This week’s Roundtable topic was suggested by Dick. As soon as I heard it, I knew we needed to do this one right way. So, here it is: If you had the power to make one director stop making movies, who would it be?
Since Dick suggested the topic, we’ll let him start things off. Be sure to tell us your choices in the comments.
There is no one in the whole of Hollywood that I’d more like to stop than Tim Burton. He seems to be an accidental genius like George Lucas, making a few good films before falling into mediocrity, but with millions worshipping at his feet long after his creative candle has been snuffed. At least with Lucas, people know he’s awful.
If I’d had the ability, I would have stopped Burton just after ‘Mars Attacks!‘, which was his last worthwhile movie. That might be too late to undo the damage he did to the ‘Batman‘ franchise, but at least we wouldn’t have to deal with ‘Planet of the Apes,’ ‘Sleepy Hollow,’ and the glut of mindless remakes that so quickly followed.
I could go on for pages about the overuse of Johnny Depp and the copy-paste Danny Elfman scores, but I think College Humor sums it up pretty well.
Even with only one TV movie and two features to his name, I feel pretty confident in saying that Kurt Wimmer should never, never direct again.
I know that it has a cult following, but count me as one who was never fooled into believing that ‘Equilibrium’ was ever a good movie. Take away the (admittedly pretty cool) “gun-kata” sequences, and you’re left with one of the most agonizingly braindead pieces of sci-fi flotsam since Ed Wood’s heyday. This lazy mishmash has not one single original idea. It should have been called ‘Brave New Fahrenheit 1984 Matrix’. And of the ideas that it steals, it executes them with complete incompetence. If you give the plot even a moment’s worth of thought (something Wimmer clearly did not), it makes no sense at all. I hate this movie. And I hate it even more every time I hear some fanboy gush about how “wicked badass” it is.
But that’s nothing compared to Wimmer’s next cinematic atrocity, ‘UltraViolet‘. Have you seen this thing? Watching it was like having an ice pick repeatedly stabbed into my eyes for 87 minutes. I could go on a long-winded stream-of-consciousness diatribe about how awful this dreck is, but fortunately I don’t have to – because I’ve already done that when I reviewed the movie at DVDTalk back in the day. That was probably the most entertaining review I ever wrote, and I still hold it among my favorites, but I’ll warn you that the language used is not appropriate for children or those with delicate sensibilities.
The fish in a barrel that I’ll shoot is Michael Bay. ‘Bad Boys,’ ‘The Rock,’ ‘Armageddon,’ ‘Pearl Harbor,’ ‘Bad Boys II,’ ‘The Island,’ ‘Transformers‘… I’m not saying that I couldn’t pick out a few good moments and some impressive action sequences, but I think this world would be a better place without these movies. I can’t entirely blame Michael Bay for the awfulness of ‘Armageddon.’ There’s only so much you can do with a plot about a deep core drilling team sent to blow up an asteroid headed for Earth. I do blame him for ‘Pearl Harbor,’ however.
I also never want to see him direct another music video again. In his early career, he made videos for a lot of heavy hitters like Donny Osmond, Richard Marx, the Divinyls, Tina Turner, Lionel Richie, Wilson Phillips, and Meat Loaf. The Donny Osmond “Soldier for your Love” video has an eerie George Michael vibe about it, and some “Addicted to Love”-style models thrown in for good measure. The Divinyls’ “I Touch Myself” video has the band playing in velvet on a black/white checkboard floor ala Tom Petty. Also featured are gold mirrors, a spiral staircase, a fainting couch, and shots of Christina Amphlett ironing clothes in a sexy manner. That’s right, ironing. Oh, and you need to see the Richard Marx “Angelia” video just for the hair. It is a thing to behold, and I’m sure it was a challenge for Michael Bay to direct. “Umm, Richard, I’m going to need you to tilt your head more to the side. Just a bit more. More. A bit more. Umm, scratch that. Let’s go for a wide shot.”
While we’re at it, could we also stop Michael Bay from producing movies? I’m referring to the many horror remakes he’s produced: ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre,’ ‘Amityville Horror,‘ ‘Friday the 13th,’ etc. Please make him stop.
Finally, a tidbit. He was apparently challenged to a charity boxing match by Uwe Boll, another famed bad director, to “prove who’s the better director”. Wonder what the odds would be on that one.
Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)
I guess I look at myself as some kind of cinematic coroner; I have this compulsion to grab hold of the most unwatchable dreck I can dig up, poke around the putrefying remains, and try to figure out how they suffered such a grisly, stomach-upending fate. So, I don’t really want anyone to stop making movies, especially since schlocky stuff is so much fun to review. Besides, you never know when someone will have an eleventh-hour comeback after a steady string of misses. Okay, okay, so with all that out of the way, I’ll go with the obvious choice, Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer: the minds behind ‘Meet the Spartans,’ ‘Epic Movie,’ ‘Disaster Movie,’ ‘Date Movie,’ and…I don’t know, lots of other lazy spoofs with “Movie” somewhere in the title.
