Your hosts Evan Crean, Kris Jenson, and I are back to talk about movies on our podcast “Spoilerpiece Theatre.” This week we talk about Luc Besson’s “Lucy” and Kat Chandler’s “Hellion.”
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July is generally too early to pick the worst movie of the year, but Third Person is so bad it ranks as one of the worst movies ever made. That’s not hyperbole, and it’s not an attempt to take away from Ed Wood, director of the immortal schlock shitfest Plan 9 from Outer Space. Here’s the key difference: Wood was incompetent. Third Person’s writer and director, Paul Haggis, is not.
Or maybe we just think he’s not. This is the guy, after all, who co-created Walker, Texas Ranger. While writing bad TV is not necessarily a harbinger of bad movies to come, it’s time to reevaluate Haggis.
There’s Million Dollar Baby, which Haggis adapted from a collection of short stories and Clint Eastwood directed to admittedly great and affecting Oscar-winning brilliance. But even that movie has lines like this: “Then Frankie did something he hated doing; he took a chance.”
There’s the James Bond reboot Casino Royale (good, which Haggis co-wrote) and its sequel, Quantum of Solace (shit, which he likewise co-wrote).
You know, the time is just about right for an insane Spanish-language horror comedy. And what do you know? Here comes Witching & Bitching, which is about as insane as horror comedies come.
There’s gorier (Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino’s From Dusk Till Dawn, for example) and smarter (Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn), but what Witching & Bitching lacks in blood, it more than makes up for in camp. Imagine the campiness of, say, Tales From the Crypt Presents Bordello of Blood, and the 1960s Batman television series. Now double it. That’s the camp level here.
Witching & Bitching (Spanish title: Las Brujas de Zugarramurdi, which isn’t nearly as charming/stupid as its English counterpart) opens with a woman screeching in a Madrid square about heaven, hell and Satan. Moments later, we’re watching street performers on the square—a silver Jesus, a green soldier, a SpongeBob SquarePants—whip out shotguns and semi-automatic weapons. They hold up a pawnshop that specializes in gold, taking all the weddings bands of divorced men and women (that works into the plot).
Sexual politics and men’s rights pop up as recurring themes in Witching & Bitching. If the movie were remotely successful at selling the idea that divorced men are being cheated out of visitation rights and money, it might be a compelling take on the bogus men’s rights movement that one hears people like Alec Baldwin prattling on about.
It’s a planet of the dopes! First there was Rise. Before that there was Tim Burton’s remake. Before that there were five Planet of the Apes films, the first of which has the distinction of being adapted by Rod Serling, so at least it’s subversive and progressive.
Now we’re saddled with Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, junk of the highest order, a movie that has a 3-D upgrade for no good reason other than to make money, and to make the screen darker. This time around Caesar (Andy Serkis) and the gang are 10 winters into the future, living in a utopia in which most of the humans worldwide have been killed by a virus.
A few of the remaining humans wander into the simian camp because there’s a dam nearby that can provide hydroelectric power. There’s a convenient plot device that makes one human and one chimp total fucking assholes, the kinds of guys who drive the plot inexorably toward dumb action no matter what.
The humans are lazy-screenplay stupid. Gary Oldman, Keri Russell and Jason Clarke are wasted. The apes look great, but when everything devolves into a Lord of the Flies knock-off in the chimp camp, it becomes one big game of who-gives-a-shit. There’s also a scene in which a chimp goes into genuine Rambo imitation mode. Hey, we’re really not so different! Ugh.