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David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

Armond White Says…

… Nora Ephron is “perhaps the most inept director in Hollywood today.”
Is she? What other candidates should be considered?

107 Responses to “Armond White Says…”

  1. Wrecktum says:

    What movie does Armond White like? He trashed about 20 in his review.
    After seeing Charlie’s Angels 2, I would say that McG is the most inept working (or, hopefully, in his case, not working) director in Hollywood.

  2. Double D says:

    This guy starts off the article that Nicole makes only inept movies (i.e. To Die For). Okay, you’ve already lost me there.
    Most inept director. Peter Hyams is up there for me. John Waters is up there (though he’s a very charming guy in interviews and such). But John Carpenter really has that crown. This guy has done nothing significant in 20 years and he STILL puts his name in the title of films, i.e. “John Carpenter’s Ghost of the Abyss”. what a hack.

  3. Josh Massey says:

    Didn’t we have a similar discussion when Brett Ratner was announced as the helmer of “X3?” Anyway, there are plenty of directors more inept than Ephron (though she hasn’t made anything tolerable since “Sleepless in Seattle”). Let’s start with – deep breath – Joel Schumacher, McG, Paul W.S. Anderson, Simon West, Roland Emmerich, Shawn Levy, Adam Shankman, Steve Carr, John Woo, Stephen Sommers, Tom Shadyac, Uwe Boll, Peter Segal, Renny Harlin, Jan de Bont,… Ok, that’s enough for now.
    And good call on John Waters. “A Dirty Shame” might be one of the worst movies I have ever seen.

  4. Double D says:

    Nice call on Renny Harlin and Jan De Bont, I forgot about those two.
    I forgot to mention Wolfgang Peterson. Going from Das Boot (masterpiece) to Outbreak, Perfect Storm and Troy is truly remarkable.

  5. Wrecktum says:

    Surely Poland would put Jesse Dylan on the list of inept directors….

  6. Lota says:

    Jan DeBont should have stuck to cinematography, he was ok there.
    And John Woo is only pisspoor in N. America. His The Killer and A Better Tomorrow were great. Wish he’d get back to that sort of stuff. I still light the candle for Woo and say my prayers.
    Woo and Lee tamahori and Wolfgang Petersen have similarly toppled from a high place into ineptitude. Sad. No cash cow was worth it.
    And hey…I would think someone with the handle DOuble D would appreciate John Waters. Oh the irony of it all.
    Waters’ is not inept at all, but unfortunately doesn’t give a shit about certain aspects of production which makes a 6M picture look like a super 8 1st film. If he’s inept it’s financially–but still he doesn’t blow the amounts that the other INEPTers listed do–Waters wastes 1M for every 50M those idiots waste. I hope Waters gets back on par with another Desperate Living style magnum opus before he croaks.

  7. Ray Pride says:

    Irwin Winkler.

  8. Geoff says:

    You know, I have never liked Nora Ephron movies (as a director), but man, reading White’s snarky comments makes me want to like her. I don’t usually use this kind of langage on blogs, but what a dick!
    This guys is definitely in the Jeffrey Wells school of massive pretension. I think Nicole Kidman is definitely overexposed, but have no doubt that she can pull of a fine performance, from time to time.
    As for most inept director, that is a very tough call. I loved Breaking the Waves, but because of every film, since, Lars Von Trier comes to mind. I think this guy does in his films what Radiohead has been doing with every album since OK Computer – PUNISHING their fans for ever liking them.
    Roland Emmerich comes to mind. I don’t think he’s ever done a film that has any sense of narrative momentum to it – stuff just seems to happen.
    Sorry to rankle some, but Kevin Smith and Alexander Payne are notable, because their films are just ugly to look at. Come on, admit it, it takes a director of some level of ineptness to make California’s WINE COUNTRY look ugly.
    Brett Ratner is a pretty obvious choice, too, because how did he screw up Red Dragon with THAT cast?
    And finally, can we include Chris Columbus? I don’t think I have truly enjoyed a film of his since Adventures in Babysitting. No doubt, the writing quality and production values were there on the screen for the Harry Potter films, but he still managed to make them drag.

  9. Snake says:

    Armond White is the best. He calls it right. Nicole Kidman has done nothing and Nora? why bother. White knows the potential film has and his tear is one looking to push filmmaking to what it was. Anyone that watches TCM has to be shocked at what has happened to the quality of films. Reruns, retreads, the 10th Batman movie, more and more comic book films, the same story over and over and over etc. etc. etc. Keep fighting Armond.

  10. joefitz84 says:

    Inept in what way? In the final product? In directing actors? In telling an entertaining story? Paul Anderson. Not Paul Thomas Anderson. The other schlock guy.

  11. Lota says:

    Lars von Trier is also essentially a cinematographer with how he shoots and edits (or fails to) his movies. Does anyone shoot more footage than he? Doubtful. ANd I hate his films becasue of the emotional blackmail/abuse of the audience by destroying Character even though Emily Watson gave perhaps her finest In BTW.
    If he is inept it is entirely on purpose to punish the capitalists in USA(who he claims to dislike immensely) who buy his movies.
    God I have to get some work done here or I won;t be able to watch Tom&Kate get married on Letterman tonight.

