Marquis’ Bad Film Festival

This week, this year’s Academy Awards nominees were announced. Also this week, the Sundance Film Festival was in full swing and many of next year’s award nominees are being shown there. This post has nothing to do with any of those movies.  There will be no reviews of The King’s Speech, Black Swan or even 127 Hours.  All good movies I am sure, although I haven’t actually seen any of them.  The fare that I am offering is much lower, cruder, but no, just plain bad. Call it desperation after two days of meaningful posts anchored with Chris’ great photographs, or just my natural maleness seeping out into the blogo-sphere or possibly fading echoes of my teenage angst, whatever, I offer up the following trifecta of films as honorees in this year’s first bad film festival.

First up is, Salt, starring the better half of Brangelina. Angelina Jolie plays a űber frau, effectively I might add, but bad writing eventually sinks this movie. Jolie plays CIA agent Evelyn Salt and should have left the office when she had the chance to and not turn around and take the very bad meeting that she did. A Russian defector is waiting for her in the interrogation room and announces to all the suits behind the one-way mirror that Salt is a Russian mole. Of course everyone believes this stranger over their co-worker for many years. Maybe she never refilled the coffee pot?

Poor Angelina is forced to blast her way out of this CIA stronghold using a cleaning supply powered, mailing tube, rocket launcher, but what is a girl to do? She leads the forces of good and evil, but mainly maleness on a merry chase for most of the movie.  This is all very good as it goes, but the endgame in the basement of the White House is simply ridiculous. This rebellious blogger, this testosterone flushed male and this full of angst former teenager all give this movie a ho-hum. More was expected then delivered.

What one girl did in Salt, takes ten macho guys in The Expendables. This Sylvester Stallone vehicle has Sly and his good mercs battling some other bad mercs for the hearts and minds of some Latin American island country. This movie is reminiscent of the 1985 Arnie Schwarzenegger movie Commando. In fact, the Governator has an unaccredited cameo role in this movie. 

Arnie probably didn’t want to take any credit for his acting role, because he was still the Governor of California and people might wonder why was he appearing in this hack of a movie and not running the State of California, like he was supposed to be doing. In case you were wondering, Arnie plus the nine guys on the movie poster comprise the ten macho stars that equal little old Angelina, except in box office.

I mentioned that this movie was reminiscent of Commando. Both movies finale involve the mowing down of hundreds of hapless extras like blades of grass in front of a John Deere. Do you think that they will be able to clear this next hallway, before they have to empty the clippings bag again? A body count counter would have really helped in the finale. It would have added some small measure of continuity as it steadily counted up the total.

Like the two previous offerings, Zombieland is a star vehicle. In this movie the star is Woody Harrelson. Unfortunately, for Woody’s character, he has trouble holding onto his vehicles. The dynamic female dual of on-screen sisters, Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine), eventually relent and allow Woody’s and Jesse Eisenberg’s (The Social Network) nerdy counterpoint to hang with them, probably at the director’s insistence and against their character’s better motivations. The real stars of this movie are of course the title characters, the zombies, but since they are all dead and decomposing, but still wickedly fast, what can you say about them?

In the aftermath of the Tucson shootings, I learned that Woody Harrelson’s dad, a contract killer was the last man to kill a Federal Judge, before that event. This fact has little to do with Zombieland or any review of it. It might have more to do with one of Harrelson’s previous works, Natural Born Killers, but not having seen that movie, I couldn’t say. You know, I actually liked Zombieland.

So why is it on the list then?  I guess, because of Woody’s dad. There were certainly other candidates I could have included instead. All of these movies involve lots of gunfire and many shot people. The Tucson shootings put these movies into a different light for me, less cartoonish, more real.

It is wrong to revisit the sins of the father upon the son, just as I have done, but the Harrelson family history is a matter of public record. I am an admirer of Mr. Harrelson’s body of work and I certainly hold no enmity towards the man. The crosstie of Woody’s personal history, with the movies covered here and recent events create a pause for further thought about my future movie selections. In short, what was once just popcorn fare has now left me conflicted.

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