Our ’10 Best’ lists, be they about horror, sci-fi or final bows, have proved very popular with Picturenose visitors of late – whether this one will live up to expectations is another matter entirely, however, as Colin and James present their ‘bottom’ five movie moments, namely key sections of certain films that make you turn your eyes away and place a fist as far into your mouth as it will go. We have a feeling that this selection will generate some excellent discussion and, where possible, we have even provided links to the ‘magic moments’ in question – come on chaps, this should be just the beginning. We need your cinematic nadirs, and we need them now!
Special mention: Kiera Knightley
It doesn’t really matter what she’s in. From Bend it Like Beckham (2002) to any of the Pirates… movies, the formula is the same. I can only imagine that English is not her first language. If a director was to say to me “look sexy”, I would give it my best shot (hardly need to do anything, right ladies?) were I being paid thousands of whatever an hour.
For our Keira, however, it is magically translated into: “Stand with your legs slightly akimbo, pull back your shoulders and stick out your chest so you look like a photo-finish in a fried egg race.” And for God’s sake, woman – shut your mouth occasionally.
5. Anything Sean Connery ‘shaysh’ in Highlander (1986) Dir. Russell Mulcahy
I’m not going to start disrespectin’ big Sean. He’s done a lot of good things and – if I am honest – I didn’t dislike Highlander. It’s a jolly romp with little to worry about and a lot of people get their heads chopped off – what’s not to like?
The big stumbling block for me is Connery’s accent. His co-star, Christophe Lambert, plays Connor MacLeod who is meant to be a Scot (he is, of course, French) and sounds like an eastern European who learned his language from wolves. In his defence, he hadn’t been speaking English for more than a year or so. Connery, however, had been speaking an approximation of English for knocking on 50 years at that point. The only real Scot among the main characters, he was charged with playing an Egyptian called – somewhat bizarrely – Juan Sanchez Villa-Lobos Ramirez. OK, so, Egyptian and over 2,000 years old, with a distinctly Spanish name, you could be forgiven for expecting a flamboyant and idiosyncratic accent. Well, the second part is true, because he “shpeaksh every shentenshe jusht like Shean Connery” would.
We can all forgive the likes of Connery and Michael Caine the occasional duff role. Hey, those castles and private jets don’t pay for themselves – but Connery also went on to do Highlander 2 (1991), which is listed by several human-rights organizations as a crime against humanity.
4. The final showdown with the shark in Jaws (1975) Dir. Steven Spielberg
Now don’t get me wrong here, Jaws was a great movie in many ways and pretty much set the bar for other 70s movies to aspire to, but the big showdown between the remaining heroes and the Great White was marred only slightly by the fact that the shark looked like it was made out of styrofoam by not particularly gifted kids.
I really feel bad about this, as when I was a boy, the thing was über-scary – such stuff as nightmares are made of. Of course, the old Ray Harryhausen models were a bit dodgy too, in retrospect, but they seem to retain a sort of old-world charm. The shark (‘Bruce’) in Jaws – when it leaps out of the water on to the boat to eat Brody (Roy Scheider) has all the menace of a blancmange and reminds me of the sad spectacle of Bela Lugosi thrashing around with a rubberized tentacle or two to make the audience believe he’s wrestling a Kraken.
We all know nostalgia and SFX are poor bedfellows at times but trust me and watch it again. Two hours of suspense, a fine story and some top set-pieces all rubbed out by one vulcanized fish. In its defence, the animatronics were new and needed some work but there can be no excuse for the model-making in the inevitable sequels, in which an intern shaking a dead halibut by the tail would have been scarier. James doesn ‘t agree with Colin on this one – bite me.
3. The ‘still raining’ scene from Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994) Dir. Mike Newell
Written by Richard Curtis who, at the time, could do no wrong, Four Weddings… is actually a lot of fun. Hell, I would go so far as to say I really enjoyed most of it. Good characterizations, some genuinely funny gags and a whole bunch of big names combined to make something I never expected – a watchable rom-com.
Watchable, that is, until that scene. Right at the end, when one could reasonably expect the guy (Hugh Grant, foppishly burbling) and the gal (Andie MacDowell, playing herself as usual) would get together, resolve their issues and ride off into a rose-tinted sunset. Well, that all happens, but in the big reconciliation scene, Grant mumbles and stutters something about it raining and MacDowell manages to make the schmaltziest bit of script ever written that little bit more sick-making by deadpanning her line: “Is it still raining? I hadn’t noticed.” Utterly wrong, poorly delivered and genuinely made me say “seriously?” out loud to nobody in particular. Just plain bloody awful. Click here, if you absolutely must.
2. The impossible interface from Independence Day (1996) Dir. Roland Emmerich
To all those regulars who seem to have a problem with my deep hatred of this film, here’s a warning; yep, I’m going to whine on about it again. To be fair, this is not about the usual nauseating, puffy-breasted braggadocio I particularly despise but the ‘technology’. As a techie of many years’ standing, this really stands out as cringeworthy so badly it makes CSI: Miami look accurate.
