he was abducted as a child -- and the real reason is almost too stupid to go into. (It was a trap so the bad guys could lure him out of his safe, secret-agent-led foster home?) What follows is a series of fights and chases led by the ultimately charisma-less Lautner, who doesn’t really sell his character ultra-trained CIA spawn, but is even less convincing as a normal teenager. What’s most confusing of all is how director John Singleton and actors like Maria Bello, Sigourney Weaver, and Alfred Molina got dragged down with him. Marisa LaScala

 
Film: Hall Pass

Director: Bobby & Peter Farrelly

Cast: Owen Wilson, Jason Sudeikis, Jenna Fischer, Christina Applegate, Stephen Merchant, Joy Behar

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Hall Pass

Oy! Here's another example of unsettled couples doing something completely pointless for the sake of their supposedly sacred vows. The theory here is that one week away from marriage will make said union even stronger. Oh yeah, on what planet? Never before has the Farrelly Brothers brand of gross out and schmaltz seemed so forced and unfunny. Even worse, the best these recently freed husbands can come up with as a means of re-sewing their stagnant oats is... a trip to Applebees? How about your life savings, a legal Nevada brothel, and a collection of antibiotics? Apparently common sense went out these dude's doors along with any concept of comedy or wit. Bill Gibron

 
Film: Battle: Los Angeles

Director: Jonathan Liebesman

Cast: Aaron Eckhart, Michelle Rodriguez, Ramon Rodriguez, Bridget Moynahan, Ne-Yo, Michael Peña

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Battle: Los Angeles

If I wanted to play Call of Duty, I wouldn't go to a friend’s house and ask to watch him play for two hours. I would pick up a controller and do it myself. Jonathan Liebesman, the director of Battle: Los Angeles, fails to grasp the difference between engaging with a war and engaging with characters fighting a war. Through the use of sloppy, shaky visuals, cliched soldier character stories, and annoying COD-esque point of view shots, Liebesman turns the battlefield into a nauseating, cluttered mess of everything but emotional relevancy. The absence of impact is made all the more frustrating thanks to the brilliant, powerful trailer released to promote feelings that never enter into the movie. War may be this cold and crazy, but it's no fun to watch. Ben Travers

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Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

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To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.


Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09
Amazon

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

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Gallagher's work often suffers unfairly beside famous husband's Raymond Carver. The Man from Kinvara should permanently remedy this.

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