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Friday, March 10, 2006

 

The World's Most Shameless Movies

Inspired by this post from the admirable Dean Esmay, here's my list of the Five Most Shameless Movies Ever.

5. The Other Blockbuster: Ever notice how often the blockbusters come in twos? Armageddon/ Deep Impact. Volcano/ Dante's Peak. Lord of the Rings/ Harry Potter. etc/ etc

Every time one studio has a Big Idea another studio will copy it. Invariably. Shamelessly. That's entertainment...

4. Chiller: (OMFG. Researching it on IMDB I just found out that this one was directed by Wes Craven. I'm tempted to upgrade it to #1, because if anyone should have know better than to make a POS like this it was Craven. Still, he cast Cathy Tyson in a major international picture, so he gets a free pass; I'll let this stand at #4).

Chiller is an example of a class of movies apparently designed to pander to warn "flyover" America of the dangers of Things That Nerds Are Into. (Another example would be Mazes and Monsters, which explained in tedious detail how RPGs Will Make Our Kids Crazy! The genealogy of these movies goes back to Reefer Madness, at least). In Chiller, the Evil Nerd Craze That Will Destroy Our Families was cryonics, which viewers were assured would allow Satan and all his minions to possess the bodies of the dear departed*. I've singled this movie out as particularly because of its potential effects. In the final scene, a wiring fault in the cryonics facility destroys the remaining corpsicles, and this is evidently intended as a Happy Ending. Now, I don't know if cryonically-preserved bodies will ever be re-animated by advanced technology; I kind of doubt it. (Not the technology itself; the will to use it for that purpose - who wants to be up to his ears in 500-year-old primitive ancestors?) But I am 100% certain that bodies that have not been cryonically-preserved will not be re-animated by advanced technology, for the simple reason that they won't be frcking there. The implied message of Chiller is that cryonically-preserved bodies should be destroyed, which strikes me as desecration at best; at worst, murder.

Either way, it's shameless.

3. Cruel Intentions II: Not to be confused with Cruel Intentions. The original was possibly the best modern adaptation of a classic I've ever seen, and within those constraints remarkably faithful to the source. Sequels are always difficult. You can show how the original characters develop (eg Smokey and the Bandit is about outrunning the cops and winning the bet; the sequel is about realising there's more to life than that); or you can show the characters, unchanged, in a new situation, which is what most sequels do.

What mercifully few sequels do is show exactly the same characters (with worse dialogue), played by completely different actors (worse actors), in a plot almost identical to the original, only considerably worse. That's Cruel Intentions II.

The single most shameless aspect of this movie is the opening scene, which is essentially xeroxed from the original. Imagine if the opening scene of Godfather Part II featured Ed Wood playing Don Vito Corleone sitting in a room listening to a cabinet-maker begging him for favours. That's Cruel Intentions II.

The Intentions couldn't have been as Cruel as the actuality...

2. Showgirls: Yep, you saw it coming. There are many movies out there that have gratuitous nude scenes that distract from the plot, which is generally a Bad Thing; Showgirls has a great deal of gratuitous nude scenes but frankly, the plot is so lame, one-dimensional, exploitative and irredeemably tacky that any sort of distraction is a blessed release.

By far the most shameless thing about this movie is the pathetic attempt by its writer, Joe Esterhas, to defend it as a serious movie. (Over on IMBD Bothan from Birmingham AL rips Esterhas a new one. Go read it. You'll be glad you did.) Joe: you're a dunce.

Showgirls is utterly lacking in any redeeming quality whatsoever; its influence was so baleful as to fatally damage the careers of two very promising perfomers (Gina Gershon & Kyle McLanahan); and yet, remarkably, there exists a movie more shameless and more putrescent than Showgirls; a movie that can only be described as a disgrace to the human race, and its name is

1. Barb Wire: This is the single most shameless movie ever made. Beyond any shadow of a doubt.

Plan 9 From Outer Space may be the worst. The Birth Of A Nation is perhaps the most repulsive. But, categorically, Barb Wire is the most shameless movie ever made.

Part of its shamelessness, a small but significant part, is the fact that the movie is an unapologetic vanity vehicle for Canada's most in-your-face surgical addict. Pammie: stick to movies like your widely-downloaded Pammie And Tommy On A Yacht (NSFW). Please do not torture the artistic sensibilities of the world with any more movies like Barb Wire

Part of the shamelessness of Barb Wire was the fact that the plot is, quite simply, stolen from Casablanca. Not that there's anything wrong with that, if you do it the right way: for instance, Last Man Standing is A Fistful of Dollars is Yojimbo - just as Cruel Intentions I is Les Liaisons Dangereuses. Remake a classic well, and you get another classic. Remake a classic badly, and you may be forgiven, if you meant well.

The makers of Barb Wire, however, clearly did not mean well. The plot of this movie is, as I said, stolen from Casablanca and you no doubt recall that in Casablanca, the protagonist is the proprietor of a bar in the neutral zone between the Good Guys (the Allies) and the Forces of Evil (the Nazis). There is not one single original idea in Barb Wire, and so in that movie too, the protagonist is the proprietor of a bar in the neutral zone between the Good Guys and the Forces of Evil. Except that, in Barb Wire the Forces of Evil are universally referred to as the "Congressional Republic", which, given the release date (1996) can only be construed as a reference to the Wicked Republicans who had won usurped control of Congress a couple years previously. By thus equating Gingrich's Republicans with Hitler's Nazis, Barb Wire chose to be the mimetic Index Case for the BusHitler Syndrome that has since reached pandemic proportions.

To sum up: this movie was a meretricious, parodic plagiarism of a great work of art; a hackish vehicle for a walking advertisement for Dow Corning; and worst of all, blazed the trail for the demonising of political opponents as the equivalent of the Nazis - which has not only tarnished and corrupted political discourse but has cheapened the suffering of the victims of the Nazis' crimes. Every single person connected in any way with this movie ought to be ashamed to look at his own face in a mirror.

Barb Wire is unquestionably the most shameless movie ever made and released.


*Interesting to compare this premise with that of Potter's Cold Lazarus, in which the soul of Daniel Field was bound to his cryonically-preserved head and thus unable to enter paradise.

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