  12. joefitz84 says:

    I can’t say Ratner is inept. He just doesn’t bring any excitement or anything new in telling a story to the table.

  13. L&DB says:

    Three words, two of which are nouns. UWE FREAKIN BOLL!

  14. jeremy says:

    Armond White is one of the few critics working today with an informed appreciation of the craft of filmmaking, so when he makes a charge like this, it means something. But, as usual, the old grump’s not content to just beat up Ephron; he’s got to lay into some other, more sacred critical cows like Van Sant and Kubrick just to challenge the reader’s sympathy.
    The “perhaps” lets him off the hook, meaning that there’s still room for Ratner, Gosnell, Singleton, Tennant, Luketic and so on, but, absolutely, Ephron is in their neighborhood. (Of course, one could end the argument with the simple mention of Uwe Boll, but what’s the fun in that?) In BEWITCHED, Ephron once again displays no aptitude for camera placement, no sense of pacing and, most alarmingly for a comedy specialist, excruciatingly “off” timing.
    This may be her last studio picture for a while.

  15. Kernan says:

    Martin Brest, Shawn Levy!!!!!, and Renny Harlin

  16. L&DB says:

    Marty Brest did Beverly Hills Cops. He has a lifetime exception from this list.

  17. Kernan says:

    The odd thing about Armond White is that he is not pretentious as someone mentioned earlier. His best of 2004 list featured Mr. 3000, Torque and You Got Served. I don’t quite know how to categorize Mr. White’s tastes but certainly not pretentious.

  18. Stella's Boy says:

    If those movies are on his best of 2004 list, his taste isn’t pretentious, it’s horrible.

  19. Noonan says:

    RAISING HELEN? Seriously, Raising Helen? Is he being sarcastic? Was anything in that movie (let alone the sentiment) acceptable?

  20. jeffmcm says:

    Armond is somewhat pretentious but mostly he’s aggressively idiosyncratic. He’s one of the smartest critics working today. He’s also an acolyte of Pauline Kael, and he loves anything to do with Spielberg and DePalma, even to the point of praising movies like Hook and The Fury, which gets a little old.
    Anyway, John Waters is a very good director. James Cameron made Ghosts of the Abyss, not John Carpenter. And for my money the most inept working director is…
    MICHAEL BAY.

  21. Count Mackuluv says:

    Well, there is a crucial difference between Armond White and Jeffrey Wells… Armond White is a genius. He’s one of the very few real independent thinkers in film crit today.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Martin Brest did Midnight Run thats a solid film. He definitely gets a pass for that.

  23. Joe Straat says:

    “Three words, two of which are nouns. UWE FREAKIN BOLL!”
    Yes. Though, I would say Kaos (You know, the guy who directed Ballistic: Ecks Vs. Sever?) if he did more movies. However, he has a much more difficult time mgetting movies made. Boll, on the other hand, has TWO more sure-tobe-shitty movies in the works and FOUR others announced. Hopefully, the announced ones get shut down QUICKLY. MAKE THE BAD MAN STOP!

  24. lazarus says:

    Double D, White may have lost you when he claimed that Nicole has only made inept films, but you lost me when you gave John Carpenter the crowd.
    Are you kidding? While Carpenter’s recent work may be nowhere near the level of The Thing or Escape From New York, at least the man knows how to compose a shot and give viewers a good time. Oh, if only Courtney Love hadn’t withdrawn from Ghosts of Mars. Her vs. Ice Cube would have been one of the all-time classic pairings.
    Carpenter has 6 classics (The Thing, The Fog, Halloween, Big Trouble in Little China, Escape From New York, Starman), and a handful of other enjoyable films. And, admittedly, some clunkers. That’s a far cry from the list of marginally talented or talentless names that have popped up in this thread. Stick it to someone who really deserves it.

  25. Josh Massey says:

    How the hell did I forget Garry Marshall? He, in fact, is the most inept director working today.
    And a slap on the wrist for anybody bringing up Martin Brest. The man did “Beverly Hills Cop” and “Midnight Run,” for God’s sake. The same goes with John McTiernan – even with “Rollerball,” “Basic” and “Last Action Hero” on his resume, the man will forever be a hero of mine for directing “Die Hard,” “Predator” and “The Hunt For Red October.”

  26. Hassa says:

    John Carpenter is certainly the most overrated fan director of all time. None of his moves are good (“Halloween” doesn’t hold up at all) and there’s not an ounce of real wit to any of his stories. The scores he writes are more interesting. Someone could do a term paper on how “Star Man” pillages “E.T.” at every scene.
    Debont, Harlin and Woo made some of the best non-cgi action movies of the past twenty years. Take them of the list now.
    But Jon Turteltaub for me takes the cake (though I didn’t see that Nick Cage movie). He has no sense of what a good movie makes.
    Even Michael Bay, who’s never had a single compelling character in any of his movies, redeems himself with knockout special effects. I hate admitting that, but the “Pearl Harbor” bombing was quite a spectacle.

