I guess I had it coming. Moments after publishing my list of my favourite films of 2018, I received emails and messages from friends and readers asking me for my list of least favourite films of 2018. Wow, this is going to be tough! I don’t hide my feelings about anything and that includes movies too. If I think a movie is garbage, I’m going to say so.
My list of least favourite films of 2018 is going to look very different from others you’re going to see. To start, as I wrote in my list of favourite films, I intentionally don’t see many films that I know I’m going to hate. Life’s too short to waste it sitting in a dark room watching a hot mess unfold on the big screen. I’m thinking of THE HURRICANE HEIST; ROBIN HOOD; and THE HAPPYTIME MURDERS to name just three. For me, just seeing the trailers was enough to know that these films would be awful, which they were. The second problem I have with compiling such a list is that I’m really not a fan of most of the films that are made here in Hong Kong. The new generation of young local filmmakers likes to make films that have social messages, whether it’s about inclusion, dealing with mental or physical disabilities, the poverty gap, or dying, and that’s great but the problem I have with the vast majority of these films is the writing, which is shallow at best. Our young screenwriters need to learn how to dig a whole lot deeper before my opinion will change.
Rather than populating my list with ten local films, which not only would make for boring reading but would also land me in a whole pool of hot water with our local distributors (believe it!), I’m going to look further afield for most my clunkers. Here goes:
If you’ve been wondering what Jennifer Lawrence looks like buck naked, now’s your chance to find out. Nothing more than spy porn, RED SPARROW truly is a hot mess. All the actors playing Russians put on laughable “Moose and Squirrel” accents while Australian actor Joel Edgerton struggles to put on a credible American accent. To paraphrase Boris Badenov, this film is “as dumb as a sack of hammers.”
Director Todd Haynes (CAROL) clearly spends more time thinking about set and production design than he does about story. 1977 New York hasn’t looked this authentic since, well, 1977, but gawd this was a slow and boring film! When I saw it back in March, little did I know it wouldn’t be Julianne Moore’s most disappointing film of the year.
Badly produced, badly written and badly directed, welcome to the world of Hong Kong contemporary cinema. If you’ve given yourself a ridiculous English name like Paper or Snowy and you like a bit of coffee with your sugar, then this one is for you.
Written and directed by Hallie Meyers-Shyer, the daughter of writer/directors Nancy Meyers and Charles Shyer, this film shows that the apple can far fall from the tree. It’s one gigantic, happy white family, cliché.
Sakura Guardian in the North (北の桜守)
Mixing cinema with stage performances, this Japanese sweeping saga is achingly tedious with its clumsy direction and over-the-top, melodramatic performances by the film’s two woefully miscast leads. Four-time Japan Academy Best Actress award winner Sayuri Yoshinaga (吉永小百合) deserved better than this.
2018 was not a good year for Julianne Moore. Here, she stars as an opera diva who gets held hostage in an unnamed South American country (though we all know it’s Peru). Even with three major international actors in the cast, none is able to ignite as much as a spark of excitement. It’s just a bland and oft-times laughingly ridiculous mess.
There’s a reason why there’s the saying that less is more. Unfortunately, that adage is lost on director Peter Berg (DEEPWATER HORIZON). Here, Mark Wahlberg plays a black ops team leader whose mission takes him to that well known city of Indocarr in the country of Southeast Asia. Yes, you read that right. But that’s not the worst thing about this movie. Berg smartly casts actor and martial artist Iko Uwais but then resorts to quick cuts and shaky camerawork to try to mask what is essentially poor stunt choreography. A wasted opportunity.
This Hong Kong film takes a look at three people who all learn that they have cancer. In doing so, it sheds light on our city’s shaky social infrastructure. Unfortunately, it’s also a complete downer that is laden with silly dialogue and maudlin performances. The only thing I liked about this film was the performance of Cantopop singer Jason Chan Pak-Yu (陳柏宇), who plays the dedicated boyfriend of one of the cancer victims.
Another film that shows that the apple can far fall from the tree. This time it’s British “actress/comedian” (and I use the term very loosely) Beattie Edmondson, who is the daughter of Jennifer Saunders (ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS) and comedian, actor, writer, musician, television presenter and director, Ade Edmondson. But she’s not the only thing that’s bad about this steaming pile of doggie do. PATRICK is a perfect example of lazy screenwriting and incompetent direction. The dog deserved better.
Mawkish and a complete waste of its all-star cast, LIFE ITSELF is director Dan Fogelman’s (TV’s THIS IS US) attempt to recreate his knack for making his audiences weep over his characters. What might work on the little screen doesn’t always work on the big one though. What’s worse is that the film’s trailer is terribly misleading.
And here are a couple of dishonourable mentions that didn’t make the cut:
Based On a True Story (D’après une histoire vraie)
Death Wish (2018)
What are some of your least favourite films from 2018? Let me know!
Watch the review recorded on Facebook Live on Friday, December 28th at 8:30 am HK time!
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