#coreyiswrong: My Year of Going Against the Grain

December 30, 2011 — 20 Comments

This year I met Ryan McNeil. from The Matinee, and within about a month of knowing him I coined a Twitter hashtag which has since taken on a bit of a life of its own. #ryaniswrong. I first used it in reference to Ryan’s negative opinion of Moneyball. And yeah, he’s totally wrong about that movie, but that’s neither here nor there. This is my blog so I’m going to be justifiably narcissistic and focus on me.

#coreyiswrong

That’s a variation on the original hashtag that got used quite often. Looking back on the year in film I think I’ve been more “wrong” than usual. Not actually wrong, of course. It’s all opinion. But I have been weirdly out of the loop when it comes to critical opinion on quite a number of films this year. And it’s not any one particular kind of film either. I’ve hated on lots of films most people have liked or loved. And in some cases I’ve liked a film but not nearly as much as everyone else. Let’s take a look at some of the many films I’ve been wrong about this year:

Fast Five is a film that a lot of critics actually liked. Most people I know saw it and thought it was tons of fun. Me? Well, Fast Five might be better than the other Fast and the Furious films, but that ain’t sayin’ much. The movie has a couple of cool action sequences, but the rest of it is an over-long bunch of stupidity. I don’t care about the characters, I don’t care about what they’re after, and I don’t care to sit through all their silly exposition. It’s weird to say it, but I was mostly bored by the film. #coreyiswrong

Thor was a half-decent Marvel film. But barely half. I wasn’t quite bored, per se, but I didn’t exactly give a shit about what was going on. Even Tom Hiddleston’s Loki, as well-acted as he is, was a pretty boring character to me. Chris Hemsworth brought loads of charm, but all his romantic scenes with Natalie Portman fall flat. The production design was also pretty crappy, and the CGI was poor at best. I think the fact that it was a slight step up from Iron Man 2 confused people, leading them to overrate Thor. Or maybe it’s just that… #coreyiswrong

Captain America: The First Avenger continued the trend of me hating on superhero flicks. It was crap. About as good as Thor, but that’s all. It looked cooler, but it was also more stupid. How the makers of this film thought that they were allowed to do a Matter of Life and Death homage is beyond me. Way to force comparisons to a masterpiece you’ll never come close to matching. And it’s not even close. In fact, it’s a pretty shitty movie when you get right down to it. Saved only by a few good sequences and a light enough tone that it’s just hard to hate. I watched it. I was mildly amused for most of it. #coreyiswrong

X-Men: First Class has a staggeringly insane 87% on Rotten Tomatoes. I mean, seriously. There were people talking about this film being one of the best films of the year and one of the best superhero films ever made. Guys. X-Men: First Class is terrible. It’s a fucking terrible movie. It’s got one great performance from Fassbender, and McAvoy is good, and that’s it. Everything else is a complete mess, with a moronic plot, awful direction, idiotic characters, and some very thinly veiled racism and sexism. There are a few people I know who agree with me, but most everyone else would say #coreyiswrong

The Tree of Life is a film I really enjoyed watching, and there were moments of staggering visual and even emotional beauty. But to me, those deeper moments were few and far between. The rest of it was visually great but structurally flawed. It’s a film that didn’t build on itself for me. By the end it just didn’t really speak to me in any meaningful way, despite clearly trying very hard to. I admire the ambition of the film, and I applaud the visuals, but it’s hard for me to go beyond calling it very good. #coreyiswrong

Jane Eyre was BORING! Oh god how boring. I might have fallen asleep, but I couldn’t tell because the movie was so dull it would have bled into dream very easily. It’s the kind of “art” film I hate. One that confuses having dark visuals and being slow as sin for being profound and beautiful. Fuck that. It’s an awful movie, and the fact that it has an 85% on Rotten Tomatoes and almost everyone I know really liked it makes me think I’m losing my mind. #coreyiswrong