  27. KamikazeCamel says:

    I really don’t think this guy is pretentious if he doesn’t like Kubrick, Von Trier, Van Sant and Glazer’s movies. Seriously, what the…? I thought even people who hated movies like Birth and Dogville (both of which were in my top 5 of 2004) could acknowledge how good Nicole was. And so critisise “To Die For” is just wrong. Plain wrong. Not to mention the fact that “Eyes Wide Shit” “The Interpreter” and “The Hours” are all really good to. This man is cooky.
    But, seriously, Peter Segal! I don’t know many so-called comedic directors who could take Jack Nicholson and Adam Sandler and make them boring. And the same goes for the much more excrutiating “50 First Dates”. I’d also throw into the list whoever it was who made “Spun”. Egads, that was shit.
    People are saying Martin Brest made so-and-so movies so he gets a pass, well Jan de Bont made “Speed” and that is an action classic, so…

  28. Terry Lennox says:

    I’ve worked with Turtletaub and he’s a real boob. I would say Harlin. He’s NEVER done a good movie. And he’s an ass.
    Who’s the worst OSCAR-WINNING director? I say Avildsen.

  29. jeffmcm says:

    I nominate Ron Howard. Mostly because A Beautiful Mind is such a goofy movie. I never saw Chaplin, so maybe also Richard Attenborough?

  30. Kernan says:

    Martin Brest Directed Gigli, Meet Joe Black and the immensely overrated Scent Of AS Woman so I stand by my declaration of him being a HACK!!!!

  31. galia says:

    I don’t really care about Ephron, but this Armond White character loses any credibility with me at all, with his complete dismissal of Kidman’s oveure over the past couple of years. Sure, she’s made some missteps (Stepford, possiibly Bewitched), but she’s a fantastic, versatile, risk-taking actress. Her attitude is to do “one for them” (ie the studios, who want her to star in campy summer vehicles) and two “for herself” (challenging material like Dogville and Birth). It’s the Johnny Depp forumala (though Depp has had more success with it lately) She’s made several really good movies, and put in many excellent performances.
    I wonder how this clown will react when all the other critics praise her almost-certain-to-be excellent performances in Steven Shaninberg’s Fur and War Wong Kai’s The Lady From Shanghai next year. It’s ridiculously easy to take a cheap shot at a fine actress in a fluffy, featherweight affair like Bewitched. I’ll be looking forward to Armond White’s reviews of Fur and The Lady From Shanghai. Just to see if his obvious bitterness towards this actresses achievements extends to panning her work in every substantial movie she makes.
    He should stick to ripping small fry like Ephron. His Kidman rant just made him look like a fool.

  32. Count Mackuluv says:

    The Hours is the WORST MOVIE OF THE MODERN ERA. It’s impossible to be pretentious for having the basic decency to dislike it.
    Martin Brest makes more interesting films than most directors (including Gigli), and John Carpenter certainly does as well. Ghosts of Mars holds up as a pretty lean, vicious action pic. Its shrewdly handled subtext of colonialism never got its due.

  33. john maguire says:

    No mention so far of Brian Levant – nine noisy, attention-defecit movies so far, not one worth a damn. He might be making ‘family’ films, but do they have to be so inept? Are We There Yet? must rank as the most unhappy piece of future landfill yet committed to celluloid and still, someone somewhere keeps asking this blubbery idiot to add his signiature style to these half-written entertainments.

  34. bicycle bob says:

    shawn levy is pretty damn inept

  35. Terence D says:

    How can you possibly say Ron Howard is inept? Look over his resume. He has made entertaining film after entertaining film. So you don’t like a Beautiful Mind (which only won an Oscar). I knew most of your comments were out of left field, jeff, but this is just funny.

  36. Movies For Pleasure says:

    I think someone needs to get laid.

  37. David G. says:

    Beverly Hills Cop and Midnight Run, the latter one of the funniest movies of that decade, definitely earn Martin Brest a pass. And I’d except John Carpenter and John McTiernan for the same reasons – there’s a semblance of talent there.
    For my money the biggest hack is Joel Schumacher. Phone Booth, Bad Company, two AWFUL Batman movies, paint-by-numbers Time to Kill, Dying Young, the pretentious-yet-emptyheaded Flatliners, and St. Elmo’s Fire. Good lord, what a resume full of garbage. Falling Down is a good flick but I wonder if that wasn’t just dumb luck, somehow.

  38. LesterFreed says:

    Is this about hacks or ineptitude? Because they’re two totally different beasts.

  39. bicycle bob says:

    ron howard made splash. what more does a guy need to do?

