By: Addison Wylie
As much as I would like to believe that 2014 has proven to be a great year for movies so far, I can only instantly recall the films that have underwhelmed or flunked altogether.
There’s been a steady flow of mediocrity, which isn’t exactly something to celebrate. I suppose matters could be much worse, but those flatlining flicks have left me in a state of trapped befuddlement while I watched them. These are movies so inept of telling a story and dead set to load lots of “stuff” onto the audience, that it makes us feel welded to our seat as the sluggish endeavour plods to the finish line.
I want to remember the gems first, because this post has started on a rather bleak note. But more importantly, the films that have left a lasting impression with stellar characters and brave stories have been nothing short of excellence.
Take AKP: Job 27, for example. It’s still one of this year’s most accomplished indies. Filmmaker Michael L. Suan takes a bold move by making his film noir devoid of words, but he justifies his choice quite well. It adds to the sleek atmosphere.
Unfortunately, AKP: Job 27 got a bizarre release. I’m thankful it was available for people to watch in a theatre setting, but the locations were too obscure. I can’t help but think of the audience Suan could’ve tapped into if his drama had screened at Toronto’s Carlton Cinema. A DVD street date is unknown to me, but if AKP: Job 27 finds its way into your moviegoing crosshairs somehow, check it out immediately.
The biggest surprise of the year so far has to be Veronica Mars. If it’s edged out by other films come the end of the year for my final “Best Of”, it still won’t leave my thoughts.
Writer/Director Rob Thomas devised this big screen adaptation through a Kickstarter campaign, and his fundraising was on fire by fellow Marshmallows. It started as fan fare, but became a film that outsiders could watch with ease. The mystery wasn’t a uniform case and the humour skipped being too snarky. Even if it wasn’t tied to the series, the film could stand alone as an awesome thriller.
Here are my top three films of 2014 thus far:
#3. The Lego Movie
The film itself has a super imagination and hits those same revolutionary tones the first Toy Story did in 1995. To not say this ingenious film is brilliant would be robbing the movie out of the esteem it deserves. Go. See. This. Movie. Now.
#2. The Final Member
Jonah Bekor and Zach Math’s outrageous doc has a loveable heart, a fantastic sense of humour, and will have you curled over for multiple reasons.
Clio Barnard’s directorial debut gives off an aroma of a film that will be remembered for a very long time. The staying power of its troubled characters as well as the painfully realistic portrayal of a down-and-out community in Northern England are quite remarkable.
Now, that feels a lot better. Simply punching those titles in to this post has made me hopeful for the rest of the year. I almost forget about those disposable VOD titles as well as those stinkers that went direct-to-iTunes.
That’s not to put a burden on films that take a smaller approach to selling themselves on VOD platforms. Sometimes, this is the best way to reach lots of viewers. And, most of these VOD titles eventually received humbling theatrical runs (including the impressive dramedy Small Time and the mockumentary misfire Authors Anonymous). You never know what you’ll get with VOD or iTunes, but it’s fun to anticipate what comes streaming down the pipeline.
Bad Johnson, a comedy about a man wishing away his penis and then finding it in the form of a scheming pothead playboy, was one of those films where I approached it with equal doses of hesitancy and excitement. However, Huck Botko’s absurd comedy was too wimpy to take risks and resorted to boring rom-com conventions.
As much as it was a pain to sit through, some good may have been gained from Adam Sandler’s Blended. Not only has it dropped out of our moviegoing memories in a flash, but this lazy film’s disappointing box office draw will hopefully send a clear signal that we’re sick and tired of Happy Madison’s paid vacations being sold as PG-13 summer comedies for the whole family.
Let’s rip this bandage off fast. Here are the bottom three on my “Worst Of 2014” list so far:
A botched and bungled failure to connect with nostalgia or to introduce new possibilities for Jay and Silent Bob’s cult status. Who knew it could take 60-minutes to soil a decade’s worth of memories?
#2. Vampire Academy
Mark Waters’ thoughtless film plays as a cash-in on what little popularity the Twilight films have left behind. It’s bound to stupefy and frustrate fans of the book series and newcomers alike.
#1. Run Run It’s Him
Filmmaker Matthew Pollack is offensive, inappropriate, and insensitive to those he interviews in an autobiographical doc that’s uncomfortable, sleazy, and worthy of hating.