January 15, 2010




The Best and Worst Film of 2009

The film critics of kcactive.com have bought together their list of the good and bad in the film world for 2009. Our readers are, of course, free to agree or disagree.

Brandon Whitehead

The Best

1. The Hurt Locker
It’s not a surprise that the best film so far about the war in Iraq wouldn’t have anything to do with the politics behind it, or be filled with hollow jingoistic praise for the troops (who would probably just prefer to come home, thank you). On par with the stark wartime realism of Catch 22, Kathryn Bigelow’s explosive film is both beautiful and grotesque, and I have never sweated so much in a cool theater until I watched this movie. The edge of my seat wasn’t edgy enough to sit on through most of this compelling and intelligent story, and Jeremy Renner should win a Best Actor Oscar for his performance, hands down.

2. A Serious Man
As infuriating as a Coen Brothers’ film can be (and this is most defiantly one of those), the pure, gleeful nihilism of A Serious Man is as quietly devastating as it is wonderfully, joyfully meaningless. What other major filmmakers out there are willing to go out of the way to say to their audience: “Your life is probably completely meaningless, and then you’ll die”?

3. The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
Once again Terry Gilliam has created a fabulous, dark fantasy that revels in exploring the strange, twisted corners of our collective imagination. This movie is beyond simple explanation: Either you’ll get it or you won’t. Extra kudos to Depp, Law and Farrell for stepping in to finish the late Heath Ledger’s last role on film.   

4. Zombieland
Zombies (the better old-school types) plus Zombie Slayer Woody Harrelson (channeling his Mickey Knox character from Natural Born Killers, no less), multiplied by one of the best title sequences ever and a cameo by Bill Murray equals bloody awesomeness.

5 District 9
Smart, funny and fast — writer/director Neill Blomkamp took $5 million and the effects from a failed Halo movie, and turned it into an unexpected blockbuster with such skill his last name has become a Hollywood slang-word for, “We had no idea you are so awesome, dude!”

The Worst

1. Dance Flick
If there’s a cinematic equivalent to a mugging, then Dance Flick is it. The Wayans brothers have given up all semblance of talent for a quick reach-around into what’s left of their once loyal fans’ wallets. Worthless, moronic and completely non-funny, I would happily go in for major surgery rather than see it again. If we showed this movie to prisoners at Guantanamo it should be considered a crime against humanity. Watching an hour and a half of static is better than this movie. It is bad. Very very very bad.

2. Land of the Lost
I used to think Hell would have to freeze over before I didn’t find Will Ferrel funny, no matter how bad the film. Well, can it be a coincidence that this has been one of the coldest winters we’ve ever had? I think not. This unfunny, uninspired big-screen treatment of a kid’s Saturday morning show meandered through poop and drug jokes with all the enthusiasm of a part-time comedian performing at 3:43 a.m. in between stripper acts. Some things are better left lost. Lost as in smashed, burned and the remains fed into a nuclear reactor core.

3. All About Steve
Apparently, nobody bothered to tell the producers of All About Steve that stalking strangers isn’t very funny. This film actually made Sandra Bullock seem unpleasant to be around, which sounds impossible. I laughed exactly once, and that was at something a horse did. Thank goodness Bullock had The Blind Side to dig her out of this big stinking hole (if you saw the film, you’d get that joke about a hole…but I’m pretty sure you didn’t).

4. Orphan
Why is it that filmmakers feel compelled to make that rich, happy, good-looking white couple in their horror movies be complete morons? The shot this film takes at domestic creepiness quickly veers into the “bad touch” arena, while everybody blithely misses new family member Esther’s blatant attempts to kill her siblings. But you wait, anyway, watching for that big twist: Is she a ghost, a robot, or maybe even an alien? No. She’s a freaking Russian midget. If I’d had something to throw I’d still be paying the theater for a new screen.

5. Whiteout
Synopsis: There’s a killer in Antarctica. Bunch of people run around wearing goggles and parkas in the middle of blizzards so you can never tell the #$% who any of them are. Then people fly, drive and walk through the snow a lot more. Kate Beckinsale does not appear topless. Tom Skerritt did it. There.

Now excuse me, I’m going to go stick my finger into an electrical outlet and try and burn any vestige of this film out of my brain before it melts. See you next year!

Brandon Whitehead can be contacted at kinginyellow@juno.com.