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Squish's Semi-Annual Best And Worst (June 2006)

slateWell looky here! It's time again for another recap of the five best films I've seen in these last six months. Also, in honour of the nay-saying fans I've gathered, I'll add the five worst films I've seen over this bleak wintery time of the year as well. When you double your film intake, you find your bell curve stretching itself out pretty wide and given that there are so many to choose from this time around, today's post will be all about peaks of greatness and depths of despair. In honour of lovely weather and this summer that is fast-approaching, let's begin on a positive note.

Here are the best movies that I've seen in the last 6 months, beginning with the best of the bunch:

Serpico (1973) #1 - Serpico - 92% (Integrity Was Never This Frightening)

How does one better explain how good something is than by comparing it to everything else that has come before? Over the past 6 months there have been just under 200 shorts, full-feature film and series reviews that have gone up on this site (I've been keeping busy this winter, as you can see), and of all those, this was the best I've seen. This is one of the films that I'll be adding to my own list of Top 10 all-time favorites, which should hopefully add some weight to this recommendation. The fact that this is based on the true story of a guy who actually got shot in the face for doing his job ethically (not a spoiler, it starts like that), might just make you want to watch this exciting and scathing peek into the underbelly of corruption. Want to read more? Just click on the film title above for the original review.

#2 - High Tension - 92% (Perfectly Appropriate Title!)
High Tension (2003)
For you horror, suspense and survival fans out there, I will suggest High Tension. One of the best horror movies I've ever seen, I was on the edge of my seat for the entirety of this film. It starts fast and gets evil quick. The tale of one woman against one man in a completely isolated place makes for one hell of a thrill ride, and though some of you might be disappointed with the twist, I found that it added a heavy dose of creepy. Not only did I praise this in the original review, but I went on a little about how great this was in a Love of Horror Film post you might find interesting.

Joyeux Noel (2005)

#3 - Joyeux Noel - 90% (Best Time of the Year)

Back to serious foreign dramas for a moment. Want to see a grown man cry more than once without the use of a hammer or freshly chopped onions? Show him this. Another story based on true events, we focus this time on the Christmas truce of 1914, a time when the First World War had just begun. This film focuses on humanity in a setting devoid of it. It shows the reason for peace across a field torn by war, and it will appeal to everyone. It's not too heavy, as it is filled with comedic respites and feel-good moments. This is not a bleak film, save for the fact that history has proven these men not to be the victors with the lessons they had to teach. Important, especially in light of political events today.
Dark Side Of Oz #4 - The Wizard of Oz - 90% (The Wonderful Wizard of Oz!)
The Dark Side of Oz - 90% (Severely Sub-Culture Super-Cool)
So you all know about Wizard of Oz being a great film, yeah, yeah, get around to it because not only is it an important children's adventure by its own right, it has also integrated itself into the modern mythology of western culture and it's a nice piece of repertoire to have, you know, like Bambi or A Christmas Carol. What I really want to focus on is the Pink Floyd version of this film. Without endlessly raving about it here, since I do that enough in the original review, let me just tell you that it is a unique experience that will set you apart as someone who goes out of their way to find rare beauty in the world, and that my friend, makes you special.

Grapes Of Wrath #5 - Grapes Of Wrath - 90% (Sweet Bitter Fruit)

This 1940 film based on the John Steinbeck novel of the same name was one hell of a surprise. When you watch an old black and white American film, you don't expect to find such a degree of dissent at a nation. This is bleak with the constant knowledge that hope springs eternal for our characters, even if you're watching children starve to death all around you. This movie stars Henry Fonda and won two academy awards on top of that. It's a lesson teacher in humanity, hope and history, and is sincerely not to be missed.

It sure was nice having a Top 5 list with high numbers, 90% or above is quite the accomplishment, but imagine my disappointment in the universe with the Worst 5. When you watch more movies, I suppose you risk finding worse films than the time before, but the fact that I couldn't crack 30% as the BEST of the worst puts this season as the most successful at finding terrible film. Luckily, you've probably never heard of any of these, because they are either such low budget or so old that they're completely out of your spectrum, but if I save you from seeing just one of these, then my job is done.

