9 Terrible Films From Great Directors

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9 Terrible Films From Great Directors

9 Terrible Films From Great Directors
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9) Clint Eastwood: The Rookie – There are a surprising number of options for Clint Eastwood’s worst film (anyone remember Blood WorkSudden Impact?), especially since he has transformed into such an amazing filmmaker over the last twenty years. But Eastwood was not always a sure thing as a director. In The Rookie, Eastwood directs himself alongside Charlie Sheen who is, you guessed it, a rookie detective. There is a plot here, and some sort of direction in the story, but I couldn’t tell you what it was off the top of my head. The film is dark seemingly the entire time, like they shot at night with natural lighting. And the characters are quite drab, which doesn’t liven anything up. I just could not care for one single character in this film, and I think the fact that Eastwood had done the cop so many times before, and so much better, made it even less impressive.
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8) Steven Spielberg: Always – Again, there is a surprising number of candidates on this list. 1941, Spielberg’s slapstick war comedy is a very viable option here, but it has some camp charm. And the fourth Indiana Jones is very deserving of this title, but after writing at length on it the other day I decided to dig deeper into his filmography. And boy I had to dig to find this one or even remember seeing it, which I did at some point. Always, on the other hand, is a dull supernatural romance… thing, without much to offer in the way of entertainment or real emotion. It is a shame this was Audrey Hepburn’s swan song. Along with Hepburn is John Goodman, Holly Hunter, and Richard Dreyfuss as a dead man who loves Hunter’s character. At least I think that is how it went. This was as forgettable as they come, and as boring a film as Spielberg has ever made.

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7) David Fincher: Alien 3 – This might not be too fair. First, Fincher has only directed 8 feature films, so his list is not as extensive as the others here. Second, this film was so dominated by Fox and manipulated in so many ways that it is tough to peg Fincher for it being so poor. But still, his name is attached as director. Alien 3 (is there a reason the ‘3’ is tacked on to the title like an exponent? I never understood that) has some moments, but those moments are not enough to save the picture from being a tedious, drab mess. This second sequel places Ellen Ripley on a prison planet full of horny men, so there’s that. The only thing very memorable about Alien 3 is the fact that Sigourney Weaver shaved her head. So when women do that for movies, don’t expect the movie to be that overwhelming (see: G.I. JaneV for Vendetta). You can see glimpses of Fincher’s very deliberate style at work here, but since Fox studios forced Fincher into a release date and stood behind him incessantly throughout production, it is no wonder this sequel was doomed from the start.

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6) Martin Scorsese: New York, New York – I paid no attention to Boxcar Bertha for this list for a few reasons. I have never seen it, and it is not really a “Scorsese movie.” He was doing a picture at the time to appease the studio, not to sow his own vision. New York, New York, on the other hand, was a film that was made after Taxi Driver, and Scorsese had a clear intent. This was Marty’s attempt to hearken back to the jazz age of Hollywood. Scorsese’s first mistake was to cast Robert DeNiro as the lead, as his character is neither believable nor likeable as a jazz musician who falls in love with Liza Minelli. And who could ever believe these two would fall for each other? The musical set pieces are impressive, but the film is overall a mishmash of themes and moods that never really comes together the way Scorsese intended.

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5) Francis Ford Coppola: Jack – Coppola has really fallen off in recent years; that is a definite. There are a couple of pictures that could be considered here, especially his 2007 calamity Youth Without Youth. But Coppola was doing something for himself that he wanted to do; same goes for his 2009 picture Tetro. But Jack? Yes, the movie starring Robin Williams as a child who ages rapidly, graduating high school looking like a senior citizen, is a movie directed by the masterful auteur who changed the Hollywood landscape with classics like The Godfather and Apocalypse Now. I don’t understand how or why Coppola went after this film in the mid nineties. This star vehicle for Robin Williams to beat everyone down acting like a child is such a weird decision on Coppola’s part, and a truly manipulative and sappy comedy. Confounding.

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4) Ridley Scott: A Good Year – Ridley Scott is collecting more and more films in recent years that could be considered his worst, an alarming trend. A Good Year was one such film. The fact that Scott was reteaming with Russell Crowe was a good sign, and I even remember the trailer looking promising. The film is about a wealthy businessman who returns to his father’s vineyard after his father dies, subsequently falling in love with a beautiful Italian woman. While it is not the typical action-adventure with Scott and Crowe, that is not the problem. What is the problem is that A Good Year is so watered down in nostalgia and look that it forgets to tell a compelling human drama. Films like A Good Year rely on things like chemistry, characters, and charm, and A Good Year really doesn’t have any of these aspects in place.

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3) Ron Howard: The Grinch – This was a tough call, mostly because when Ron Howard misses, he misses badly. The Robert Langdon films are pretty well deplorable and dull, and Edtv is a solid misfire with better intentions than execution. But neither of those pictures holds a flame to The Grinch, Howard’s live-action adaptation of the Dr. Seuss classic. Jim Carrey plays the Grinch, and looks like a big wookie more than the slinky, slimy Grinch from the book and the cartoon film. And he is completely annoying. On top of that, the look is decidedly dark and muddled for such a vibrant story. Everything charming and cute in the book and the cartoon, narrated by Boris Karloff, transforms into something creepy and awkward and totally annoying. It just doesn’t translate well to live action.

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2) Sidney Lumet: The Wiz – This was too close to call. The Wiz is a film like Coppola’s Jack, a movie that I still can’t believe Sidney Lumet, the director of such amazing films as Dog Day Afternoon and Serpico, would direct in the first place. What a mess this turned out to be, albeit with good intentions at the start. An urban telling of The Wizard of Oz starring Michael Jackson as the scarecrow? Enough said.
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1) Oliver Stone: Alexander – This was a race that went down to the wire for Stone. The other competition in the worst of Stone’s career was U-Turn, the film that was awarded the worst of Sean Penn’s career a few weeks ago. But it is terrible on a smaller level than Alexander, Stone’s ambitious telling of the great leader. Miscasting is a theme that runs rampant here. First, Colin Farrell is the whiniest, wimpiest soldier in any sprawling epic I can remember. And his mother is played by Angelina Jolie, who is roughly his same age. And Val Kilmer… oh Val. What a disaster his character, playing Alexander’s father, turned into. Aside from the awful casting decisions, Stone aimed for the moon and missed on all levels. He skirted any sort of sexual confusion Alexander battled with in his life, and staged the action scenes so that they might be the most boring fight sequences in this type of movie ever. Even the re-released Director’s Cut a few years ago did not fix the overwhelming list of problems.
Related topics A Good Year, Alexander, Alien 3, Always, Grinch, jack, New York New York, Terrible Movies From Great Directors, The Rookie, The Wiz
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