  40. bicycle bob says:

    spike lee is the biggest hack working today. hes still living off his one movie made in 1989

  41. Stella's Boy says:

    So Spike Lee is a bigger hack than, say, Paul W.S. Anderson bi-bob? Or Shawn Levy? Please. Try to refrain from moronic statements like that in the future. I would add Andy Tennant to the list, if he hasn’t been mentioned already.

  42. Jimmy says:

    Hollywood Bitchslap actually recently did a pretty extensive list like this:
    HBS/EFC’s 2005 Bottom 100 Director’s List (Or, Who We Don’t Want Directing X-Men 3)
    http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/feature.php?feature=1502

  43. Josh Massey says:

    What about the movie Spike Lee made in 1992? Or 1994? Or 2002? Lee makes some awful movies these days, but he still can knock a solid double from time-to-time. To call him a hack is asinine.
    And oh yes, I overlooked Brian Levant and feel shame. I remember sitting at the first “American Pie” junket, talking to a Universal exec about their upcoming projects. She mentioned “Viva Rock Vegas” – which was in its early stages – and I felt the need to be completely honest about it. “It’s a sequel to a movie nobody liked in the first place, no matter how much money it made.” And I swear to God, the reply: “But we have Brian Levant back. And he just GETS ‘The Flintstones.’ He just sees it in this passionate way.”
    And that, my friends, is what is wrong with Hollywood today.

  44. Josh Massey says:

    That was away from the interview tables, by the way. Just a casual conversation in the main meeting room.
    And although he was only nominated for the Oscar, I have to say Taylor Hackford’s work on “Ray” was the worst directing I have seen in the past couple of years. Of course, I haven’t sat through the “My Boss’s Daughters” of the world.

  45. David G. says:

    Sorry. I didn’t know there was a distinction in the context of this discussion. But I’ll say then, yes, the most inept director is Schumacher. He killed the Batman series, and is the guy who’s made the most movies that make a person think, “If it looks like sh*t, and smells like sh*t, well, it must be sh*t.”
    Chris Columbus is pretty bad, too. He did indeed make those 2 Harry Potter movies drag, so the fact that he’s directing Rent makes me less interested in seeing that, too.

  46. BluStealer says:

    Columbus made Home Alone. For that he should be exempt from any list. Schumacher should be directing gay pornos.

  47. bicycle bob says:

    i forgot stella was the president of the spike lee fan club. but the guy is a hack. he lucked out having a good first movie. but since then he has made bomb after bomb. with no imagination. its not like he hasn’t had material to work with either. u give he got game, clockers, 25th hour to any director with some vision and they’re home runs. but spike has a nice habit of dropping the ball

  48. Stella's Boy says:

    What does being a hack have to do with whether or not the movies are a financial success? They are two completely different things. I can’t imagine 25th Hour being any better than it is. That is a brilliant film. I love He Got Game and Clockers, too. Has Mark Steven Johnson been mentioned? I’m sure he has, but I thought I’d mention his name just in case.

  49. Anonymous says:

    Schumacher should be directing gay pornos.
    Did you see Batman & Robin? He’s already done that.

  50. Slartibartfast says:

    Who directs this Mutiny City News stuff? Who watches it? Who thought it was a good idea? What the hell is the point of it? Is it supposed to be funny? Ironic? Informative? I can’t tell, it’s so badly made and conceived. Please stop it. I don’t even understand what it has to do with Movie City News. Nora Ephron is a lot more capable than those guys. Only Uwe Boll and The Mutiny City gang get my vote for true ineptitude.

  51. Stella's Boy says:

    Les Mayfield (he’s doing the next masterpiece starring Cedric the Entertainer).

  52. LesterFreed says:

    Spikes a brother so I can’t take him to the showers but he hasn’t made a good one since He Got Game. He needs to keep working with Denzel.

  53. Terence D says:

    The fact is that they’re way more hacks and inept directors than real good ones. Pick three great ones out. Real knock out types. I’ll say Martin Scorsese, Stephen Spielberg and Quentin Tarantino. Guys I’ll always pay to see no matter what they come up with.

  54. bicycle bob says:

    who cares how much it makes? i think spike lee is a hack. hes completely wasted good material and scripts with his inept story telling. i know ur the fan club president stella but even u should admit bamboozled, girl 6, she hate me, get on the bus, crooklyn are all pretentious, boring crap. u tell me scorsese or someone wouldn’t have made a much better he got game or clockers? ur kidding yourself

  55. scooba steve says:

    Excuse my language here:
    Spike Lee directed Do The Right Thing, Malcolm X and 4 Little Girls. These are three films of great skill and social importance. But you’re right when you say that when the man does bad work, his work is awful. Someone should right a term paper on how obsessed with pussy this guy is. He always manages to throw in a completely useless fuck scene (And I don’t mean sex scene either).
    Whoever said Richard Attenborough may be on to something. He’s pretty boring.

  56. bicycle bob says:

    attenborough is a total snooze fest. maybe do the right thing was too good too early and i expect better from spike lee now. but he has really made a ton of stinkers.