Simply, Jeff Goldblum goes to the alien ship, uploads a virus and – as our American cousins so succinctly put it – shit blows up. First, he used an Apple Powerbook. Apple don’t like to interface with anyone but Apple and can make it difficult to do so. Hell, if you don’t pony up $99 for the operating system ‘upgrade’ it likely won’t talk to another Mac either. To get a virus into the alien system, you’d need to be able to get to the ship. For me, the only reason the ships were near the Earth is so that Jeff and the boys could get to them. They clearly have the technology to wipe out the entire population from several galaxies away, but no – they hover over America saying “you can’t catch us – nyah nyah”.
“But, but – they had an alien ship at Roswell for years,” I hear you bleat. “They could have studied it.” Nope. These ships were apparently designed for use by many generations of aliens on very long-haul flights. Look at the progress of computing in the past 40 years and tell me you could interface between an old valve-based computer and your Xbox360 with only a cable and a bit of software based on outdated tech. I would say it ruined the film for me, but by that point I was already considering sticking fountain pens into my eyes to make it stop.
And Colin’s ‘Winner’ Is…
1. The whole damn thing that is Batman & Robin (1997) Dir. Joel Schumacher
My number-one choice and, as I can’t pick a specific scene in what appears to be an ocean of mistimed, badly cast and poorly acted dross, I’m going to go right ahead and nominate the whole thing. Why? If you’d ever seen it, you would never need to ask that question. For those of you who haven’t – and I urge you to keep this situation unchanged – here’s a few pointers.
Schumacher has done some really quite good work including the sublime and often underrated Falling Down (1993) and the creepy and well-paced 8mm (1999), but his handling of Batman & Robin would have made the legendary Ed Wood rethink his career. Wood at least knew he wasn’t very good, but I think Schumacher had a bad day and woke up thinking he could improve on Batman Forever (1995). The fact that he couldn’t even pull this off is testament to just how piss-poor B&R really is.
Overacted by everyone, including George Clooney, the movie stumbles from wooden set piece to wooden set piece, looks like it was directed by one of those dancing traffic cops in the Philippines (albeit with none of the flair) and contains enough stomach-churning dialogue as to make you regret buying the popcorn. The villains are risible, and those clichés pulled off so well by Adam West in the original TV series suck something fierce. Sample dialogue? OK, but only one in case my own hands try to choke me as I type:
Robin: I want a car, chicks dig the car.
Batman: This is why Superman works alone.
Three words for anyone wanting to see this film – even if it’s to find out why it’s bad; avoid, avoid, avoid.
5. Sir Alec Guinness as Godbole in A Passage to India (1984) Dir. David Lean
What, in the name of all that is holy, inspired one of the greatest actors of his generation to ‘black up’ (well, very nearly), for this hugely overrated ‘masterpiece’ by David Lean? Too many cringeworthy parts to mention – a pity that Guinness didn’t try out for a revival of The Black and White Minstrel Show, don’t you think?
4. The ending of Pretty Woman (1990) Dir. Garry Marshall
‘She rescues him right back.’ Pleeease. Don’t get me wrong, even I managed to enjoy most of Garry Marshall’s mega chick-flick with Julia Roberts and Richard Gere, but this mush-fest that passes for a denouement made me nauseous, pure and simple. ‘Enjoy’ it here.
3. Sir Roger Moore’s Barbara Woodhouse impression in Octopussy (1983) Dir. John Glen
Not the nadir of James Bond, but certainly Moore’s lowest point in playing him – Sir Roger, how *could* you?
2. We Got Annie in Annie (1982) Dir. John Huston
Now, anyone who knows me will tell you that (i) I do like a good musical and (ii) I am definitely not gay. However, this number from Huston’s execrable mess is without doubt the most irritating and silly song-and-dance routine ever committed to film. Particular joys are the conspiratorial tones adopted by the (admittedly very graceful) lead as she prances around, confiding to anyone who cares that, ahem, ‘We got Annie’, and the unbelievably stupid and irritating dance that the ‘wallah’ performs when he too hears the good news. Here it is for your delectation and, for this reviewer, it is topped only by one ‘magic moment’ in the movies.
And James’s Winner Is…
1. ‘That’ bit at the end of Dirty Dancing (1987) Dir. Emile Ardolino
Even Picturenose’s Emma, when she has finished swooning over Swayze, agrees with me that this is simply the most cringeworthy ending in movie history, from ‘Nobody puts Baby in the corner’ to, well, the most jaw-droppingly awful dancing you have ever seen. Nothing more to be said, really – watch it again here, and I look forward immensely to reading the ‘defences’ with which we will doubtless soon be innundated. Are you out there, the Divine C? 😉