Beginners is another film I hated that everyone else liked or loved. I don’t get it. Christopher Plummer was great and a lot of fun. Everything with Ewan McGregor was just terrible. To me, the film was nothing more than watching a bunch of characters who wallow in their depression for absolutely no reason and all I wanted to do was slap them and shout “CHEER UP!” Yet, I know several people who were incredibly overcome with emotion watching the film. Oh well. #coreyiswrong

Martha Marcy May Marlene is a hollow film. It has nothing to say. It has no purpose other than as a speculative exercise in what joining a cult might look like. It’s got a great lead performance, but even Elizabeth Olsen can’t add any real weight to whatever it was that was going on in this film. It’s also been on many Top 10 lists, and was very highly acclaimed by most. #coreyiswrong

Shame is another film I found incredibly hollow, though the performances raised it up a bit more than MMMM. Ultimately it’s a pretentious film that has nothing to back it up. It doesn’t explore the characters enough to make me care. It was an ultimately empty experience despite having a lot going for it. Carey Mulligan singing ‘New York, New York’ was also insufferable. #coreyiswrong

Hugo was nice. It was somewhat charming. It was also really slow. It had a terrible structure. The themes were forced in through dialogue and never felt developed. I liked seeing silent films, but at that point it felt like a lecture more than anything else. The 3D was great, but the movie looked kind of cold in an uninviting way. But the reaction has left me flabbergasted. A masterpiece? Moving? Really? Yeesh. #coreyiswrong

The Artist is probably the film I’ve gotten into the most arguments about. Everyone loves it, or so it seems. Me? I thought it was a charming little homage to silent films and that’s it. Nothing more. It’s extremely slight. It’s not even a particularly good example of what American silent films were like. It’s more of a spoof, though one that tries to have it both ways. It has all these knowing nods that delegitimize any proper emotions the film might elicit, but then it takes itself seriously and tries to make me actually care about these thin characters. Well, I don’t take it seriously and I don’t much care. A nice diversion, but all it made me think about was how much better the films it pays homage to were. Please, if you liked The Artist, go watch Frank Borazge’s films from the late 20s and early 30s. Those films should make clear just how lame and pedestrian The Artist really is. #coreyiswrong

ANYWAY!

That’s a lot of films, and I’m sure there were others I could bring up. It’s been an odd year for me that way. Are there any films on which you found yourself on the wrong end of the critical reaction? Do you agree with me on any of the films I listed? Want to take me to task for any of my comments? Be sure to let me know.

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20 responses to #coreyiswrong: My Year of Going Against the Grain

  1. 

    I can’t really disagree with any of the films on your list that I’ve seen, of them X-Men is my highest rated at a B-. So I can’t say #coreyiswrong so much as #coreyishyperbolic.

  2. 

    OK, let’s see what we have here..

    Fast Five – haven’t seen
    Thor – agreed! I didn’t like it much. Even though it was better than:
    X-men, which I didn’t care for at all. – agreed!
    Tree of Life – agreed. We appreciate different parts though. For me it was the nature cinematography/creation of cosmic that was what I brought from the movie.
    Jane Eyre – agreed! It was a pale one.
    Beginners – disagree so much! It’s one of my favorites this year and I cried like a baby.
    MMMM – disagree. It’s not on my top 10 but it’s still a good effort.
    Shame – disagree. While it was too slow at times I thought it was a brilliant portray of sex addiction.
    Hugo and The Artist – I haven’t watched them. Considering that I often agree wtih Mark Kermode and he liked both of them a lot, it’s a sign that I might like them too. But I really won’t find out until March.

  3. 

    I’ve only seen a couple of these, but I’m with you on both. Thor was both too slow (not enough action) and too fast (character development never happened until suddenly we’re supposed to believe it did). Hugo left me cold.

  4. 