  57. Aaron says:

    If we’re talking about ineptitude, I’m going to second the Kevin Smith nomination. I don’t dislike him; even he dismisses his own directing abilities.
    That reviewer seems to have quite a chip on his shoulder.

  58. scooba steve says:

    I’ll bet if Kevin Smith and someone like Rob Reiner collaborated on something (Reiner directing) the results would be pretty good. No one has ever reined in Smith’s talents (which are considerable). He over-writes and under-directs. I’d really like to see Smith (who is one of our brightest in Hollywood) loosen up and relax. Even his best movie (Chasing Amy) suffers from his ADHD brand of directing.

  59. Stella's Boy says:

    bi-bob, I never said Lee hasn’t made some bad movies. He definitely has. I agree with you there. But claiming that he is a hack who hasn’t made a good movie since Do the Right Thing is both untrue and idiotic. 25th Hour, He Got Game and Clockers are, to varying degrees, quality movies. Just to name a few. And The Inside Man has an excellent cast. Can’t wait to see that one. Kevin Smith is definitely a hack, and an extremely overrated writer as well.

  60. BluStealer says:

    I used to really like Kevin Smith. Maybe it was my youth. I even liked Mallrats. But then Dogman happend. Has there been a worse major movie in the past 5 years? I doubt it. Jersey Girl followed suit. And Chasing Amy had a good premise but not much else.

  61. Stella's Boy says:

    Jersey Girl was easily one of the worst movies of 2004. Painful to sit through. I’ve seen better, more original Lifetime movies. I was stunned (but not surprised) to see Smith fanatics give it a free pass and actually claim it was “honest and heartfelt.” Ridiculous and shameful.

  62. BluStealer says:

    I really think that movie might have been a career killer for him. He has to resort to tapping the Clerks well now. It would be like Tarantino picking up all the Pulp Fiction guys ten years later. That would be interesting but this just looks desperate.

  63. joyfool says:

    Gotta give props to Spike for Summer of Sam. It’s true he’s overrated but he does knock one outta the park now and then. Scorsese is getting tiresome. What’s happening to the guy. He’s so desperate for an Oscar he’s lost his sting. Let’s face it Taxi driver and Raging Bull both deserve 10 Oscars each, but crap like Gangs of NY or Aviator remind me of the Ron Howard bullsh*t we get every year. Yes it’s true – Ron Howard blows! He’s a puss who’s afraid of the audience. He never challenges. A Beautiful Lie was corny shite. His movies are driven by soundtrack and that just sucks – kinda like spielberg. But most inept director…Lucas. This guy can’t direct worth shit. He’s obviously a genius marketer and uberboss but he needs to delegate writing and directing to someone else. The guy is a true hack-attack.

  64. bicycle bob says:

    summer of sam? hes not helping ur argument stella with that one.

  65. Terence D says:

    Joyfool has a lot of rage. I don’t see how anyone can bash Scorsese. It is sacreligious. Never saw the Kevin Smith appeal either.

  66. Stella's Boy says:

    I don’t need anyone’s help. I am perfectly comfortable with the arguments I have made. If any director who makes one or two awful movies (as Lee has) is a hack, then who exactly isn’t a hack?

  67. Josh Massey says:

    I will NEVER call Scorsese a bad director, much less a hack, but “The Aviator” was his first movie of true quality in 10 years.

  68. Josh Massey says:

    Interesting to note Andy Tennant was just invited to be a member of the Academy… ugh.
    Oh, and I second the Mutiny City News stuff. I have more entertaining bowel movements.

  69. bicycle bob says:

    spike hasn’t made 1 or 2 bad flicks. hes made 7 or 8. big difference. and i’m even giving u 25th hour and he got game

  70. jeffmcm says:

    Terence D, I know you think I’m an idiot but I was nominating Ron Howard for worst OSCAR-WINNING director, not the overall award, and specifically because I think A Beautiful Mind is the worst Best Picture winner of the last fifteen years. Howard is obviously a better director overall than Schumacher, Bay, or a lot of other people.

  71. Stella's Boy says:

    I think you’re wrong. Lee hasn’t made anywhere near 7 or 8 bad movies. Agree to disagree.

  72. wrecktum says:

    Would it really hurt you that much to type “you” instead of “u”? I can’t take you seriously when I see that.

  73. Flappy says:

    One Name: Pitof.

  74. joyfool says:

    Terence D – No rage here but what’s with:
    “I don’t see how anyone can bash Scorsese. It is sacreligious.”
    Sacrilegious? Come on – sound like domgatic bull. There’s little point in having a critical pov of shitty directors who create shitty films over and over again. Hey – guys like Paul Anderson and Uwe Boll are doing what they do best – creating video game garbage for the ADHD 14 year old set. Please don’t expect much else from these guys. But when you want to look at talented filmmakers who are droping the ball you gotta have a conversation about Scorcese…
    Nothing is sacrilegious (including having an opinion).
    peace out

  75. Noonan says:

    Didn’t Billy Wilder say something about directing being akin to baseball – that if your batting average is 300, you’re doing pretty good?

