Issue: December 2015 - Stuff We Hate

The TFS List: 5 films so bad, they’re good

There’s a particular type of joy found in watching a bad movie. Maybe it makes us feel good to think we could do better, or it’s just nice to see that everybody around us isn’t perfect, so we can stop worrying about whether we are. However, there are some films that transcend awfulness and by being terrible on every level they become incredibly entertaining. SyFy has built a brand upon this idea. With films like Sharknado and Birdemic gathering all kinds of undue praise, filmmakers are increasingly attempting to create something bad and then revelling in how terrible it is. While there may...

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Cinema Revisited: Ishtar

There are cinematic failures and underperformers, and then there’s Ishtar. Next to Michael Cimino’s Heaven’s Gate and the Liz Taylor- and Richard Burton-starring Cleopatra, no film has been as synonymous with Hollywood egos run amok. The ’80s delivered plenty of divisive, often terrible box office tragedies, but none were greeted with as many knives out as Elaine May’s updating of the Hope-and-Crosby-style road picture for a new generation. Its perceived failure, to put it in Hellraiser terms, was legendary, even in hell. Time went as far as to add the film to its list of the “100 Worst Ideas of the Century.” That’s how dire...

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Media Impact: misleading movie trailers

Movie trailers are a divisive topic. While some love being hyped-up about coming attractions, others dislike how modern trailers give away practically the entire plot. There’s also the fact that many don’t properly advertise their film is actually about. Since many are produced by independent marketing firms and are often put together with unfinished footage, there are many featuring scenes that fail to appear in the final cut or suggest that a film is much different than it turns out to be. Here is a look at a few excellent examples of misleading trailers, in one form or another....

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Essential Canadian Cinema: One Magic Christmas

Christmas movies usually come in one of three flavours: incredibly sappy and sweet; terribly depressing; or a combination of both. One Magic Christmas definitely falls into the latter category, ranking up there with It’s a Wonderful Life for heartbreaking Christmas fare. The film stars Mary Steenburgen as Ginny Grainger, a woman who’s forgotten what Christmas is about. Her husband, Jack (Gary Basaraba), has lost his job and their family is being forced out of their company home. With little money and no holiday spirit, Ginny needs a reminder of what’s important. Her daughter, Abbie (Elisabeth Harnois), meets an angel...

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The Soapbox: unnecessarily hairless women, what’s the deal?

You know what boils my water? Hairlessness. Unnecessary hairlessness. Historically unnecessary hairlessness. Historically unnecessary hairless women. Quick: take any Hollywood historical drama and find me a woman with historically accurate body hair. I dare you; I double-dog dare you. I bet you can’t, especially not quickly, and that’s because for some bizarre reason, the idea of a woman with a pit full of hair is apparently considered so sickening and unattractive that filmmakers would rather mess with accuracy than traumatize the audience with historically accurate bodies. You likely didn’t even notice the fact that hairless women have been rampant in Hollywood films for...

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Quentin Tarantino: it’s all about him

I will concede that Quentin Tarantino is a competent filmmaker. On a technical level, his movies are always solid and well constructed. However, like a student film where the filmmaker has memorized all the steps of a “How To” textbook and managed to tick all the important boxes, there’s little else to recommend. It’s all flash and no substance. Even more off-putting, hidden underneath the technical gloss and inciting dialogue, all that exists is an entitled man-child concerned with nothing more than proving he is better than everyone else. This is why Tarantino is overrated as a filmmaker: he...

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Don’t be fooled: why films that try to trick us ultimately fail

The players are in place and the circumstances are set. The audience is expectant and the action can finally take place. Now, after an hour-an- a-half of systematic misdirection and play-acting comes the reveal. “Everything you saw was a set-up.” “Nothing is real.” “Be amazed.” The credits roll with aplomb as the audience feels, thinks and reacts in whatever way, and through whichever means, they’re accustomed to. The trick has been played and we have all been had. But have we? All the signs were there: the clever use of sleight-of-hand editing to undermine the audience’s anticipation; the dialogue...

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