    FAST FIVE – Didn’t see it, but there’s a difference between a good popcorn flick and a genuinely good movie #coreyisntwrong

    THOR – Alright, but won’t be considered as one of Marvel’s best efforts. While I enjoyed it, I didn’t love it nearly enough to go toe-to-toe with anyone for disliking it. #coreyisntwrong

    CAPTAIN AMERICA – Here I think you might just be overthinking things. In the overstuffed ‘Summer of The Comic Book’, here was one that didn’t take itself as seriously and actually went so far as to mix the origin of the characters creation into the origin story. Not as bad as you think, but again, not worth arguing over #coreysoverthinking

    X-MEN – While I enjoyed it, the film is admittedly messy, and anyone who mentions it as one of the year’s best films didn’t see enough films this year #coreyisntwrong

    THE TREE OF LIFE – Perhaps the most divisive film of the year. You’re right to say that it’s structurally flawed, but not for the reason you think. The reason it is structurally flawed is because it has no interest in structure. It is cinematic poetry, and like poetry, comes down to how much the audience wants to take from it. I loved it deeply, and am hard pressed to think of a similar filmgoing experience. I also see enough ambiguity in it to know that people will either love it or hate it. #coreyisntwronghejustdoesntlikeit

    JANE EYE – #ryandidntseeitwhoknowsifcoreyiswrong

    BEGINNERS – No film was harder for me to review this year. This is a very personal story, and like most personal stories, you either want to hear them and empathize, or you don’t. Very dry, very quiet, very introspective. I would never argue with you for not taking to it. #coreywasntfussed

    MMMM – I fear this is a film that was stacked by expectations and hype. There was a lot to love not just in the story, but also in the execution. I do believe that if you come back to this sometime, you’ll take more away from it than just “cults are bad” #coreywantedmore

    SHAME – If you don’t believe in sexual addiction, nothing else matters #coreyisntbuyingit

    HUGO & THE ARTIST – I believe more than anything that you are responding to acclaim more than you are voicing your own disdain #coreylikedembutdidntloveem

    • 

      I think you’ve underestimated just how much I hated Beginners. Hated it so much. Self-centred people being self-centred and I’m supposed to give a shit? Fuck that. Give me more Christopher Plummer, the only person in the movie who realizes life is there to be lived.

      With both MMMM an Shame it’s an issue of my finding nothing about the actual characters to attach to. Yeah, I wanted more. Because as it stands, both films had little beyond the surface to offer.

      As for Hugo and The Artist. Look, this isn’t really a list of movies I hated. It’s more of an “overrated” list. I thought both films were pleasant enough. But I am apparently one of the few. Most people were over the moon for both. So yeah, I am reacting to the reaction. It’s crazy to me.

  5. 

    I think I know your tastes enough to know that you didn’t try to be a contrarian in 2011, but that is a hefty amount of films a lot of people liked that you obviously hated.
    In fact, some of your views surprise given the sort of films you tend to shower with praise. ‘Thor’ and ‘Captain America’ are two I would have thought you’d like more than you did.

    I haven’t seen Hugo (I am today, however) although given the subject matter your lukewarm response is a little surprising too.

    Maybe your tastes are just evolving from one type to another. I, on the other hand, seem to be reverting back to the sort of movie lover I was in early adulthood and even teenagehood, where I can just enjoy the simple pleasures and not criticize a film too much for its stupidity (although I will call a film out on that if it’s really, really stupid). I think the views you’re espousing are the type of views I would have as well were I in the 21-25 year old range. Those early twenties really saw me be picky and borderline snobbish in my tastes. Not saying that’s what you are, only using your current state as a movie critic and comparing it with the sort I used to be.

    • 

      Well, I didn’t hate all of these films. Even Thor, I didn’t hate, but I thought it was kind of crappy. Passable, but just barely.

      For example, I’d say that Cars 2 was about the same quality as Thor. Not quite bad, just not good. It was right on that passable line. The difference is that Cars 2 got murdered by critics, and Thor got weirdly accepted as decent entertainment.

      You’ll see my Top 10 or 20 films of the year and there are a lot of films that would be typical for me. But I do think that lately I’ve been appreciating different things in the films I watch.

  6. 

    You know I’m totally with you on X-Men: First Class. I also agree with you on The Artist as well. An okay film, but certainly not a remarkable one. And it’s silent era “homages” aren’t good at all.

    Of course, you’re wrong about The Tree of Life, even though we mostly agree about that film.

    Honestly, I haven’t seen most of these and I probably won’t see most of these. Martha Marcy May Marlene and Hugo are the only two I’m interested in but I’ll be waiting for a DVD/bluray release.

