Friday, April 27, 2012

"When You Use Words, You're Able To Keep Your Mind Alive." -- Gao Xingjian

Hello, all. Aren't you sick o' me yet? Sick of having to hear about my favorites all the time? Are you glad the A-to-Z Challenge is nearing its conclusion? It's been fun for me, I won't lie. I hope you've at least got some sort of entertainment out of it as well.

Today is X Day, and I know I said I'd have something different for you today... I did wrack my brain, trying to come up with something, but in the end, I decided that I'd make X Day a day to discuss some of my Least Favorites... sort of turn the theme on its head and look at things from the opposite angle.

Of course, that presented certain unforeseen problems... I mean, if I'm reading a book or watching a movie that sucks, I'll stop watching it. If I hear a song that sucks, I won't listen to it again. If I read a character in a book that sucks, he/she simply evaporates from my brainpan and I don't retain the info. I make little-to-no room in my brainpan for crappy stuff. That means if they get mentioned here, they are especially worthy of it... so bad I remember them, that sort of thing...

So in order to make the list for today's post, I set myself certain parameters... including...

Least Favorite Movie: I had to have seen the whole film, and the film has to have been partially well-received or liked by others. I couldn't pick a widely-reviled film.
Least Favorite Actor/Actress: I had to have seen this person in several roles that flat out were awful, thus demonstrating  a marked lack of talent. Plus, he/she had to have a widely-recognized name.
Least Favorite Movie/TV Performance: I had to have actually seen the entire movie.
Least Favorite Movie Character: I had to have seen and otherwise liked the film.
Least Favorite Author/Book: I had to have finished the book.
Least Favorite Band/Singer: Widely recognizable, unique sound, otherwise-popular.

So let's start, eh?

Least Favorite Movie:

Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace (1999): This category had many possibilities, but fortunately, the ultimate choice for Least Favorite was easy. The whole trilogy is a mess, from concept to finish, but the Phantom Menace was so shockingly bad -- after such unprecedented hype -- that it amazes me to this day. The characters were so shallow as to be non-existent. The plot incomprehensibly dull. The acting laughably horrid, thanks in part to the most inane dialog ever set to page, and the most lackluster direction possible. Plus, Jar Jar Binks. Words cannot adequately describe what a monumental turd this film is. Simon Cowell and I give it a big thumbs down.

[Honorable Mentions: Speed (1994); Twister (1996); Team America: World Police (2004); Jurassic Park 3 (2001); The Godfather Part 3 (1990); Gran Torino (2008)]

Least Favorite Actor:
(I had to have seen several different roles)

Nicolas Cage: For a man who's been acting in movies for over 30 years, Nic has a remarkable percentage of near-unwatchable turds among them. Granted, given enough attempts, even a lousy actor can stumble into a good role/film, and Cage has a couple of those -- plus, shockingly, he has a Best Actor Oscar for Leaving Las Vegas (which I admittedly have not seen) -- but for the most part, it never ceases to surprise me that he keeps cranking out film after film after film... Usually, as a viewer, when I see him I run the other way.

Bill Paxton: This guy annoys me to no end. When he's playing roles where his purpose is to annoy the viewer to no end, he's tolerable (Aliens, True Lies... uh... Weird Science perhaps?) He was the weak link in Tombstone, Apollo 13 and Titanic, he reigned over Twister as the King of Awful Acting, limped his way through A Simple Plan... look, I'm sure he's a great guy in real life and all, but why o why is he on screen in any capacity? I haven't seen the polygamy HBO series that he stars in (Big Love), but it ran for 5 seasons (so far?) , so he must be doing something right.