  76. Josh Massey says:

    I sleep soundly tonight knowing I haven’t seen any film Pitof has ever done.
    And yes Jeff, “A Beautiful Mind” is the worst Best Picture of my lifetime (29 years). Although “Gladiator” runs a close second. And I actually like Russell Crowe…

  77. double D says:

    That batting .300 reference reminded me of another guy who’s really hit the shits.
    Barry Levinson. Diner, Avalon and Wag the Dog are some truly great films. Bugsy is good not great, ditto The Natural.
    But so much else that man has done is just dreadful hack work. Sphere (yeesh), Envy, Bandits (ouch) Rain Man is one of the most over-rated movies EVER! God its so full of its own virtue I want to spew.

  78. Josh Massey says:

    Woah, “Bandits” was fantastic. Have you actually seen it?

  79. double D says:

    Yep. I’ve seen it. Pretty bad.

  80. Double D's girlfriend says:

    Excellent submission:
    Andy Tennant. His resume includes Hitch, Sweet Home Alabama, Anna and the King, Ever After, Fools Rush In and Olsen Twins movie.
    I think we have a winner.

  81. maskatron says:

    Son of Sam, anything other than an embarassment? Please. The only thing good about that movie is Adrian Brody. Spike really botched that one.

  82. L&DB says:

    Anyone knocking the director of GUNG HO needs a swift kick to the ass! That means you Jeff!

  83. Chester says:

    I’m surprised no one’s mentioned Joe Roth.

  84. AH says:

    Joe Roth. Great one. worst director and worst prodcer/studio head.. look at that resumes sometime. So man many pieces of crap. He’s made a living only making crap.

  85. Mark says:

    I think everyone here wants to forget Joe Roth is even alive.

  86. Josh Massey says:

    Jo Rothe is so bad I don’t even want to spell his name correctly.

  87. jeffmcm says:

    I never said Howard couldn’t be good a lot of the time. Apollo 13, Splash, Gung Ho are all great. But ever since he decided he needed to win Oscars his movies have gone downhill.

  88. joefitz84 says:

    He didn’t decide anything. He actually won one.

  89. L&DB says:

    I do not think Ron Howard or Glazer ever had the “we just HAVE to win an Oscar!” thought enter either of their heads. People just want to expand their horizons. So you dont like the flicks jeff. Still does not prove Howard just HAD to get an Oscar.

  90. KamikazeCamel says:

    Count Mackuluv, I just purchased The Hours today for $7. Raaandom.
    “spike lee is the biggest hack working today. hes still living off his one movie made in 1989″
    Bob, I think you need to delete this quote from wherever it is that you have it stored. Your constant copy-and-pasting of it is so bloody annoying.
    As everybody else has said he has made some horrible shit since Do The Right Thing, but he’s also made some great stuff. Personal fave being Summer of Sam – that scene with the dog walker frightens the bejesus outta me, but what about Malcolm X? He Got Game? 4 Little Girls? Jungle Fever?
    By the way, Do The Right Thing WASN’T HIS FIRST PICTURE. If you’re gonna insult someone, be correct.
    On Scorcese, yes Gangs is pretty bad, but The Aviator was his best in YEARS.
    Bandits is fun! Cate and Billy Bob were excellent I though. Totally deserving of any awards notice they got over more serious films.
    “Andy Tennant. His resume includes Hitch, Sweet Home Alabama, Anna and the King, Ever After, Fools Rush In and Olsen Twins movie.”
    I think you’re forgetting that Hitch, for what it is, is a perfectly charming date movie. Ever After is also perfectly fine. Ineptitude must have the ability to turn bonafide charmers into sloggish wastes.
    I’m surprised nobody has said Paul Verhoeven. I love Showgirls, really like the original RoboCop and apparently his German films are good but some people on here can’t seem to enjoy anything so I’m surprised he hasn’t been mentioned.

  91. jeffmcm says:

    A director doesn’t get to Ron Howard’s level of success without hungering for awards. That’s why he made A Beautiful Mind and Cinderella Man. That’s why Spielberg chose to make The Color Purple and Empire of the Sun in years past. I’m sure they were interested in telling those particular stories, but in the backs of their minds they were also thinking, yeah, this movie has a period setting and is an underdog story and so on to put all the pieces together that the Oscar voters like. It’s not like Ron Howard woke up one morning and was surprised that he had won an Oscar.

  92. Joyfool says:

    Jeff – agreed. Especially when to win an Oscar, one must put quite a bit of cash behind a campaign to sway voters. These guys not only make Oscar bait but they must campaign for nominations and eventual votes. Nobody is surprised least of all the filmmaker.
    I’d like to see Clint Howard direct something…Ron directs like Ritchie Cunningham.

  93. jeffmcm says:

    I would love to see the Ice Cream Man direct something.