  7. 

    I could give or take the rest, but how is Shame pretentious? I’d definitely call the core story shallow, but the performances are so strong that I don’t care all too much. The film didn’t feel like it was making a point or anything. I just saw it as the lives of two incredibly screwed up people. The sister wants to help the brother, but can’t. The brother can help the sister, but is seemingly unaware. The story’s depth lies in their performances. It works for me. Also, the “New York, New York” scene establishes their entire relationship/family history in a pretty unique way.

    • 

      Well, I have some pretty strong feelings about Shame. Namely that it offers very little by refusing to properly explore or add depth the the characters beyond the construct of their current situation. It’s a film with an arty gloss that attempts to cover up the fact that really very little is going on. The audience can fill in the blanks all they want to try and give scenes like the New York, New York rendition meaning, but I hardly think it’s worth the bother. The ending of the film is the final clincher. Shame is a film that refuses to actually be about anything, and considering the way the filmmaking blatantly calls attention to itself I expect that filmmaking to at least try and say something rather than be flashy.

      Sorry about the rant.

  8. 

    Given that the sister is a singer and that they both come “from a bad place”, I think it’s fairly easy to make the leap that both Brandon and Sissy were abused as children. Read the lyrics of New York, New York (it literally gives it away) – the desperation Sissy has to get out of her situation and see her brother aches throughout the entire song. It is pretty easy to see. The secret core of the film lies in the relationship between brother and sister. It is clearly about a screwed up girl trying to help her screwed up brother, but she can’t connect with him, (Spoilers) so she tries killing herself again. The screwed up brother realizes that she is more screwed up then he is and it humanizes him, this need to take care of his sister or he will have nothing but his sex, which isn’t anything that he actually needs. Shame isn’t really about sex, but about hedonism. It is a very simple, straightforward story that isn’t attempting to do anything than give a realistic depiction of a brother/sister relationship. Dunno what’s so hard to grasp?

    • 

      I actually agree that the core of Shame is in the relationship between the brother and sister, not the addiction. But for me the relationship was too thinly sketched. It gave little hints at things so the audience could have plenty of room to speculate and create a backstory, but I thought it gave too little. I was intrigued by their relationship and it’s clear that some bad stuff went down in their childhood, yet the film doesn’t give much more than that. It makes the motivations of their actions pretty wishy washy. Left up to the audience. I can definitely see a lot of people liking this, but it didn’t work for me.

  9. 

    Well, I have not yet seen The Artist, yet I’ve already nearly written it off as unnecessary. Of all the footage I’ve seen and all of the info I’ve come across, not one bit seemed to be a fresh take on the oldies, rather an imitation and egregious homage.

    Why even make such a film? Why knowingly pick characters with no considerable depth; why abandon the subtleties of acting that have grown out of a hundred years of film-making; why limit yourself and your creation to aspiring to the standards that films did 90 years ago? It seems to me like a willing exercise in lacking ambition and I simply can’t see it being good, let alone the best film of the year (as awards undoubtedly will soon peg it to be).

    • 

      To be fair, I think The Artist has more going for it than just gimmick. It really is a charming little film with a charming little story. It’s just that there isn’t much more to it than that, and even relative to something like The Muppets, there is little depth to it. In that sense it does feel a bit too much like just an excuse to make a silent film, but that’s not the worst thing ever. It’s worth seeing, just don’t look for something worthy of being called “the best film of the year”.

  10. 

    I dug back into this post wondering if you also didn’t care for Hugo. I don’t necessarily knock it for being slow, but I do agree that the film is rather preachy and the dialogue always felt awkward to me.

    Maybe one day Scorsese will make another good movie again.

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  1. Everybody’s Talkin’ 1 – 6 (Chatter from Other Bloggers) | The Matinee | Cinematic Passion & Perspective | The Matinee | Cinematic Passion & Perspective - January 6, 2012

    [...] back a wee bit, Corey has taken a look back at a somewhat contrarion stretch this year. For my money, he wasn’t wrong as often as he alludes to in the [...]

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