Friday February 07, 2020
My Five Worst Movies of 2019
Perennial caveat: My top-10 list is always late because I try to see the best movies of the year, which often arrive late. My five-worst list is always incomplete because I don’t try to see the worst movies of the year. Somehow I manage to see some pretty sucky ones anyway.
I should‘ve had this list up sooner but I was sick most of January. I don’t blame these movies for that. Much.
5. The Wandering Earth
China's entry into sci-fi action is as stupid as most Hollywood blockbusters. Also more jingoistic. I’m like: “Wait, we’re smart enough to turn Earth into a spaceship but dumb enough to miscalculate Jupiter’s gravitational pull?” There's a million-to-one shot to save us but every country wants to wallow in grief: Europeans drink; Japanese contemplate hara-kiri. Thank god for the bubblegum-blowing junior high student from China, who gives such a rousing speech about hope that the rest of the world finally puts down its bottles and and decides to try. You know, like China. Hollywood lesson: If you want the rest of the world to see your movie, maybe don't insult them?
4. Late Night
Emma Thompson plays a national comic treasure who's not funny; the male, politically incorrect writers are actually dull sweethearts; and Mindy Kaling turns Thompson‘s/Newbury’s soporific last-night talk show into a “viral sensation” with an on-the-street bit called “Katherine Newbury: White Savoir,” in which Newbury helps: 1) two black dudes hail a cab; 2) a fat woman buy clothes, and 3) some dude get free fries. “Late Night” sets up the usual false dichotomy of Hollywood films: high culture is snooty so let’s wallow in the YouTube muck. These are our only two options, apparently.
3. More Than Blue
At one point our hero, K, hires private detectives to spy on the wife of a dentist, who's cheating on him. Why does K do this? Because he wants the dentist to marry the girl K loves. Why does he want this? Because he's dying. It's like a fucked-up version of “Gift of the Maji”: “I'm dying so I got you a husband”; “I left my husband because you‘re dying.” The Chinese title translates as “A Story Sadder than Sadness,” but I’d say it's just sad.
2. Dark Phoenix
Brett Ratner's “X-Men: Last Stand“ (2006) ruined the X-Men universe. It killed Prof. X, Scott and Jean, stripped Magneto of his powers, and left the story with nowhere to go. So they went backward and rebooted the series as a 1960s prequel: “First Class.” Then in “Days of Future Past,” they created an alternate timeline which allowed them to bypass the mess of “Last Stand” and do whatever they wanted with the characters again. Guess what they did? Returned to the plot of “Last Stand.” With the guy who wrote “Last Stand” as first-time director. Cue face palm. Before the big battle, Magneto tells Prof. X, “You’re always sorry, Charles, and there’s always a speech. But nobody cares anymore.” Truer words.
1. Godzilla: King of the Monsters
This is one helluva foregrounding family. Dad overcomes a drinking problem by taking nature photos of animals eating each other, then fulminates against any course of action. Daughter acts too late and then attracts giant monsters to Boston. As for Mom? She causes the death of millions because she thinks giant lizards and moths are wiser than we are. These are our heroes. Don't get me started on the fortune-cookie joke. Godzilla may be gigantic, but the stupidity of this movie is bigger. It fills the screen. It roars.