  94. Kernan says:

    Anyone who says Spike Lee is anything less than a genius must turn in their film fan credentials because you obviously no nothing about great filmmaking. The title of the film is Summer of Sam and it is absolutely brilliant. Read Lee’s resume and watch the films before you respond to this post because some of you need to refresh your memories.

  95. L&DB says:

    Lee has made a lot more good to great films, than total and utter shite. Every great directs or helps to producer a stinker. It’s art. Not all of it can be grand and movie. Some of it just has to be shite. To even the scales a bit.

  96. Kernan says:

    I never said everything Spike Lee has done is brilliant. I said he is a genius. Even a genius occasionally misses.

  97. Angelus21 says:

    Spike Lee is no genuis. No genuis goes out and makes Girl 6, Bamboozled, and She Hate Me. Genuis’ don’t make mistakes like that. Unless you think every director who has made a lot of stinkers is a genuis.

  98. jeffmcm says:

    Well said, genuis.

  99. Noonan says:

    Forget genius. Name a director who is infallible.

  100. AH says:

    Joe Roth

  101. AH says:

    His record is perfect. He’s never done one good thing.

  102. AH says:

    joe roth. his record is perfect. never done one thing decent.

  103. nick says:

    Kevin Smith is a pedestrian director visually, but I tend to like his stuff, though scent one very real problem: he edits his own movies (with Scott Mosier) and hasn’t got a damn clue how to do it, parts of “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back” are so wretchedly cut that it is actively distracting, this is something he’s got to learn to let others do, his pictures are increasingly suffering for this (“J&SBSB” and “Jersey Girl” would both have seemed at least a little better with snappier work on the Avid, and Smith and Mosier clearly just don’t have it down, and by now probably never will).
    As for Armond White, well, a couple years back Mr. Poland ran commentary of mine at The Hot Button, which he titled “The Deconstruction of a Film Critic,” and I don’t feel much like going again through the reasons why White is one of the most intellectually irresponsible and bizarrely whimsical critics in the business, but this line from a much earlier commentator struck me:
    “Armond White is one of the few critics working today with an informed appreciation of the craft of filmmaking.”
    Excuse me, but if he were any more transparently ignorant about the “craft of filmmaking,” he’d be so opaque he’d look like one of those skinless cutaway biology models where you can see all the arteries. His approach to any given film is always about its politics as he sees them (if Steven Spielberg has read any of his raves, he is probably grateful yet mystified as to how badly White has read his intentions). His NYPress colleague Matt Zoller Seitz is the one who genuinely understands filmmaking as a technique, indeed to a degree extremely rare to find in any movie critic, he’s the one with the real filmmaker’s eye and it didn’t surprise me to learn that he finally got around to making a movie himself. White is all about the social and political prejudgements he brings to every film, which makes him certainly a relatively unusual critic these days, but not one I can ever take seriously, the man is in some 60s time warp. Even when we agree the same movie is great, he’s always all over it for reasons that speak purely to his eccentricities. And while I will not see “Bewitched,” he is so given to weird, sweeping pronouncements such as that about Nora Ephron … I mean, talk about a preposterously easy target, but he’s said the same type of thing about so many other directors he’s decided to despise, from M. Night Shyamalan to Neil LaBute. Next week it’ll surely be somebody else (and while I don’t know yet if he’s done it in this particular column, he’s just got to stop approvingly comparing whatever movie it is to whatever rap video he also happens to like, and as well I’d be just as happy never to read the phrase “movie culture” ever again).

  104. mary mary quite contrary says:

    Armond White is a contrarian provocateur, period. It’s the only reason anyone cares what he has to say, and it’s obvious he knows that. It fuels most of what he writes.
    Even when he has a point about overrated directors like Ephron, he makes overstated opinions about her — not based on the poor quality of much of her work, but because she’s a “sacred cow” in some elite NY circles. His usual M.O. is to make hyperbolic statements against revered artists or films. Then we start talking about him. It even worked here, in a roundabout way — not that discussing the worst directors on a thread isn’t worthwhile.
    Remember that show in England where art critics were shown fake paintings and labelled them as works of genius? I would LOVE for publicists & critics with any level of good taste taste to “set up” White, going off in screenings or “accidentally” floating pre-publication reviews to White expressing the opposite of what they feel, then sitting back and watching him review the films in his predictably contrarian style… which would probably synch up well with others’ true feelings.

  105. jeffmcm says:

    Where’s Armond’s orgasmic rave of War of the Worlds? The NY Press has consigned him to Rize this week. Boring.
    You might say Matt Zoller Seitz is a better critic, but Armond is far more stimulating, and not in a sensationalistic way, either. I never feel like I learn anything from Seitz, who’s not thaqt different from any of the second-stringers at the Village Voice, where only Hoberman and Atkinson have any personality (bemusement and crankiness, respectively)

  106. anthony d'juan says:

    armond white is the most important critic in america right now. not only his film reviews, but his reviews on music (his reveiw of terrance trent d’arby’s “the hardline…” as well as his praise for prince and morresey never fail to capture my attention) prove the long road between music and cinema, and how far back american cinema is. if you watch crap like “the best man” or god forbid, “the four brothers”, it’s hard to understand that a film like 1992’s “camilian street” is perhaps the most terrifying “black” film since “putney swoop”.