[Honorable Mentions: Robin Williams, William H Macy, David Caruso, Jack Black, Diane Keaton]

Least Favorite Movie Performance:

Kenneth Branagh as Hamlet in Hamlet (1996): This movie is soooo full of awful, I hardly know where to begin. The casting alone could be used to teach a course in How Not To Cast A Movie. Absolutely laughable, from the lead role on down... many of the actors and actresses are top notch in and of themselves, but in the roles they are near-universally WRONG. The exceptions being a Nicholas Ferrell as a tolerable Horatio and Rufus Sewell as a strong Fortinbras. But Branagh's performance in the lead role was infuriatingly bad - I could blame the director, but he directed it himself. I forced myself to watch the entire thing, based upon the faulty assumption that a man who produced such a great Henry V would have to do Hamlet justice. He did not. Zefirelli's Hamlet (with Mel Gibson) is so far better as to leave it in the dust completely. Shame on you, Kenneth. Simon and I give you a thorough thumbs down.

[Honorable Mentions: Hayden Christensen in the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy
William Shatner in every Star Trek episode and film
Richard Dreyfuss' voice as narrator in Stand By Me (1986)]

Least Favorite Movie Character:
(In a movie I otherwise really liked)

Ruby Rhod (Chris Tucker in The Fifth Element (1997)): This character was mildly amusing for about the first 4 minutes - then he became tedious, then annoying, then infuriating. Good thing the film itself is so awesome.

Lt. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt in Inglourious Basterds (2009)): Way too corny and over-the-top for me. Grating, unpalatable. Watchable, but only barely. Christoph Waltz is the main (only?) reason to watch the movie.

[Honorable Mentions: Darla from Finding Nemo (2003)]

Least Favorite TV Character:

Lt. Horatio Caine (David Caruso in CSI: Miami): OMG, my wife loves this guy -- LOVES him. He's such an insufferable d-bag, I honestly have no idea if it's the way the character is written, or if it is what Caruso brings to the role, as the actor. Whatever mad concoction resulted in this role, it is literally painful for me to watch it. He is so awful, so corny, like those clueless guys that think they're cool but don't realize they are complete dorks. And man, is he popular! I think he must really connect with a certain type of person... for me? I only watch it with my wife so I can marvel at how thoroughly, almost jaw-droppingly ridiculous the character is. Wow. Simon? Yep, a big thumbs down. Sorry, Horatio.

[Honorable Mention: Every person in a reality show, period.]

Least Favorite Band/Singer:

Beastie Boys: Again, there are admittedly a lot of lame, mediocre bands out there. For this category, the band/singer had to have a distinct sound, be widely-known and I had to have heard a wide selection of their music. This one is easy. The Beastie Boys have been around since forever, and for reasons unknown to me are considered pioneers and legends in the world of rap music. They are, without doubt in my mind, the worst rappers, worst lyric writers, worst musicians, and have the worst "sound" of any group or singer I've been exposed to. And they still get a TON of playtime on the local San Diego stations! I don't get it! Whiney voices, repetitive shallow lyrics, they say their own names about 50 times in every single song (in case we forget who they are, I guess), and they come across as just miserable people in general. They wouldn't get past Simon on America's Got Talent. What say you, Simon?

[Honorable Mentions: Red Hot Chili Peppers]

Least Favorite Book:
(That I finished reading)

Looking For Calvin & Hobbes by Nevin Martell (2009): Gads, I was so hyped to get this book when it was annouced, being a huge C&H fan. I was dying to hear from the creator Bill Watterson, and find out about the creation and history of the strip. Well, Watterson (a well-known recluse) had nothing to do with the book -- in spite of his name being great big on the cover, with Martell's name nice and small... the writing is grade-school level, repetitive, and about 50% filler/fluff. Very disappointing.

The Night Angel Trilogy (by Brent Weeks): I have to admit that the first book in the series is readable. He has some good ideas, and the character Durzo Blint is interesting. The rest of the characters (including Kylar, the MC) are weak, the magic system a mess, and the story inconsistent. And that's the best book of the three. It goes way downhill after that. Way too many characters with little to distinguish them from one another; way too many weird story decisions; flashes of remarkably lame dialog. Disappointing. I have, however, decide to give Weeks another shot. I am currently reading The Black Prism.

[Honorable Mention: The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub (1984)]

Odds and Ends:

Least Favorite Songs: Revolution #9 (The Beatles, White Album)
Least Favorite Games: RAGE by id Software (2010)
Least Favorite Book Characters: Craster (in the Song of Fire and Ice series by GRRMartin)
People I Would Not Like To Meet: Barney Frank (US Rep (D) Mass)

OK, well, that will have to be it for X-Day. I'm sure that with more time to think on it, the list could be expanded and refined, but I didn't have the time to really chew on it. I don't particularly like to dwell on negative stuff in any case.