You’re talking to a guy who watched ‘UHF’ to the point that the tape broke. So, I definitely don’t have anything against goofy spoofs. Friedberg and Seltzer don’t really parody anything, though. It’s just a never-ending parade of obvious references. I mean, Flava Flav leaps out under some bed sheets at the start of ‘Disaster Movie.’ There isn’t a joke there; you’re just supposed to point, think “It’s Flava Flav!”, and laugh. If you miss out on that, Friedberg and Seltzer are helpful enough to add in dialogue like, “Flava Flav! Yeah, booooooooy! I’m Flava Flav! Flava of Love. I’m Flava Flav!” to explain it all. Or Borat will show up in his mankini, say “Very nice!”, and walk away. They can’t even be bothered to put their own spin on it. I’m getting depressed just writing about this, so I’ll stop right here.
This may seem like a controversial choice. I can appreciate junky genre filmmakers for their technical wizardry even if their handling of narrative, pacing, and character are somewhat malnourished. Far more troubling, in my estimation, is the saccharine and talentless director who gets critical reverence as well as box office gold. James L. Brooks is one of those directors, and he looks like he’s going to do it again this year with the Oscar bait ‘How Do You Know.’ (A romantic comedy set in the world of semi-professional softball? How does he do it?)
Okay, so Brooks has shepherded a number of influential television series to the air, this is true. He also directed ‘Terms of Endearment,’ a serviceable melodrama based on the Larry McMurtry novel, as well as ‘Broadcast News,’ which is certifiably good (if not exactly timeless). But his output since then – the goopy, was-once-a-musical ‘I’ll Do Anything,’ the befuddling popular and Oscar-awarded ‘As Good As It Gets’ (which reinforced a number of ugly anti-gay and anti-woman stereotypes) and ‘Spanglish’ (which did the unthinkable – made the unstoppably sexy Paz Vega seem downright bland) – is enough for me to argue for his resignation.
It’s not only that his movies are flavorless and often feel baggy, out-of-touch and pretentious. He somehow tricks both the critical community and the movie-going public into thinking the films are something special. Really, they aren’t. Most of the movies that are based on his original ideas are as flimsy as a sitcom pilot, but stretched to an excruciating length. (‘As Good as It Gets’ ran 139 minutes long.) Hopefully, his mawkish reign of terror will come to an end soon. I don’t know how much more of Brooks I can handle.
‘The Sixth Sense‘ was great entertainment. Count me among the folks who never saw that twist coming. If only M. Night Shyamalan had stopped there! Unfortunately, none of us knew what we were in for.
When ‘Unbreakable‘ rolled around in the fall of 2000, I was eager to see what the writer/director would cook up next. Then, just before the movie hit theaters, I read an interview in which he claimed to have “the formula” for movie success, and boasted that the way he’d shot ‘Unbreakable’ would revolutionize the art of cinema. (I’m serious, and I believe he was too.) Shaking off apprehension, I gathered together a group of friends to head out to the movies with me. Later, as that endless film full of cringe-worthy dialogue (“I’m Mr. Glaaaaaaaaaasssssss!”) progressed, my friends started calling down to me that I owed them refunds for their tickets. (Ten years later, we still wrap up the original ticket stubs and exchange them as holiday gag gifts.) Plain and simple, that movie sucked. If stringing together endless, unbroken takes was revolutionary, well lets just be glad the revolution started and stopped with this dud.
After that critical thumping, the auteur apparently took a couple years to regroup, before releasing a fantastic trailer that was then adapted into yet another crappy movie. I’m talking about ‘Signs,’ a film in which the lone scare comes from a classic cheat. As home video footage cuts to a shot of a man in green pajamas walking past in the background, a sound guy smashes two metal trashcan lids together, cranks the output to 11, and plunks the resulting cacophony down in the rear speakers in an attempt to make viewers crap themselves. This time, this viewer was not fooled. Oh, and yeah, the secret weapon was a glass of water. HUH?!
Next up was ‘The Village,’ which won Shyamalan some strong accusations of plagiarism for perceived similarities to the book ‘Running Out of Time‘ by Margaret Peterson Haddix, but little in the way of praise. Though the book’s publisher and author never publicly brought suit against Shymalan or the studio, it’s safe to say the controversy over the film’s inspiration got more ink than the film itself.
The cinema revolutionary’s next flick was largely documented in a book by Michael Bamberger that, in spite of the author’s slavish admiration, revealed an egomaniacal, delusional, insecure filmmaker who was dropped by Disney after executives expressed doubt over the script for ‘Lady in the Water‘ – the magical tale of a “Narf from the Blue World” who appears in the pool of an apartment complex in Philadelphia and befriends a janitor. In addition to soiling Paul Giamatti’s previously flawless filmography, Shyamalan cast himself in the role of an aspiring writer whose work is destined to change the world! (Any delusional warning signs there?) The less said about this turkey the better.
Next up was a movie in which the killers were trees! COME ON!
Finally, this past summer, apparently afraid to try his hand at yet another ridiculous product of his own imagination, the master of unfulfilled expectations released his adaptation of ‘The Last Airbender‘ and was promptly bitch-slapped with a well-deserved 6 percent Tomatometer score. Now I ask you, with a track record like this, how and why is this man still allowed to make movies? In a world where Woody Allen has to go overseas to get funding for his low-budget treasures, in a business that gave Orson Welles nothing but trouble time and time again, how, just HOW is this awful, inexcusably talentless, one-trick HACK still getting the funding to write, direct, and act in this garbage?! If granted the power, I wouldn’t have to think, I wouldn’t hesitate, I’d end this man’s career reign of cinematic terror right then and there, before more lives were irrevocably damaged by any more of his hapless clunkers!