  107. Three phrases should be among the most common in our daily usage. They are: Thank you, I am grateful and I appreciate.

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This is probably going to sound petty, but Martin Scorsese insisting that critics see his film in theaters even though it’s going straight to Netflix and then not screening it in most American cities was a watershed moment for me in this theatrical versus streaming debate.

I completely respect when a filmmaker insists that their movie is meant to be seen in the theater, but the thing is, you got to actually make it possible to see it in the theater. Some movies may be too small for that, and that’s totally OK.

When your movie is largely financed by a streaming service and is going to appear on that streaming service instantly, I don’t really see the point of pretending that it’s a theatrical film. It just seems like we are needlessly indulging some kind of personal fantasy.

I don’t think that making a feature film length production that is going to go straight to a video platform is some sort of “step down.“ I really don’t. Theatrical exhibition as we know it is dying off anyway, for a variety of reasons.

I should clarify myself because this thread is already being misconstrued — I’m talking about how the movie is screened in advance. If it’s going straight to Netflix, why the ritual of demanding people see it in the theater?

There used to be a category that everyone recognized called “TV movie” or “made for television movie” and even though a lot of filmmakers considered that déclassé, it seems to me that probably 90% of feature films fit that description now.

Atlantis has mostly sunk into the ocean, only a few tower spires remain above the waterline, and I’m increasingly at peace with that, because it seems to be what the industry and much of the audience wants. We live in an age of convenience and information control.

Only a very elite group of filmmakers is still allowed to make movies “for theaters“ and actually have them seen and judged that way on a wide scale. Even platform releasing seems to be somewhat endangered. It can’t be fought. It has to be accepted.

9. Addendum: I’ve been informed that it wasn’t Scorsese who requested that the Bob Dylan documentary only be screened for critics in theaters, but a Netflix representative indicated the opposite to me, so I just don’t know what to believe.

It’s actually OK if your film is not eligible for an Oscar — we have a thing called the Emmys. A lot of this anxiety is just a holdover from the days when television was considered culturally inferior to theatrical feature films. Everybody needs to just get over it.

In another 10 to 20 years they’re probably going to merge the Emmys in the Oscars into one program anyway, maybe they’ll call it the Contentys.

“One of the fun things about seeing the new Quentin Tarantino film three months early in Cannes (did I mention this?) is that I know exactly why it’s going to make some people furious, and thus I have time to steel myself for the takes.

Back in July 2017, when it was revealed that Tarantino’s next project was connected to the Manson Family murders, it was condemned in some quarters as an insulting and exploitative stunt. We usually require at least a fig-leaf of compassion for the victims in true-crime adaptations, and even Tarantino partisans like myself – I don’t think he’s made a bad film yet – found ourselves wondering how he might square his more outré stylistic impulses with the depiction of a real mass murder in which five people and one unborn child lost their lives.

After all, it’s one thing to slice off with gusto a fictional policeman’s ear; it’s quite another to linger over the gory details of a massacre that took place within living memory, and which still carries a dread historical significance.

In her essay The White Album, Joan Didion wrote: “Many people I know in Los Angeles believe that the Sixties ended abruptly on August 9, 1969, ended at the exact moment when word of the murders on Cielo Drive traveled like brushfire through the community, and in a sense this is true.”

Early in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, as Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt’s characters drive up the hill towards Leo’s bachelor pad, the camera cranes up gently to reveal a street sign: Cielo Drive. Tarantino understands how charged that name is; he can hear the Molotov cocktails clinking as he shoulders the crate.

As you may have read in the reviews from Cannes, much of the film is taken up with following DiCaprio and Pitt’s characters – a fading TV actor and his long-serving stunt double – as they amusingly go about their lives in Los Angeles, while Margot Robbie’s Sharon Tate is a relatively minor presence. But the spectre of the murders is just over the horizon, and when the night of the 9th finally arrives, you feel the mood in the cinema shift.

No spoilers whatsoever about what transpires on screen. But in the audience, as it became clear how Tarantino was going to handle this extraordinarily loaded moment, the room soured and split, like a pan of cream left too long on the hob. I craned in, amazed, but felt the person beside me recoil in either dismay or disgust.

Two weeks on, I’m convinced that the scene is the boldest and most graphically violent of Tarantino’s career – I had to shield my eyes at one point, found myself involuntarily groaning “oh no” at another – and a dead cert for the most controversial. People will be outraged by it, and with good reason. But in a strange and brilliant way, it takes Didion’s death-of-the-Sixties observation and pushes it through a hellfire-hot catharsis.

Hollywood summoned up this horror, the film seems to be saying, and now it’s Hollywood’s turn to exorcise it. I can’t wait until the release in August, when we can finally talk about why.

~ Robbie Collin