If you'd like to take me to task for any of my choices, by all means, lets turn the comments section into a hotbed for wild-eyed debate. Lemme have it!

Adios for Now

Dave the X


Amanda Heitler said...

Nice one, Dave :) Good use of X. (Although I think it's Cowell, not Powell).

I'm not arguing over your choices (haven't seen or heard enough of any of them). One thing I will say in Phantom Menace's favour though - it's the best cure for insomnia I can think of. Two minutes is my aboslute best shot at watching it before crashing out.

David Wagner said...

lol, thanks for catching the Cowell/Powell typo. It's about 2am at the moment, and my mind's a bit fried...

Phantom Menace... ouch.... I should put it on now, to help me nod off to sleep...

Thanks for stopping by...

logankstewart said...

I'll take you to task and challenge thee, my good man! Fisticuffs it is.

1. Phantom Menace is marginally better than Attack of the Clones. It's a Fact.

2. Nic Cage is the Man. Also a Fact.

3. Another fact, Hayden Christensen is not in Phantom Menace. So maybe you meant Christensen from EP II & EP III, or maybe you meant Jake Lloyd from EP I?

4. Horatio Caine is such a cool guy that we named our (now dead) fish Horatio after the guy. Caine is awesome, and therefore Caruso is awesome. FACT.

5. "Revolution #9" is pretty crappy. Definitely the worst track on the White Album. (This one's just opinion.)

You can't argue with the facts. It is true.

Abbie Josephsen said...

love it Dave! great post :)

Oh my goodness, Horatio is so so sooooo corny and yet the women love him! Particularly the older grandma types! Maybe because he is the gentlemanly, save you from your troubles type of guy :) Very corny lines indeed haha, but I'm sure David Caruso is a nice guy in person :)

Grace has a clip for you to watch regarding Nic Cage :) It is super funny, and I only saw about a minute of it! I'll have to remind her to show it to you :D

David Wagner said...

1. True... however what makes Phantom Menace win the Least Fave for me was all of the bitter disappointment that it shoulders. It carried with it every fanboy's dreams of a grand return to the Star Wars universe. With ep2 & 3, the expectations were much lower going in.

2. Nic Cage's acting makes me sad. And not in a good way.

3. You got me on Hayden. I guess in my head, I've lumped the trilogy into one giant, painful chocolate mess. I'll fix it.

4. The only way Horatio is acceptible in any way is in that "so bad you have to watch him" way... seriously, I risk eye injury every time I watch him (and the show in general), from rolling them so often.

Abbie: See Logan? Abbie agrees with me about Horatio and Nic Cage both! That's why I only act in movies with her as co-star...

David Wagner said...

I think there's a difference between "worst" and "least favorite"... there are worse movies/actors/books, I'm sure... but for me, Least Fave includes something that operates on a personal level, without reference to a particular book/movie/song. I react on a gut level to Bill Paxton, for example. But he's better at acting than Adam Sandler (for example)...

Mel said...

David Caruso is atrocious...ATROCRIOUS!!!! I can barely stomach that show because of him.

logankstewart said...

@Dave: 1. Very true. The hype huge, and that definitely has ramifications.

2. (I'm not really sure why I like Mr. Cage. It could simply be my burning love for Raising Arizona. The man's definitely typecast forevermore.)

4. (I think the same applies to Horatio Caine/David Caruso.)

Anonymous said...

I liked Apollo 13 - that guy was so unforgettable I had to Google to know who you were referring to!

Have no idea about the rest of the stuff, but I did like Amos and Andrew (Cage).


Grace Sandlin said...

I love Nic Cage for being so Nic Cageish. I can't take him seriously at all, otherwise I would feel like you do, but when I don't, he cracks me up so much! Good for you for not reading the Twilight books because for sure they would have been in your least favorite/worst book ever list.