Here's a few God-awful films to avoid...

#5 - Speak Easily - 30% (Don't Speak At ALL!)

Speak Easily (1931)
The best part of this movie was my review of it. I can look back and laugh at what I wrote, which is nice. The saddest part of this movie is that it's a Buster Keaton Talkie, and I loved him before I saw this. Limelight got beat out of the Worst 5 list but I guess it deserves honorable mention for being the Chaplin talkie that killed my unconditional love for HIM in the same way. Anyways, Speak Easily is about a bookworm professor who understands nothing about humour or the outside world and it's not funny. Period.

Within Our Gates (1920) #4 - Within Our Gates - 28% (Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here)

First, let me be clear: the fact that someone would hate the first film directed by an African-American does not make them a racist. If it did, everyone who saw this would be accused of it. Let me tell you that the race card does not a good film make. It was important in the same way that Birth of a Nation is important: ignorance. Sadly, the specific ignorance I speak of in this film is not the blatant racism of "The KKK Saves The Day" like Birth of a Nation had, but that this director had no idea what he was doing, professionally. The film was boring to the point of tears. Next time you save a school from bankruptcy, do it on your own time and stop wasting mine. At least the review was well written, which means I had a good time crapping on this, if nothing else.

#3 - Good Guys Wear Black - 28% (Good Guys is Evil!)

Good Guys Wear Black (1978)
See now we have a tie for score, but this has no saving grace. There's no excuse like "the director was being oppressed" or "this is a story about racism and hope". This is just a really boring, really tacky, super-stupid movie with two fight scenes that aren't even that good, except for the kicking through a windshield thing, a slow-motion 4 second shot. Chuck Norris plays a Special Ops guy who is facing some political blowback from some mission back in 'Nam, and his boys are getting killed. Not killed in some elaborate fight scene, but by a sniper shot. This ends like a terrible cop show, explaining all the loose ends in a nice little bundle. Fetid Tripe.
Wal-Mart is retarded #2 - Why Wal-Mart Works: And Why That Drives Some People C-R-A-Z-Y - 22% (Drove Me Crazy Alright)

First, what is up with that title?! Longer please. Second, this was a sad attempt at defending itself against the Documentary that condemned Wal-Mart: Wal-Mart: The High Cost Of Low Price. The fact that you could see the disclaimer "Written, produced and directed by a corporate whore" in every shot didn't help this film's case. Clearly Wal-Mart was behind this and they failed at their propaganda. As an aside, someone claiming to be the director of this film kept commenting on how stupid my original review was. However, his immature insults worthy of a 10-year-old resulted in me just deleting every comment he made. Either way, his movie still sucks. Feeble, feeble, feeble.

ankle#1 Worst movie in the last 6 months - Ankle Biters - 16% (I've Seen Worse, But Not Many... Just ONE, Actually.)

As I peruse the reviews for these last worst 5 films, I realize, I write better when I condemn, and Holy Hell did I ever rip into this guy. In fact if you check the original review, you'll see that I received the contact info for this "director". As promised I sent him a link to my lovely review, but sadly he left no comment. I will give him one praise though. He can get guns, cars, and tricked out motorbikes better than I ever could, good for him. Still his boring film passed the point of kitsch in 20 minutes and just got tremendously moronic and poor in quality, story and decency. It was a chore worse than cleaning barnacles off my grandma's arse.

Last time I signed off with a declaration of hope and joy that "there couldn't possibly be a six-month period where movies are worse than this bunch". At this stage, I know I'll keep watching garbage for a couple years yet, just to build a decent repertoire, in hopes that I find movies as good as Serpico, and scour for the wonderfully obscure titles like the Dark Side Of Oz.

See you ladies later...

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