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Oblivion (#110 of 6)

The 10 Worst Films of 2013

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The 10 Worst Films of 2013
The 10 Worst Films of 2013

Contrary to the curious, outspoken beliefs of some, we prefer to celebrate movies around these parts, culminating each December with our collaborative list of the 25 best films of the year. But while nearly all films deserve careful consideration, there are plenty that deserve a proper, vitriolic takedown, maybe even a warning label. Scraping the very bottoms of our moviegoing barrels, Slant’s Ed Gonzalez and I winced as we remembered our worst film experiences of 2013. The five we each loathed most were compiled into a list of 10, and they’re counted down here in our personal, descending orders of deplorableness. From the bloated egos of Ben Stiller and Tom Cruise to the masochistic horrors of military violence and high-end shopping, click on to see what almost drove us both out of the theater. R. Kurt Osenlund

Box Office Rap Baggage Claim and the Lost Women of September

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Box Office Rap: Baggage Claim and the Lost Women of September
Box Office Rap: Baggage Claim and the Lost Women of September

As the series finale of Breaking Bad nears, and with Walter White set to confront Todd, Uncle Jack, and (potentially) rescue Jesse Pinkman, Americans may pass the time this Friday by heading to the multiplex. Opening, and expected to take the weekend with ease, is Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, though it’s unlikely that members of #teamwalt will be interested in that, unless they have kids of their own (“a scary thought”). No, they’ll most likely see one of the other three primary offerings, all with hyper-masculine protagonists. There’s Rush, director Ron Howard’s racing period piece. If not that, perhaps Don Jon, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s directorial debut about a guy from Joisey with a porn addiction. If neither of those strike a chord, there’s always the macho spectacle of Metallica: Through the Never, which bumps Dorothy and Toto from IMAX theaters on Friday.

Box Office Rap Elysium and the Summer Traffic Jam

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Box Office Rap: Elysium and the Summer Traffic Jam
Box Office Rap: Elysium and the Summer Traffic Jam

Jacques Tati and Jean-Luc Godard would undoubtedly be amused with the August traffic jam Hollywood has made for itself, as 14 wide releases will debut within the next four weeks. June 2013 saw just eight new releases, but even then, a mega-budgeted film such as Man of Steel only managed to stay in theaters for seven weeks, so the likelihood of any August films sticking around for longer than a month becomes a near impossibility. Has the summer market always been so saturated? Looking back to June 1993, seven major studio films saw wide releases, only one less than 2013. However, Jurassic Park played in theaters for 71 consecutive weeks. Even Last Action Hero, a film that brought a studio to its knees, lasted 12 weeks during that 1993 summer.

The casualties this summer have been numerous. Most notable is, perhaps, The Lone Ranger, a $215 million production that fell to just 553 theaters in its fifth weekend and is likely to be out of theaters by Friday by the time this week’s four mega-wide releases drop. What’s an onlooker to make of these developments? On the one hand, from a cultural capital perspective, these are dire days. Matt Zoller Seitz wrote an excellent, and spot-on, positive review of Gore Verbinski’s film, in which he bets that, like Steven Spielberg’s 1941, 20 years from now The Lone Ranger will be “re-evaluated” and discussed as “misunderstood.” Seitz’s thoughtful and contemplative review shuns much of the mob-mentality demonstrated by the film’s embarrassing Rotten Tomatoes score and reveals the underlying problem with such an adopted critical system: emphasis on scores and figures over ideas and commentary. Yet his perceptive insights are lost amid this contemporary climate because, in turn, the marketplace cannot hold such a product long enough to receive honest feedback and critique; the “critical consensus” passes immediate judgment on The Lone Ranger to expedite the film’s financial (and cultural) execution. On the other hand, a neo-Marxist couldn’t help but delight in Mouse House miscalculation, as the film appears unlikely to match its budget through even its worldwide haul, which currently stands at $175 million.

And a Day: Heddy Honigmann’s Forever

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And a Day: Heddy Honigmann’s Forever
And a Day: Heddy Honigmann’s Forever

While a recent slate of American fiction film directors, including Lance Hammer, Ramin Bahrani and Kelly Reichardt, grab the public’s imagination on these shores by making the intricacies of everyday life riveting onscreen, Lima-born/Rome-educated/Amsterdam-residing director Heddy Honigmann is quietly doing the same in documentary form with Forever, just released on DVD (click title for more information) to coincide with her latest work, Oblivion, premiering at Film Forum. Who would have thought that a slow-paced, poetic meditation on France’s famed Père-Lachaise cemetery could be so edge-of-your-seat engrossing?